Production Machining

OCT 2018

Production Machining - Your access to the precision machining industrial buyer.

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with fully custom systems. ese were high-cost systems, targeted at high-volume applications and generally not well suited to the demands of high mix, low volume. Today, a number of new technological developments have made robot loaders an attractive lathe automation option for high-mix, low-volume applications. Cobot Loader Collaborative robots, or cobots, have become a popular option because they require no special safety measures, are portable and are relatively easy to program. However, unboxing a new cobot and adding it to a productive high-mix, low-volume automation machine can be a daunting task. Fitting grippers and designing and building an in feed and out feed, door openers and an interface to the CNC are not trivial tasks. In theory, a cobot loader can process a range of part shapes and sizes; however, its e ec- tiveness depends on how the in feed, out feed and gripper are designed. Setup times depend on these same factors, but are likely to be signi€cantly longer on a home-grown system than an automation "product." Robot-in-a-Box Loader Robot-in-a-box (RIB) is a new automation category that is quickly gaining traction in the market. A RIB combines an industrial robot with an integrated safety system, grippers, ‰exible in feed and out feed and a standard interface to popular CNC machines. RIBs are typically preprogrammed and have a simple user interface an operator can learn in only a couple of hours. A RIB will typically have an in-feed/out-feed system that is more ‰exible than a gantry loader system. RIBs are often portable, allowing a shop to adapt automation to the best machine for the job. Several RIB vendors have made low-setup time and ‰exible in-feed and out-feed systems an engineering priority. Because of this, RIBs will gener- ally have an advantage over gantry loaders in a high-mix, low-volume environment. RIB ith MultiGrip MultiGrip is a new workholding technology designed specif- ically for the high-mix, low-volume automation market. is workholding is available in the VBX-160, a RIB manufac- tured by VersaBuilt Robotics. Although initially developed for vertical mills, this workholding product has found its way into lathe applications and brings some unique capabilities over traditional robot grippers. One of the problems with traditional three-jaw grippers is that they are not always well suited to picking up a variety of shapes. Although they do well with round pucks, they may not be suitable for long shafts or any part that does not have a round surface to clamp on. e MultiGrip robot gripper does not pick up parts like a traditional gripper. Instead, it picks up machinable MultiGrip jaws and uses these jaws to pick parts. e jaws can easily be machined to match a variety of part shapes: shafts, pucks and an almost in€nite variety of geometrical shapes. e robot can then load the part into an existing collet or chuck jaws much like a traditional robot loader. is system is essentially an automatic tool changer for the robot, lowering setup times. Optionally, the lathe can be configured with MultiGrip intermediate chuck jaws. In this configuration, the VBX-160 can load the jaws and part directly into the lathe chuck for processing. MultiGrip then acts as an automatic tool changer for the robot and an automatic chuck jaw changer for the lathe. The VBX-160 can eliminate another setup step and allows the system to process multiple part numbers in a single load. For high-mix, low-volume applications, the system can be loaded at the end of a shift with as many as four different part numbers and will automatically process the parts, including selecting the proper programs on the CNC, so operators are greeted with a load of completed parts in the morning. A VBX-160 with MultiGrip can process shafts up to 6 inches in diameter and 15 inches long and pucks up to 10 inches in diameter and 6 inches tall. Overall, the CNC manufacturing landscape is changing. Customers are demanding more complicated parts from CNC shops, with short lead times and small batch sizes. At the same time, the labor to set up and run CNC machines is getting harder to find. Making the right investments in tooling, workholding and automa- tion allows shops to better meet their customers' needs, reduce dependence on hard-to-find labor, and increase the growth and profitability of their businesses. VersaBuilt | 208-906-0814 | Here's another article on this topic: Flexible Automation on a VMC Robot loading and unloading of the workholding that is used in the machining center facilitates the ability to change jobs during an unattended run. LINK :: utomation for High Mix, Lo Volume :: 33

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