An ABB industrial robot recently took centre stage in demonstrating an innovative new perfume for a major fashion label at this season’s On | Off showcase at London Fashion Week.
More commonly found hard at work on factory floors, the IRB 140 robot sprayed curious visitors with Boudicca’s ‘Wode’ fragrance, a blue-coloured perfume which magically turns invisible as it dries.
Based on an ABB IRB 140 robot, the installation was equipped with a gripper to hold and activate the perfume container. To enable the robot to control the perfume spray, the gripper arrangement included a special piston-activated system to apply pressure for two seconds at a time to the spray nozzle.
Programmed by ABB engineer Richard Ramos, the robot performed to a carefully choreographed routine, which included spraying a blue ‘W’ onto a canvas.
"We’ve used our robots for a lot of unusual jobs over the years, but this is definitely the first time that one of our products has made a leap into the fashion world," says Richard. "To add to the overall effect, we programmed the robot to move as gracefully as possible rather than the fast speeds you’d normally see in an industrial application. As is always the case wherever a robot is used in unusual surroundings, the installation really did help to pull in the crowds."
The decision to use the robot came from Grace Woodward, voted Stylist of the year 2009. As Guest Curator of On | Off, Grace wanted an attention-grabbing way of showcasing the perfume.
"Using the robot proved a great way of demonstrating the magic of the ‘Wode’ perfume," says Grace. "It took over eight years to develop this unusual product and we really wanted an unusual and quirky way of drawing people’s attention to it. The unexpected nature of the perfume, coupled with the attraction of the robot, proved a great way of doing this."
With the future of the British fashion manufacturing industry very much on the agenda throughout the show, the robot provided an appropriate reminder of the benefits that robots can bring to UK manufacturing companies across a multitude of sectors.
"The total flexibility of today’s robotic technology means its potential uses are limited only by the imagination of the users," says Nigel Platt, sales manager for ABB’s UK robotics business. "With the launch of our new smallest ever robot, the IRB 120, users really do now have a full choice of options – whether it be a multi-robot production cell for welding applications or a standalone robot for picking and placing small items such as electronics components."