Robots are given a hand

Written by: Tom Shelley | Published:

Schunk has brought out a four fingered robot gripper modelled on the human hand, and also a slightly more conventional three fingered robot gripper.



The Schunk Anthropomorphic Hand has been developed for use on service robots in both domestic and commercial environments, on the basis of a study by the German Aerospace Centre and the Harbin Institute of Technology.

It has four identical fingers but one is equipped with an additional configuration axis that allows it to function as an opposing thumb. The fingers are made with three joints. The proximal joints have two levels of movement and the distal joints are mechanically coupled to the medial joints. All the electric drives are integrated into the hand, so that when it is used with the Flat Changing System, the unit can be fitted to any robot arm in seconds. Non slip surfaces and position and force sensors in the fingers give the unit a high level of grip reliability and a level of tactile feeling that enables it to open bottles or pick up a raw egg.

The Schunk Dextrous Hand has three double jointed fingers. Six tactile sensor fields on the grip surfaces enable object recognition as well as delicate, tactile and secure gripping. Different grip scenarios can be loaded into memory in the control electronics in the base of the hand. The joint modules can generate torques of up to 4.8N for the proximal joint and 2.1N for the distal joint, which almost corresponds to the strength of the human hand. For the unit to be able to master cylindrical gripping, two of the fingers can be angled towards each other.

Stepper motors have torque

Sanmotion F Series 2 phase stepper motors from EAO have minimum holding torques of 0.39Nm in the NEMA 17, 2.15Nm in the NEMA 24 and 9Nm in the NEMA 34 frame sized model. They are available with integrated internal drives and are available with uni or bipolar windings. The NEMA 17 and 24 units have a 0.9 deg step angle and the NEMA 34, 1.8 deg. They are said to offer a high accuracy step angle and be suitable for applications in semiconductor production equipment, conveyors, printing presses, optical measuring instruments, surveillance and medical equipment and general industrial machinery.

Wheelset bearings cut costs on track

Costs can be cut and trouble saved by train and locomotive manufacturers sourcing complete sub-assemblies from a single supplier, rather than buying multiple, individual components from different suppliers and doing the assembly work themselves.

Bombardier now partners with Schaeffler KG on its class 185 TRAXX F140AC dual frequency locomotives. The Schaeffler Group is sole supplier of FAG cylindrical roller bearings, deep groove ball bearings, four point bearings and current insulation cylindrical roller bearings to the Bombardier site in Henningsdorf in Germany. Since 2004, Bombardier has purchased FAG wheelset bearings – housings including cylindrical roller bearing units – for the BR 185.2. Wheelset bearings for entire bogies are supplied as complete kits in a wire crate.

Wheelset bearings for Nuremburg’s new, driverless underground trains are also supplied by the Schaeffler Group. The bearings are pre-lubricated for one service interval and require no maintenance for six years or 1.2million kilometres. A special surface coating on the inner ring bore helps avoid damage to the axle journal during bearing mounting and demounting.

Servo drives speed making of smart boxes

Collaboration between packaging machine maker Europack and motors and drives supplier Lenze has led to a machine able to produce a revolutionary type of cardboard carton in five months from the concept stage and approaching target performance a month later.

The Smart Karton concept is based on a special plastic film that is firmly glued to the base of the box and lightly glue tacked to the closing tabs. It comes in two versions. The ‘Commercial Karton’ has a single layer of film that is folded over the product by hand and then tightened by a heat shrink process. The ‘Retail Karton’ has a special two part film with adhesive between the two layers. The film layers are peeled open and then the inner layer is pressed by hand onto the product. The adhesive hardens to fix the film in position and firmly hold the product.

Apart from the product and the layer of film, there is no other packaging material in the box. Field tests have shown that smaller boxes can be used, in one case reducing warehouse shipments from seven to four vehicles per day.

Europack set about designing a machine to produce up to 40 cartons per minute. A stack of pre-cut boards is conveyed to the in-feed de-stacker. A servo drive pusher mechanism then presents individual boards to an in-feed conveyor, correctly gapped to the preceding board. The servo driven in-feed conveyor transports the board under the glue guns and onto the compression rollers, which are also servo driven, and at that point, the film is applied to the board under tension. A fourth servo drive controls the rotary knife which cuts the film between the boards in such as way that there is a film overlap to make it easy for users to apply. The finished boards with glued film are stacked and removed by an out-feed conveyor.

The development team comprised three mechanical and two electrical designers at Europack and two control and automation specialists from Lenze.

Precision gantries optimised for rapid assembly

Anorad has brought out gantries with high performance linear motors and recirculating ball bearing linear guides for rapid point to point motion of a type often required in electronics assembly and similar applications.

The LC50 motors allow accelerations of up to 4g. Velocities as high as 3m/s can be achieved without compromising the life or reliability of the system. For applications requiring the highest performance, a dual motor Y-axis option is available. Gantries are available with X and Y travel from 250mm to 750mm and positional repeatability to 2 microns.

Flexible couplings and mounts make quieter boats

Renold Hi-Tec Couplings has launched a new range of flexible couplings and engine mounts for use with high speed, flex mounted diesel engines in boats.

The new VF couplings are designed to provide the low radial and axial stiffness required for connecting flex mounted diesel engines to gearboxes secured rigidly to vessel hulls. Flex mounted engines, commonly found on leisure craft, are increasingly finding applications on workboats, fishing boats and tugs to reduce noise and vibration. The new product range has been designed for boat engines with a torque range from 5,000 to 18,000Nm


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