Low cost modular robotics kit simplifying automation

Lubrication-free
and maintenance-free igus robolink components are a cost-effective way of
ensuring more efficient processes.

Cost-effective
automation is the best possible solution for gripping, turning, pivoting and
placing items and returning them to their initial position – especially in the
case of simple pick-and-place tasks performed over a long period of time. This
also applies to small and medium-sized enterprises that are becoming
increasingly exposed to external competitive pressure. But how can entry into
the world of automation be achieved easily and cost-effectively? This is
exactly what motion plastics specialist igus makes possible with its ‘robolink’
modular robot joint kit, available from Treotham Automation.

With its robolink range of igus products, Treotham has
set itself the aim of offering low-cost components made of lubrication-free and
maintenance-free plastics. With the modular kit principle of robolink, the user
can create a simple automation solution in a very short time. In addition, the
user can put together systems individually – either with single components such
as gearboxes that can then be combined or with completely pre-assembled
articulated arms, whose lightweight construction and size make them especially
flexible. With the possibility of modular combination, the customer receives a
system that can be used for a wide variety of robotics tasks. The advantage of
robolink is that repetitive and time-consuming tasks that are mostly performed
by hand can be automated very easily. All this can be done simply at a fraction
of the cost of a classical industrial robot, allowing better and more efficient
use of resources.

Time
saving with the use of low-cost robotics

The winner project of the low-cost robotics
competition initiated by igus is proof that robolink really saves time and
money. In the MLC-Engineering project, a robolink articulated arm is used in an
optical measuring system. After a workpiece has been completed, this 5-axis
robot takes the finished part from a production machine and carries it to an
optical measuring device. It then positions the workpiece several times within
the measuring area of the measuring device in order to check all relevant
dimensions. The device sends the measured values to the specially developed
control system, which then assesses whether the values are ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
Depending on this evaluation, the robolink robot places the workpiece on a
conveyor belt or in a scrap box. The automation of small tasks has a great
effect in the end: Employees can devote themselves to superior tasks and
shorter cycle times can be implemented, helping achieve 76% time savings.

Modular
kit for an easy automation solution

For easy and speedy implementation of projects such as
the one for MLC-Engineering, the robolink modular kit enables the user to
individually assemble a system consisting of joints with different gearboxes,
motors and connecting elements. The robolink D joints are the moving connecting
pieces that are located between the robot arm’s individual connecting plates
and operated with a direct drive and a stepper motor. Different joint sizes
with worm gears or strain wave gears are available for the user. In the case of
worm gears and strain wave gearing, the motor is located directly on the axis
and, depending on the application, can be installed as a waterproof motor – for
example, where spray water occurs. The joints can be operated with motors of
other manufacturers, in addition to those obtainable from Treotham.

As all robolink components are also available as
individual joints, they can be combined with each other or special components
as well as with drylin E kits for gantry robots. For example, a multi-axis
articulated arm can move on a lubrication-free drylin E linear axis. The
robolink D connecting elements link the robot arm’s individual joints to each
other. They include the base with which the robot can be mounted on a surface
and the connecting elements for joints. The robolink joint systems are
available as readymade robot arms with two to five axes. Due to the modularity
of the kit, however, they can be extended and adapted as often as required as
all components are also available as individual units. This provides maximum
flexibility in the automation process at all times and makes it possible to
construct an articulated joint system according to individual needs.

Flexible
addition of control unit, gripper or suction device

The cost-effective and individually adaptable robot
arms from Treotham can be supplemented with different control concepts. One
such solution is the low-cost control unit supplied by Commonplace Robotics
GmbH, which is specially designed to work with robolink D and is supplied with
easy-to-use software. With the help of the software, the motion sequences of
the robot are displayed and can be programmed and controlled in a manner that
is easy to understand. This control unit can now be integrated into the base of
the robolink. The modular principle of robolink also makes it possible to use
the robot arms with a self-programmed control system, thus offering maximum
modularity. In addition, it is possible to fit different suction devices, grippers
and other tools on the robot arms. For example, igus itself uses a robolink
fitted with a vacuum lifting device in the automatic assembly machine of the
motion plastics specialist.

Best
practice in the igus assembly machine

A ‘robolink’ multi-axis robot and a drylin gantry
robot with matching control unit are the main components of a machine that is
used for energy chain assembly at igus. Two reciprocating table units guide the
components into the assembly cell, and the robolink RL-DC arm with lifting/suction
gripper brings the chain links into correct alignment. The linear pivoted
gripping unit then ensures that the e-chain links are placed in the correct
position in the fully automated assembly machine. The ready assembled e-chain
finally flows into a storage box.

“This igus example shows how customers can also
simplify their processes easily and cost-effectively,” explains Martin
Raak, Product Manager robolink. “The robolink multi-axis articulated robot
makes it possible to automate processes with an externally bought-in low-cost
control unit.” This investment often pays for itself in four to seven
months, depending on the control system used.

Online
tool for fast robolink configuration

‘robolink Designer’ simplifies configuration of the
low-cost robot. This online tool has an intuitive user interface, with which
the desired robot arm can be designed individually – from the first axis to the
individual tool. The software can also be used on a tablet and, among other
things, enables visual simulation of the movements made by the rotating joints.
After configuration, a parts list is generated and an enquiry is sent directly
to Treotham.

For more information, please visit the Treotham Automation website www.treotham.com.au or call 1300 65 75
64.

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