Jim Beretta from Customer Attraction Industrial Marketing recently had the opportunity to interview Tharwat Foaud; the president of Anubis 3D, a cutting-edge company that specializes in robotic end-of-arm tooling and uses 3d printing as the main manufacturing technology. During the conversation, Tharwat delved into various topics, including the company’s mission, its approach to innovation, and its plans for the future.
Anubis 3D has made significant strides in the 3D printing industry, creating new and exciting opportunities for businesses and consumers alike. With its advanced technology, the company has been able to develop products that are not only durable and efficient but also cost-effective. This has made it a popular choice for businesses that are looking to streamline their manufacturing processes and reduce their production costs.
During the interview, the executive shared some valuable insights into the company’s innovative approach to product development, highlighting the importance of collaboration, experimentation, and continuous improvement. Tharwat also discussed the company’s challenges, including competition from other players in the industry, and how Anubis 3D has managed to overcome them.
Overall, our conversation was a fascinating glimpse into the world of 3D printing and the innovations that are driving it forward. Anubis 3D is a company that is at the forefront of this exciting field, and it was a privilege to speak with one of its top executives to learn more about its vision for the future.
Live from Automate show in Detroit, with Anubis 3d
Jim Beretta from Customer Attraction Industrial Marketing welcomes Tharwat Foaud of Anubis3D to Automate Live
Can you for our audience at home tell us a little bit about what you do at Anubis 3D?
I am Tharwat Foaud, President of Anubis 3D. We specialize in robotic end of arm tooling and use 3d printing as our main manufacturing technology. We also have an additive manufacturing facility where we create custom parts and do custom production for end use mechanical components.
You come from the food and beverage industry, so you know this application really well.
Yes, I started with large consumer products company for about 20 years, managed multi-million-dollar projects around the world and learned a lot about manufacturing. At the beginning of my entrepreneurship I worked for a couple of years in engineering consulting and design. I had always wanted to start fabrication of our designs so after a long research, Additive Manufacturing appeared as a viable solution for prototyping and light weight end use products such as end of arm tooling. This is how we know and understand the end user requirements and what they are looking for. We understand the challenges in manufacturing facilities in terms of space, retrofitting existing tooling, capacity increase, limited floor space. End users are always looking for smart cost-effective solutions, reliability, and quality. Our experience in manufacturing, vast experience with Additive processes were deployed to create the products and solutions we present today to enhance the automation experience.
You brought an end of arm tool here with you. Can you tell me a bit about what we are seeing here?
Our most popular product is the Area Surface Gripper. It has multiple components: controls, vacuum generators, solenoid valves and sensors, everything integrated. It is compliant with collaborative robots such as FANUC CRX series. The tool changer is universal and works with most of our products. The process of tool changing is fast and takes a couple of seconds. Using additive to manufacture the body of the tool gives us the freedom for customization of the length and width of the tool, position of suction cups, interchange suction cups with foam, deciding on single or double zone.
As an end user or someone thinking about using these parts, what would be my main motivators to consider using a product like this?
Lightweight is the primary differentiator between our products versus their conventional equivalents. Flexibility to design product specific tooling is the secondary most important feature of our tooling. This means efficient operations, optimum weights and significant reduction in defects caused by generic application tooling. On the other hand compliance with the safety requirements for collaborative robots is hard to achieve with conventional tooling made from extrusion profiles with pinch points and sharp edges. Cables and wires hang outside the conventional tooling versus in our products, they are housed inside the body up to 20 different air channels . This same design feature can be achieved in conventional tooling via molding; however, it will require a mold per design and variation, which will make them very expensive and less flexible. If we don’t have the size, you need we can make changes to suit the application. For example, we had a customer with an application to pick candles and they only needed 3 suction cups to pick up the candle. That wasn’t a problem, we were able to make exactly what was required and it can be adapted for any kind of robot. With our tooling there is no need to invest in new robot arms we can work with the existing and swop the tools to perform new operations.
What are typical applications for this unit you have here?
We have tools for every type of robot: delta robots, Industrial robots , and mostly collaborative robots. Collaborative robots are very new and so there are not that many companies making a variety of EOAT’s yet. We are a leader in this space as we have the widest array of collaborative robot end of arm tooling.
What’s the process if I’m looking to extend our product range or to light weight?
Contact us and we’ll work with your team to understand your specific application. If it fits any of our standard products, we’ll direct you and specify the appropriate product, and if it doesn’t we will work with your specifications to create a custom tool. Our experience is custom tooling is diverse and very extensive from picking and place ice cream popsicles to massive car parts, and anything in between.
Are there any unusual applications that you’re working on right now?
We’ve had all kinds of unusual applications recently. One that comes to mind is paint masking for automotive parts; that was a crazy tool, all mechanically activated. In addition, we have our developed series of mechanical bottle grippers that picks all kinds of bottles and jars repeatedly and reliably with zero damage or waste for the product.
So, I come to you with a design idea, what happens next then?
We analyze the idea from feasibility, design, function, and manufacturability. One of the areas we look at is the design optimized to produce the best shape and minimum weight without compromising the function or integrity. Next a quote is generated for the design concept including the fabrication. Designs are demonstrated for function with a proof of concept, which are then shared with the customer for final approval then we go to production.
How long does a build take? There are a lot of components here.
The build is the part that takes the smallest amount of time. Once we get the design finalized, the printing/fabrication takes about a week. Assuming all third-party parts have been received ,usually ordered during the design process, especially long lead items. The assembly process starts right away followed by testing and everything moves quickly from there. For custom tooling that requires unconventional ideas, the design takes the longest time as we start with lots of unknowns that are identified and solved during the different design phases.
So light weighting is obviously an important advantage in building these tools, but there are some other advantages. For example, one would be using only the amount of material needed to realize the design.
Yes, customers often ask us if the tool is going to be strong enough. That is a very common question. The answer is that we design for strength and integrity. Once we know the physical properties of the material, we use engineering processes to design for the specific load. The result is guaranteed to take the load that was designed for. Part of our quality assurance is to include in every batch build tensile specimens to confirm the manufactured parts meet the design specifications. This ensures the tool components have the strength and durability to perform the specific function under the assumed conditions.
Lightweighting is also achieved by using topography optimization or design optimization where we load cases into a specific software. The software runs and takes away all the unnecessary material and gives us a trace that follows the load lines and enables us to build the tool around those load lines.
Is there a sweet spot for the weight of the final product?
It’s not limited by structure; it’s limited by the vacuum components integrated. The structure is designed to pick the maximum possible load with safety margins. The suction cups and vacuums components are the elements that control the maximum capacity load.
Therefore, you’re not afraid of picking up a car door or anything like that.
We have done that! The tools that are working in the metal industry to carry sheet metal, wood pallets have been designed for the size and loads they carry. The tools are engineered with the specific application in mind.
You are working with other EOAT manufacturers in the industry? How does that work?
We believe collaborating with EOAT component manufacturers and suppliers adds value to the end users as they will be receiving the best of both worlds. Our objective is not to replicate existing designs, however where suitable we use them in the appropriate applications. For example, components such as suction cups have been invented and tested in a vast variety of materials, sizes and applications. Instead, we integrate those components in a comprehensive, timeless solution that serves a unique purpose.
When you start working with a customer and they start using this tool do you find they buy more? Sometimes it takes someone some time to get their head around something new and different.
Most of our customers first lightweight EOAT likely made by us. Our tools pioneer that space as we introduced this concept to the market first. At the beginning it took a while to convince our customers, but once they trusted, tested our products, they became their standard product because it offered them a competitive edge amongst their competition and reduced dramatically the turn around time of their projects. Their revenues increased because they were able to take on more projects per year compared to when they used conventional tooling.
So how are you creating awareness about your company and products? I assume there’s a fair amount of word of mouth.
We have done a dew marketing activities and this year we are focused on a plan to spread awareness about our company and products. Referrals are one of the main avenues for lead generation. Our customers who worked with us refer us to others because they have experienced firsthand our smart solutions and unique designs. Most of our customer base is local within our province and goes as far as Quebec. This is our first presence at Automate to meet and offer our products and solutions for all the companies in North America and the world.
The show was very informative and gave us the opportunity to meet potentials customers, listen to their challenges, and offer solutions.
So who would you say is your ideal customer?
Systems integrators and machine builders are currently our main customer categories. With collaborative robots use on the rise, we’re hoping to add end users, maintenance engineers, and design & process engineers.
Where do you think the future will take you?
I don’t have a crystal ball, but we believe our products add value and facilitate the use of automation even in smaller facilities. The lightweight tooling will dominate a larger segment of the collaborative robot market in the next few years increasing our market share.