Six-axis, jointed-arm robots are gaining popularity in molding for their extreme flexibility and ability to perform a number of operations within a single press cycle. At a recent Technology Days open house, Arburg GmbH in Germany (U.S. office in Newington, Conn.) demonstrated how this technology can be made even more flexible—putting a six-axis robotic cell on wheels so it can be easily moved from one press to another. The robot, from Kuka Robotics (U.S. office in Clinton Township, Mich.), is hung from the top of the cage. Mobility is enhanced by incorporating Arburg’s Selogica user interface in the Kuka control system. This allows the operator to enter all the movement sequences and functions on-site, without need for a programmer. Also, preprogrammed setups can be stored and recalled electronically. Grippers can be interchanged easily for different molding jobs. The mobile cell need only be docked mechanically to the molding machine and interfaced electronically with the press controller.
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Besides a handful of new robots and pickers, the big themes were modular ‘plug-and-play’ automation, Industry 4.0 connectivity, easier programming, and safer collaboration with human workers.