Automating Production with Epson Robots

- The Epson booth at International Robot Exhibition 2011 -

Epson manufactures and sells more than just printers and 3LCD projectors. Though not widely known, Epson was, in fact, also the top manufacturer of industrial SCARA robots in 2010 on a revenue basis, according to a 2011 study by market research company Fuji Keizai. Industrial robots are used to automate production and increase throughput in a variety of industries. Among myriad other applications, they may be used to assemble, transport, and inspect electronic components or to package food items and cosmetics.

Epson's robot business has its roots in watches. The company's first robots were developed in 1981 for use in wristwatch assembly, a task that requires the ability to precisely, accurately, and efficiently handle tiny components. Epson evolved this technology over the years, and today customers around the world value our robots for their exceptional precision, speed, and durability.

Epson showcased its factory automation products in early November at International Robot Exhibition 2011, held at Tokyo Big Sight. Part of the Epson booth was dedicated to our SCARA robots and six-axis robots, automation products that meet a wide range of customer needs.

SCARA robots

A SCARA robot is an industrial robot with an arm that moves horizontally. SCARA robots are commonly used in the assembly and transportation of automotive components and electronic components for products such as smartphones.

  • The G3 series of compact SCARA robots move at high speed yet produce little vibration.
    A G3 robot can be equipped with Epson's original Vision Guide image processing system for transport applications, as shown in the demo movie. The robot system moves at high speed because the system is able to accurately recognize and pick up even randomly arranged components without stopping.
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  • Epson's RS4 SCARA robots have a very small, space-saving footprint yet provide high throughput thanks to an innovative ceiling-mount design and rotating arm.
    The movie demonstrates how an RS4 could be used to transport solar panels. The arm swivels 360 degrees so that it covers the entire workspace under the arm. These robots can transport payloads up to 4 kg.
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Six-axis robots

A six-axis robot has six degree of freedom, including three translational movements and three rotational movements. The added flexibility of these robots makes them better suited to more complex tasks than typical four-axis SCARA robots. For example, six-axis robots can apply adhesive to the 3D curves on the sole of a shoe, or accurately cut metal or plastic plates.

  • The S5 series of six-axis robots perform complex tasks.
    This movie demonstrates how an S5 robot can accurately draw complex curves and straight lines in a limited working space. With a work envelope that is 87 times larger than the robot body, S5 robots are extremely space efficient.
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Simulator software that supports robot installation on the production floor

Epson also provides simulator software that enables users to identify the best layout in a production line for their robot.

The simulator achieve this by rendering a 3D image of the robot and allowing users to operate the simulated robot using the same program that is used for the actual robot.

With over 100,000 visitors, International Robot Exhibition 2011 turned out to be very popular event, probably as a result of the growing demand for industrial robots. Labor shortages and the need for greater production efficiency and stable quality in emerging nations that mass-produce the vast majority of smartphones, electronic automotive components, and other small electronic gear have combined to cause industrial robot demand to skyrocket among companies looking to significantly boost throughput. Manufacturers in economically advanced countries are also looking to automate the inspection and packaging of products such as food items, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. Many also want to use robots to increase the safety of both products and workers.
Epson is committed to meeting the future automation needs of customers around the world with a broad selection of robots and local customer support.