Materials for Robots Robots
- Robots can be broadly classified into two categories: industrial robots and service robots. The robot market is expected to grow significantly in the coming years.
- The term “industrial robots” refers to robots used to replace humans in performing a variety of tasks for automation and efficiency in factories and similar settings.
- The term service robot is a general-purpose label for a broad range of robots that are of use to humans, primarily in service industries.
- Asahi Kasei supports the manufacturing efforts of our customers in the robotics industry by providing a range of materials with high-strength, high-rigidity, outstanding sliding behavior, excellent creep resistance, superior electrical properties.
Categories of robots
A 2014 white paper from Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) defines robots as “intelligent mechanical systems equipped with three component technologies: sensors, actuators, and intelligent control systems.”*
Robots may be further classified by the purpose they serve: robots used to replace work done by humans in industrial production and manufacturing environments are known as industrial robots, while robots that assist in providing services in areas such as medical care, logistics, shipping, cleaning, and housework are known as service robots.
What are industrial robots?
The term “industrial robots” refers to robots used to replace humans in performing a variety of tasks for automation and efficiency in factories and similar settings; among the varieties of industrial robots are vertical articulated robots, horizontal multi-joint robots (scalar robots), parallel-link robots, and orthogonal robots.
Of these, vertical articulated robots are the most commonly used today, with the dominant architecture involving a 6-axis structure comprising 6 joints. A key advantage of these robots is that their large number of joints enables complicated movements, with a wide range of motion relative to the area consumed by their installation. The highly general-purpose nature of these robots allows them to be used at multiple stages of production processes, including shipping, painting and welding, and product assembly.
Industrial robots comprise three primary components.
Structural components of industrial robots
1. Manipulators that execute motions and perform tasks.
2. Controllers responsible for operating manipulators and controlling their motion.
3. Programming pendants that tell manipulators how to operate.
Manipulators are nothing less than arms, and in fact are often referred to as robot arms. They are comprised of several parts: arms, corresponding to bones and skin; sensors, corresponding to eyes, tactile sensation, and other sensory functions; and actuators corresponding to muscles (as well as the motors and reduction gears from which actuators are formed). Until recently, the use of industrial robots required robots to be enclosed in protective barriers to establish a clear separation between human and robot workspaces. However, the ISO/TS 15066 standard, in effect since 2013, establishes conditions that, when satisfied, allow humans and industrial robots to work together in shared spaces. Robots designed to collaborate with humans in this way are known as cobots. Miniature cobots intended for human collaboration constitute a rapidly growing market sector.
In the past, the primary quality requirements for robot arm components were high speed and high precision, and such components were typically made from metals, which also offer excellent durability. However, metals have the disadvantages of being high in weight and entailing high manufacturing costs, including post-processing costs. This has led designers to consider the use of plasticss to cut manufacturing costs and improve safety by reducing product weights. Plastics are particularly well-suited to the manufacture of small-scale cobots for human collaboration.
* ISO/TS15066 is a technical standard regulating safety conditions for collaborative industrial systems and working environments. Other relevant standards include ISO10218, which specifies safety requirements for robots themselves.
What are service robots?
The term service robot is a general-purpose label for a broad range of robots that are of use to humans, primarily in service industries.
Robots of this variety are expected to become increasingly common and widespread in the coming years. The ISO 13842 international safety standard, published in 2014, classified service robots into three categories.
Categories of “service robots”
- Mobile servant robots: Service robots with motion capabilities. This category includes automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) operating in fulfillment centers and warehouses; automated home-delivery robots of great interest for covering the much-discussed “last mile;” robots for automatic cleaning and disinfecting, which came to prominence in many news reports during the COVID-19 pandemic; and security robots for patrolling and monitoring premises.
- Physical assistant robots: Wearable robots that humans may affix to their bodies to provide various forms of physical assistance, such as aiding or reinforcing various types of operation. So-called power-assist suits fall into this category, which is growing in popularity for purposes such as facilitating the transition to an aging society and reducing bodily strain for physical laborers.
- Person-carrier robots: Robots that furnish components of personal-mobility strategies. Development and testing of technologies in this category, including automated driving technologies, is underway today.
All types of service robots are designed to collaborate with humans, and thus face common challenges, including the need for lighter weights and more freedom in shapes and configurations. Moreover, the increasing number of units being mass-produced places a priority on reducing manufacturing costs.
Asahi Kasei’s Recommended Solutions
Engineering plastics and grades for robot components
Asahi Kasei supports the manufacturing efforts of our customers in the robotics industry by providing a range of materials with high-strength, high-rigidity, outstanding sliding behavior, excellent creep resistance, superior electrical properties. For example, choosing engineering plastics with properties appropriate for arms, reduction gears, actuators, motors, electrical components can help solve problems by reducing weight and lowering manufacturing costs.
Mechanical component materials
TENAC™ MG210 polyacetal resin
The excellent mechanical properties and friction/abrasion behavior of polyacetal (POM) make it a common choice for mechanical components such as gears and bearings.
Asahi Kasei’s TENACTM MG210 polyacetal resin is classified as a homopolymer, boasting excellent mechanical properties even compared to other POM materials. MG210 grades are based on homopolymers that offer durability properties–including creep resistance and fatigue behavior–superior to those of standard POM (copolymer), and TENACTM MG210 grades improve these properties even more.
Asahi Kasei recommends to use TENACTM MG210 polyacetal resin for mechanical components and other robot applications which may lead to extend product lifetimes and reduce product size
- Click here to download the TENAC™ MG210 document
POM/CNF composite materials
The CNFs developed by Asahi Kasei are biomass fibers containing cotton-linter constituents that are miniaturized via sophisticated techniques to sizes as small as nanometer scales. Asahi Kasei is developing technologies for nanodispersing CNFs in a variety of resins, ensuring a single, consistent manufacturing process from CNF production to CNF composites.
POM/CNF composite materials combine Asahi Kasei’s highly heat-resistant CNFs with POM. Key features of these materials include good sliding properties, good rigidity at high temperature, minimal shrinkage, a low coefficient of thermal expansion, and good creep properties at high temperature as compared to general POM. POM/CNF composite materials are well-suited for use in fabricating sliding components with smaller sizes, thinner walls, and lighter weights.
- Go here for details on CNF-reinforced thermoplastics
Materials for reduction gears
LEONA™ polyamide resins
Reduction gears are mechanical converters that decelerate and transform rotational motion produced by motors to yield the required forces.
Asahi Kasei is developing materials that combine the good fatigue behavior of polyamides with outstanding friction and abrasion resistance.
XYRON™ modified polyphenylene ether resins
Asahi Kasei’s XYRON™ modified polyphenylene ether (PPE) resins combine the usual flame retardance, dimensional stability, and heat resistance of modified PPE resins with vibration-control materials boasting high loss coefficients to lend good damping properties to the entire product lineup. We recommend to use vibration-control modified PPE resins with the high loss coefficient which may provide vibration-suppression effects that help to realize noise-suppressing designs.
Asahi Kasei’s engineering plastics are also useful for a broad range of other applications, including motor end caps, connectors, high-voltage components, and more. For more information, please contact us using the links below.
Technical support for design and manufacturing
Resin CAE modeling and simulation support
Asahi Kasei offers a wide range of simulation capabilities based on resin CAE technology to help you design products based on engineering plastics.
For example, switching from metal to engineering plastics for a robot arm or frame requires design optimization of product shapes to ensure satisfaction of all relevant strength requirements.
We offer simulation and optimization support–customized to accommodate the unique features of individual resins–to assist in your product design and manufacturing process.
For more information, please contact us using the links below.
We would like to talk to you about Asahi Kasei’s engineering plastics for robot components. Please contact us to ask any questions, discuss any concerns, and request samples.Inquiries
Metallic-colored materials that eliminate painting to lower costs and reduce environmental impact