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6-Axis Force Torque Sensor, What Does it Means?

Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette
by Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette. Last updated on May 05, 2016 5:08 PM
Posted on Oct 23, 2014 2:43 AM. 3 min read time

We recently launched a 6-axis Force Torque Sensor on the market. This article is to familiarize you more with this type of device. 

force torque sensor assembly

What Is A Force-Torque Sensor?

An FT Sensor is a device that is fitted onto the wrist of your robot to detect forces and torques that are applied to the tool. Since it is between the robot and the tool, it used to read what is going on with the tool. It can sense forces due to an impact or if the tool cannot insert a part in an assembly process. The FT sensor allows the robot to recognize forces on another level of the robot, it can now feel what is going on with its tool. 

What Does 6 Axis Stand For? 

ft sensor6-axis stands for the 3 geometrical axes (X-Y-Z) and the rotation around them (3+3). So basically, the sensor can detect the forces in all three directions and the torques around those directions (axes). It can also combined measurements for all these forces and torques, and then the signal can interpret what is going on with the robot tool. 

How Does The Sensor Feel the Force?

And no we are not talking about 'The Force' a.k.a. Star Wars,  but rather any force exerted on the sensor. The casing part of the sensor is attached to the robot wrist. And the moving part is attached to the tool side. When a force is applied on the tool, the sensor reads the distance that the moving part has moved from the casing, depending on the amplitude of the displacement, the sensor returns a force signal to the computer. With the Robotiq FT 150 sensor, this reading is digital right from the start, making the signal very clean with minimal inherent noise and immune to external electromagnetic noise.

Which Applications Require Force Readings

An application that we are seeing often with the sensor is the benchtest application. A robot is paired with a sensor and a gripper and is performing some cyclic action on a product. Where the sensor gets involved is when a given amount of force has to be applied on a device. The robot can apply a limited force that has been set by the programmer and it can also monitor this force. This means the product is tested at a given force and the force is monitored to see if there is any change in the behavior of the product. FT sensor

Which Applications Requires Torque Readings

Hand-guiding would be an example that uses the torque information. Hand-guiding is the action of guiding a robot with your hands. This means you have to apply a certain amount of force on the tool to teach the robot a path, for example. As the force is applied on the tool (that is lower than the sensor), it creates a torque. This torque can be read in all the directions and the signal can be sent to the computer for analysis. 

Which Applications Requires Both 

Assembly tasks would be an example of applications that require both force and torque readings. In fact, in an assembly line, you can encounter different problems (misalignment, tight fits, force tests, etc.). All kinds of situations are present in these applications. You might combine your assembly with a bench test, so that you can test a given feature of your assembly, for example. Or, you can use it to teach your robot specific tasks like Kinetiq Teaching.

Basically, a lot of applications can be improved with this device. It's now your turn to think about and bring some new applications to your production process or to market.  Think about how you can apply and innovate with this Force Torque Sensor. Take a look around your shop floor, hopefully, this article has given you some ideas and you will be able to apply them to your applications. I see the lights bulbs flashing already or maybe those are lightsabers!


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Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette
Mathieu is a production engineer at Robotiq, where he constantly strives to optimize the production line for Robotiq Grippers. He enjoys discovering new robotic applications and sharing what he learns on Robotiq's blog.
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