We’re introducing a new feature in this issue. “Connectors at Work” highlights a specific application and explains which connectors are most beneficial for system performance. First up, Bob Stanton of Omnetics looks at industrial robots.
Industrial robotics are helping to revive automated manufacturing significantly. The development of new end-of-arm (EOA) instruments enables systems that can handle previously difficult functions. We are seeing electronic designers move computer chips and sensors out to the extremities of the robotic arm that is used to pick and place minute sizes and somewhat fragile items. With the use of optical sensing equipment, the newer industrial machines can perform multiple manufacturing steps that were previously relegated to hand assembly under microscopes.
In addition to industrial systems, robotics are being applied more directly to everyday applications. Motor functions and sensor detection are often dependent upon miniature connectors and wiring running to and from the end-of-arm segment of the robotic equipment. As robotic device capability evolves to accomplish more delicate and sensitive tasks, more and more interconnections are being added to the machinery.
Cable and connectors used for these applications must be extremely small and lightweight while maintaining extreme ruggedness. One solution includes the use of the metal Nano-D connectors. The connectors are built to meet military specifications at .025″ pitch and can survive a range of ruggedness and performance tests useful in automated machinery. Board-mounted versions mate up with pre-wired connectors and cables for instrument wiring. Temperature ranges can exceed +200°C and locking screws or latches hold things together during machine operation.
What’s unique? Most standard designs are off-the-shelf at reasonable costs. These nano-sized industrial interconnect systems are helping evolve industrial machinery to expand further into manufacturing miniature products and instruments.
Bob Stanton is technology director at Omnetics Connector Corp.