At present, the most part of manufacturers handle flexible and mouldable products, such as footwear, toys, clothes or tyres. The automation of these tasks and its demand are a technological challenge, given that, due to the number of different materials which are involved and the variety of products, there is currently no robust robotic solution available in the industry.
Many of the operations with mouldable products are manually carried out by workers. For example, the extraction of injected soles from their moulds. This task, among others, has the inconvenience that it can cause these workers short- and long-term injuries as a result of constant repetitive movements and the strength required for this action.
The robotic system, SOFTMANBOT will assist humans in the execution of these tasks and in order to do so, four pilot models will be set up for four different key manufacturing sectors: footwear, toys, textiles, etc
During the first year of research, thanks to the collaboration of PLASTINHER URBAN, we have been able to define the specific use in our sector: the extraction of injected soles from their moulds, while performing a close simulation to that of the final product. In collaboration with INESCOP, PLASTINHER URBAN has developed a 3D printed mould with the aim to facilitate its transport and manipulation and therefore, being able to share it with the rest of the partners from the project, who will also be able to simulate the same process in their own facilities.
The company PLASTINHER URBAN is taking part in the EU funded SOFTMANBOT project. Eleven partners from four different European countries, and each from different industries, universities, and technology centres, are working on an innovative robotic system for the manipulation of flexible materials in different production processes. SOFTMANBOT is a project which has arisen from the production industry, which will provide a holistic and innovative robotic system for the handling of mouldable and flexible materials in production processes which involve intensive manual work. The project will be developed by a consortium of 11 partners and has received funding from the European research and innovation programme, HORIZONTE 2020.