Robot Maintenance and Vigo Grease
There's no denying that robot grease is a critical component of industrial robot maintenance. It is important to use the appropriate grease for precision reduction gears and change it out periodically. Even when you play by the rules, there can still be grease problems.
VIGOGREASE REO, a new Japanese robot grease, aims to eliminate some of the issues associated with previous robot grease options. While it contains many of the same ingredients as other grease mixtures, the Vigo recipe is reported to offer superior performance.
Making the Switch to Vigo Grease:
If you purchase a new Japanese manufactured robot - Motoman, Fanuc, Nachi, or Panasonic robot - chances are it will use VIGO grease (part number A98L-0040-0174#16KG). This relatively new robot gear lubricant is now used for Nabtesco reduction gears on new robots. Older robot models will still rely on MolyWhite.
Vigo Vs. MolyWhite:
MolyWhite, a heterogeous mixture of grease and oil, has long been a standby for lubricating robotic gears. However, the oil tends to separate from the mixture and leak out of the seals, which are designed to keep out grease, not oil. The breakdown of MolyWhite robot grease can be caused by heat and other factors.
"A lot of times this makes it look like robot seals are broken when it fact they are fine. I believe the VIGO grease is meant to help alleviate this issue," said RobotWorx engineer, Jarrod Bichon.
The Vigo grease mixture is slightly altered from MolyWhite, containing a larger quantity of EP (extreme pressure) additives, in this case Mollybdenum compound and zinc compound. According to Bichon, Vigo grease appears to be less viscous than MolyWhite, which may be one reason for its superior performance when it comes to robot reduction gears.
Avoid Costly Gear Problems:
While Vigo is more expensive than other varieties of robot grease, it has the potential to offer a much better ROI. Without the proper robot grease, reduction gears can break down and jam. Keep scheduled reminders to check gears and preventative maintenance checks to extend the life of your robot. Always follow the guidance provided in your specific robot manual.
"There is so much rapid displacement of the grease in a closed cavity, it has to be able to withstand the environment," said Bichon. "If the wrong grease is used, heat and stress on the gear components will cause the failure."