How Lightweight Gears, Actuators Improve Factory Productivity

After decades of decline, U.S. manufacturing is experiencing a renaissance, thanks in part to increasing factory productivity. For industrial automation to aid workers effectively, robots need to operate as accurately and smoothly as possible.

Suppliers and users of robots for manufacturing must be able to distinguish among components to meet their needs. Robot arms typically have as many as six axes, so quality gears and actuators are critical to dynamic performance.

This free PDF download defines “high performance” in the context of robotics and factory productivity. It shows how characteristics such as accuracy, repeatability, backlash, and torque are related to acceleration, payload capacity, and more.

Comparing robotics components for factory productivity

This whitepaper from Harmonic Drive LLC in Peabody, Mass., compares conventional robotics components with lightweight gears and actuators. Authors Alan Clements, vice president of engineering, and Robert Mullins, vice president of sales (see above), explain the need for precise positioning and motion control in various applications.

They discuss the limitations of spur gearing in comparison with planetary and harmonic gearing. Zero backlash is especially important to smooth robotic movement and long lifespans for factory performance.

Factory productivity from automation can benefit from best-in-class gearing.

In addition, the download describes the operating principle behind harmonic gears, showing how the wave generator, flexspline, and circular spline provide high accuracy and torque in a compact form factor. It provides the formula for a single-stage, high-reduction ratio.

Products from Harmonic Drive, a 2018 RBR50 company, include design features that are particularly suitable for improving factory productivity, such as no change in size or weight, regardless of gear ratio.

Applications for high-performance gears and actuators include automotive and machine-tool manufacturing, robot-assisted medical imaging and surgery, and packaging. Mobile robots can also benefit from a compact design and lighter gearing, according to Clements and Mullins.

To learn more about the utility of harmonic gears, download the whitepaper or contact Harmonic Drive.

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