Protechnology Japan presents Atom Co., Ltd., producer of the AT9000 Series of linked tabletop robots. The company presents a revolutionary system that automatizes manufacturing processes that were previously only done by hand. The robots can be placed on a standard work desk and customized to perform tasks like soldering and coating. They can be used autonomously or linked with a total of ten other units. The units offer applications for detailed work performed in diverse industries such as the automobile, semiconductor, liquid crystal display, food, and medical industries, and accurately automatize processes that would normally be performed by hand, achieving a consistent quality of output. The aim of the AT9000 Series is to develop major benefits with regards to costs over larger, space-occupying, machines.
Table Top Robots Save Time and Money and Provide Simple Solutions to Complex Manufacturing Processes.
Professionals in the field of factory automation (FA), Atom provides a range of solutions for the automated manufacturing of industrial products. The company is fast becoming an industry leader both in Japan and overseas due to its comprehensive knowledge of FA machines from design through installation. The company also has a stellar reputation for the careful maintenance and service it provides for its products. The company produces and services its products in the veritable tradition of quality Japanese manufacturing and peerless customer service.
Tabletop robots usually weigh about 30 kg (66 lbs) and are small enough to allow one or two people to carry them by hand. Current technology FA options available requires installing dedicated heavy equipment at plants, which usually requires a cost tens of millions of yen or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Additionally, these FA technologies are complex and require routine servicing. Atom’s tabletop robots allow companies to have access to high precision machines that are easy to operate at greatly reduced costs. Compared to full FA setups, the cost of one tabletop unit and associated applications is only about two million yen or $16,000 US dollars, according to current exchange rates.
Tabletop robots have been extensively used for soldering circuit boards. Using a traditional production line to solder circuit boards would require the installation of multiple robots to work on different elements of the board, with the added labor of humans transporting the boards from robot to robot. In addition, when moving a piece to a new production process, such as from soldering to coating, most robot manufacturers rely on robots specialized on each task, forcing the end-user to learn new programming languages and controls for each unit.
The AT9000 Series was developed to resolve these issues end-users face. It enables the automatized transport of goods between tabletop robots – an industry-first. In addition, up to ten robots can be linked together in this system. Users of the AT9000 can create an automated production line without the need to install large-scale equipment. Compared to FA solutions that would involve large machines, costs can be constrained to as much as one tenth of the traditional outlay. The company is positioning the AT9000 Series as “partial FA” that lies between inexpensive tabletop robots and costly full-scale FA solutions.
Company president Yasutake Ichinose explained to our journalist, “The appeal of the AT9000 Series is that automatizing manufacturing through machines allows you to create a consistent quality of output day and night. You can also automatize those minor, interstitial processes previously done by hand, cutting costs even further. And you can also link them together to create an actual production line.”
From Soldering to Cake Decorating Table Top Robots Can Do It.
The AT9000 Series is a universal robot type with enhanced customizability. It allows a single unit to cover a wide range of tasks such as soldering and painting, by changing the application. In general, applications allow for the transport of only 2-3 kg at a time. The AT9000 Series supports up to 10 kg, enabling greater freedom in transportation processes. The system provides solutions for testing smartphone panels, applying paint and coatings, medical dispensing, and coating and soldering of automobiles, semiconductors, and circuit boards. For instance, one medical application includes collecting blood and automatically dispensing it into a vial containing a testing agent. The devices can also perform tasks such as applying bacteria onto a culture in a petri dish. With a range of other applications conceivable, Ichinose says, “these machines can solder circuit boards, but I can also see them easily accomplishing tasks like fine cake decoration.”
Stroke and fidelity can also be customized. Another advantage to end-users is that they can begin with one unit and add more to the chain as the need arises. Ichinose explained, “this allows companies to order robots according to the current production needs, and can help smaller businesses and manufacturing start-ups to save on initial investments.” Programming is initially handled by an Atom engineer. Later, training is offered to allow end-users to gradually program the robots on their own. Ichinose explained that his company has set up a system to allow for seamless customer service to international customers.
The Future of the Tabletop Robotics Market.
Atom developed and perfected the robot design after a year and a half of intensive testing and development. Atom president Ichinose believes that “there is no element of manufacturing that cannot be automatized.” The confidence the company’s CEO has in the table top robot technology statement is backed by the company’s constant testing of the technology in new and innovative ways. Also with its other FA solutions, the company partners with end-users, gaining feedback on the table top robots, in order to come up with optimal applications and proposals on the best possibilities to interlink the robots.
Ichinose says that the tabletop robot format is gaining ground worldwide. There is currently high demand in comparative small-scale production processes, and the robots are being used in applications such as testing button resilience for smartphones like the iPhone and the screen response of touch panels. Smartphones and tablet models undergo a rapid release cycle, so manufacturers of these devices are not in a position to make large-scale infrastructural investments. Atom is finding demand for its linked tabletop robots in small-scale production facilities, as they allow for maximizing possibilities with a minimum investment.
ATOM CO., Ltd.
Company name: Atom Co., Ltd.
Headquarters: 358-1 Nibukata-machi, Hachioji-shi, Tokyo-to
President: Yasutake Ichinose
Business overview: design and development of industrial machines, manufacture of devices