Most assembly operations don’t require complex motion. A simple up-and-down or side-to-side move is all that’s required.

A linear actuator might be used to:

  • Extend and retract a dispensing valve or screwdriver.
  • Apply sealing fixtures to an assembly in a semiautomatic leak testing station.
  • Snap a stack of parts together or clamp parts in place while an assembly operation is performed.

Or, consider a standard pick-and-place operation: A linear actuator extends and retracts a gripper to retrieve a part from an escapement. A second linear actuator then moves the assemblage to a rotary indexing dial, and the first actuator extends and retracts again to place the part in a fixture.

In the past, designing, integrating and programming even a simple three- or four-axis system like that would have required considerable time and effort. Now, however, thanks to advances in electronics and software, the process is much easier.

That is the premise behind the Smart Mechatronix line of products from Bosch Rexroth Corp. The idea is to combine linear motion components with the latest electronics and software to enable engineers to automate tasks quickly and easily.

Smart Handling

One the latest entries in the Smart Mechatronix line is the Smart Function Kit for Handling. This plug-and-produce system can be used in a variety of pick-and-place and machine tending applications. The system is designed from the ground up to be easy to specify, install and program.

Engineers can select and size components for the Smart Function Kit for Handling easily and intuitively via Rexroth LinSelect linear motion software. With just a few clicks and minimal engineering work, users can determine exactly which system is suitable for their needs. The data from LinSelect can be carried over to the configurator for complete system design. Orders can also be placed directly via the Rexroth e-shop. This complete range of tools not only saves time, but it also reduces potential sources of errors.

In addition to a preassembled multiaxis system, which includes a motor, cable and all attached parts, a suitable Rexroth ctrlX servo drive and controller is included in the package. Engineering and runtime apps are preinstalled.

The preinstalled software saves time and labor when commissioning and integrating the subsystem. The entire system is automatically parametrized. Intuitive, graphical operation via a web-based HMI also reduces installation times. Ready-made function blocks make it easy to program the process. As a result, there is no need for expensive external programming work.

Open interfaces allow the system to be connected to various controllers and thus perform bigger, integrated handling tasks. The software can be expanded via apps and has IIoT data interfaces via OPC-UA, a REST-API ResT programming interface, and a firewall-compatible security architecture.

Smart Pressing

In addition to a Smart Function Kit for handling applications, the Smart Mechatronix line also has a

Smart Function Kit for pressing and joining applications. The modular kit can be connected via open interfaces and monitored on a tablet during operation. This maximizes transparency, reduces downtime and increases productivity.

The kit is designed for pressing and joining processes of 2 to 30 kilonewtons. The modular system consists an electromechanical cylinder, power sensor, servomotor, drive controller, industrial PC and browser-based HMI software based on HTML 5.

The system can be used for press-fit assembly, crimping and forming processes, such as bending, embossing and deep-drawing in the plastics industry. It’s also suitable for test and measurement procedures. It can be used standalone or integrated into automated systems via fieldbus.

Programming knowledge is not required to operate the press. Integrated motion control, preinstalled operating software, auto-parameterization of the servo drive, a low number of interfaces and a wizard make fast commissioning possible.

The software is intuitive. Due to the web-based interface, process configuration takes place via drag-and-drop actions. Graphical creation of evaluation and analysis elements is self-explanatory. During operation, the press can be monitored via a tablet. Visualization of status information and process results—including a live display of the force-displacement curve with analysis, storage and data export options—ensures maximum transparency. All system parameters are always available at a glance.

Flexible End-Effector for Robots

Another component in the Smart Mechatronix line is the Smart Flex Effector, a sensor-based compensation module for robots. The device is positioned between the robot’s wrist and the gripper or other application tool. With the Smart Flex Effector, position deviations of the tool are detected in six degrees of freedom using high-resolution position sensors. This data is then translated into active correction movements of the manipulator. Intelligent sensor technology enables readjustment in real time. In addition, the measured values provide information about process quality and can be used for quality monitoring and logging.

The device can be used for automated handling or joining processes with narrow tolerances. It can also be used for tool center point detection or for automated compensation of position drifts in rotary or linear axes. The module is adjustable until fully locked. It has a protection rating of IP64 and can handle a payload of up to 25 kilograms. Axial angle equalization is ±1.5 degrees in the X and Y axes and ±3.5 degrees in the Z axis. Linear compensation is ±2.8 millimeters in the X and Y axes and ±3 millimeters in the Z axis.