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Modular multi-axis robotic joints

12 December 2011

Robolink is a system of modular multi-axis joints designed by igus for use in humanoid robots and lightweight automation applications, particularly in projects where masses are to be kept as low as possible.

Commenting on the system, Justin Leonard of igus UK, said: “This radical departure from the usual igus product portfolio came about during the company’s involvement with the Robot football World Cup (RoboCup) from 2006-2008. RoboCup attracts teams of engineers and computer scientists from around the globe, who pit their wits against each other in the football-field of robotics and artificial intelligence.”

At the heart of the system are lightweight, maintenance and corrosion-free joints with tribologically optimised plastic bearings that are driven via cables and can rotate and swivel freely.

Prior to product launch, igus beta-testers were provided with robolink prototypes for a range of trial applications ranging from maritime robots for use with underwater vehicles, through to mobile robots on the ground, used for handling contaminated or explosive materials. Other examples include humanoid robots, camera guidance equipment and systems for facilitating interaction between man and machine. Further trials were carried out in the medical industry, as well as in the field of animatronics.

To articulate the multi-axis joints, igus developed a range of flexible Bowden cables with high-performance polymer jackets that combine low friction values with a long service life. The igus Bowden cables have small bending radii, making flexible movements possible and are suitable wherever frequent relative movements take place.

A range of accessories has also been developed, including flange shaft blocks for attaching the arms, interior divisions for the organised routing of the drive and data cables and a cable tensioner for straight forward re-tensioning of the system, as well as a cable pulley range for guidance.

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