Aandrijfenbesturing.nl – Game engine simplifies configuration of portal robots

Igus has given its online configurator for cheap portal robots a facelift using the Unity game engine. According to the manufacturer, you can now configure an individual portal robot in 5 minutes, ready to connect and with live pricing information. The solution can also be programmed and tested directly, and CAD data and a suitable drawing can also be loaded immediately. Even small and medium-sized businesses can enter the world of automation without barriers – without the know-how of specialists and CAD software.

The online configurator for portal robots from igus now uses a game engine.

The online configurator has been around since last year. According to the manufacturer, even laymen can easily configure ready-to-use portal robots based on drylin linear guides with a few mouse clicks. The linear robots are available from 1,000 euros per. device without controller, with a controller and software they cost about 4,000 euros. “Since the launch of the configurator, we’ve received a lot of positive feedback about the gamification approach and its intuitive usability,” says Alexander Mühlens, head of the Automation Technology and Robotics business unit at igus. “Still, we wondered: can we use this feedback to further improve operations? The answer was a resounding yes. Therefore, we have further optimized the configurator and added new features.”

Game platform

The Unity platform is used for the new design of the configurator, which is also used in the development of games for PCs and game consoles. The operation of the configurator is therefore intuitive. In the first step, the user selects kinematics – 1D (line), 2D (plane) or 3D (space). The visual appearance is reminiscent of a menu from a computer game, where players, for example, choose race cars. With these standard configurations, the right robot can be quickly selected if the terms and conditions are clear.
In addition, it is possible to compile and request a special portal. For example, many applications must comply with special safety regulations, be spray-proof or operate in particularly small installation spaces. The online configurator allows users to request a special portal that meets such requirements.

Configure portal

The next step is to configure the portal. Sliders are available for this to set the stroke length of the X, Y and Z axes to the nearest millimeter. A dynamic 3D model of the portal, which can be rotated in all directions, visualizes the settings in real time. “At this point, we’ve added a new feature,” Mühlens says. “With a single click, it is now also possible to view the portal’s construction site. We use colored areas for this. It gives users a visual impression of how much space their automation solution takes up.”
To keep costs transparent, users also get a live indication of the price of their automation solution. Advanced users can also export the 3D model as a STEP file and process it in any CAD program.

Computer programming

With the online configurator, it is even possible to specify the robot’s movements – by entering some parameters and without any programming knowledge. “With this feature, we follow the motto ‘test before investing’. Operators get a feel for robotic movements and cycle times thanks to the moving 3D model,” says Mühlens. After online programming, the file can be viewed in virtual reality via an app or loaded into the real robot controller.

Order online: Shortly after, the robot is at the door.

When the operators are satisfied with the portal configuration, you can choose the controller – be it with igus robot control or the do-it-yourself variant with power D1 controller kit. Shortly after ordering online, the automation solution is right on your doorstep. Pre-assembled portals in standard dimensions are even ready for shipment within 24 hours. Another plus according to the manufacturer: All configurable portal systems are 100 percent maintenance-free and clean thanks to the self-lubricating igus polymers in all bearing points. And additional components such as grippers, vision systems, motors and sensors are available to beginners in automation through the low-cost automation marketplace RBTX.

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