Service robotics at a small price thanks to new low-cost robot joint from igus

igus introduces revolutionary ReBeL joint with plastic strain wave gear, BLDC motor and control system

Serving orange juice, loading the dishwashing machine or sorting purchases. The low-cost robotics concept from igus is intended to make these tasks possible. Under the name ReBeL, igus developed a new kind of joint, driven by a strain wave gear as a single component and also a study of a 6-axis service robot. The new joint is fundamentally different to the previous robolink models: Instead of stepper motors, brushless direct-current motors are used in the joints for the first time. Thanks to maintenance-free injection-moulded parts, the new ReBeL series is set to become a real bargain for robot manufacturers.

A practice household assistant for the home or in the office. Easy to program at a reasonable price. Who does not want this? The topic of collaborative robotics – interaction between people and machines – has now been taken up by igus with its low-cost robotics in the form of robolink. The requirements for the components were that they must be light and cost-effective. The result is the ReBeL joint. „Alexa, bring me a glass of orange juice!“ could thus become reality when the product is used in combination with a voice control system. The new low-cost robotics concept is fundamentally different to that of the previous robolink joints and makes it possible for robot manufacturers to generate new solutions. Instead of stepper motors, brushless direct-current motors (BLDC motors), which already belong to the state of the art in industrial robotics, are used.

A flyweight due to plastic components

Due to their small size, the BLDC motors can be installed in the maintenance-free strain wave gear of a ReBeL joint. The control equipment is also built into the axes and thus renders an external control cabinet superfluous. „The cables can now be routed directly inside a robot arm as a BUS system“, explains Alexander Mühlens, head of low cost automation at igus GmbH. „A further idea is to equip new joints with absolute encoders, that remember the position of an arm even when a power failure occurs“, continues Mühlens. The ReBeL makes it possible to have the 6th rotation axis in the modular robolink system and thus allows all positions to be reached. For bearing purposes, lubrication-free and smoothly operating xiros plastic ball bearings are used. As the gearboxes are also mostly made of polymers, the ReBeL system is very light. The BLDC motors also contribute to weight reduction as they are lighter than the previously used stepper motors.

A butler for everyone thanks to the low price

Injection-moulded parts ensure the small price of a ReBeL joint and therefore of the robot arms. „Our vision is that manufacturers will be able to offer 6-axis service robots for a price of 1,000 euros without control unit or for a maximum of 5,000 euros with integrated control unit“, says Alexander Mühlens. „We want to make cost-effective robot arms and applications possible for mechanical engineering companies and even private persons.“ The ReBeL system is suitable not only for tasks in the private area but also for other functions such as collection and delivery services or pick-and-place applications in factories, especially in the case of mobile applications where the robot arm is mounted on a moving platform.

MyAppCafé: In den Mercaden Böblingen bereitet ein Barista-Roboter Kaffee zu

Böblingen – 27. August 2020 – Espresso, Cappuccino oder Milchkaffee, mit Kakao, Karamell oder Kokosnuss verfeinert – diese und andere heiße Kaffeespezialitäten können sich Besucher der Mercaden Böblingen ab Samstag, 15. August von einem Roboter frisch zubereiten lassen. Die im März 2019 gegründete Firma MyAppCafé eröffnet in den Mercaden Böblingen bereits ihre zweite Roboter-Kaffeebar. MyAppCafé wird als Franchise-System betrieben. Friedrich Kunc, Inhaber des Roboter-Barista in den Mercaden Böblingen, ist der erste Franchisenehmer von MyAppCafé. 

Herzstück der innovativen Kaffeebar im Erdgeschoss ist ein vollautomatischer Barista-Roboter. Auf nur sieben Quadratmetern Standfläche kann er zwischen 80 und 120 Kaffee- und Kakaogetränke pro Stunde ausgeben. Zum Einsatz kommen nur Bio-Fairtrade-Kaffee, Bioprodukte und biologisch abbaubare Becher, Deckel sowie Holzrührstäbchen. Am Eröffnungstag erhält jeder Kunde den ersten Kaffee über die App-Bestellung kostenlos.

Das Prinzip von MyAppCafé ist einfach. Kunden stellen am Terminal ihren Lieblingskaffee zusammen und zahlen bargeldlos. Sofort geht der Roboter ans Werk. Ebenso leicht geht es mit der MyAppCafé-App per Smartphone oder Tablet. Damit lässt sich sogar der Milchschaum des Getränks individuell verschönern – mit Herzen, Smileys oder dem eigenen Selfie. 

„Mit MyAppCafé kommen unsere Kunden in den Genuss von frisch zubereitetem Spitzenkaffee in Bio-Qualität. Gleichzeitig erleben sie, wie die Digitalisierung fortschreitet und Vorteile bringt. Lange Wartezeiten gibt es zum Beispiel nicht”, sagt Edip Özerol, Center Manager der Mercaden Böblingen.

„Die Mercaden Böblingen sind eine besonders attraktive Einkaufsadresse in der Region. Daher sind wir sehr stolz, den Besucherinnen und Besuchern des Centers unsere Neuentwicklung MyAppCafé zu präsentieren“, sagte Michael Stille, Gründer und CEO von MyAppCafé. „Unsere Roboter-Kaffeebar wird in Deutschland hergestellt und ist ein gutes Beispiel, dass Digitalisierung im Handel auch für Kunden ganz besondere Erlebnisse schaffen kann.“

Gegründet wurde das Start-Up MyAppCafé im Jahre 2019 in Pfinztal bei Karlsruhe. Das Gründerteam besteht aus den drei befreundeten Familien Stille, Yelkenkayalar und Alvarez. Die Idee wurde gemeinsam mit dem Unternehmen WMF umgesetzt. 

Double addition to the fruitcore-familiy

fruitcore robotics presents its new industrial robots HORST600 and HORST1400.

With HORST900, fruitcore robotics launched its affordable robot line with innovative kinematics two years ago. HORST900 now gets two brothers at once: the smaller, fast and precise HORST600 and the larger and more powerful HORST1400 extend the product family. With the expansion of the portfolio the young com- pany, based in Constance, meets the requirements of the market even further. 

Fruitcore Tag 2

With the two new family members HORST600 and HORST1400, fruitcore robotics presents one industrial robot below and one above the well-established HORST900 in case of range and payload. All fruitcore robotics robot models are easy to operate and offer an unbeatable cost-benefit ratio. Both new family-members are based on the well-proven HORST technology, are Made in Germany and are supplied as a all-in-one solution. All fruitcore robots can be programmed intuitively using the horstFX software developed especially for HORST and the horst- PANEL control unit. The efficient and straightforward communication with external machines and components is made via the safety control system horstCONTROL. The innovative kinematics also show the family resem- blance. But like most brothers, all HORSTs have very different characteristics and strengths. 

HORST600: small, fast and precise With HORST600 fruitcore robotics expands its product family with a modular small robot. The smallest HORST is particularly suitable for applications where space is limited and can also be mounted on the wall or ceiling for even more flexibility. With an installation area of 382 x 200 millimetres and a maximum range of 578 millime- tres, HORST600 can move loads of up to three kilograms quickly and precisely – with a repeatability of ± 0.05 mil- limetres. The Industrial robot is available in two different versions: HORST600 is used in industrial environments, for example in metal processing, logistics or in the plastics industry. Typical appications are pick & place applica- tions, palletizing or the loading and unloading of machines. The second version – HORST600 lab („laboratory“) is specially designed for the pharmaceutical and chemical industry as well as laboratorys and research facilities. In addition to the adapted design, this industrial robot is made for the interface requirements of the industry and can be equipped with an appropriate gripper. Specific features and modules also allow easy handling of test tubes or samples. To meet the requirements of the different applications, HORST600 and HORST600 lab are available in two performance classes: the version „fast“ for applications where the cycle time is decisive, and the version“strong“ when the payload is important. Due to the innovative production technology the moving load of HORST600 is very small. The powerful small robot weighs around 23 kilograms. It therefore has different kine- matics than the larger series. The innovative kinematic approach based on four-bar linkage offers its big broth- ers significant stiffness advantages and allows the use of smaller motors and gearboxes, which due to the smaller size of the HORST600 offer no advantages and are therefore not used. The engineers at fruitcore robot- ics focused more on a compact construction when developing HORST600. This construction provides maximum range with the largest possible working space. As with all robots from fruitcore robotics, the modular robot arm is comparatively light and can be easily maintained or repaired. 

The encoder technology developed by fruitcore robotics is also used, which in combination with the high-quality drive system guarantees accuracy. With HORST600, fruitcore robotics is also equipping the first robot with the optional playback mode. This allows the operator to guide the robot by hand, which makes programming even easier. 

HORST1400: for large payload and range At the top end of the performance scale, in terms of maximum reach and maximum payload, fruitcore robotics introduces its second new robot – HORST1400. It is designed for applications in logistics as well as in the metal or plastics processing industry that require high payloads and ranges or short cycle times.The industrial robot is suitable, for example, for commissioning as well as for loading and unloading machines or mesh boxes. HORST1400 lifts loads of up to ten kilograms and has a maximum range of 1,400 millimetres. The industrial robot HORST1400 is, like its smaller brother HORST900, characterized by its hybrid kinematics based on multiple four- bar linkages, which makes a more efficient use oft the build in motors possible. This makes it possible to use smaller electric motors and gears and still achieve the same quality and dynamics as with conventional robots. The innovative kinematic approach based on four-bar linkage results in a lower overall weight and significantly lower costs. 

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 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 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:

robolink robots:

delta robots: