In the second of our ongoing series of blog posts showing how Universal Robots cobots are being used in the battle against COVID-19, we look at some exceptional face shield and mask production set ups, meet a unique cobot barista and admire a remote controlled mobile cobot performing key medical tests in China.
Making Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) With Cobots
As COVID-19 began its spread in the United States, Hurco North America (a machine tool supplier headquartered in Indiana) set its employees a challenge –to adapt a machine tool into a system for making N95 masks. The employees chose to deploy a UR5 cobot integrated with the ProFeeder from UR Certified Systems Integrator ProCobots to tend a heated mold for shaping the mask. The UR5 loads a stack of four plies, two polymer outer layers and two spun-fiber filter layers, and these become a mask through a five-minute cycle involving molding, welding and cutting. Thanks to the system, Hurco is able to produce masks for all its employees with enough left over to donate to customers and distributors.
Peter Zelinski, Editor-in-Chief at Modern Machine Shop visited Hurco's Indiana facility to find out more...
Revtech Systems, a Universal Robots CSI from Quebec, Canada, also launched an internal challenge that saw groups of 3-4 employees join forces to design a face shield that could be produced in high quantities, fast. Once the final design was chosen, the team quickly set up a cell with a human operator and two UR10 cobots.
The process begins when one of the cobots grabs a plastic sheet and places it on a station. The second cobot then picks up a foam piece that's glued to cardboard and places it on the plastic sheet. The same cobot then takes an elastic piece pulls it over the foam to the other side, and a pneumatic mechanism staples the elastic to the cardboard and plastic. Then the first cobot takes the plastic sheet and moves it to the next stopper to be stapled and finally places the completed face shield in a box.
Within just four weeks, the production cell was producing an amazing 700+ face shields per day!
Watch how Revtech put together a team consisting of two UR cobots and a human operator to produce >700 face shields per day.
Meanwhile, Hannafin Automation and Industrial Controls, a UR CSI in Ontario, Canada, developed an automated 3D printing process that uses a UR cobot (dubbed 'BOB'), a 2-finger gripper from UR+ partners at Robotiq, a vision system from Cognex and two Dremel DigiLab 3D printers to manufacture face shields to be used in the fight against COVID-19.
BOB handles the entire printing process autonomously from operating the 3D printer's touchscreen to start a new job, to checking on the status of the prints with its camera, to lifting the finished product and placing it in a bin. Capable of operating 24/7, the system can produce 50 face shields per day and the company has donated the equipment to police, fire and paramedic workers.
Watch “Bob” in action, tending the 3D printers
Gamber-Johnson, a supplier of mounting systems for mobile communication systems, computers and other electronic equipment located in Wisconsin, USA, joined a collaboration with local partners to create a temporary facility for face shield production. At the heart of the facility is a UR5 cobot, which is used to cut out plastic sheets for face shields. Gamber-Johnson and partners crowdsourced funds and have raised thousands of dollars for producing face shields to donate to local area hospitals.
A UR5 cobot used to create face shields by the team at Gamber-Johnson. Credit: Gamber-Johnson
EinsRobotics is now able to run face shield production 24/7
Wait! There's more...
Facing a sharp increase in demand for ventilator components, a Pennsylvania manufacturer had to quickly ramp up production. To meet this increased demand, UR CSI team quickly set up a UR5e equipped with the UR+ certified Wrist Camera and Hand-E gripper from Robotiq, and now use it to unload finished parts from a Tsugami Swiss Turn Lathe into a plastic tray that ships out for post-processing.
With the help of the UR5e, the production of ventilator parts could be ramped up quickly
In China, researchers at Tsinghua University have created a mobile medical cobot system that performs ultrasounds, takes mouth swabs, performs temperature checks and can operate a stethoscope. The system, which incorporates a UR5 on wheels, can be remotely controlled, protecting doctors and nurses against direct contact with COVID-19 patients. After being trialed by doctors at hospitals in Beijing, the remarkably versatile system has now been deployed at the Wuhan Union Hospital.
The medical cobot system is designed to reduce workload and risks for frontline medical workers
When COVID-19 reached Portland, USA, traffic at the popular In J Coffee coffee shop dropped by a whopping 50%. Owner Joe Yang understood that customers were concerned about human contact and viral spread so he decided to build a cobot barista. The end result is a completely contact-free, cobot-powered system for preparing specialty coffee. Dubbed 'Jarvis,' the cobot is able to make coffee, froth milk and can even pour latte art.
“No PPE, no risk to spread COVID-19. No one really knows how long this ‘new normal’ will last. People need coffee and I hope they can enjoy a perfect cup of coffee safely at In J Coffee during this special time,” Yang told Daily Coffee News.