Using a Robot Arm for plastic sorting

There are many benefits to using a robot arm for plastic sorting. The modularity of the system in addition to the wide range of motion is the first that comes to mind. Additionally, it is a versatile solution that can adapt to many challenging and new tasks that might come with new packaging and waste stream types.

Figure 1: Robot overview sketch
Figure 1: Robot overview sketch


The main features of the robot arm are it’s fully integrated closed-loop motor drivers as well as it’s single supply and signal interface design. Therefore it is very easy to integrate the robot into a sorting line. The Vertical Axis is integrated into the second link for more robust mechanics and easy mounting of the base. By removing all components from the first link, the robot can be easily shipped and assembled. Additionally, it is possible to adjust the length of the first link. This way a larger (or smaller) area of motion can be achieved. The mechanical design is designed for a payload of at least 500 grams. A graphical overview of the features is displayed in Figure 1.

Manufacturing and Expenses

Providing high-performance low-cost robotics is a huge challenge. If you want to achieve cycle times for individual plastic items below one second the mechanical design has to be robust and the electronic drives and motors have to be high performing. That’s why we decided to develop the drives and the matching software from scratch. This way a fully open-source solution without any restrictions can be provided. We plan on providing all necessary manufacturing files, CAD Models, and assembly instructions at no charge. Our target hardware price is 1000 euros. A pre-assembled kit might become available for ~ 2000 euros.


The Robot will use our custom motion planning and control software, as well as a simulation environment1. All of this software will be available for download on our GitHub.

Final Words and Planned File Release

The targeted final file release is by end of Q3 2021. Currently, the custom stepper motor driver is tested and the mechanical protoype is assembled. The first results will be published by end of Q1 2021. If you want to help with software or hardware development feel free to contact us via or using the contact form linked below.

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  1. Open Recycling - Simulating Robot Dynamics 2021