East Providence, R.I.—Louisiana Robotic Machines has developed an innovative, all-pneumatic robot hand that uses Zipper-style cable carriers in its finger joints. The design won the “Special Design” award in the igus vector 2012 competition, which sought to honor those implementing polymer cable carriers in unique and challenging ways.
Louisiana Robotic Machines designs, develops, and builds robotic manufacturing machines. Recently, the company embarked upon the design and development of its DigitL Pneumatic Hand: an all-pneumatic hand intended for educational environments. Since the robot hand is for instructional use, it had to be easy to assemble and disassemble. The company opted to use five Zipper Energy Chain cable carriers from igus to build out the fingers and thumb, which resolved design challenges that Louisiana Robotic Machines had previously encountered, such as too much weight and a lack of durability.
Small cylinders in the Zipper chains carry out the movements, bending and stretching the fingers. The zip-up principle of the Zipper Energy Chains makes fitting and servicing the cylinders effortless. The chain’s polymer material holds its strength under stress and the chains themselves allow visual observation without restricting the moving, mechanical parts. By reducing the number of parts involved from 75 to 25, the company also reduced assembly and disassembly times.
Zipper Energy Chains differ from the typical Energy Chain design, which features side-links and crossbars: instead, they are constructed with interconnected lids. These lids pull back like a zipper, removing the top section of the Energy Chain in one, uniform piece at any point along the length of the carrier.
Zipper chains enable fast and simple cable installation and removal — in particular for those cables pre-assembled with connectors — because the unique design eliminates the need to snake cables through the carrier. Instead, cables and hoses can be laid out along the Energy Chain in easily accessible compartments.
Zipper Energy Chains are ideal for applications requiring an economical solution, little to no noise, high accelerations and travel speeds, high stability, long service life, and an aesthetic design. Sizes range from an inner height of 0.35 to 1.26 in. and an inner width of 0.24 to 3.94 in.
Louisiana Robotic Machines saved thousands of dollars in injection molding and tooling by integrating the igus Zipper Energy Chain cable carriers into their design. The fact that the Zipper chains are readily available also contributes to a LEAN Just-In-Time (JIT) manufacturing package for the company.
The Digitl Hand won the Special Design award in the vector 2012 competition, which received 162 entries from 27 different countries. KUKA Systems, located in Augsburg, Germany, received the gold vector award for their design of the KUKA Cobra: a faster, lighter and more compact robot system for press automation, which increased output while combining a dynamic linear axis with unique flexibility.
Joury van Gijseghem from DEME, in Antwerp, Belgium, received the silver vector for the Amoras project. Brackwater from the Port of Antwerp is routed into large tanks and the sludge suctioned off by pumps on the bridge for treatment. These pumps can be moved across the entire span of the 492 foot bridge using a System E4-350 Energy Chain from igus, which is wear proof, maintenance free and resistant to seawater and mineral oil. The unique design allows the entire plant to operate around the clock without the need for maintenance.
The SCM Group S.p.A., from Rimini, Italy, received the bronze vector for its use of igus’ TwisterBand Energy Chains to manufacture a custom woodworking machine. The machine is able to carry out numerous different movements as it follows the contour of the workpiece, including rotating around its own axis with an overall rotation of 1,440° in both directions. The igus TwisterBand was a lightweight and low cost solution for SCM.
The vector award is a worldwide joint initiative between igus and MM MaschinenMarkt. The judging panel also includes engineers and scientists representing the German Central Association of Electrical Engineering, the Electronics Industry e.V., and the Machine Tool Laboratory at RWTH Aachen. The vector award is under the patronage of the Hanover Fair.
Filed Under: Pneumatic Tips