Automation abounds at The Assembly Show

October 25, 2018 - 03:45pm

While attending The Assembly Show, it seems that I saw robots and other automation equipment everywhere I turned. The trade show and conference took place Oct. 23-25 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois.

I had the opportunity to meet with three robot manufacturers: Universal Robots USA Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan; Stäubli, Duncan, South Carolina; and Epson America Inc., Long Beach, California.

A UR5 collaborative robot from Universal Robots. Photo credit: Universal Robots USA

A UR5 collaborative robot from Universal Robots, which features the new QC-7 toolchanger from ATI Industrial Automation, performs an assembly operation. Photo courtesy of Universal Robots USA

Joe Campbell, strategic marketing and applications development for Universal Robots, emphasized how its collaborative robots, or cobots, are easy and quick to deploy because UR integrates end-of-arm tooling with the robot controller at the software level. The company’s new UR3e, UR5e and UR10e robot arms feature a built-in, tool-centric force and torque sensor. The sensor can be used to measure mass, perform related inspection processes or detect contact.

The TX2 cobots are easy to program. Photo courtesy of Stäubli

The TX2 cobots are easy to program. Photo courtesy of Stäubli

Stäubli also makes cobot arms, offering the TX2 series of 6-axis cobots, noted Jan Abel, senior marketing-communications manager. She added that the company produces a range of other 6-axis robots and 4-axis SCARA (selective compliance articulated robot arm) and pick-and-place robotic arms, as well as custom robots for sensitive environments, and does a significant amount of business with the North American medical industry. At the sixth annual event, Stäubli simulated the packaging of a medical device in a germ-free, aseptic environment with its FAST picker TP80 4-axis robot, picking and placing a glucose meter.

The Force Guide force control system allows Epson robots to sense and make precision moves using force feedback data. Photo credit: Epson America

The Force Guide force control system allows Epson robots to sense and make precision moves using force feedback data. Photo courtesy of Epson America

Epson specializes in SCARA robots, such as the economical T-Series, starting at $7,495. Rick Brookshire, group product manager, global account manager, also demonstrated the Flexion N-Series 6-axis robot, with a unique folding-arm design to enhance motion and workspace efficiency, and the Force Guide force control system that allows Epson robots to sense and make precision moves using force feedback data. Powered by Epson quartz technology, the control system enables robots to detect six axes of force with precision down to 0.1 N. 

Related Glossary Terms

  • arbor


    Shaft used for rotary support in machining applications. In grinding, the spindle for mounting the wheel; in milling and other cutting operations, the shaft for mounting the cutter.

  • sawing machine ( saw)

    sawing machine ( saw)

    Machine designed to use a serrated-tooth blade to cut metal or other material. Comes in a wide variety of styles but takes one of four basic forms: hacksaw (a simple, rugged machine that uses a reciprocating motion to part metal or other material); cold or circular saw (powers a circular blade that cuts structural materials); bandsaw (runs an endless band; the two basic types are cutoff and contour band machines, which cut intricate contours and shapes); and abrasive cutoff saw (similar in appearance to the cold saw, but uses an abrasive disc that rotates at high speeds rather than a blade with serrated teeth).

  • toolchanger


    Carriage or drum attached to a machining center that holds tools until needed; when a tool is needed, the toolchanger inserts the tool into the machine spindle. See automatic toolchanger.



Alan holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Including his 20 years at CTE, Alan has more than 30 years of trade journalism experience.


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