Motion plastics specialist igus is investing in growing its low-cost automation activities and has now acquired a majority stake in robot integrator Commonplace Robotics, based in Bissendorf near Osnabrück. Commonplace Robotics specialises in intuitive control and software as well as power electronics for robotics, in the industrial and educational sectors. Both companies have worked together closely for six years and have jointly developed the iRC igus Robot Control, which complements igus's low cost kinematics parts which are made of high-performance plastics.
Commonplace Robotics was founded 11 years ago by Dr. Christian Meyer, who until then had worked at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation. The name says it all: making the integration and operation of robots so low cost and accessible that they become "commonplace" – i.e. they can be used anywhere. In 2016, Dr. Meyer approached igus because he found that igus's robot kinematics matched his vision of "commonplace": low cost, simple, and suitable for industry. Since then, the two companies have jointly developed products such as the iRC igus Robot Control and the ReBeL Cobot as well as an actuator. The manufacture of Commonplace Robotics components – from firmware and software to control cabinet construction and board assembly – is vertically integrated so new developments can be implemented quickly.
Driving low-cost automation forward with strength of two innovative companies
"Many customers are surprised that they can realise simple automation tasks in just 30 minutes without any programming knowledge," says Frank Blase, CEO and Entrepreneur of igus GmbH. "We are very pleased that after the intensive cooperation of the last six years, an even more focused approach to low-cost automation is now possible." With the acquisition, Commonplace Robotics and igus are consolidating their innovative strength. Dr. Meyer says: "We are looking forward to several exciting projects with igus, especially via the RBTX platform for low-cost robots, where new requirements from customers from all areas of industry come to our laboratories every day. Much of this can be implemented quickly, especially as we will grow with the new investment."
The latest product of this cooperation is the ReBeL Cobot, costing just EU4,970 including the control. The actuator, also available as a single component, combines the plastic know-how of igus in the gearbox with the power electronics and software from Commonplace Robotics. With six DoF, the ReBeL can handle a 2kg maximum payload with a reach of 664mm, with an operating dead weight of only 8.2kg. Enquiries and orders come from both classical applications such as quality control and pick-and-place applications in mechanical engineering, as well as new application areas such as restaurant automation and automated farming.