Plastics manufacturers are increasingly turning to collaborative robots to tend injection molding machines. In an April 23 press release, Universal Robots announced the launch of a new Injection Molding Machine Interface (IMMI) between its e-Series cobots and injection molding machines. IMMI supports injection molding machines with EUROMAP 67 and SPI AN-146 communication interfaces.
The global market for collaborative robots in the plastics and polymers industry is expected to grow exponentially over the next five years, from $250M in 2020 to $1.5B in 2025, according to the company. According to BIS Research, 15 percent of all cobot applications in 2020 will be within injection molding, automating tasks such as placing inserts into molds and moving parts through post-mold processes.
These are tasks that require high repeatability, complex motions, and demanding angles, making them suited for the six-axis cobots from Universal Robots (UR), according to the company. The cobots can be mounted on top or beside an injection molding machine and they can work alongside human operators without safety cages (subject to risk assessment), saving space on the workshop floor.
“Injection molding machines have many inputs and outputs to manage the complexities of the molding process,” says Joe Campbell, senior manager of applications development at Universal Robots. “Standardized interfaces allow for ease of integration and exchangeability. With the IMMI, we give the manufacturer the ability to set up, program and control the entire application cycle through the UR cobot’s teach pendant.”
The IMMI is installed in the UR cobots’ control box in less than ten minutes, providing integration with the robot system, including safety functionality, and leveraging the e-Series cobots’ control box expansion port for easy mounting and cable management. An IMMI template for the Universal Robots Polyscope operating system is provided for use in the programming tree. IMMI is now available through Universal Robots’ rapidly expanding UR+ platform of products certified to work seamlessly with UR cobots.
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