Fanuc displays intelligence in robot-assisted machining

  • 09-Dec-2008 11:43 EST
Fanuc - IMTS - for MCM system.jpg

Fanuc robots can be deployed from end to end in machining cells, such as this one displayed at the recent IMTS show.

Fanuc Robotics America demonstrated its intelligent machining capabilities at September’s International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago, highlighting, among other things, its M-710iC robot, iRVision system, new FS-10iA force sensor, and Dual Check Safety (DCS) technology.

At one of its two intelligent machining cells at the show, the company highlighted robotic part picking, load/unload, and inspection. An M-710iC/50 with iRVision 3DL picked raw parts from a wheeled cart and took them to a vision inspection station for error checking. The robot then placed the parts on a transfer stand. The M-710iC/70T Toploader robot, also featuring iRVision 3DL, picked up and loaded the parts from the stand into the first of two Fanuc Alpha T-14iF ROBODRILL machines. The Toploader then unloaded the semi-finished part from the first ROBODRILL and loaded it into the second one for finishing. Upon completion of finishing, the M-710iC/70T transferred the finished part to a part-drying stand, from which a second M-710iC/50 robot, again with iRVision 3DL, picked up and manipulated the parts against a compliant deburring tool. Finally, the second M-710iC/50 robot placed the completed part onto a second transfer stand.

All three robots use Fanuc Dual Check Safety Speed and Position Check software.

Prior to the application of safety-rated robot software, all safeguarding of the robot needed to be external, either as a safety-rated limit switch or cam system, safety-rated area scanners, or other devices to limit robot travel or enhance protection, according to Fanuc Robotics. DCS-safety rated robot software allows the safety design of the robot system to use the robot itself for some of the safety functions.

The most significant benefit of DCS Speed and Position Check is in applications where the travel of the robot needs to be restricted due to floor space or process limits that are less than the full reach of the robot. Restricting the robot motion in Cartesian space means the robot can be restrained to exactly the area in which it works—something not possible with the current systems that limit robot motion externally using limit switches.

“By moving some of the safety functions to within the robot, customers will realize significant savings in floor space, flexibility in system layout, reduced hardware costs, and improved reliability,” said Claude Dinsmoor, General Manager, Controller Product Development, Fanuc Robotics.

In addition, safe zones can be enabled and disabled from an external source, such as a safety PLC. Designing a system with multiple zones means an operator can safely enter and leave the workspace of the robot.

“This streamlines the design of robot cells because it prevents the robot from entering the load area when an operator is present,” Dinsmoor explained. “This type of application is possible with existing technology, but it is typically difficult to setup, expensive to implement, and requires more floor space than a system using DCS.”

Fanuc Robotics’ intelligent robots with integrated force sensors provide 3-D assembly with six degrees of freedom. The new FS-10iA force sensor is a good solution to automate small-part assembly or for testing products requiring delicate force sensing, the company says. It is suitable for the LR Mate 200iC mini-robot.

The iRVision system is a ready-to-use robotic vision package, available on all Fanuc robots, requiring only a camera and cable—no additional processing hardware. It has a 2-D robot guidance tool to accomplish part location, error proofing, and other operations that normally require special sensors or custom fixtures. For robotic vision processes that exceed the capability of 2-D vision systems, Fanuc Robotics offers an integrated 3-D vision system.

The M-710iC robot series offers payloads ranging from 0 to 70 kg and a reach of 1360 to 3110 mm. Multiple mounting methods, including floor, ceiling, angle, and wall, make it possible for users to have sufficient access to unusually shaped workpieces.

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