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Robots get smart with real-time tactile feedback

ABB has introduced Integrated Force Control which makes robots more intelligent and able to handle variations in the process with real-time external inputs.

Robots will act much like a human would when handling a delicate item or precise dimensions. From machining to small parts assembly, dexterous handling of work piece and tools is of the utmost concern. Small variations in the manufacturing phase can mean the difference between utmost success and failure.

Conventional robotic solutions are controlled by predefined paths and speeds. However, with ABB Integrated Force Control, the robot reacts to its surrounding and can deviate from its programmed path or speed based on feedback from the force sensor. It is possible to automate complex tasks which previously required skilled personnel and advanced fixed automation.

“Integrated Force Control opens up the possibility to automate tasks that have not been possible using traditional robot automation,” says ABB’s Robotic Product Specialist Paolo Maggi. “Compared with expensive, hard automation, robotic solutions are less expensive and require a greater degree of flexibility.” 

Robotic assembly can be very demanding with small tolerances and small parts that must fit together. With ABB’s Integrated Force Control Feature it is possible to assemble parts with tolerances that are within the range of the robot’s incredibly precise repeatability without requiring highly accurate and expensive fixtures. 

In addition, a force-controlled robot can be programmed to mimic the movements of a human arm, applying search patterns to find the correct position to assemble a given part. In this way, Integrated Force Control Feature also significantly reduces the risk of assembly failures which can result in production problems or damaged parts.

ABB’s Integrated Force Control enables system integrators a new dimension of robot intelligence in machining applications such as grinding, polishing, deburring and deflashing. One of the packages’ features allows a robot to grind, polish or buff parts while maintaining a constant force between the tool and the work piece. 

Another feature enables a robot to deburr or deflash partlines and surfaces of parts at a controlled speed, thereby slowing down when encountering excessive burrs or casting flash.  

The force sensor is fully integrated into ABB’s hardware and software, protected against overload and EMC, certified to IP65 and suitable for high precision robotic applications with a compact and lightweight design. 

When combined with vision sensors, ABB Integrated Force Control Function also allows for new ways of thinking about a myriad of other robotic automated functions that previously required skilled personnel. 

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