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Smart Flex Effector from Bosch Rexroth makes robots more sensitive

The Smart Flex Effector increases precision and productivity, avoids errors, and allows greater automation. [Image credit: Bosch Rexroth AG]



The Smart Flex Effector is a new, sensor-based compensation module from Bosch Rexroth that gives robots and Cartesian linear systems human-like sensitivity, offering new opportunities for factory automation.

Processes that are difficult to manage can now be automated, optimized, and monitored through simple retrofitting. Thanks to a kinematics system that works independently in six degrees of freedom, the tactile device with sensitive touch precisely records the position of the work piece and passes the information to the robot control unit for active compensation purposes.

Typical applications include joining processes with minimal tolerances, complex assembly work, or difficult handling tasks. Errors and rejects are minimized, and teaching and commissioning can be carried out more easily and quickly.

The Smart Flex Effector is designed for handling loads up to 6 kg. For machine manufacturers and users, it opens up a wide range of new applications that were difficult or not possible with previous equipment, such as passive compensation units, force torque sensors, and visual systems. The applications range from process automation and quality monitoring to teaching and the controlled handling of objects.

What makes the Smart Flex Effector so different -- and so useful?
With its differentiated kinematics, the Smart Flex Effector is able to correct processes with great complexity and tight tolerances, such as in the case of positional deviations between the tool and the work pieces or in complex joining processes with minimal tolerances. Thanks to this tactile sensitivity, tasks that were not automatable can now be performed by robots.

In another area, the Smart Flex Effector also reduces the time previously needed for teaching processes. Thanks to the 6D position recording, the robotic control system can read the exact coordinates for gripping and placing points directly. Automated repeated learning during operation is therefore possible. Robots can also be taught manually, simply by moving them into position by hand.

Even during sampling, the Smart Flex Effector can be used to recognize positional deviations and, with the help of the sensor system, determine the exact position of the object. The robot accurately picks up assembly or handling objects, positions them in a controlled manner, and places or sorts them reliably. Even parts made of glass or other fragile materials can be handled safely. To ensure maximum productivity, the compensation module can be actively moved into the zero position and electromechanically locked for fast transfer runs.

As part of process monitoring, the Smart Flex Effector not only makes documentation easier, but quality can be improved too, as deviations are recognized immediately and either corrected or reported to the control system. This avoids errors and unnecessary costs owing to rejects or follow-up work.

High connectivity, easy installation
The Smart Flex Effector offers an RS-485 interface as well as an I/O interface for exchanging data. Installation is extremely easy: For a passive compensation function, the Smart Flex Effector is simply screwed to the robot flange and the gripper. The locking function and data transmission are available as soon as the unit is connected to the power supply and the control system.

For more information on the new Smart Flex Effector from Bosch Rexroth, visit www.boschrexroth.com/en/us/smart-mechatronix/smart-flex-effector.

Source: Bosch Rexroth

Published February 2023

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