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October 7, 2016 09:38

Factory test for the IGUS RobolinkD with open source motion control

In the previous article we showed you how to apply an industrial open source motion control to the IGUS Robolink D, to build a real industrial robotic arm, using the open source solution from Industrial Shields.

As we showed you in the previous tutorial, this project involves four steps:

  • The idea: to develop an open source motion control system suitable to be applied to a robotic arm. (Part 1)
  • The real test: to bring the robotic arm in a real industrial environment to test the motion control system. (Part 2)
  • The industrial integration: to transfer the motion control system to a real industrial robotic arm. (Part 3.1)
  • The next step: to move forward dressing the robotic arm with sensors and smart tools for further applications and developments.

With the integration of the Industrial Shields PLC into the igus robot, we are on the third step of this exciting journey with Massimo Temporelli, President and Founder of The Fablab.

So welcome to Part 3.2 of our project on building and using an open source robotic arm in a real-world industrial environment.  In part one we showed you how to assemble the igus robotic arm using an open source Industrial Shields PLC. We’ve also integrated an end-arm kit that will allow us to gently pick up sensitive glass objects such as tubes and burettes.

In this video, Massimo Temporelli from The Fab Lab in Milan will take us inside a real-world industrial environment to see our robotic arm in action. In particular, we will visit Converting, a cosmetics, oral care, and detergent company that receives raw materials and chemicals and ships out the final products that we see on the supermarket shelves. Fernando Sorrentino, a partner at Converting, explains the necessity of this sort of technology for both his company and Italy as a whole.

Environments like this require the integration of automation and robotics to streamline manufacturing processes and to lighten the workload of employees. In Italy, especially, a new entrepreneurial vision is needed to increase investment into industrial automation and robotics, in order to remain competitive in an increasingly technology-dependent marketplace.

Moving inside the analysis lab at Converting, we get a chance to see our robotic arm in action. In this type of environment, two basic types of activities take place. Firstly, labs like this one are responsible for research and development, creating new solutions to bring to market. Secondly, these labs are also responsible for testing and certification of products.

Automation solutions like our IGUS robotic arm can work alongside technicians and researchers to help them complete basic tasks, freeing them up to focus on activities that require their close attention. In our case, delicate and precise movements are necessary because we are dealing with fragile containers that hold chemicals. Thanks to our integrated end-arm kit that uses a precise suction system, this will be no problem for our IGUS robot.


As you can see in the video, our robotic arm performs its task perfectly, picking up and transporting the sample container to an electronic scale for analysis. Of course this is just a brief look at one possible application for open source robotic solutions, adding efficiency and time savings to industrial work environments.

With the ease of assembly offered by the Industrial Shields PLC and the other components that we used, anyone can create one for themselves and begin experimenting with innovative uses. What sort of applications can you imagine?