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Robots bend over backwards to reach new locations

20 March, 2013

Mitsubishi Electric has announced a new generation of vertical and horizontal robots, up to three of which can be controlled directly from modules mounted in an iQ PLC rack. The new Melfa F series includes six-axis vertical robots, claimed to have a larger working envelope than others of their type, and horizontal Scara-type machines, claimed to be the fastest in their class.

The vertical robots can handle loads up to 20kg, have a reach of up to 1.5m (20cm further than the previous generation), and a repeatability of 0.02mm. Uniquely, the robots – which can be floor, wall or ceiling mounted –­ can reach over and behind their own base. They incorporate specially developed servomotors and have a 0.29s cycle time for a 300mm movement – claimed to be class-leading.

The horizontal robots can handle loads of up to 20kg, have a reach of up to 1m, and positioning repeatability of ±0.01mm. Mitsubishi sees them as a higher-capacity rival to delta-type pick-and-place robots. They offer 1P54 protection as standard (or IP65 if bellows are used).

The arms of the vertical robots can contain cabling – including pneumatic tubing and I/O for gripper controls, and Cat 5 Ethernet cabling for vision systems or other Ethernet devices – to the end of spindle for protection and safety.

The F-Series controllers are available either as standalone devices or in rack-mounting versions for iQ PLCs. Controlling up to three robots from one rack allows them to share data, thus enabling automatic collision avoidance and co-operative control. The co-operative function allows different arms to share the same workspace – for example, when joining parts together or lifting long items.

The robots can also support up to eight extra servo axes. For instance, they can be mounted onto a linear slide so that one robot can serve two or more workstations.

The vertical-arm robots are designed to meet IP67 for easy cleaning, making them attractive for food and beverage applications. They also use food-safe grease. For the pharmaceutical and medical sectors, a cleanroom version meeting ISO 3 is available.

Service intervals for the new machines have been extended from 6,000 to 24,000 hours.

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