OptoForce works to bring force control to the masses in industrial automation, by producing multi-axial force/torque sensors with a revolutionary, optical technology. OptoForce equips industrial robots with a sense of touch so that more tasks can be automated and time can be saved.
Robotics company OptoForce today have opened a U.S. office with a missioned of bringing sense of touch for robots.
Already used successfully in medical and service sectors and other difficult-to-automate assembly tasks throughout Western Europe and Asia, the company’s 6-axis force/torque sensors will be featured at Automate 2017 April 3-6 in Booth #469.
OptoForce Sensing Technology
In optical force sensors, photodiodes are used to measure the amount of reflected light originally emitted by an LED. By comparing the measured values on each photodiode the acting forces can be precisely reconstructed – and not just their magnitude, but also their direction.
Sensor Technology Comparison
Compared to strain-gauge based load cells, OptoForce sensors are generally much more robust, as the deforming surfaces are physically separated from the sensing element. This is achieved by utilizing infrared light to detect the smallest deformation in the shape of the outer surface and incorporating different kinds of optical grade elastomers to achieve the most reliable results.
OptoForce Sensor Types
Although the technology behind all OptoForce sensors is the same, the actual sensor products available are divided into four main types with the option for further customisation to suit the customers�?requirements:
- 3 Axis Hemispherical Force Sensors �?Ranging from 10mm in diameter to 30mm in diameter and a nominal Z axis compression force of 10N to 600N with substantial capacity for overload of between 300% and 600% depending on the specific sensor. These sensors have an exposed rubber silicone sensing surface and are generally mounted to metal or plastic bases.
- 3 Axis Flat Top Force Sensors �?On these variants a single silicone sensing element is sandwiched between a pair of square or cylindrical plates. Square plates are available in 25mm square or 32mm square and cylindrical models are 46mm diameter. They have a nominal Z axis compression force between 100N and 2000N with substantial capacity for overload of 200% to 600% depending on the specific sensor.
- 6 Axis Square Flat Top Force & Torque Sensors �?Whilst this variant has slowly been replaced by cylindrical versions they are still available for suitable applications. They are made up of four individual 3 axis flat top sensors that are sandwiched between two aluminium plates which are available as 58mm square or 80mm square. They have a nominal Z axis compression force of 400N or 3200N with substantial capacity for overload of 200%.
- 6 Axis Cylindrical Flat Top Force & Torque Sensors �?This variant is made up of three individual 3 axis flat top sensors that are sandwiched between two aluminium plates which are available as 70mm diameter. They have a nominal Z axis compression force of 1000N or 2000N with substantial capacity for overload of 200%.
“With robots working more closely with humans, they need to accurately and precisely sense their surroundings and accomplish many tasks requiring the dexterity and sensitivity of the human hand,” said Ákos Dömötör, CEO, OptoForce. “Equipped with OptoForce high-precision sensors, these robots can now feel if they are placing an object in the right place or need to adjust it, and can automatically correct course.
This speeds the production process and ultimately decreases costs, an ideal scenario for many U.S. manufacturers that have long offshored production due to high labor costs and the traditionally high cost of automation.”
Automation is a hot topic nowadays and innovation is the driver of progress in industrial automation. The OptoForce company, based in Europe works to bring force control to the masses in industrial automation, by producing multi-axial force/torque sensors with a revolutionary, optical technology. OptoForce equips industrial robots with a sense of touch so that more tasks can be automated in a time-saving way.
OptoForce founders, then university students, worked together on a walking robot, where they faced constant issues with the weight, rigidity and cost of then available multi-axis force sensors. To address the many challenges, they developed a prototype of the current sensors that used infrared light to detect deformations of the silicone sensor structure.
This radically new and unique approach forms the basis of the current OptoForce solution and guarantees precise measurements even up to 200 percent overload.This is a positive development for the robotic industry.