DATRON have a hand in Shadow Robot's
production & efficiency improvements
The U.K. company SHADOW ROBOT who is at the forefront of the global development of robotic hands has purchased a
DATRON machining centre to help it move to the next stage of their impressive growth programme.
Shadow Robot, based in North London, chose a DATRON M7 machine which has not only saved them a substantial sum by no longer outsourcing some aspects of their production, but also has given them greater production flexibility and helped them refine their processes.“We would not be able to deliver on some of our contracts without the advantages that the DATRON gives us,” said Shadow Robot’s M.D., Rich Walker. “We not only coped with the surge, but also were able to smooth out the extra volume in our production pipeline through the substantial improvements in our production efficiency.”
Shadow Robot, formed in 1987, has established its niche market leadership through the innovative development of robot hands that perform with the same range and delicacy of movement as the human hand. Their range of hands and complementary muscles find ready uses in difficult, dangerous and dirty applications associated with, for example, security, nuclear, medical and space-related applications. Also, many universities, R & D facilities and centres of excellence use Shadow Robot products within their own research programmes.
The complexities of the human hand are replicated by their robotic hands, with over 700 manufactured parts – in aluminium and Delrin – having to be machined for each hand.
In the company’s early days – albeit when the hands were less complex – hand-machining was the order of the day on a range of materials including wood, Perspex and aluminium. Over the years different milling machines were used, but as the robot hands evolved into much more state-of-the-art products and business grew, there was a need to find a machining centre that would more than keep pace with the company’s development, creating the world’s most advanced robot hand.
“Setting up was becoming a major headache – especially if we needed to add a 4th axis,” continued Rich Walker. “So we researched the machines available and after talking with a nearby DATRON customer - who reported a trouble-free 14 years of operation - we bought the M7.”
Shadow Robot, almost at a stroke, were able to save over £ 75,000 p.a. by being able to retain production in-house that had previously been outsourced. The production group also received an enormous fillip and took immediate ownership of the machine, enabling them to set up their new production facility off-site.
“The DATRON M7 gives us faster, cleaner cutting of aluminium – and it’s more accurate,” said Armando De La Rosa, Robotics Engineer. “We also obtain a much better surface finish on machined parts which has virtually eliminated any hand-finishing that we used to do.”
Additional time-saving advantages are also gained through the calibrated tool system and the speed in setting up which has been cut by up to 87%. Speed in the manufacture of parts has also been cut by up to 85%!
“The software also has an abundance of features which are vital to our need to automate as much as possible,” continued Armando De La Rosa, “to enhance our ability to move to lights-out production when machining larger parts.”
Datron are proud to be playing their part in the growth of Shadow Robot and in helping them cement their position as world leader in the development of robotic hands.
“We are not DATRON’s ‘normal’ customer,” explained Rich Walker, “and with their help, we are examining, challenging and exploiting the technology of their machines that can enhance the development and application potential of our hands.”