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This Robot Welds Because People Won't

From the world’s first MIG welding cobot to a zero-footprint palletizer, these robots do it better than humans.

All great robotic products are partnerships. That is the story from Doug Spinn, principal at Robot 27, a collaborative robot integrator that was one of 11 companies at ATX West showing off new manufacturing solutions that employ Universal Robots’ cobots.

Robot 27 displayed the first integrated MIG welding cobot that was developed by ARC Specialties. According to Spinn, hand welding leads to human error and this cobot can reduce the number of rejects. The welder is well-suited for the aerospace industry, and Spinn isn't worried about eliminating jobs. "It's not about replacing employees," he said, "because [companies] can't find employees.”

Repeatability and quality was the motivation behind a new partnership between Universal and American Hakko Products. Hakko is in the soldering equipment business and the company premiered an new soldering application that uses the smaller UR3 cobot. The UR3 was integrated with Hakko's soldering and wire feeding units, a product line that the company actually calls the FU series.

According to Universal Robots' Craig Tomita, the application offers repeatability, quality, and consistency that you don't get from a human. After all, people are great, but they can't solder 24/7. 

The most impressive, if not largest, application was the Zero Footprint Palletizer from APEX Motion Control. APEX built the palletizer for companies that typically can't afford the floorspace, the ZFP actually takes up less room than if you have a human doing the work.

The palletizer is built for mid-rate production, stacking seven cases per minute. Using the UR10, the cobot is mounted to a vertical swing system so it can stack pallets on either side of the machine. It handles payloads up to 18 pounds and it’s a plug-and-play solution that can replace manual palletizing operations in minutes.

The palletizer works because cobots don't require the requisite machine guarding that you see in other systems. It has safety features, such as a lidar scanner, that slows or stops the machine whenever humans get too close.

From ATX West, it certainly appears that all great robotic products are partnerships, and UR is looking for even more OEM partners going forward. They’re getting into some interesting new applications, but for that, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

This is IEN Now. 

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