igus Acquires Majority Stake in Commonplace Robotics, Partner in ReBeL Affordable Cobot

igus and Commonplace Robotics have partnered on plastics, power, and software for six years.


The ReBeL cobot's actuator, also available on its own, combines igus' plastic know-how in the gearbox with power electronics and software from Commonplace Robotics.
igus has been collaborating with Commonplace Robotics for the past six years on its ReBeL collaborative robot and is continuing its North American expansion.

Motion plastics offer to replace messy ball bearings, protect power cables, and enable a new generation of affordable robots. Motion plastics provider igus GmbH last week said it has acquired the majority of shares in Commonplace Robotics, an integrator specializing in control systems, software, and power electronics for robots in industry and education.

“We are looking forward to exciting technological projects with igus,” stated Dr. Christian Meyer, founder of Commonplace Robotics. “The RBTX platform for low-cost robotics, operated by igus, brings new requirements from customers from all areas of the industry to our laboratories every day. Much of this can be implemented quickly, especially as we expand with this investment.”

Meyer, who worked at the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Engineering and Automation at the time, founded Commonplace Robotics in 2011. The Bissendorf, Germany-based company said it works to make the integration and operation of robots so cost-effective and easy that they can be used anywhere. Its first products with a control system and proprietary power electronics were robots for teaching.

Commonplace Robotics cooperates for affordable robots

The two companies said they have been cooperating intensively since 2016. Commonplace Robotics and igus have jointly developed products including an actuator, the ReBeL low-cost collaborative robot, and the igus Robot Control (iRC).

The ReBeL cobot costs €4,970 ($4,843 U.S.), including its control system. The actuator, also available as an individual component, combines igus' plastic know-how in the gearbox with power electronics and software from Commonplace Robotics.

With six axes, the ReBeL can handle a payload of up to 2 kg (4.4 lb.) with a range of 664 mm (26.1 in.) and a net weight of 8.2 kg (18 lb.).

Commonplace Robotics said its high level of vertical integration, from firmware and software to switch cabinet construction and circuit board assembly, allows new developments to be implemented quickly. igus said it expects the company's strengths in innovation to complement its low-cost kinematics made from high-performance plastics.

“Many customers are surprised that they can implement simple robot tasks in just 30 minutes without any programming knowledge,” said Frank Blase, CEO of igus. “We are very pleased that, following intensive collaboration over the last six years, an even more focused approach to low-cost automation is now possible.”

About igus

igus said its motion plastics are self-lubricating, high-performance polymers that can improve technology and reduce costs wherever things move. The Cologne, Germany-based company claimed that it is the market leader in energy supplies, highly flexible cables, plain and linear bearings, and lead screw technology made of tribo-polymers.

igus said it is represented in 35 countries and employs 4,900 people around the world. In 2021, the family-owned company generated a turnover of €961 million ($936.4 million). It recently sponsored the WaterFire event in East Providence, R.I., where it plans to significantly expand its presence.

In addition to research and development, igus said it offers 234,000 items that are available from stock, plus online calculators for service life. The company has created internal startups in recent years around ball bearings, robot drives, 3D printing, the RBTX platform for “lean robotics,” and intelligent “smart plastics” for Industry 4.0.

igus touted its environmental investments, including its “chainge” program, which recycles used e-chains, and its participation in an enterprise that produces oil from plastic waste.

Requests and orders come from traditional areas of applications such as quality control and pick-and-place applications in mechanical engineering. However, new areas of applications such as restaurant automation or urban farming are now becoming more frequent, said igus and Commonplace Robotics.

Interested parties can learn more and get a live demonstration of the jointly developed innovations at Booth 310 in Hall 4 at SPS (smart production solutions) from Nov. 8 to 10, 2022, in Nuremberg, Germany.

The igus robolink D 4 axis robot arm with the Commonplace Robotics modular robot control.

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The ReBeL cobot's actuator, also available on its own, combines igus' plastic know-how in the gearbox with power electronics and software from Commonplace Robotics.

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