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Robot arm tool changers now offer both hydraulic and electric locking systems

09 August 2006

The new MPS 500 robot arm automatic tool changing system, from Stäubli Connectors, can handle tools up to 500kgs, moments up to 3200Nm, provide automatic connection of all services required and a choice of electric or hydraulic fail safe locking mechanisms.

The facility to automatically change from, for example, a welding gun to a rivet gun or gripper increases the utilisation of each robot arm and can often eliminate the need for additional investment in robots. MPS 500 is constructed to handle heavy tools up to 500kgs and accommodate the high moments (up to 3200Nm) that fast moving, high payload, modern robots can place on the tool holding equipment.

The MPS 500 is directly mountable on the robot flange and requires very little mounting space. Secure locking is provided by either hydraulically actuated, or an electrically driven, segmental locking mechanism. Both provide fail safe locking, the electric version being specifically designed for applications where fluids are not wanted at all in the robot cell, such as in nuclear installations.

Automatic clean break connections are made for all the services required by the tooling. This includes compressed air, gases, hydraulics and water, as well as the supply of consumables such as bolts and rivets. Electrical connections for both power and signals for actuators and sensors are provided; data transfer can be handled through conventional multi pin connectors, data bus systems or fibre optics for high volumes and when the quickest response times are required.

The secure automatic connections operate up to a pressure of 320 bar giving the MPS 500 the ability to work with self piercing guns and metal clinching tools. The robust tempered steel construction is built to withstand the pulsating pressures encountered during the piercing process.

The two techniques of self-pierce riveting and metal clinching are becoming increasingly popular as alternative methods to spot welding for joining sheet metal, particularly in the automotive sector. Self-pierce riveting technology produces a joint with 30% higher strength than spot welding while requiring a significantly lower amount of energy. It can be used to join similar or dissimilar metals of any thickness; even joints between several layers are possible.

In contrast, metal clinching produces a joint without the need for a secondary fastener. The sheet metal is pressed together to produce a cold reform which holds the layers securely together. Multiple thickness of steel, aluminium and other non-ferrous metals can be joined by clinching, a reliable, efficient and environmentally friendly process.

Stäubli MPS robot tool changers are currently in use on both piercing and clinching activities as well as for many other tool changer applications in the automotive, plastics and building materials sectors. The introduction of the higher capacity MPS 500, with a choice of electric or hydraulic locking systems is expanding the applications for these efficient tool changing mechanisms.

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