Insights from industry

Creating Robotic Protective Clothing for Use in Extreme Environments: an Interview with Amulya Das

insights from industryAmulya DASDirector of Business Development
Mid-Mountain Materials, Inc.

Amulya Das, Director of Business Development at Mid-Mountain Materials, Inc., talks to AZoM.com about the company's robotic protective clothing, ARMATEX® SBN 13-602 ROBOTEX, and other traditional protective fabrics.

AP - How is Mid-Mountain Materials, Inc. involved in heat resistant materials?

AD - Materials that have the ability to protect equipment and instruments from being damaged due to high temperatures are called heat-resistant materials. Mid-Mountain Materials, Inc. is the industry’s leading expert in the manufacture of high performance textiles for extreme temperature protection.

Mid-Mountain develops manufactures and markets high performance coated and treated textiles, fabricated parts, composites and refractories for thermal protection, energy conservation, safety and process-specific applications.

Mid-Mountain works with companies to custom develop products for heat resistance to solve high temperature problems in the most severe industrial environments.

AP - Could you describe the composition of ARMATEX® SBN 13-602 ROBOTEX?

AD - ARMATEX® SBN 13-602 ROBOTEX was initially developed for use as Robotic Protective Clothing for use in extreme environments.

It is a very high strength, aromatic polyamide woven fabric that is coated with a very highly specialized and high performance silicone elastomer.

AP - What are its key physical properties?

AD - ARMATEX® SBN 13-602 ROBOTEX fabric exhibits exceptional strength and very high flexural failure resistance due to the strength of its unique base fabric.

This fabric is woven utilizing a special higher strength aromatic polyamide fibre than most meta-aramid fibre.

Due to its higher crystallinity and strength, it can be used in the most demanding applications requiring high tensile properties, as well as very high chemical and thermal stability.

AP - Could you outline some of the traditional protective fabrics that are commonly used?

AD - A wide variety of fabrics are used today for protective covers for workers, equipment and critical processes used in wide variety of industries. Traditional fabrics that are commonly used include:

  • Aluminum Coated Silica Fabric
  • Aluminum Coated Kevlar®
  • Hypalon Impregnated Nylon
  • Nylon and Polyester fabric
  • Fire-Retardant Vinyl
  • Laminated Teflon® (PTFE)
  • Silicone Coated Fiberglass
  • Silicone Coated Nylon
  • Urethane Coated Polyester and Nylon fabric
  • Teflon® (PTFE) Coated Fiberglass
  • Aluminum foil laminated fiberglass
  • Woven Silica and Ceramic fabrics

AP - Compared to other protective fabrics currently available, what makes ARMATEX® SBN 13-602 ROBOTEX unique?

AD - Its unique construction, engineered from a synthetic aromatic polyamide polymer blend with a unique silicone elastomer, provides superior strength, durability and thermal protection that stands up to the heat. The superior properties of ARMATEX® SBN 13-602 ROBOTEX gives it an advantage over typical industrial fabrics.

These properties include:

  • Better strength (tensile and tear) after thermal exposure
  • Better abrasion resistance
  • Excellent thermal stability
  • Maximum protection
  • Maximum value
  • Excellent high/low temperature performance capability
  • Very flexible – flexibility virtually unaffected by temperature
  • Excellent ozone resistance
  • Excellent UV resistance
  • Excellent electrical insulating properties
  • High thermal conductivity
  • Excellent resistance to a wide range of fluids and chemicals
  • Excellent weatherability
  • Easy to fabricate/process

AP - What professions could this be used in for personal protective clothing and why?

AD - ARMATEX ®SBN-13-602 ROBOTEX is mainly designed for protective covers for robots and robot systems, for a wide variety of markets with a broad range of harsh operating conditions.

In addition, this technical protective fabric can be used in many other professions to improve personnel safety in the workplace, given it has the following values in protection, and is effective against certain hazards as listed:

  • High temperatures (Insulating, Firefighters)
  • Burns (Flame, Convective and Radiant heat, Firefighters)
  • Electric arc flash discharge (Plasma explosion, Electric companies)
  • Molten metal impacts (Foundries)
  • Metal sparks (Welding)
  • Acid environment (Petrochemical, Gas, Refineries, Chemical)
  • Cut resistant (Gloves, Glass industry)

AP - Could you explain a little more about the concept of “robot protective clothing” – how common is this currently and what are the benefits?

AD - Robots improve the quality of work by taking over dangerous, tedious and dirty jobs that are not possible, or safe, for humans to perform. But today’s complex manufacturing processes put Robotic equipment in danger, therefore it is extremely important to protect the robotic equipment in damaging and abusive environments. To protect robots, robotic equipment robot protective clothing was developed, and used as a means to protect the investment of the robot.

Figure 1. Robotic arm clothing / covering
Image credit: Gretchen Reimbold / Mid-Mountain Materials

Wearing protective clothing, robots can handle tasks in demanding environments with dust, moisture, chemicals, and high and low temperatures. Robot covers are very common these days and provides several advantages to the robot:

  • Operate in environments that unprotected robots cannot (high heat, cold, humidity, and corrosive atmospheres)
  • Protect your investment from component failure
  • Extend the operational life of your robot
  • Reduce maintenance
  • Increase automation uptime
  • Easier maintenance and longer life of the robot

AP - Are there different requirements for human protection and robotic protection?

AD - Both Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) and Robotic Protection are designed with the same idea in mind, to protect the operator.

PPE can virtually save a person’s life, depending on the environment and conditions they are working in. The aim of human protective fabric is to provide personnel and possible life-saving protection with a high degree of wearing comfort.

Robot Protective clothing is designed to protect the components of the robot, similar to protecting personnel.

The difference is that Robotic Protection needs to be designed to withstand highly repetitive motions in very abusive environments.

ARMATEX® SBN-13-602 ROBOTEX has very high flexural fail resistance combined with high strength and heat resistance, to accommodate the repetitive movements of the robot in the most extreme environments.

AP - What other industries could use this material, outside of protective clothing applications?

AD - Following are some of the other industries which could use this material successfully.

  • Food industry – clean room
  • Heat – climate protection
  • Foundry – forging
  • Painting
  • Surface treatment – sand blasting
  • Window protection
  • Welding gun – grippers
  • Hose protection
  • Machining
  • Food Industries
  • Automotive
  • Nuclear
  • Aeronautics

AP - How is Mid-Mountain Materials looking to move forward with this product in the future?

AD - The robotics industry is looking into a bright future. New manufacturing technologies have generated excitement about what some see as a Third Industrial Revolution. In the years ahead, technological improvements in robotics and automation will boost productivity and efficiency, implying significant economic gains for companies but the initial investments for robots are very high.

Figure 2. Robotic arm clothing must be able to withstand repetitive movements
Image credit: Gretchen Reimbold / Mid-Mountain Materials

With this Robotic Revolution there is an urgent need of a robust protective cover for robots and robotic systems in the industry for their 100% return in investment, reduced maintenance and reduced down time. Mid-Mountain is undertaking this challenge seriously, and is determined to help in the success of this robotic revolution in various industries.

Recently we have developed ARMATEX® SBN 13-602 ROBOTEX which has uncompromising flexibility including very high strength and resistance to extreme conditions. Currently this product is being tested t in an ALCOA Plant in Australia, where all conventional materials have failed. Furthermore, we are looking forward to working closely in partnership with the Plant, Process and Maintenance Engineers, as well as Managers and Supervisors to determine their solution and make their process a success.

We will also study their particular robots, their movements, their environment, and the chemicals used in their manufacturing, which will influence cover design and materials. We will also help to determine if reusability or disposability is more appropriate for an application, and take into consideration OSHA and/or EPA requirements.

In addition, we will design, create and test samples to test on-site for evaluation of performance and ease of installation, as well as effectiveness. If you have a critical application or you need any help in optimizing your process, efficiency and equipment, please contact us at [email protected] or call us at +1 (800) 382-2208 to discuss your problems and for immediate solution.

About Amulya Das

Amulya Das is Director of Business Development at Mid-Mountain Materials, Inc., and is based at the company’s manufacturing facility in Arlington, Washington, USA.

Amulya is a Materials Scientist with  a degree in  Chemistry, and also has a Masters Degree in Chemical Technology with a specialization of Textile & Polymers Science from The Institute of Chemical Technology, Bombay, India.

As Director of Business Development, Amulya works closely with engineers and project managers to develop unique solutions that will address their applications challenges.

Prior to this role, Amulya served as the Manager of the Coating Division at Mid-Mountain, overseeing the manufacture of all standard and custom coated products.  

Amulya has 28 years of hands on working experience in manufacturing, engineering, design, and Research & Development with textiles, chemicals, and polymers as well as high performance materials.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

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