Acrobatic Top Performance

November 30, 2011

MICROMO (as seen on Robotics Online)

Spherical vehicle with balancing drive module as mechatronics demonstratorProject studies open up future perspectives and can also inspire people. Nowhere is this truer than in the field of mechatronics, which connects three highly dynamic and growing fields offering a vast range of new developments. For this reason, GIGATRONIK Stuttgart GmbH, a medium-sized company specializing in automotive electronics and information technology, sponsored a mechatronics demonstrator as a Bachelor’s thesis. This serves for demonstration purposes at fairs and recruiting days. Complex position control, in combination with fast mechanical implementation of the necessary commands, represented a challenge to both developers and the integrated components.

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Will Google Goggles spread the concept of machine vision?

November 28, 2011

Will Google Goggles spread the concept of machine vision?

One of the charms of machine vision is its use for inspection and code reading, but Google Goggles has an all new concept of how to pull data out of real-world objects. Microscan, an AIA member, looks at Google Goggles in their blog – a fascinating read which will grab your interest if you are into information technology in cyber space.

Spoiler alert: If you don’t know about Google Goggles, shut your eyes now or you’ll find out. Through the magic of an Android phone, and with Google Goggles, you can snap a picture of a landmark and, viola, pertinent information and links appear on your screen. Can’t read the menu because it is in French? Click a picture and get the translation.

There is more to this story (including speculation about the future of bar codes) and Microscan does a good job with it so their blog is the best place to go for this story. Let us know what you think about machine vision trends with a comment on Robots in America. Thanks!

Fast Forward for Image-Based ID Readers

November 28, 2011

Cognex Corporation (as seen on Robotics Online)

VSoC-powered readers increase read rates, reduce downtime and speed setup

In the not-so-distant past, manufacturers using laser scanners and conventional area-scan image based readers had to put up with inherent technology limitations. Laser scanners, for example, have a hard time reading barcodes through plastic shrink-wrap, barcodes printed on flexible material such as plastic bags, and damaged barcodes. When reading 2-D barcodes, manufacturers had to turn to conventional area-scan image-based readers, which come with depth of field limitations that make it difficult to read codes without controlling the distance between the barcode and the reader.

Thanks to next generation area scan image based readers powered by Vision System on Chip (VSoC) technology, those days are over. With its high speed, large depth of field, extremely high read rates, the ability to handle damaged codes, omnidirectional reading, and multi-code reading ability, as well 2-D symbol reading capability, this next generation of image-based readers is poised to make life easier for manufacturers.

See Robotics Online for the entire Case Study

A Lean-Mean Welding Cell

November 23, 2011

Motoman Robotics (as seen on Robotics Online)

…pairs a material-handling robot to manipulate weld fixtures with a robotic welder. Together the robotic duo tackles multiple part configurations and small batch sizes.

Material Handling and Arc Welding Robots in New Cell at MidmarkHealthcare-product manufacturer Midmark Corp, knows robotic welding inside and out. Back in 2005 the firm outfitted its 225,000-sq.-ft. plant in Versailles, OH, with a Motoman Robotics-integrated automated resistance-welding cell to assemble cabinets for a new line of examination tables. The cell brought new life to the firm’s stable of metal-fabricating equipment, including press brakes, laser-cutting machines, stamping presses and seven dedicated assembly lines. It has since added a Motoman® robotic gas-metal-arc-welding cell, for higher-volume assemblies.

More recently, Midmark went looking for a solution to handle lower-volume work—a lean arc-welding cell, if you will—to handle small batches and multiple part configurations.

“Our Power Procedures line of medical tables supports a wide range of specialty procedures,” says Midmark manufacturing engineer Joe Wuebker.  “These tables can include any number of accessories, and they’re delivered within an extremely tight three-day lead time.  Virtually every table is a custom order whose assembly requires as many as 30 different weldments.”

See Robotics Online for the full case study

DC Motor Selection Automated Patient Transfer Device

November 21, 2011

maxon precision motors, inc. (as seen on Robotics Online)

Nurses face the daily challenge of caring for an overweight population, which leads to debilitating injuries. A motorized lateral transfer device allows even the smallest nurse to move a heavy patient.

One of the growing problems facing the nursing career is a thinning staff, and with it the need to care for overweight patients with very little help. This effort has led to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) including back injuries, the most costly MSD injury. In fact, 12 percent of nurses leave the profession each year due to back injuries, and 52 percent suffer from chronic back pain. Those working in nursing homes have even a higher rate of injuries. Until recently, moving a patient was performed manually or with minimal automation.

Allowing a single nurse to safely and comfortably transfer a patient without risk of injury required a fully automated device. Astir Technologies (Concord, MA) took this on as a goal, to use the latest technologies available to provide patient transfer in a manner that decreases hospital costs and reduces injuries to health care professionals, while minimizing the discomfort to the patient. With this in mind, the company designed and manufactured the PowerNurse™ for that purpose.

All of the mechanisms are packaged in a low-profile (74- x 28- x 2.3-inch) assembly that rides over a standard hospital stretcher. With the PowerNurse patients can be moved between hospital beds, stretchers, imaging equipment, operating room tables, and exam tables. According to Chris McNulty, Astir Technologies President and developer of the PowerNurse, “Other less expensive friction reducing devices decrease but do not eliminate the risk of nurse injury while performing a lateral transfer.”

See the full Technical Paper on Robotics Online

Minimally Invasive Tissue Removal System

November 18, 2011

maxon precision motors, inc. (as seen on Robotics Online)

Medical engineers consistently look for ways to provide devices to physicians that offer smaller incision requirements, a more accurate procedure, and the opportunity for a quicker recovery.

The five man engineering team at Interlace Medical worked on their latest tissue removal system for about two and a half years from the original concept to completion of their latest upgrade. Fast turnaround of new devices is always a valuable asset for a company, but it’s all about finding and implementing the right components for the results you’re looking to achieve.

Interlace’s MyoSure® Tissue Removal System was designed to remove fibroids found on the uterine wall. Fibroids affect more than thirty percent of women in the U.S. according to the Advanced Gynecology Solutions website put together by Dr. Paul D. Indman, M.D. Typically women who have fibroids visit their doctor because of abnormal bleeding between menstrual cycles.

In the past, the primary tool used to remove the fibroid tissue was a monopolar loop electrode. The device is used to literally scrape the tissue from the uterine wall. This method produces a large amount of “chips” that can also get in the way of the operation, slowing it down considerably and creating the possibility of less accurate cuts.

It has long been the request of physicians that a less intrusive device be designed for these operations. Once an alternative became available, it was very slow and could not compete with the older monopolar loop electrode methods already in use by many practitioners.

The MyoSure device was designed to eliminate the challenges posed by the presently marketed devices. Since the design of the new system was performed largely in-house, the Interlace Medical team was able to get together regularly and go over the pros and cons in each design step. The team was also very sensitive about the way the device went together to hold down manufacturing costs, which could be passed along directly to the customer.

See the full technical paper on Robotics Online

Picking the Best Robotic Tooling for Palletizing

November 16, 2011

by Earl Wohlrab, Intelligrated Systems Inc.

By asking the right questions, companies can design robotic systems that maximize end-of-line efficiency and ROI

Today’s manufacturers have started looking downstream more and more for automation opportunities. And when they do, more are choosing robotic systems. According to PMMI’s 2007 Packaging Machinery Shipments & Outlook Study, shipments of robotic palletizers rose by more than 16 percent in 2006 —and shipments of packaging machinery are projected to increase from $469 to $530 million by 2009.

Designing a robotic palletizing cell has become more complicated as companies invest more in environmentally friendly and sustainable packaging. To reduce dunnage, standard corrugated cardboard cartons are being replaced with thinner-walled pressboard, shrink-wrapped bundles of product on corrugated pads, and even loose product in trays. Add increased demand from club stores and marketing changes to the mix, and manufacturers need to account for an even wider range of packaging sizes, shapes and materials.

Choosing the correct end-of-arm tooling helps ensure that a new robotic palletizing or depalletizing system can effectively handle a company’s full range of packaging types. End-of-arm tooling is a highly project-specific component that represents a large percentage of the overall cost of the system. Tooling types for palletizing include vacuum, side clamp, fork style and layer handling (see “Tooling Overview” section on page 2 for details on each tooling type). Asking the following questions and understanding the specifications of each type is essential to designing a system that will maximize performance, speed, uptime and return on investment.

See the full story, including Five Questions to Ask Before Specifying Robotic Tooling.