3D rendering of the final product
A Project for the Future

In today’s age of consumerism, the residential collection of materials destined for recycling amounts to more than 700,000 tons per year in Quebec. As important as paying attention to sorting recyclable materials may seem, it is difficult to find new workers to perform the repetitive task of manual sorting. Without an effective quality control on conveyors for sorting different types of materials, several tons of recyclable materials end up in landfills.


Recyling tons of material per year

Machinex, a Canadian-based company renowned worldwide for manufacturing and installing equipment for waste sorting centers, worked with Creaform Engineering’s Industrial Design team to assist them in designing an automated sorting cell. The solution they came up with? SamurAI™, a scalable robot that can quickly and accurately sort through different types of materials to be recycled. SamurAI™ brings Machinex one step closer towards fully automated sorting solutions for the future.

Artificial intelligence (AI) was implemented in the system to ensure a reliable material recognition process. First, a camera detects the composition of each object that circulates on the conveyor. The processor then locates the objects that meet specific requirements. The robot manipulator, which features four parallel arms and is equipped with a suction gripping mechanism, removes those objects and deposits them in chutes that redirect them to the appropriate conveyor belt. The speed of the robot can reach up to 70 manipulations/minute—versus 30 to 50 for its human counterpart.



Initial sketches of the SamurAI™

Creaform Engineering’s Mandate

For years, Machinex has been marketing welded sheet metal machines that are both exceptionally strong and durable. Creaform’s Industrial Design Team was mandated to create a unique design for Machinex’s SamuRAI sorting machine while ensuring a proper operation process according to their specifications and internal manufacturing requirements. In addition, the sorting machine had to provide easy acces to components for maintenance purposes. The first phase of the project was focused on researching the styling and overall modular design. The team had to take into account manufacturing constraints as well as the fact that the machine would operate in a harsh environment—yet guarantee excellent detection accuracy and seamless sorting.

Main Stages of the Project

  • Research on market trends and competition, brainstorming of ideas and concepts, design and exploration of different concepts
  • Presentation of 3 preliminary concepts: conservative, realistic and ahead-of-the curve designs
  • 3D development of the casing and final presentation of the solution chosen by Machinex
  • Graphic design of decals for the glass doors and 3D renderings

SamurAI™’s modular design

Modular and Scalable

The end result was a modern and elegant casing that stood out from the competition. SamurAI™’s structure had fewer sharp bends as well as no screws and frames, which are usually found in equipment with welded structures.

The product’s greatest quality is its ability to adapt to different configurations and combine multiple robots, either in-line or in parallel, making it ideal for an integration into existing plant layouts with restricted space. Separations of the different steel or glass panels means that the SamurAI™ a modular solution that will adapt to sorting centers all over the world.



The SamurAI™ at the Waste Expo 2018 show

The Machinex and Creaform Engineering teams were able to collaborate efficiently and effectively to achieve the very optimistic deadline of having a product ready for the Waste Expo 2018 show, which took place April 23-26 in Las Vegas.

“When we presented our robot at Waste Expo2018 , the reaction from the market was phenomenal. People from the industry came to congratulate us on our work and some even mentioned that we had set high standards for design,” said Jonathan Ménard, Vice President of Sales and Strategic Positioning at Machinex.Creaform Engineering is very proud to have collaborated in the commercial success of SamurAI™, a new sorting robot that raises the bar in the recycling industry.

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ARTICLE WRITTEN BY Creaform Engineering