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June 8, 2016 07:45

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How to build industrial open source motion control for a robotic arm - part 2

If you missed Part 1 click HERE to view how the project started.

When industrial automation begins to incorporate open source hardware solutions, like those provided by Industrial Shields, a new range of possibilities opens up. RS Components, together with Industrial Shields, wanted to demonstrate the advantages of open source hardware combined with the reliability of industrial standards. 

Naturally, the field of robotics seemed like the perfect way to showcase what open source hardware can do, opening also to smaller companies the doors of robotics which has been so far accessible only from the larger ones. 

The project followed 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.
  • The industrial integration: to transfer the motion control system to a real industrial robotic arm.
  • The next step: to move forward dressing the robotic arm with sensors and smart tools for further applications and developments.

This is the second post examining the industrial applications of new open-source hardware solutions, in this case using an Arduino-based PLC from Industrial Shields to build a fully functional robotic arm.

Going forward into the future, more and more companies will be introducing cooperative robotics into their industrial automation processes, and new open source hardware solutions can play an important role in many industrial contexts. This trend can be seen not only in large companies but also in smaller ones. In this new context, humans and robots will be increasingly working together, allowing humans to perform the more “soft” types of work while robots take over the “harder” industrial tasks.

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For this project we teamed up with Massimo Temporelli, Italian tech guru and President and Co-founder of The Fablab in Milan, a digital fabrication workshop and a central hub for maker culture in Italy. In the first part of this series, Massimo guided us through the fabrication and assembly process for building the robotic arm. Now, the ultimate test of this open source hardware will be testing it out in an industrial automation setting.

To demonstrate the capabilities of the robotic arm, Massimo brought it to the RS Components warehouse in Milan for some real-world application in warehouse processing and logistics.

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This, of course, is just one of the many possible applications for the Industrial Shields PLC. The potential uses of open source hardware like this are vast and they open up industrial automations for even the smallest of companies, whereas before these types of solutions were highly cost and research prohibitive, making them accessible to only the largest of companies. Of course, with a bit of maker’s spirit, building projects like this can be both fun and very useful for both hobbyists and industrial technicians alike.

Stay tuned for the next project!

View the first part of this project to download all what you need to replicate it.

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June 8, 2016 07:45

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