Not exactly a robot, but sorta

Ok, this is going to be a bit off topic, but am sure someone here on this group can send me to the right place.
I have a small company where I put together these little kits. Multiple
items into plastic bags.
Now with my programming experience I am sure I can handle the software end, but I need to find the hardware that will hook up to a regular PC, which I can control via C?
So where can I go looking for this stuff? Mechanical grabbing arms, preferably with some type of electrical sensor so it knows if it grabbed something, electric eye censors, cutters, etc.
Surely I can do this???????
Any helpful direction pointing would be so much appreciated.
Thanks ahead
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Daniel Kaplan wrote:

Much of this stuff is custom made but there are some generic machines out there for standard functions, like parts vibrators and sorters, etc. Do a Google search for 'factory automation' and you'll turn up hundreds of outfits that do this sort of thing.
-- Gordon
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Daniel Kaplan wrote:

Bodine Machine (http://www.bodine-machine.com ) will build an automated assembly line for just about anything. Take a look at how they do it.
More specifically, there's Autobag (http://www.autobag.com ). If it came in a little plastic bag, Autobag probably put it there. They sell refurbished equipment.
This is called "kitting" in the industrial world. You can buy kitting as an outsourced service. This may be easier than building an automated kitting system.
The way this is usually done is with a dispenser for each part, which dumps a part into a bin on command. The bins are on a turntable or conveyor, which advances from one dispenser to the next. When all the parts are in a bin, the bin is dumped into a plastic bag, which is then heat-sealed.
It's unusual to do kitting with a programmable robot, but it's feasible.
                John Nagle
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Well, I don't have the budget to go big time, not now at least. But figured finding the rights part I could easily program what I need.
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Daniel Kaplan wrote:

I'd think carefully if you've not got the budget... these things cost money for a reason. They'll eat a lot of your time and you'll have to resolve the problems they have all over again.
Think about the variety of items you wish to "grab" or cut, the differing shapes and tasks need differing approaches sensing/counting/handling.
no doubt you can do this but it will need time and budget, one size doesn't fit all. It's going to be easier to follow John or Gordon's advice... buy custom or out source!
best regards, colin
--

www.minisumo.org.uk

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I'm really not trying to make a machine that will make 10,000 bags an hout, and not trying to build something super huge here.
You could even say that a part of me really wants to tinker with this, badly!
So let me be clearer:
When I say I am looking for a robotic arm, I don't mean some massive thing, or one that can turn in any 360 degree direction, etc. etc.
Surely there are hobby type kits? That can be controlled via C? I'mm looking for stuff like that.
Thanks again,
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Daniel Kaplan wrote:

It's back to google...
http://www.lynxmotion.com/Category.aspx?CategoryID'
I'm not sure how big you want to go but prices will start to rise rapidly from here.
good luck with your project ;)
best regards, colin
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end,
The normal sequence for your kind of operation is something like this: You start in your garage and build a customer base, and because you have a great product, the demand increases, so you go to Goodwill and the like in your community and contract out assembly and packaging, soon your demand grows and you must cut costs so you contract a maquiladora along the border in Mexico at a dollar an hour labor costs... which makes your product much more affordable and you can make profits, so you start looking at automation and China, and now you're up a really important decision. Bodine is a fabulous solution to really high volume assembly, as are many of the off-the-shelf robots. Also is the very cheap costs from China but you risk the knock-offs once you reveal your manufacturing technology and Chinese marketing people in the US.
My advice is to really study the chain of events which will allow you to make your money work for you as you move from garage, to Salvation Army, to Mexico, and back to your garage but with a fully automated system that will not yield information to the Chinese. And be ready to beat their prices by getting better and better with good old solid US technology.
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Don't forget to check out the surplus market.
Here's one in Toronto that handles mostly automation stuff: www.dnptechnologies.com
But almost any large city has one or more places dealing surplus.
DOC
Daniel Kaplan wrote:

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    --FWIW I used to work for a small company that built assembly lines. Haven't been able to find my old boss despite much googling as his name was all too common. Anyway if you can, get hold of a character by the name of Tom Nelson and he'll do it for you for less than someone like Snow Manufacturing, which is the name of the biggie I remember from days of yore.     --I made an automatic bag opening machine once for kitchen-table enterpreneurs. Making a small production line that integrates simple machines with human operators is an easy first step and you can do a lot with pneumatics or simple electronics and limit switches.     --A good place to see these things implemented is at trade shows. You might want to check around in your neck of the woods and see if there are any industrial shows coming to town. The two biggies are in Chicago and Los Angeles. The LA show is coming up in March. Check out www.sme.org for more details.
--
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : One joy of middle age
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : is precision flatulence...
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