Few things can grind your gears like heavy, repetitive workloads. And as gears make up a large part of the cost of industrial robotics systems, any opportunity to make them more resilient, less expensive, or easier to replace is usually welcomed by industry.
Today, Circular Wave Drive (“CWD” for short) is announcing the completion of a $2 million seed round led and orchestrated by Ikove Venture Partners, a firm focused on funding the U.S. Midwest. The Columbus, OH-based startup develops and produces ruggedized, low-cost speed-reducing gearing systems for applications in robotics, aerospace, medical products, and other areas.
Bringing Down The Cost Of Gears
The technology behind CWD’s products was developed by Dr. Yuanfang Zheng, a professor of electrical and computer engineering professor at Ohio State University. According to the company’s website, his work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and other federal agencies.
According to Dr. Zheng, the simpler design of his gear system “offer[s] a speed-reducing gear that is lower cost and more durable than strain-wave gears, which currently dominate the market.” (Note that strain-wave gearing is also known as harmonic gearing.) Flavio Lobato, co-founder and principal at Ikove Venture Partners, said gear systems can account for as much as 40 percent of the cost of robots, adding that CWD’s technology “aims to reduce that cost by one third.”
In addition to continued funding of research and development and hiring, the company plans to use part of its new capital to open a subsidiary in China.
“[T]here is an accelerating demand for robotics in China. With this expansion, we will be able to continue to grow our operations,” Dr. Robert Lee, a managing partner of Ikove and a cofounder of CWD, told Crunchbase News. He also added that “we will maintain a strong presence at our headquarters in Columbus, as all of the technology and research will remain in Central Ohio.”
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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