Configuring and programming igus linear robots – as easy as playing PlayStation


Igus, a motion plastics manufacturer, has developed an online configurator that enhances automation.

The company used a gamification approach and added new features to make their low-cost linear robots even more intuitive and more efficient. 

With the new development, users now have access to online tools that allow any automation solution to be programmed and tested directly in the selected working area and also load CAD data and suitable drawing. Even better is that the linear robots are ready for connection in just five minutes.

The solution is ideal for small and medium-sized companies who can immerse themselves in the world of automation without needing specialists and CAD software.

Igus acknowledges that choosing the right robot can be a time consuming and expensive process. The company makes that easy and companies can configure their linear robots with just a few clicks. The linear robots are available with control system, or with control system and software.

Unity, a platform used to develop PC and game consoles, was used to design the configurator. Operation of the configurator is intuitive with a few simple steps.

Firstly, the user selects the kinematics, i.e. a line, flat or room linear robot. The menu is similar to that of a computer game. The configurations make it easy to choose the right robot under clear conditions. For the first time it is now possible to compile and enquire about a special linear robot. 

Whether it’s an ice cream maker, measurement system or palletising robot, many applications should meet special safety regulations, for example, being splash proof or working in very small installation spaces. The online configurator allows users to request a special linear robot that meets the specific requirements of their individual application.

The second step involves configuring the linear robot. Sliders are available and can be used to set the stroke lengths of the X, Y and Z axes with millimetre precision. A dynamic 3D model of the linear robot, which can be rotated in every possible direction visualises the settings in real time.

Mühlens enthusiastically shares, “We have added a few function at this point. With one click it is now possible to also display he installation space of the linear robot. We use coloured areas for this. This gives users a visual impression of how much space their automation solution takes up.” 

Advanced users can also export the 3D model as a STEP file and process it further in any CAD program. With the online configurator, it is even possible to define how the robot moves by entering a few parameters and without programming knowledge.

That function was developed with the motto, “Test before invest”.

Thanks to the moving 3D model, operators can understand how the robots move and what their cycle times are. After online programming the file can then be displayed in virtual reality via an app or loaded into the real robot control system.

Igus head of automation technology and robotics, Alexander Mühlens says, “Since the launch of the configurator, received a lot of positive feedback on the gamification approach and intuitive usability.

With an eye to the future, Mühlens concludes, “We asked ourselves: Can we continue to improve operation with this feedback? The answer was a resounding yes. As a result, we have further optimised the configurator and added new functions.”