igus is introducing robolink D – a direct-driven articulated joint kit - to complement its existing robolink W low-cost, wire-driven modular robotics kit. Currently available in three joint sizes – 20, 30 and 50 – the new development is based on self-lubricating PRT slewing ring bearings, worm gear drives and NEMA 17 or 23 stepper motors.
Robert Dumayne, a director at igus UK, comments: "Until now, the stepper motors were not placed in the robotic joint itself but, instead, in a separate drive unit, driven by means of Bowden wires coupled to it. In order to carry higher loads with better precision, robolink D is our second concept where the motors are integrated into the joints. The direct drive makes the robolink articulated system tougher and more durable than before, opening up more opportunities for lean automation."
The robolink D components kit, which comprises articulated joints - consisting of iglidur PRT slewing ring bearings, a worm gear and a plastic housing - that can be optionally equipped with igus stepper motors and connecting components, as well as limit switches for obtaining a 'home' signal. Designed with the ability to be collaborative, or 'soft', robolink D gives robot manufacturers, mechanical engineers and automation specialists the opportunity to develop safe working environments for repetitive tasks or in applications where robotic movements would enhance productivity. Potential applications areas range from automotive production to medical technology.
Dumayne adds: "With robolink D, it is possible to use the individual articulated joints as a construction kit to make an articulated arm with up to six degrees of freedom." In addition to the articulated joints, different connection elements (made of plastic) and connection tubes (made of aluminium) are also available. STEP files of the connecting parts are available free of charge. Designers simply specify the components they need and igus supplies the parts as a ready-to-build kit.
Whether used as individual components or as a complete system, robolink D's modular design is highly versatile. The designer is free to select their own control system, with many alternatives available - including stepper motor control cards, PLCs or other options such as Mathlab, Labview and ROS.