The Integrated Force Control function that ABB Robotics introduced late last year consolidates discrete software features that had been available separately for machining (or assembly), now in a single base module. ABB force control technology makes robots more intelligent and able to handle process variations with real‐time external inputs—much like a human would when handling a delicate item or precise dimensions.
ABB robots with Integrated Force Control react to their surroundings and deviate from their programmed path or speed based on feedback from the force sensor, which is a valuable alternative to robots programmed to function with predefined paths and speeds. It’s possible to automate complex tasks that previously required skilled personnel and advanced fixed automation, such as machining and small parts assembly where dexterous handling of workpieces and tools is critical.
“Integrated Force Control unleashes sophisticated software functionality that automates complex tasks not easily doable through traditional programming methods,” said Nick Hunt, ABB Robotics’ manager of technology and support, North America. “This new, integrated feature takes ease-of-use to a whole new level by dramatically reducing the stress robot programmers are under when faced with processing parts of complex and varying geometries.”
Automated tasks like assembly, or core placement, can be demanding with small tolerances and small parts that must be fitted or placed with precision. With ABB’s Integrated Force Control technology it is possible to place parts with tolerances that are within the range of the robot’s incredibly precise repeatability without requiring highly accurate and expensive fixtures.
Also, a force‐controlled robot can be programmed to mimic the movements of a human arm, applying search patterns to find the correct position to assemble a given part, significantly reducing the risk of assembly failures which can result in production problems or damaged parts.
ABB’s Integrated Force Control also can be used to improve robotic machining applications such as grinding, deburring, deflashing, or polishing. One package feature, for example, allows a robot to grind parts while maintaining a constant force between the tool and the workpiece. Another feature enables a robot to deburr or deflash partlines and surfaces of parts at a controlled speed, thereby slowing down when encountering excessive burrs or casting flash.
The force sensor is fully integrated into ABB’s hardware and software, protected against overload and EMC, certified to IP65 and suitable for high-precision robotic applications with a compact and lightweight design. When combined with vision sensors, ABB Integrated Force Control also allows for new ways of thinking about multiple other robotic automated functions that may have required skilled personnel.