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TM Robotics, the European robot partner of Toshiba Machine, has launched controller technology that simplifies the addition of a sliding fifth axis to its Scara robots.

As a result, end users will be able to extend the range of a Scara robot or use the modified machine to transfer product from one workstation to another without human intervention or the addition of any non-robot automation technologies.

At the heart of the new functionality is Toshiba Machine’s new TS3000 controller, which features a built-in Ethernet port, simplifying robot, conveyor and vision synchronisation.

This added connectivity allows the addition of a fifth axis to a Scara robot, in the form of a Cartesian linear slide, creating an additional axis of movement or an additional, fully synchronised axis that can be precisely tracked by the Scara’s tool-holding Z axis.

There are two scenarios in which this provides end-user benefits.

The first is positioning the Scara at a T junction to the Cartesian slide.

The synchronised tracking of the two machines would then allow the Cartesian axis to transfer items from the Scara workstation to another workstation.

As a result, there is reduced potential for damage to the items being produced as well as a reduced need for non-robot automation or human intervention on the line.

The latter benefit means that the system could decrease the chances of contamination in clean-room or IP65 environments.

The second scenario is mounting the Scara on the Cartesian axis, allowing it to extend its range and working envelope on the production line.

This would allow the user to have the same robot working at two, closely related points on the line or within the workstation.

In addition, thanks to the Ethernet connectivity of the controller, the additional fifth axis, as well as other robots in the same cell, can share vision via the TS3000 itself.

This means that fewer cameras are necessary on the line, reducing the cost of implementing vision technology.

The TS300 controller also includes a built-in TCmini PLC, which enables the management of input/output (I/O) equipment, regardless of operation and program.

The net effect of this, combined with added Ethernet connectivity, is greater efficiency and productivity, combined with savings in vision technology in an easy-to-implement package, according to the company.

This system was showcased at Irex 2010 in February using a Toshiba Machine THP550 Scara robot.

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