The assembly and insertion of flexible cables in manufacturing processes is mainly carried out manually. The reason for this is that the low stiffness and sensitivity require a high level of accuracy and a great deal of dexterity. For the plugging of ribbon cables, the software company ArtiMinds Robotics has developed a new approach that enables robot-based automation of this monotonous and unergonomic process.
Besides connector assembly, the insertion of cables into modules is a very frequent application in electronics production. Flat ribbon cables are used there for signal transmission, as they save space, time and thus money when connecting assemblies. However, handling the dimensionally unstable and sensitive cables is difficult due to their low stiffness and requires a great deal of dexterity. For this reason, assembly is still mainly carried out manually by a worker. To increase the efficiency and ergonomics of this process, ArtiMinds Robotics has developed a new robot-based automation approach. By means of force-torque control, new areas of application can be opened up for industrial robots that cannot be implemented with realistic effort using conven-tional programming.
Planning, simulation and programming of the sensor-adaptive application is carried out with the ArtiMinds Robot Programming Suite (RPS) no-code software solution. To pick up the ribbon cable from a defined position, a vacuum gripper is mounted on the robot arm. The “spike search” function template of the software automatically compensates for tolerances during the insertion process. In order to find the correct insertion position, the robot performs a force-controlled search movement and attempts to insert the cable into the socket. As soon as a defined insertion depth is registered by the force-torque sensor, the robot knows that it has found the socket and robustly inserts the flexible component at this position. A tensile test then ensures that the cable is correctly seated.