Five ballscrews boost women´s power
In terms of equal rights between women and men in the professional field and particularly in industry, it is obvious that many reforms are still necessary. Eichenberger is on the side of progress and is already helping to even out the difference in grip strength between women and men. In many industries, advanced mechanization and digitization enable modern machines to perform physically difficult work and lighten loads. In the Ironhand® robotic glove, for example, five application-optimized drive screws give the user a high grip force.
At the heart of the Ironhand glove
Ironhand® is developed by Bioservo, a leading company in the field of flexible exoskeleton and motor support, which focuses on the hand and upper body extremities. This mechanical glove strengthens the human grip thanks to the patented SEM™ technology. A grip is normally initiated by the forearm and hand muscles. These muscles pull the tendons leading from the five fingers. Ironhand® works in the same way: pressure-sensitive sensors at the fingertips of the glove detect when the user grasps an object, and a microcomputer calculates the power required. Servomotors drive the five robust, cold-rolled, 5×2 mm (Ø5 mm, 2 mm pitch) Eichenberger ball crews, which are attached to the glove with thin wires. The slender connections move the fingers, and the additional force is generated by the thin glove. The higher the pressure on the sensors, the more power the glove delivers. Ironhand® thus recognizes how the user grips an object and intuitively and automatically adjusts the gripping movement.
Mr. Martin Remning Wahlstedt, Director of Development at Bioservo, is full of praise for the Swiss threading specialist Eichenberger Gewinde: «At the heart of the Ironhand® glove are five cold-rolled, electrically-driven ballscrews. They convert the rotary motion of the micromotors into linear motion and enable what we consider to be excellent drive performance. Thanks to these thin and light, yet extremely reliable and precise drive components, we were able to develop an efficient control unit that is comfortable to carry and fits perfectly in a backpack.»
Five ballscrews boost women´s power
Ironhand® is available in four different sizes and can be worn by both left- and right-handed people. The battery pack, which is worn like a backpack, contains both a computer unit and the ballscrews with the motor that bring the various finger joints to life. The five ballscrews convert the rotary motion of the small servomotors into a clean linear motion. The impressive efficiency of over 94% ensures optimum drive performance.
Mastery of highly accurate positioning with the shortest of strokes and high dynamics in continuous operation, no compromises on safety and reliability, these are the requirements specified by Bioservo Technologies for the ballscrews used in Ironhand®. Maintenance intervals, service life and, of course, costs, all play a major role as well.
Eichenberger ballscrews combine speed, precision and minimum space requirements. In addition, the ideal ratio of spindle to pitch enhances the efficiency of the movement. The screws, each with three ingeniously conceived returns integrated in the nut, are also surprisingly light and increase the cost-effectiveness of the overall solution.
Women and technology go hand in hand: ballscrews make it easy
Ironhand® mimics the user’s gripping movements, adding strength and endurance. This extra power relieves muscles and conserves workers’ energy, improving their well-being and productivity.
For example, a woman, with less effort, can perform intense, highly repetitive and/or static work with ease using this robotic glove, which provides a maximum of 80 N of grip force in just a few milliseconds. In assembly work, where cables are stripped, crimped or cut by the operator using pliers, Ironhand® helps operators by reducing their workload. Ironhand® also helps when they have to hold objects for long periods of time, for example when installing glass. When handling heavy equipment on construction sites, including grinders, screwdrivers or even jackhammers, Ironhand® provides exceptional strength, giving operators the power they need.
This power could be to cut metal using and angle grinder or in logistics, to load and unload boxes of parts, the range of applications is vast.
Users can predefine different programs. Eichenberger ballscrews allow the fingers to be moved with extreme precision and positioning accuracy. Ironhand® distinguishes between combinations of sensor sensitivity, force, finger symmetry and locking tendency. To change the profiles, the user simply presses a button on the remote control mounted in the chest area. With these settings, it is possible to react flexibly to different requirements during the working day, for example when less strenuous tasks are performed in the morning and more physically demanding tasks are performed in the afternoon. This also means that different users can work with one system.
Eichenberger Gewinde, a Festo Group company
The need to solve practical tasks is perpetual. Eichenberger Gewinde AG successfully implements the opportunities associated with this and has thus managed to establish itself in the drive technology niche with tailor-made rolled thread drives. The Swiss thread specialist has clear objectives: To roll (cold forming) threads and manufacture thread drives (screw and nut). By using the most state-of-the-art production methods and developing new dimensions, Eichenberger supports its customers in ´their´ innovation.
The challenge for the designer in the high-price country of Switzerland is to create develop outstanding added technological value in a competitive product in line with the market. Technical know-how, research and development are not the only factors required. Additional command of efficient production processes will provide the competitive edge. If the inventor of the product is its most economical manufacturer, it can really make a difference, especially with the location being Switzerland.