Metals and Energy are coming in at record high prices if looked upon from a historic perspective. To ease off the sting, manufacturers are looking for new ways to keep the energy and material expenses controllable, without having to increase the prices of their products. Material removal is one of the areas that can greatly contribute to cost-cuts and result in increased overall efficiency.
Material removal consist of tasks such as grinding, polishing, buffing, de-flashing, drilling, etc., all that are too difficult to perform manually with the same accuracy. In addition, several ergonomic risks also come attached, something which is not present with a robotic option. The robots used for such purposes can easily be split into five different segments, the largest of which is cutting & trimming.
When a material removal robot is being designed, Sis need to ensure that path performance is kept in mind, otherwise the efficiency can take a hit. For instance, when holes are cut into a plastic or metal part, it must be ensured that a certain standard for accuracy is followed. Similarly, having a repeatable robot is necessary when a cast part is de-flashed and so is knowing that the flash can vary depending on the part.
Variability in the end product can originate from a number of factors like robot repeatability, process variability and part repeatability. Robot repeatability can range from 0.49mm for large robots to 0.02mm for smaller ones. Variance can be a substantial or minimal source of worry depending on the process. For example, sand cast parts have the most variance while machined parts have minimal.
Coming to process variability, the size of the flash, welds, gate and burrs serve as common examples. In order to properly manage these variables, the system is required to give feedback to the robot so that the process can be altered in real-time. Another area of concern is the complexity of the parts that must be gripped in robotic material removal, as some in particular are very difficult. Precision has to be ensured for complex, especially when the robot has to move inside its designated work cell.
Lastly, integrators must remember that parts can change their state after they’re finished. Parts such as those that are still hot from a die cast or injection mold may change their areas, therefore it is vital that the proper combination of cutting tools, cycle time and process requirements be used.
Flexibility and Efficiency
The flexibility of robotics is quite commendable in material removal processes as they allow the addition of other procedures and processes as well. Material removal can be combined with processes such as injection, molding, die casting, deburring applications, and so on. Similarly, when the robot is polishing, additions can be made such as carrying the part for washing, palletizing, etc. By combining different processes within a single work space, a lot of precious time and resources can be saved.
With the help of an accurate, repeatable and efficient robot, fewer mistakes are made, resulting in lesser scrap, ultimately resulting in the production process becoming more profitable.
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