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Build your own robot arms from €243 per axis

09 May, 2016

The German engineering plastics specialist igus is pushing further into the world of robotics with a kit system that will allow users to create plastic-and-aluminium robot arms with up to six degrees of freedom at costs starting from €243 ($281) per axis. At the recent Hannover Fair, igus had a stand dedicated to the robot kits, which have articulated joints driven by worm gears with stepper motors optionally built into the joints. The arms have been designed to operate safely in “collaborative” applications with human co-workers.

The directly-driven robolink D kits follow igus’ earlier robolink W kits which were driven indirectly using wires. The new range is more precise and can handle loads of up to 4kg. “The direct drive makes the robolink articulated system tougher and more durable than before, opening up more opportunities for lean automation,” says igus UK director, Robert Dumayne.

The articulated joints, available in three sizes, consist of plastic slewing ring bearings, worm gears and connecting components, as well as limit switches used to define zero points. Various plastic and aluminium connecting elements are available. A new gripper adapter allows a choice of grippers to be attached to the robolink D arms.

Also on show in Hannover was a harmonic gear drive which could be used to provide a radially movable connection between the arm and a gripper. “The harmonic drive has the advantage that it has scarcely any backlash, and thus a precise adjustment, ensuring smoothness,” explains igus' robolink product manager, Martin Raak. “Moreover, it is very compact and has a high gear ratio.”

Igus’ kit-based Robolink D arms offer up to six degrees of freedom

At Hannover, igus was also demonstrating an online configurator that can be used to design the low-cost robotic arms. The company does not intend to supply control systems for its arms, which will work with existing controllers. At the Fair, igus was demonstrating an arm operating with a Beckhoff controller.

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