Modular Motion System Eases Design and Costs
Jeffrey Heimgartner posted on May 21, 2018 |

The manufacturing world continues to move toward more automation. This direction has many potential benefits, such as enhancing workplace safety, reducing downtime, boosting productivity and so on.

Unfortunately, finding exactly the right kind of automation to provide maximum benefits isn’t always an easy or cost-efficient task, especially when striving for a solution that allows for complex movements and individual solutions, and is also easy to use. Germany-based igus recently introduced a new modular motion system, robolink Apiro, that addresses these issues by providing countless possible combinations of components and individual solutions.

The new robolink Apiro was unveiled by igus at Hannover Messe 2018 in Germany this past April. (Image courtesy of igus.)
The new robolink Apiro was unveiled by igus at Hannover Messe 2018 in Germany this past April. (Image courtesy of igus.)

Apiro, derived from the Greek word for unlimited, was developed with the goal of creating a low-cost, modular solution that offers various ways of maximizing productivity. To achieve this, the company focused on decoupling the motor and gearbox—which simplifies axle cabling—and introducing new worm gears—which can affect rotational speed or transmit higher torque, and can be installed on up to six axes.

The new worm gears were engineered to be more lightweight than other standard worm gears and feature high-quality, tribo-polymers lubricants, which eliminate the need for additional lubricants, promote stability and prolong service life. The gears are offered for standard, inverted and linear movement, and have minimal clearance.

The joint connection takes place on the modular system via a multifunction aluminum profile. It allows drive shafts in the middle to pass through a cavity. A continuously rotating multifunction profile makes the inverted movement ideal for robotics and rotary applications. As for the linear movement worm gear, the aluminum multifunction profile can be moved linearly through the gearbox, or the gearbox can move on the profile.

The gearbox comes in four sizes, which can be combined with components from other manufacturers. The multifunction profile allows joints to be juxtaposed, thus offering the option to connect different gearboxes and the ability to create different automation applications.

Possible uses for Apiro could include building gantry robots, robotic arm manipulators, angular pushers for removing products, camera positioning systems, transport and handling systems, or animatronic or humanoid robots that can mimic movements such as those of a spider. Apiro’s ease of use and potential for creating different solutions also could be effective in areas such as training, development and research projects.

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