A robot’s range quickly extended with 7th axis from igus

UR (Universal Robots) and robolink robots acquire a 5-times larger action radius thanks to a completely new solution

igus now offers a directly ready-to-connect 7th axis so that a robot can move over a distance of several metres. The new complete system consists of a maintenance-free drylin ZLW toothed belt axis with corresponding adapter plate, switch cabinet, cables and software integration. For easy integration of the axis and therefore of the robot, igus has developed two adapter kits for robolink and UR robots. They enable fast and, above all, cost-effective low cost automation.

Robots insert workpieces into a milling machine, dispense chocolate bars from vending machines and place crates on pallets, which are then stacked. But how can they move vertically, horizontally or overhead in a flexible manner? The answer is a 7th axis. Specifically for linear adjustment, igus has developed a lubrication-free, lightweight flat axis with a stroke of up to 6m and a positioning accuracy of 0.5mm with the help of its drylin linear construction kit. To ensure that the axis can be easily combined with a robot, igus now offers overall solutions for UR3, UR5 and UR10 robots (Universal Robots), robolink DP robots and DCi robots. „A customer who acquires the new complete system receives, on the one hand, an adapter plate for easy attachment of the robot and the energy chain to the axis and, on the other, the corresponding integration solution, in other words the switch cabinet with cables, motor controller and the respective software solution“, explains Alexander Mühlens, Head of Automation Technology at igus GmbH. „If a robolink robot is used, the 7th axis can be easily controlled by means of the igus robot control software. For UR robots, we supply an UR-CAP as a direct integration solution, including all the electrical modules needed.“ This means that the robot can be installed and put to work within just a few minutes.

Ready-to-connect 7th axis in desired length

Users can configure the appropriate complete solution online at https://www.igus.eu/info/configurator7th-axis-for-universal-robots. The 7th axis is supplied by igus as a complete system that is ready to connect immediately, consisting of a drylin ZLW-20 toothed belt axis in the desired length exactly to the millimetre, plus the connecting cables, the switch cabinet, the power electronics, the software integration and the corresponding adapter set. Alternatively, the adapter set is separately available consisting of adapter plate and control system. 

Cost-effective automation for the mid-sized sector with igus low cost automation & robotics

igus offers to accompany medium-sized companies into the automation age with an online platform for low-cost automation

Cost-effective robots with components from various manufacturers that can be configured and ordered online in just a few clicks. The Cologne-based motion plastics specialist igus offers this service with an online platform rbtx.com for Low Cost Robotics. Thanks to a modular system, even small medium-sized companies will achieve automation for a few thousand euros.

A pick-and-place robot heads towards the conveyor belt, reaches for a small electrical component, turns it over and places it in a testing machine. Thousand times a day. Faster and tireless than the best worker. Such scenarios are commonplace among global players. The industry giants are steadily increasing the level of automation and thus increasing the competitive pressure on small and medium-sized enterprises. But many small companies are avoiding the topic. The investment costs are too high. Too confusing and complex is the interaction of the components of different manufacturers – including mechatronics, control systems and software.

An entry barrier that is unnecessary, says igus. The company specialises in the development of Low Cost Robotics and has therefore introduced the online platform rbtx.com at the Hannover Messe 2019 in cooperation with other manufacturers. „As far as mechanics, bearings, motors and gearboxes are concerned, we can offer competent advice to interested parties. However, it is also a fact that other companies are leaders in terms of cameras, grippers or control software,“ says Stefan Niermann, head of the newly established Low Cost Automation division. „This is precisely one of the reasons why an online platform that combines the different skills makes sense, so that the customer can quickly get the right robotics solution for them.“

Make your own robot with just a few clicks

The idea is to enable customers to assemble their own robot solution with just a few clicks of the mouse. The basic electro-mechanical structure is the „rohbot“ from igus, among them articulated-arm robots, delta robots and Cartesian robots. In the next step, the user supplements this basic structure to include individual components from various manufacturers, such as grippers, cameras, GUIs, power electronics, motors, sensors and control systems. The advantage: All components are compatible with each other.

„The concept intended for companies, start-ups, research institutes and mechanical engineering companies offers fast, customised robot solutions at low starting costs of just a few thousand euros, which will pay for itself in a short time and bring quick profits“, explains Niermann. „What we are talking about here is a low-risk way of entering the era of automation and investing in the competitiveness of tomorrow.“ Another advantage: All manufacturers would be able to continuously expand the online platform with new components. The users always have a clear access to a rapidly developing market segment.

Ready-to-connect articulated arm robots for 5,000 euros

igus has experience with Low Cost Robotics. The company has been developing automation solutions for order picking, feeding, quality assurance and assembly for many years. These include robolink DC – a modular system that allows users to assemble articulated arms with a robust and lightweight plastic housing, gearboxes and motors into a robotic arm of their own. The offer also includes robolink DCi, a pre-configured, ready-to-use automation system. It consists of a 4 or 5-axis robot and a control system that is integrated at the base of the gripper arm in a space-saving manner. The control software of the partner Commonplace Robotics is specifically designed for the robolink DCi. With it, movement sequences can be set as intuitively as on a smart phone. PC and control cabinet are not required.

In order to keep pace with the rapid development of the global automation industry, igus continuously invests in research and development work. As a result, the engineers succeeded in laying the cables inside the arm in the new generation of the DC system. A tidy and space-saving design that predestines robots for human-robot collaboration. The compact and lightweight articulated arms make comprehensive use of the advantages offered by igus motion plastics: light, lubrication-free and maintenance-free, durable and cost-effective in production. As a result, small, configurable quantities can be created just as large quantities for mechanical engineering companies and robot manufacturers. The clearance of the new arms has been further reduced as a result of the joint kinematics, an innovation that enables greater precision of the robolink. You can place parts weighing up to three kilograms with a precision of +/- 0.5 mm in a workspace with a diameter of almost 790 mm. Compared to conventional industrial-grade robot arms, which are currently not available under 15,000 euros, the new robolink DC arm (as a five-axis model) makes a significant difference at 3,400 euros. This price can be realised because many components of the articulated arm robot, such as the strain wave gear in the fifth-axis, are not made of metal, but of the so-called tribo-plastics. „These high-performance plastics not only enable cost-effective production, but also display their advantages in ongoing operation,“ says Niermann. „Robot components made of tribo-polymers do not require any lubricants and are therefore maintenance-free. In addition, they are stable, corrosion-free and lightweight at the same time.“

Modular system for development and research

Anyone who believes that they can only find turnkey solutions at igus is mistaken. Even experienced engineers will get something for their money. This is where robolink Apiro comes in – a modular system consisting of joints, profiles, gearboxes and motors of various sizes, with which designers can implement automation systems. Even very complex systems! For this purpose, igus has decoupled the motor and gearbox from each other and developed a novel worm gear made of tribo-polymers, with which, for example, simple SCARA kinematics can be implemented. The joints are attached by means of a multi-functional profile made of aluminium. Multiple joints can be connected in a series if desired. „Thanks to the modular system, there are countless combination options. There are really no limits to the imagination,“ says Niermann. „Users of the Apiro modular system therefore include not only mechanical engineers, but also training institutions and development and research departments.“

Room linear robots and delta robots as a low-cost option

The ABC of automation technology includes room linear robots and delta robots. For the low-cost sector, igus has therefore developed room linear robots in several extension levels, which are available from 1,799 euros. They consist of pre-configured linear modules and aluminium linear axes and NEMA stepper motors. With the small complete solution, loads of up to 2.5 kilograms can be transported in a workspace of 400x400x100 millimetres at a maximum speed of 0.5 metres per second. Two ZLW toothed belt axes and one GRW gear rack axis ensure precise guidance and lubrication-free operation. The room linear robots are used, among other things, in pick-and-place applications in the fields of medical technology and microelectronics.

The delta robots are also suitable for pick-and-place tasks. They are based on three ZLW toothed belt axes, NEMA motors and lubrication-free coupling joints and can position in an installation space up to 420 millimetres components weighing up to one kilogram with a precision of +/- 0.5 millimetres, at a speed of up to 60 picks per minute. At lower speeds, the system even carries up to five kilograms. The price of the robot is less than 5,000 euros. „If users have their own switch box, the costs including integration are between 10,000 and 15,000 euros,“ says Niermann. „The costs are paid off after a maximum of half a year. Afterwards, the company makes profit with automation.“

Automate simple tasks cost-effectively

The Low Cost Automation solutions from igus are also relied upon by the Langhoff family. In their small enterprise, the family breeds giant red worms, which are, for example, used by anglers, as food for animals, for hunting or as a natural fertiliser producer for the garden and greenhouses. Langhoff developed completely new machines to fully automate the feeding and watering process with lubrication-free and durable drylin room linear robots from igus. The monotonous feeding and watering steps no longer need to be done by a person full-time so that they can focus on more demanding tasks. „With the new plant, feeding and watering can be carried out around the clock, even when there is a shortage of staff. In addition, errors are reduced to an absolute minimum,“ explains Martin Langhoff, owner of Superwurm. There are already companies around the world who have identified the same market niche as the Langhoff family. However, labour-intensive worm breeding is hardly automated there. That’s what the Langhoffs want to change in their business. The plan is to double the current level of automation in the worm farm. „Small businesses need to use affordable and easy automation solutions for production and warehousing, such as those from igus, to keep up with the big ones,“ says Martin Langhoff.

More informations:

igus linear robots: https://www.igus.eu/robolink/cartesian-robots

robolink robots: https://www.igus.eu/robolink/robot

delta robots: https://www.igus.eu/info/robotics-delta-robot

Rokit Smart: Build and Program Robots the Easy Way

On May 14, 2015, Robolink, Inc is launching a campaign on Kickstarter for Rokit
Smart, an innovative and affordable robot kit that teaches kids how to program and
build robots in as little as one hour. With Rokit Smart, kids as young as 8 years old
can program these robots to autonomously follow a track, be controlled by remote
and many other exciting tasks. Rokit Smart includes instructions to build twelve
different robots, but the only limit to what kids can build with this kit is their
imagination. Until now, there has never been a robotics kit with so many potential
options for such a low price point. Rokit Smart will bring the excitement of robotics
to kids who never before considered the idea that they could build and program
their own robot.

Thousands of elementary school students across Southern California have tested
prototypes for Rokit Smart and they have all been amazed at how easy it is to build
and program their own robot. “When I see how much fun kids are having as the
robot they just built dribbles a ball or navigates a maze, it always brings a huge
smile to my face,” says Hansol Hong, Robolink’s CEO. Discovering how the
motors, sensors, linkages and software of a robot interact with each other has
proven to be a fantastic way of introducing young students to science, technology,
engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM education.

After building and programming the out-of-the-box robots, kids will be able to apply
what they learned and make their own robot. Rokit Smart is compatible with
Arduino, a programming language designed for robots that they can download for
free. “Learning to program our robots is a perfect stepping stone into languages like
C and C++. That’s going to be an incredibly valuable skill as these kids get older,”
says Hong.

The Kickstarter campaign for Rokit Smart has a goal of $50,000 by June 16th. The
money will pay for the manufacturing of the first run of Rokit Smarts. The first 100
backers will have the opportunity to secure a Rokit Smart for $99, a savings of 32%
off of the retail price.

For more information, visit the Kickstarter page here.

The Robolink community has already posted some very helpful resources for robot
builders at robolink.com/community.