To handle simple material handling tasks in automated workcells, engineers typically opt for linear axes. However, assembling multiple linear axes into a Cartesian motion system can be a time-consuming process. You must connect each module to the next one, assembling subcomponents as you go, then wire each module, connect each axis to an external controller, and finally program the system.
That might do the job for some applications, but there might be a better option. Epson Robots has just released the new T3 all-in-one
SCARA robot with a built-in controller that promises to make setup and deployment faster, easier and less expensive than multiple linear axes.
To build a Cartesian system with linear axes, engineers must assemble each linear module and connect one or more controllers. A conventional SCARA has four axes of motion already built in, but engineers typically still have to connect a controller. Even if the robot does not have an external controller, it must usually still connect with a PLC.
A self-contained system eliminates all of those steps. The T3 SCARA has a controller built into the robot’s base. There’s no need for a separate control cabinet or control box. There are no cables to run from the controller to the robot. With the controller built in, setup and deployment are faster and easier.
The installation instructions for assembling multiple linear axes into a custom Cartesian system can run pages long, and require many components. A laundry list of actuators, controllers, servomotors, switches, batteries, sensors and cables are necessary. Engineers must assemble individual modules and components into a multiaxis system, run all the cabling, connect axes to the controller, and then program the system.
In contrast, to set up the T3, the engineer mounts the robot to a tabletop, attaches the end-of-arm tool, and plugs it in. After programming the robot through an intuitive user interface, the robot is ready for work.
An on-board I/O communications port adds to the all-in-one functionality. This provides a direct connection to the controller and includes power for the end-of-arm tooling, making it easier to connect cables to the end effector and supply power to it.
With a three-axis Cartesian system, engineers must make sure the X-Y-Z coordinate system is perfectly aligned. Not so with the built-in rotation of a four-axis SCARA robot. The rotation around the Z axis manipulates the end-of-arm tooling at various angles, making it compliant.
This flexibility is a substantial advantage over modular axes, especially where complex motions are required—as when working with curved parts or contoured features in dispensing applications. The integral fourth axis also allows for dispensing around obstructions in the part.
For applications requiring vision, the all-in-one robot is already equipped to seamlessly integrate with an object-based, point-and-click interface for vision guidance. Using the integrated vision system allows all development to be done from one environment, thus reducing overall development and configuration time. Integrated vision guidance—which is rare for a linear module—is especially beneficial for kitting applications, but can be used in any application where part locations are not fixed and deviations occur from part to part.
Redeployment is also easier. With their inherent flexibility, robots can be easily repurposed for new applications as needs change. There’s no disassembling and reassembling multiple linear axes. Simply program the robot for a new task.
Most SCARA robots are equipped with battery-powered encoders. In contrast, no battery is required for the T3’s encoder. That means engineers don’t have to halt the system to swap out batteries. Although this may be inconsequential with one robot, it is particularly advantageous if several robots are working on an assembly line simultaneously.
In addition, the T3 consumes 30 percent less power than conventional SCARAs. Power consumption is less than a kilowatt, only 0.66 kilo-volt-ampere. This is rare for a robot that is also fast, repeatable and can carry up to 3 kilograms.
The robot also plugs into a standard power receptacle and runs on 110 or 220 volts.
The built-in controller requires less space than a system with a controller cabinet or box. The compact footprint is ideal for benchtop applications where space is at a premium.
A shorter cable duct on top of the robot also contributes to the overall compactness. The height difference lends itself to tight workcell enclosures.
Priced 30 to 50 percent less than conventional SCARAs, this compact robot is positioned to compete head-to-head with multiple linear axes. The robot requires no customization, tuning or constant manipulation on the factory floor, thus further reducing total cost of ownership.
The robot can be used for a variety of low-payload applications in material handling, dispensing, screwdriving, sorting, kitting and assembly tasks.
For more information on the T3 all-in-one SCARA robot, call Epson Robots at 562-290-5910 or visit www.epsonrobots.com.