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Three new packages announced for robot off-line programming.

Three major vendors have developed new hardware and software for off-line robot programming and workcell design. These developments stood out prominently among the new offerings displayed and demonstrated at the Robots 9 trade show, held earlier this year in Detroit.

One of the new packages demonstrated is the Robot Off-Line Programming System (ROPS) from Cincinnati Milacron's Incustrial Robot Div, Lebanon, OH. Intended for use with the company's T.sup.3 700 and T.sup.3 800 electric robots and the Version 4 robot control system, ROPS is a coordinated package of software modules. It enables the user to create new robot programs, and edit existing ones, at the keyboard of an IBM PC-AT or DEC VAX computer while the robot continues to operate on-line.

"ROPS also provides direct communication with CAD/CAM systems," says Milacron's ROPS product manager Tom Thomas. "This eliminates the need for regenerating design data that already exists."

The file-based system includes three basic modules:

* The programming module. This processes data from many types of sources to create the robot operating program.

* The translator module, which transforms existing programs for off-line editing by the programming module.

* The STR-Link data cartridge reader module. This interfaces the ROPS system with the robot controller.

Optional, additional modules include CAD/CAM interfaces, a communications module for simplified program storage and editing, a module for simplified data entry, and individual, application-oriented programs.

ROPS can provide low-cost positioning and simple programming for handling of symmetric parts, path generation for straight and circular paths, and calibration to accommodate real-world data.

Translates to NC

Like Milacron's ROPS, the new Robocam package from Prab Robots Inc, Kalamazoo, MI, integrates three different software modules for off-line robot programming. Robocam involves both CAD and CAM tied directly to Prab's Series G electric robots. These units are capable of being driven directly from off-line CAD systems that generate both parts geometry and work envelope content.

"Once a part or work assignment has been designed on a CAD system and checked for accuracy, the data are transformed through Robocam into robot language, and are downloaded to the robot through Prab's Series 800 controller," explain's Prab's President Walter Weisel. "Since the geometric configurations are automatically translated into robot coordinates, our six-axis robots can perform like six-axis machine tools. This is a capability that NC programmers have long desired."

The Robocam package allows CAD users in a central engineering department to totally design a product, and program the ultimate robot assignments, before they are implemented on the plant floor. The central department can transmit robot NC commands to any number of plant locations where Series G robots are to operate. These transmitted data can be modified to take into account the site-specific variables at each plant.

"For the first time anywhere in the world, programmers have the ability to automatically program robots and machine tools without on-site human interventioM," says Weisel. "This capability will greatly reduce the costly time required for changeover and maintenance of equipment programs."

The system makes use of the Euclid CAD/CAM system supplied by Matra Datavision, Burlington, MA. Euclid is based on 3-D solid modeling techniques.

Generic cell design

Also demonstrated at Robots 9 was a new series of software packages and workstations called Heron, from Robocad Ltd, Birmingham, MI. Utilizing workstations that have the Unix operating system and run on the Motorola 32-bit 68010 processor, Heron is intended mainly for design and implementation of robotic workcells.

The Heron system includes six different software modules:

* Robosim, for workcell design, task description, and cell operating simulation.

* Roboload, which translates the user's program and downloads it to the robot controller.

* Robogeo, for geometric modeling and mechanism design.

* Robodoc, for drafting and documentation.

* Robopert project management tools.

* Robolib libraries of programs for commonly used robot arms, accessories, and peripherals.

The company says their system can reduce the time expended for robot workcell design by as much as 60 percent. Significant savings in robot programming time, editing time, and machine downtime can also be realized through use of the system.

The list price of the Heron 1000 system--complete with workstation hardware, solid-modeling software, and color graphics--is $95,000. Monochrome systems and slave workstations are also available at lower cost.

Robocad Ltd announced that it has signed an OEM marketing agreement with GMF Robotics Corp, Troy, MI. This company will sell the Heron systems under the GMF tradename.

For free literature from the suppliers mentioned in this report, circle the indicated numbers on the Reader Service Card: Cincinnati Milacron Circle E43 GMF Robotics Corp Circle E44 Matra Datavision Circle E45 Prab Robots Inc Circle E46 Robocad Ltd Circle E47

"Sticky-fingered" robot

has five-way moves

LaSalle Machine Tool Inc, Troy, MI, recently built a computer-aided manufacturing built a computer-aided manufacturing system featuring a five-axis robot with universal gripper fingers. It functions as a job setter and also as an assembly worker.

The illustration shows it removing one of four 100-lb, cast-aluminum mechanisms from a staging area prior to installing it in the fixture of a press for subsequent assembling. The mechanism is required to assemble different size bronze bushings into cylinder boxes of steel pump bodies. In its role as a job setter, when commanded by the host compter of the automatic line, the robot uses all of its 5-way motions to literally take apart the assembly press, reassembling it in minutes to ready it for handling a different size part. In addition to the part shown, the robot handles arobors and fixtures--all with the same "sticky fingers."

After an assembly changeover, the robot performs its second duty. It picks up parts to be assembled from a pallet, places them, one at a time, in a rotating fixture mounted under a vision camera (for part size verificatio and radial orientation). When the part has been radially oriented, the robot regrips the part, swings, and inserts it into a special collet. It then clears the assembly machine and signals it to start the assembly cycle.

While the part is being processed, the robot turns, picks up another part and places it into the orienting fixture. While the part is being oriented the robot turns to regrip the completed part from the assembly machine and places it into a waiting take-away pallet. Then, it wheels again to grip the part just oriented to place it onto an empty collet indexed into position for loading by the assembly machine.

When the pallet has its assembled, 4-part load, the robot signals the elevator of the automatic conveyor to lower the pallet onto a conveyor for removal, so a new pallet with parts to be assembled can be positioned for processing.

For more information on computer-assisted manufacturing systems, circle E21.

Six-axis robot for

thermal spraying

A computer-controlled, six-axis articulated arm robot has been specifically developed for thermal spray coating and/ or grit blasting operations. The AR 1000, made by Metco, Inc, Westbury, NY, features waist, shoulder, and wrist design that enables it to accurately maintain spray distance and control traverse speed over an almost infinite number of geometric part configurations. The robot has acceleration or deceleration time (ramp speed) of just 350 milliseconds.

It can be programmed "point-to-point," using a teach pendant, or "off-line" with a CRT/keyboard, and can store up to 40 programs in permanent memory. Additioal programs can be held in reserve using an optional magnetic tape cassette unit.

The unit consists of six major components, including the robot body, controller, operating module, interface module, teaching pendant, and CRT/keyboard unit. The controller, which stores the programs, and has 128K of memory, can handle up to 1000 point locations in space (the average thermal spray program requires 15 or less). Ten standard software programs are provided with the unit, covering common part configurations. These "smart" programs enable an operator to enter production instructions by simply following instructions on CRT screen.

Thermal spray processes are a means of applying special metallic or ceramic coatings on surfaces during the original production of equipment to improve resistance to wear, heat, or corrosion. These coatings increase the component's service life and can reduce production costs. The processes are also highly cost-effective methods for salvaging OEM components which, through produced by other methods, but had been mismachined. For more information, circle E32.
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Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Sep 1, 1985
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