OECHSLER develops protective 3D printed layer for cobots
Enabling robots and humans to collaborate safely at profitable speed
A new approach by Forward AM and OECHSLER, a German polymer processing company, enables humans and cobots (short for COllaborative roBOTS) to share a workspace without any safety risks and manufacturing companies to keep productivity constantly high.
A thin, high cushioning second ‘skin layer’ is wrapped around the cobot’s joints. Using Forward AM’s Ultrasint TPU01 to 3D print the RoboSkin enables a flexible and individualized lattice structure. Ultrasint TPU01 is a thermoplastic polyurethane powder specifically designed for HP 5200 series Multi Jet Fusion printers. This flexible material is ideal for producing parts requiring high shock absorption at excellent flexibility depending on the functional requirements of the application, making it the perfect match for the cobot’s protective skin and its cushioning function.
The benefits of the lattice RoboSkin are manifold. Putting safety first reduces the risk of injuries to human workers interacting with the cobot. At the same time, production speed can be increased strikingly: Since the collision forces and pressures are highly damped by the RoboSkin, the cobot’s speed can accordingly be higher up to 150 percent– thus enabling increased productivity for the manufacturer.
The overall handling of the skin is easy: Because the RoboSkin works as a mechanical collision buffer, it requires no additional sensors, just the TPU layer that takes up only minimal installation space and is mounted with an easy system. Moreover, the lattice design of the skin is easily, rapidly, and cost-effectively adaptable to every cobot type, thanks to the advantages of 3D printing. In production halls, cobots are often deployed at different workstations. The RoboSkin eliminates the need for dismantling, re-assembly, and re-calibration, thus saving time and cost
An additional benefit of the lattice structure is that it acts as permeable skin, preventing heat accumulation thanks to its open structure. What’s more, it serves as an isolating layer as it covers the cobot’s supply hoses and wires and it works without restricting the cobot’s movements, overheating, additional sensors, or work area surveillance.