Robotics isn’t an area many of us are familiar with, but on a recent SOLIDWORKS Motion Simulation course we had someone who was very interested in the subject!
One of our customers Dr Matt Chamberlain who works for The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Intelligent Automation at Loughborough University has dedicated many hours of research to the topic and was keen to understand just how SOLIDWORKS was able to help when it comes to facing the challenges involved when designing robotic assemblies.
One of the huge difficulties in robotics is knowing exactly how much torque goes through the motors when the system is in action, so that the correct power-rating can be specified. Once the design is put into production, if the motors used are too small they might not be able to lift the arm under gravity or move a component quick enough. If a motor is too large on the other hand, the design becomes over-designed. It will be heavier and more expensive than needed.
As a starting point, a basic CAD model was downloaded from the ABB website. ABB are a company who already make robotic arms for various industries and have liaised with Loughborough University on several projects. A few extra components were added so the arm had a job to do….
Here, we wanted to work out what torque (and power consumption) would be required on the motors to lift the blue canister from the lower box on the left, onto the stack of 3 boxes on the other side.
To begin, a motion study was setup using 6 Hinge Mates where the motor would go…
To move the blue canister, a Path Mate was used. This gave a smoothly ramped transition from one side to the other….
Using the Path Mate to drive a motion study, the Hinge Mate displacements were extracted…
These were saved out, then fed back into a second motion study using 6 "Motors". In this new study, the motion was now being driven using the known displacements from earlier. Viewing the results, this lead to the following output Torques and Powers on the motors…
In a design scenario, this information could be used to choose the correct sized motor to carry out the task.
Without SOLIDWORKS, this information is very difficult to achieve and requires a level of experience to make sure the motors are not insufficient for the job!
Click the below link to see the Robotic arm in action!