Robots and Cable: More relatable than you think
When you think of a robot what do you envision? Automated arms, a bad dance move, a scene out of I Robot? Regardless of what you picture, cable probably doesn’t cross your mind.
Cable selection for robotic applications is often an afterthought. But in reality, cable and wire are the lifelines of the robot. Cable and wire are vital for power and sending control signals and data to and from robotic applications. When choosing a cable for your robotics application it’s important to understand the physical forces that will be acting on your cable and overall system. 3 different types of force include:
Static- push & pull motions or gravitational influence (vertically hanging cable)
Dynamic- subtle forces from acceleration and deceleration
Static & Dynamic- systems that incorporate both forces
Once you understand the physical requirements your system needs to withstand, you can define your cable needs based on flexing characteristics:
Simple flexing- "tic toc" motion, flexing at a single defining break point. The cable has a predefined kink
Flexing- bending along the entire length, subject to continuous flexing
Guided Flexing- continuous flex using a guided motion like pulleys. The cable has support elements
Torsion Flexing- most commonly seen in robotic applications. Different construction than continuous flex cable, good for twisting applications or applications that require rotary motions
As you can see from the above information there are many factors that go in to choosing a cable solution for a robotic application. And often times, a standard cable isn’t always going to be the best solution. Custom cable design is a huge component of cable specification in the industrial robotic industry.
So what does the robotic market look like now, and how does it affect the wire and cable industry? According to International Federation of Robotics, robotic installations will increase 15% yearly from 2015 to 2018. China will double in operational robot stock within in the next 3 years, and currently 80% of global robot sales are in China, Japan, South Korea, USA, and Germany. The growing investment in the industrial robotics market could potentially lead to an increase in opportunities to spec in wire and cable for these applications. Remember, where there are robots there is also wire and cable.