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6 October, 2022

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Plug-and-play cobot costs €4,970 and carries 2kg

12 May, 2022

igus has announced a smart cobot (collaborative robot) which costs just €4,970 (£4,230) and can be up and running within days. The plug-and-play cobot – part of the company’s Rebel family of robotic technologies – weighs just 8.2kg. It is claimed to be the lightest of its type, due largely to the fact that around 90% of its mechanical components are made from engineering polymers, including “the world's first industrial-grade cobot gearbox made of plastic”.

The cobot’s payload is 2kg, its reach is 664mm, and its repeatability is ±1mm at seven picks per minute. It is aimed at industrial applications such as pick-and-place and quality control, as well as emerging applications such as restaurant and agricultural automation.

A particular challenge when developing the cobot was how to deal with the heat generated in the integrated strainwave gears, which are affected thermally by the drive motors. “We focussed on larger motors and better efficiency to significantly reduce heat generation,” reports Alexander Mühlens, head of igus’ Low Cost Automation business. “This enabled us to improve continuously and ultimately quintuple the number of cycles to two million – which is equivalent to a normal service life of two years.”

The company has also applied its “smart plastics” know-how to the cobot’s power electronics, and developed an encoder with conductive plastic tracks which can measure temperature, current and the number of rotations, cycles and iterations. A cloud-connected camera can be used to generate a dashboard showing this data live, allowing users to track key indicators such as wear, cycle time and quantities in real time as the cobot is operating.

Igus will be offering the cobot in two variants:
• an open-source version without a control system, power supply or software, for €3,900; or
• a plug-and-play version, including control software and a power supply, for €4,970.

Users can specify strainwave gears in diameters of 80 or 105mm, capable of delivering 3Nm or 25Nm of torque respectively at 6rpm, with 50:1 transmission ratios. The cobot can be bought via igus’ RBTX online marketplace, along with compatible hardware and software from more than 40 suppliers, with the assurance that everything will be 100% compatible. Items available include cameras, grippers, motors, sensors and control systems.

An integration service called RBTXpert is also available, offering online consulting with a fixed-price guarantee. Experts advise users via live video links and can send proposals to them within hours. Typical hardware costs without integration start at €8,500, with complete systems starting at €12,500. The service has been working on more than 20 projects each week in Germany alone, and is being expanded with ten more consultants being added. Internationally, the service is available in seven countries, with another 14 in the pipeline.

igus says that its Rebel cobot can be commissioned in a few days at a low cost

The RBTX marketplace was born during the Covid pandemic and igus’ CEO, Frank Blasé, says it has changed the behaviour of both the company and its customers. Two years ago, he points out, customers would not have trusted remote integration.

Igus is aiming to simplify robotic integration even further with new offerings and business models. “We will provide an app store where low-cost automation vendors and software developers can contribute their software ideas,” explains Alexander Mühlens. “By leveraging existing software, users can implement their automation even faster.”

He envisages users connecting robots to digital services such as IFTTT or smart assistants such as Alexa or Siri. They will, for example, be able to order a coffee using spoken commands, which the robot will then serve. “This gives rise to entirely new business models – such as pay-per-pick – where users don’t pay for the robot, but only for its services,” Mühlens suggests. “These new capabilities will permanently change the robotics market – and everyday life with it.”

igus:  Twitter




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