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Robot Loader Upgrades Printing Press
July 29, 1999
Baldor's NextMove-PC motion controller, a high performance 2-8 axis PC bus, proved to be the ideal tool for Dangel Robots' add-on loading system for their throughput printing press.
Kidder Inc. produces 10-color highvolume packaging and wrapping printing press equipment for consumer goods, such as food and beverages. The loading and unloading of large cardboard rolls, printing impressions and ink rolls, weighing up to 2000 pounds, was done manually using block and tackle hoist, an operation which took two press operators 15-20 minutes. The Dangel robot automates the process, cutting the time to about three minutes.
Dangel Robots, located in Bedford, MA, decided to employ a PC platform in order to provide a graphical user interface for their robot control system. The Baldor NextMove-PC was chosen for the motion and machine 1/0 control because it
provides an economic solution, includes all the necessary hardware, and has a
short software development time which allowed the engineers to meet the project's tight time schedule.
X and Z servomotors for the robotic arms provide motion which grip and move the roll. The motion path teaches the robot by using Baldor MINTTM software "teach and replay" commands. The NextMove-PC then computes a smooth movement path using point-to-point motion functions. The electronic gearing function coordinates motion between the master and follower robot arms.
The real movement is controlled by the NextMove-PC, with a user interface based upon a touch screen. The touch screen allows the operator to "program" the robot by simply touching a graphical image. He touches the image of the roll to be exchanged from the printing press deck, and touches the roll of the storage cart position. Motion then commences. During operation, the operator always has instant shut down capability due to incorporation of a "live man's handle".
Motion Control is only one element of the larger printing
press/robotic system. NextMove-PC can be used as an autonomous subsystem,
exploiting MINT's interrupt handling to create an event driven system, rather than a polled system to simplify the software. Additionally, a considerable amount of 1/0 was needed, which could be remotely located on the robot arms using the NextMove-PC CAN field bus interface.
Since the motion control program runs independently of the user interface and other host PC software, this makes the overall system modular and therefore easier to develop, integrate and debug. MINT software "Workbench" tools aided in developing and testing the program. Thanks to this, the motion software was developed in less than three weeks. The entire press/robotic arms system commissioning then took place in less than a week.