Next-Gen Assembly Robots Turn Heads

Forget what you think you know about assembly robots. How they look and move. Newcomers are about to change perceptions.

Take a six-axis assembly robot that defies convention and confined spaces, or a collaborative robot with two SCARAs for arms, or a Cartesian that can lay down a bead of sealant with hair-splitting precision. No two are the same. All are coming to a production floor near you.

Now take a mobile robot that moves from one assembly station to another and plugs itself in – all autonomously. That’s the idea behind FANUC’s new long-arm collaborative robot and its travel buddy, the TUG autonomous mobile robot by Aethon.

The new EPSON Flexion N-Series six-axis robot features the world’s first compact folding-arm technology, which reduces the required workspace area by up to 40 percent versus standard six-axis robots.

Six-axis robot with unique folding-arm design

How about a team of robots assembling consumer electronics? Check out Nachi six-axis and SCARA robots demoing an assembly process for tablets.

Watch: Tablet Assembly by Nachi EZ03 & MZ04 Models

Robotic assembly is not always a six-axis, or even a four-axis, endeavor. Known for their rigidity, precision and large-payload capacities, Cartesian robots are suited for many types of assembly applications. Typically two- or three-axis systems, Cartesian robots generally have a smaller footprint than their SCARA and six-axis articulated cousins.

Toshiba’s Cartesians are industrial-grade machines, designed for continuous operation, for three shifts a day, seven days a week. They are used in the packaging, automotive, medical, pharmaceutical, and plastics industries.

Watch: Toshiba Machine’s BE3 Series 3-axis Cartesian robot exemplifies circular interpolation

When you’re working in a confined space where three or more axes of motion are required, that’s when you start looking at different configurations.

The Kawasaki duAro robot can either coordinate movements between its two SCARA arms or operate each one independently. The duAro not only operates with the dexterity of a human, but the collaborative robot can also work alongside its human coworkers without the need for safety fencing.

Watch: Assembly of printed circuit boards at iREX 2015 – Kawasaki duAro robot

Edgewater Automation has built a variety of robotic assembly machines from the ground up, or modified existing systems for improved performance. One such system was a dual-robot workcell for sorting and testing an automotive transmission component before a subsequent assembly process.

The customer required a higher cycle time, wanted to keep the existing footprint of the machine, and also wanted some flexibility for separating the two (Adept SCARA) robots that were currently operating in each other’s work zones.  They were able to move the two SCARAs far enough apart to allow them to operate at maximum speed, but without increasing the machine footprint. Separating the robots into individual work zones increased access for easier maintenance. It also made programming easier because you don’t have two robots working within a crash zone.

Each robot is equipped with a conveyor-tracking vision package. When the parts come down the conveyor, a camera upstream of each robot takes a picture to confirm the location of the parts. Once the parts are in the pick zone, the robot picks one and moves it over a vision inspection area, where four cameras look at all sides of the part for dimensional inspection. Then the robot moves to a drop-off position where an eddy current check is done to test the hardness of the part before it’s deposited in a chute. Each robot has its own work zone to duplicate that operation.

Watch: High Speed Vision Inspection Machine

>> Read more by Tanya M. Anandan, Robotics Online, 12/15/2016

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