INESCOP is working on a robot for the extraction of injected soles
The SoftManBot H2020 project, which works on the creation of an innovative robotic system for the handling of deformable and flexible materials used in the manufacture of footwear, toys, textiles and tyres, has completed one year of research with very positive results in terms of meeting its objective.
Today, most strategic industries, such as footwear, operate with flexible and deformable products in their manufacturing processes. In addition, many of the operations performed are carried out manually by operators, as in the case of the mould extraction from injected soles. In order to protect the health of workers, as well as to free them from repetitive tasks that require great force, the need to automate this type of processes arises.
This is the context in which the SoftManBot project was born, a technological challenge that will create a robotic system capable of handling very sensitive parts, while assisting the human being in the creation of these parts.
“Throughout the first year of research, thanks to the collaboration of the company PLASTINHER, we have defined and delimited the specific case of use in our sector: the extraction of injected soles from their moulds, being able to carry out a simulation close to the aspect that the final result will have”, explains José Francisco Gómez, Head of Robotics at INESCOP.
In order to carry out this process, INESCOP has set up a real test environment where the solutions can be tested in an agile way.
In addition, together with PLASTINHER, INESCOP has developed a 3D printed mould in order to facilitate its transport and handling “and thus be able to share it with the other project partners, since it is a very useful tool”, assures Gómez.
The Head of the Robotics department, despite admitting that there is still a long way to achieve robust and skilful extractions, is optimistic that he has managed to complete the first tests successfully.
At the moment, INESCOP is working on perfecting the clamps prototype which allow a better grip and handling of the injected sole. AIJU, meanwhile, is working with the Spanish company JUEMA on a solution for the toy industry, specifically, the demoulding and assembly of dolls. The French university SIGMA Clermont is working with MICHELIN to automate the wheel assembly process. And the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), together with DECATHLON Italia, is working on a solution for the textile industry: to robotise the stitching of cycling chamois. The other partners: ZIMER, STAM and Sorbonne University, work transversally in all cases of use.