Using a single pneumatic valve manifold, engineers from Fanuc Robotics America (www.fanucrobotics.com) say they've created a paint spray robot that's simpler and easier to assemble.The new robot, which uses pneumatics to shape air flow and atomize paint spray, combines the control of analog and digital I/O cards, as well as solenoid valves, into one module. Fanuc Robotics plans to introduce the new robot later this spring.
Fanuc engineers say that by combining digital and analog I/O, the product, known as the Festo CPX terminal (www.festo.com), eliminates the need for an extra control module. That, in turn, means that the controller takes up less enclosure space and simplifies wiring.
"Because it combines a lot of different elements into one package, it reduces wiring and installation time," says Dan Mantz, program manager for Fanuc Robotics. "Now we can pre-assemble the manifold, bolt it in, hook up the power and DeviceNet cables, and we're done."
The CPX design reportedly departs from the conventional in its incorporation of analog and digital control in the same manifold. Typically, system integrators must use separate manifolds if they want to combine discrete and analog control. "Most valve manifolds don't have analog I/O control," says Frank Latino, product manager for valve terminals and electronics at Festo Corp. "You normally have to go to two vendors."
Festo's CPX, designed to interface with fieldbus systems, solves that problem by integrating configurable modules. The modules incorporate sandwiched functional layers, including the digital and analog interfaces.
Fanuc uses the CPX to direct solenoid valves that control changes in paint color. The robot maker also uses the modules to operate proportional valves that power the spinning turbine, which sprays the paint. The robot is targeted at industrial paint spray applications, especially in the automotive industry.
Because the CPX incorporates fieldbus interfaces for DeviceNet, Profibus-DP, Interbus, CANOpen, and CC-Link, Fanuc engineers say that it enabled them to eliminate dozens of discrete wires.
"Traditionally, we wired the solenoid valves and proportional regulators directly to I/O," Mantz says. "The CPX allowed us to use one manifold that incorporates I/O and the pneumatic solenoids, and we communicate with our robot through a single cable."
Mantz says that U.S. customers will tend to connect the robot to a single DeviceNet cable, while Asian and European customers primarily employ a Profibus connection.
"This gives us a standard product that can be used in almost any market," Mantz says. "Whichever protocol is used, this manifold can handle it."