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ABB's Paint Robot is Explosion Proof

It works like an inkjet printer with more than 1,000 nozzles.

A paint booth is a volatile environment due to all the small, flammable particles that just need a little ignition to start a fire or cause an explosion. Fire hazards, exposed motors or circuitry, and insufficient ventilation can all spark serious events. But ABB’s IRB 5510 paint robot helps make sure that doesn’t happen by being “explosion proof.”

That’s how Israel Garcia, an applications engineer within the Robotics Business Unit at ABB, described it at a recent Formula-e race in Portland, Oregon. ABB, the title sponsor and official charging partner for the all-electric Formula-e racing circuit, set up a large outdoor booth at the event to show off its paint robot.

Garcia said the IRB 5510 earns its explosion-proof designation by maintaining positive pressure inside the robot to ensure that no particles ever get in, and by closing off any open spaces that appear on the company’s other similar robots. It allows the paint robot to slot into a production line in a factory setting and maintain high safety standards.

The arm on display at the event was there to demonstrate ABB’s PixelPaint non-overspray technology, which is designed to meet customer demand for individualized paint schemes for their vehicles, featuring either a contrast color or a personalized paint finish or design.

PixelPaint uses technology similar to an inkjet printer but with over 1,000 nozzles. Garcia said that, in a single pass, it’s able to apply patterns on a vehicle. Normally, that type of painting would require applying a coat, masking the car and then applying a second coat of the other color. By allowing its robot to apply both colors at once, ABB said it can help save a lot of production time and manual labor.

Garcia said that most of ABB’s PixelPaint customers operate in the automotive industry but he said the technology can be adapted for any vertical.

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