Automation is becoming increasingly popular among industrial production organisations. To facilitate the movement and lifting of large objects, robotics is being used. Thanks to 3D printing technology, the Chinese-German industrial manufacturing company KUKA manufactures specialised robots. The company produces robotic arms for various sectors and uses MakerBot 3D printers.
Kuka’s comment: Most of our robots have six axes. That is: 6 degrees of freedom with a load capacity of 3 kilograms to more than 1 tonne. Our work focuses on automation, robotics and solutions for virtually all industrial sectors, including aerospace, electronics and general industry. As a result, we are spread across the globe. With MakerBot, we used 3D printing very early on. We start 3D printing robot parts as soon as we deliver models and data to our suppliers who manufacture metal components. Because we can use 1-to-1 scale printed components at that level of development. Consequently, whether we have genuine aluminium or metal components. We have already made many modifications.
The printer runs almost constantly. With a single printer in 2016, we were able to print around 7000 hours with a success rate of 92%. The reliability of the 3D printer is crucial. There are covers that are huge that take between 80 and 120 hours to print. They take up the entire volume of the printer. We print them overnight and build an anchor the next day to develop the assembly process.
The engineering applications team was set up to create new software focused on mobile robotics, perceptual robotics and robot-human collaboration. AIP. Definition. PiQ Item Automation In a scenario where a robot and camera are used to search and retrieve parts in boxes. The concept of using 3D printed parts to reduce the weight and number of parts came up during development. Since each application is unique and everything is customised, 3D printing is very significant.
The future of robotics is human-robot collaboration, which will allow us to combine the advantages of a robot with the capabilities of a human being, by being able to react quickly, as well as allowing us to 3D print, creating application tools. Thus, in a short time, we will be able to shorten customer waiting times.
In creating the new KR 3 AGILUS, the KUKA prototyping team used 3D printers at every stage. The KR 3 AGILUS, a small-scale robot perfect for small automation cells and the newest robot in the KUKA range, has undergone one of the company’s fastest development cycles to date, thanks in part to KUKA’s widespread use of 3D printing.
It takes careful planning, testing and precision to create a six-axis robot that can work in a wide range of applications.
Having access to a 3D printer allows designers and engineers to print and test designs much earlier in the process. Once a design begins to take shape, the team prints scaled prototypes to test more complicated design features. Thanks to the wealth of physical information available in the early printed prototypes, designers can make quicker and better decisions.
The team produced unique tooling and production configurations for assembly and testing as the KR 3 AGILUS design neared completion. The reliability of their MakerBot Z18s plays a role in this, but the team’s confidence in their ability to use them effectively also plays an important role.
The KR 3 AGILUS requires specialised “hands” or end effectors once completed to perform special tasks for customers.
However, KUKA robots are not only designed to automate procedures. The company’s robotic solutions have been developed to increase the safety of people in the workplace.