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Smart with robotics: igus low-cost automation in education

igus GmbH

Hardware Price:

Education project

Future Helper



Vocational trainees learn about the practical and simple automation possibilities with robolink DP jointed-arm robots.

A lot has changed at the vocational school in Rüti. Instead of the old robots, which were already getting on in years, the modern igus robolink jointed-arm robots have now moved in. This change has not only impressed the vocational trainees, but also the teachers.

The Rüti Vocational School is a service provider with an independent educational mission and offers learner instruction in basic education, vocational and general continuing education and training. This school year, around 1,000 vocational learners are being taught. The vocational school also offers a wide range of additional courses in a variety of areas in the form of optional subjects. For example, vocational trainees from the polymechanics and design engineering classes are offered the optional subject "PLC/robotics" in the fourth year of their apprenticeship. "The topics of robotics and automation are omnipresent in the professional world of mechanical engineering. It is therefore all the more important that the vocational trainees learn how to use a robot and apply their theoretical knowledge in practice," says Matthias Eberhart, vocational school teacher mbA in Rüti and teacher of the free subject. In order to have access to the best equipment in the classroom, all seven existing robots were replaced by new ones from igus in the in-house CIM laboratory last year.

igus low-cost automation for simple automation

"Our old robots had been in use for 30 years and were no longer up to date, as the saying goes. So we went in search of new ones. We looked at a wide variety of brands and finally the team decision fell unanimously on the robolink RL-DP jointed-arm robot from igus. Not only because the price was unbeatable, but also because the robot is easy to program and has an additional linear axis, which we really wanted," recalls Eberhart. "Our low-cost automation was designed for industrial use, to automate simple handling tasks and processes and thus gain a significant increase in productivity. The use of our robot solutions in schools, universities or in education in general has increased very strongly in recent years, as the topic of automation in manufacturing is becoming more and more important," says André Kirchhofer, Product Manager Low-Cost Automation at igus Switzerland, about the award of the igus jointed-arm robots in the vocational school in Rüti.

New robotic workstations with robolink DP

The robolink DP jointed-arm robot has five degrees of freedom and can be used individually and flexibly for applications with precision requirements of ± 0.5 millimeters at a load of up to three kilograms. A total of seven are used at the vocational school in Rüti, five of them permanently mounted on a Festo plate and two on a linear axis on two CNC machines. We have set up a real automation solution in the CIM laboratory - planned and implemented according to our wishes and, of course, completely networked. Thus, we have two CNC machines, each of which is stocked by a robolink robot, and a railroad with PLC control was integrated for transporting the parts. Furthermore, 3D printers are available here, which we also used to print all the cable guides and brackets for the robot workstations, for example. In addition to the robolink, the five fixed workstations are equipped with a light barrier, a conveyor belt, various pneumatic components for PLC coupling, a controller box and an experiment box with four inputs and two outputs for robot control. Our lab provides a really great environment to ensure that the trainees feel comfortable and can fully let off steam," explains Eberhart, visibly proud.

Simple operation and free software

The free and license-free igus Robot Control Software is integrated into the control system and uses a uniform operating concept. It can be programmed via a Windows PC. The handheld enables comfortable operation and easy handling for left- and right-handers. Plug-and-play installation makes it easy to connect in the control cabinet, and no additional cabling is required. Operation is quick and easy with a joystick and via the 3.4-inch touch display. "The robot's software is really designed to be very simple and user-friendly, allowing for easy and intuitive robot programming and control. Complemented by our handheld, it is the ideal controller to make the entry into automation much easier," affirms André Kirchhofer. Thanks to software developed by the vocational school in Rüti ZH, the robots can communicate with each other via paid Modbus licenses.

Seventh axis for more radius of action

In order to perfectly integrate the two CNC machines into the automation solution and load them with blanks, it was necessary for two of the robolink jointed-arm robots to have an additional axis. "The linear axis can be used individually and flexibly, can be controlled directly by our igus Robot Control with all its advantages, and extends the radius of action of the robolink jointed-arm robots," Kirchhofer illustrates, and Eberhart adds, "It is simply fun to watch the joy with which our vocational trainees work, learn and experiment with the robots. We are really thrilled with the robolinks and haven't regretted our decision for a single second."

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