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Making light work of robotics

10 August 2006

Working in conjunction with Amtec robotics (a member of the Schunk group of companies), Schunk has launched a new modular LightWeight Arm (LWA 3). The combination of light and rigid materials has enabled Schunk to triple the nominal payload capacity of the LWA 3 to 8kg. All the joint functions are defined as macros directly in the relevant PowerCubes. As a result, the LWA 3 can be operated from a higher control level – eliminating the need of an external robot controller. The LWA 3 also offers an outstanding degree of flexibility with hollow shaft drives for the protected routing of power. It has CanBus and sensor cables inside the arm, switch outputs for electronic distance measuring, push-fit standard mounts on the LWA wrist joint for different gripper systems and the optional battery power supply for mobile use.

The modules of the LWA 3 are available in four graduated sizes with the largest module consisting a 120mm mounting flange and 230Nm torque to the versions with 100mm/74Nm and 80mm/26Nm through to the most compact unit with a 60mm flange and 4.6Nm torque. For additional flexibility, the modules can also be combined with each other depending on the application.

This 3rd generation LWA lightweight arm in conjunction with PowerCubes enables robots to be designed with up to 32 joints. Depending on the specific version, these can be six to eight times lighter than conventional robots and can offer an arm/load- ratio of 2:1. Another advantage of the LWA 3 is that it provides seven degrees of freedom as opposed to only six. This is important if a service robot must operate in the background or an inspection system must observe an object in a background level.

Gripping technology for the widest range of applications
Modularity is also important when it comes to the selection of suitable gripping technologies. The options that can easily be added to the servo-electric “wrist joint” of the LWA 3 include the 2-finger PG parallel gripper, the FTC force-torque sensor, the SGH servo-gripper hand and the Schunk hands SDH (Schunk Dextrous Hand) and SAH (Schunk Anthropomorphic Hand).

With the philosophy “from the individual module to the complex robot structure”, the LWA 3 can be used to create a wide range of multi-axis systems. Typical application fields include tactile, sensor or camera-based inspection systems, service robotics, workplaces and processes involving man-machine interaction as well as mobile platforms such as light transport, monitoring or care-service robots.

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