Conventional robotic tooling often fatigues and damages electric and pneumatic cables and connections as it turns.
A new series of rotating robotic joints ATI Industrial Automation, Apex, N.C. (www.ati-ia.com), uses a slip ring that lets electrical and pneumatic signals pass from robot to the end effector. Potential applications include automated buffers, polishing and grinding workcells, and any operation that needs tooling to rotate 360° or more without resetting. The joint consists of rotating components, including the robot adapter, tool adapter, and central connecting core, and a fixed component, the central ring held stationary by a torque rod connected to the robot arm. In operation, the rotary joint lets the end effector spin freely an unlimited number of rotations without affecting electrical and pneumatic lines. The compact rotary joint handles speeds up to 120 rpm, payloads of 18,000 N (4,050 lb), and torques of 700 Nm (6,200 lb-in.). The pneumatic lines can contain up to 10 bar, while electrical lines are limited to 60 V and 1 A. It can also be set up for BUS signal transmission. The joint has been tested beyond 1 million rations and carries an IP65 rating.