What’s New in Assembly Technology?

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Robots have long been used for a wide variety of assembly tasks. Arguably, assembly is one of the earliest appli-cations of robots in automotive. Consequently, robotic companies have been focusing on the ways and means to make robots more effective and efficient, providing better quality, faster cycle times, and easier implementation.

Here’s a look at some recent developments in the field.

Yaskawa Motoman offers vision and sensing capabilities 
Yaskawa Motoman (motoman.com) has developed Motofit, an integrated six-axis force sensing package and MotoSight 2D vision, a hardware and software system used for part location, identification, sorting, inspection, and error proofing for use with its robots.

MotoFit alters the robot’s position based on the force encountered to align or assemble parts. Its six-axis force sensor can detect three translational forces and three axial moments. Three operations (touching, fitting and inserting) are combined to provide automatic precision fits of mating surfaces of 10 to 100 µm. High-speed fits (up to 20-mm deep with h7/H7 tolerance) can be completed in five seconds. This can be utilized for drivetrain components, seats, electronics, or battery assembly and non-destructive testing. 

MotoFit includes a high-speed communication board, power supply box, robot mounting flange adapter, and Engineering Support Tool (EST) software. EST, a PC application, is used for sensor setup and job creation. After creation, jobs can be edited if needed. Select Motoman robots (6-15 axis; up to 20 kg payload) are offered with MotoFit. Compatible robot controllers include the DX200 and FS100. 

Motoman has upgraded its MotoSight 2D vision system. This system now offers a pendant-based programming capability, which means that a PC is no longer required, as users can use the pendant for everything from creating programs to viewing live images. MotoSight 2D includes an IP67-rated Yaskawa camera (MS100, MS200, MS300) and robot controller software. As Yaskawa worked with Cognex on developing this system, optional Cognex In-Sight Micro 1050, 1100 and 1400, and 5000- and 7000-series cameras are available.

FANUC robots allow operation in small spaces
The new M-2iA/3A (short arm) and M-2iA/3AL (long arm) robots are the latest additions to the M-2iA series of high-speed parallel-link robots from FANAC (fanucamerica.com) that offer six-axes of motion and a 3- kg payload for high-speed kitting and assembly applications. Benefits include the portability of the units, compact size for operation in small spaces, and a hollow wrist allowing tooling cables to be routed internally. The robots can also be used with FANUC’s latest intelligent features including iRVision (an integrated, plug-and-go vision system), force sensing, collision guard, and a linking feature that can control and coordinate up to ten robots through a network. 

Epson enhances small part assembly 
Epson (robots.epson.com) has developed the C4 and the extended reach C4L (providing up to 965 mm of reach) which feature slim bodies and a compact design for greater motion range and fewer mechanical restrictions. The robots can reach into confined and restricted work spaces from many angles. With Epson’s QMEMS vibration-sensing technology, these robotic arms are able to minimize vibration and maximize speed, acceleration and deceleration which translates to faster cycle times. The RC700 controller provides additional integrated options including vision guidance, .Net Support, conveyor tracking, GUI Builder, EtherNet/IP, DeviceNet, Profibus and more. These robotic arms are suitable for small parts assembly.