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Product Testing Using Robotiq FT 150 and Universal Robots

Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette
by Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette. Last updated on Feb 11, 2015 11:06 AM
Posted on Feb 10, 2015 11:33 AM. 4 min read time

Automation is growing fast in the manufacturing industry. With the rise and importance of quality control and product stability, it is natural to have a repeatable way to test products. Either during the manufacturing process or by testing a sample at the end of the production line, bench tests are a key to the success of a product. Introducing robots into the bench test makes the process a lot more accurate and a lot more flexible than a rigid bench test. 

As you can see in the following video, product testing can be done with automation. The main advantage of using a robot is that a force torque sensor can be integrate into it and it can record/monitor the testing process. As some products need to achieve a given number of cycles, it is easier to plan the product's life with a repeatable bench test. The testing is then more accurate and can give you a better idea of the reliability of the product. 

The shown cell is a Universal Robots paired with a Robotiq FT 150 force torque sensor and a Robotiq 3-Finger Adaptive Gripper. This cell allows the company a lot of flexibility at a relatively low price. The match between all three products is fast and easy. Here are the reasons why you should consider these devices for your product testing cell. 

Why Use Universal Robots?

universal robot electric gripper

There are several reasons why Universal Robots would be the best option for product testing. The main advantages remain low price (fast payback) and flexibility. This robot is considered a collaborative or force limited device, which means that no fencing is required to operate the robot. It can work alongside humans. This means a smallish starting investment, that translates into a faster payback. But the biggest argument would be its flexibility. In fact, the robot can execute a wide range of operations and can be adapted to a lot of products. Compared to very rigid bench tests, a robot allows you to test pretty much everything you might want to test. Considering the fact that the robot can be hand-guided or hand-programmed, this makes the programming steps easier and shorter. There is then no need to have an extensive background in programming or to have a full time programmer to set up the robot for each project. Anyone with minimum training is able to program and reprogram it on the fly. This makes these robots a real game changer when it's time to produce small lots. There is no need to remove the robot to manually produce the small or custom product . The robot only needs to be taught once and then it can run the program 8, 12 or 50 times if you want. 

Why Use Robotiq FT 150?

The reason is simple: it is easy to use. Simple to integrate with the UR robot, simple to use and the results are simple to analyze. In fact, Robotiq offer a Universal Robots specific kit. This means that all the electronic and mechanical accessories needed to install the sensor on the robot are included in this kit. There is no need to customize brackets or crack your software, everything is included. The sensor is industry oriented, which means it is made to be use by your existing workers whether or not they have a minimum knowledge of programming. The sensor directly outputs the values for the forces and torques in the 3 different axes. This means that there is no need to interpret the value of the tension in the force gauge to determine the force applied on the tool. The results are clear and easy to understand and monitor. What is also cool about this particular application is that the sensor is acting as a measuring tool and not a dynamic device. This means that depending on the force applied, the program can decide whether the product is acceptable or if there needs to be more cycles, etc. In other words, it is easier for an end-user to use the sensor this way rather than dynamically. You may also consider the fact that the sensor is very sensitive and can read tiny variations in force. The FT 150 has a resolution of 0.2 N, anything higher than that can be detected. 

universal robots force sensor

Why Use an Adaptive Gripper?

Because it is adaptive! I would use the same reasoning for the UR arm, it is basically because the 3-Finger Adaptive Gripper is flexible and can adapt to a virtual infinity of products. Instead of customizing your robotic end-effector after each product test, you can basically use one Gripper that can grab almost everything. With 3 fingers, 3 gripping modes and a payload of 10kg, lots of products can be tested with this Gripper. Notice that parameters such as force, speed and opening can be adjusted on the Gripper which makes it very versatile. 

With the pressure to have good quality, final product and constant production, now is the time to automate your quality insurance processes. To get further information on product testing or on the FT 150 sensor, take a look at the link below. Don't forget to subscribe to our blog to get constant news updates on robotics. 

Download the case study on   flexible product testing


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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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