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Robots get greater range with plug-and-play linear actuators

Robots get greater range with plug-and-play linear actuators

Industrial robots have long been established as the technology of choice when it comes to efficient automation solutions for a wide range of handling and processing tasks. Now, thanks to a new innovation, owners and users can significantly extend the working range of their robots and cobots (collaborative robots) by installing Schaeffler driven linear units as horizontal axes.

Schaeffler offers its customers linear actuators as customised turnkey solutions. The compact, ready-to-install linear axis solution developed by Schaeffler consists of a MDKUVE tandem actuator, a corresponding adapter plate for the cobot, an appropriate motor/gearbox unit, prefabricated motor cables, a drag chain for all of the cobot’s supply lines/cables, and a motor controller. The solution comes complete with Profibus, Profinet, and EtherCAT interfaces for connection to the customer’s control system. The linear axis solutions have various options for connecting to the motor/gearbox units. Customers also have the option of using their drive technology instead of the Schaeffler drive solution if they so wish.

Depending on customer requirements, the linear axis can be supplied in various lengths and can be driven by a MDKUVE-KGT ball screw drive, a MDKUVE-3ZR toothed belt drive, or a linear motor. In the tandem actuator, which forms the basis of the linear axis, the guide carriage runs along two parallel KUVE-type monorail guidance systems (four-row linear recirculating ball bearing and guideway assemblies). Due to its compact design envelope, the tandem actuator is ideally suited for use in applications involving high carrying and moment loads – such as collaborative robots. Tandem actuators offer maximum reliability in these applications when used with triple toothed belt drives.

For applications that require extremely high carrying and moment-load capacities, customers have the option of running the guide carriage on a KUSE-XL six-row linear recirculating ball bearing and guideway assembly in premium X-life quality.

Increasing cobot range

The linear axes are available in a range of lengths, depending on the drive being used. They can even be implemented as multi-part axes for added range in applications that involve longer travel paths. This flexibility means the compact linear axes be can easily integrated into new and existing automation solutions. As a further option, Schaeffler also offers an assembly and installation service. Tandem actuators driven by ball screw drives are available in a range of lengths up to a maximum of 5.9 metres and offer repeat accuracy of 0.025 mm and a maximum linear speed of 1.7 m/s. Tandem actuators driven by toothed belt drives, on the other hand, can be implemented as multi-part axes with lengths of up to 18 metres for applications where especially long travel paths are required. These longer implementations support very high linear speeds of up to 5 m/s and offer a repeat accuracy of ±0.1 mm.

Due to their compact, high-performance design, these plug-and-play linear axes also have applications in areas other than collaborative robots, most notably in the periphery of handling and assembly equipment and in factory automation.

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