Robotic Steel Welding

Robotic Steel Welding

Here is a great example of a steel welded assembly at Lean Machine.  It's a steel ring with a strengthening rib welded on.  As the demand for this part has increased we've applied our standard thinking: if an employee is going to do the same repetitive task over and over (and most likely get extremely tired of doing so) then we need to find a better way to accomplish the task.  Our Motoman/Fronius robotic welding cell is always happy to help us automate.

 Step 1- Design and build a jig assembly that can make part placement repetitive and accurate.  We've used the Motoman positioner in conjunction with the robot to help keep weld angles consistent.  Consistent weld angles give us good flux gas (CO2/Argon mix) coverage to make sure welds are not contaminated with atmospheric impurities. 

Step 1- Design and build a jig assembly that can make part placement repetitive and accurate.  We've used the Motoman positioner in conjunction with the robot to help keep weld angles consistent.  Consistent weld angles give us good flux gas (CO2/Argon mix) coverage to make sure welds are not contaminated with atmospheric impurities. 

 Step 2 - Make the parts themselves better to help with the whole process.  Here you can see slots in the ring so the rib can index itself with tabs.  On the surface, these parts would be much cheaper to produce out of steel flat-bar but we've decided to laser cut them so we can tightly control tolerances on hole sizes and add trick tab and slot features.

Step 2 - Make the parts themselves better to help with the whole process.  Here you can see slots in the ring so the rib can index itself with tabs.  On the surface, these parts would be much cheaper to produce out of steel flat-bar but we've decided to laser cut them so we can tightly control tolerances on hole sizes and add trick tab and slot features.

 Step 3 - Write a really great robotic welding program in RobotMaster.

Step 3 - Write a really great robotic welding program in RobotMaster.

Step 4 - Run off parts as quickly as possible!

 The resulting weld bead has a good start, nice bead size, proper penetration, and a great crater fill.  With all of the parameters available in the Fronius welders you can "tune out" and splatter so the parts need zero clean-up after the weld process and zero anti-splatter coating.

The resulting weld bead has a good start, nice bead size, proper penetration, and a great crater fill.  With all of the parameters available in the Fronius welders you can "tune out" and splatter so the parts need zero clean-up after the weld process and zero anti-splatter coating.

Heavy Steel Part Fabrication

Heavy Steel Part Fabrication

Laser cut, bent, and welded steel parts to be light post adapters for civic utility use.

 

 If you look close there is a great edge finish on the 3/4" plate off our HK Laser

If you look close there is a great edge finish on the 3/4" plate off our HK Laser

 Nothing much to say about this photo other than it's an arty photo of our Fronius welding equipment and one of our super skilled welders. 

Nothing much to say about this photo other than it's an arty photo of our Fronius welding equipment and one of our super skilled welders. 

Below is a video of the part being welded. In the middle of the weld you'll notice there is almost no noise and no spatter which is a great thing!   This means that the program we have for the welder to weld 10g plate to 3/4" plate is almost perfect. 

New Deburing Machine

Our new de-buring machine has arrived!  This machine takes flat parts that are cut on other machines and breaks the sharp edge.  It can also get rid of slag or burrs that are produced during the cutting process.

The machine can also refinish the surface of the material to give it a brushed finish. 

 

 Here is an overall view of the machine from HK Laser & Systems.  Even though Lean Machine's official color is red, we are starting to get a lot of blue in the shop! 

Here is an overall view of the machine from HK Laser & Systems.  Even though Lean Machine's official color is red, we are starting to get a lot of blue in the shop! 

 Here inside the machine you can see that large brushes spin and the entire assembly rotates depending on the setting you choose for grain direction, etc. 

Here inside the machine you can see that large brushes spin and the entire assembly rotates depending on the setting you choose for grain direction, etc. 

 Here is an aluminum laser cut part about to be fed into the machine.  Laser cutting aluminum usually leaves a burr all of the way around the cut edges.  A part such as this could take someone approximately 2 minutes to debur properly. The small holes you see in the conveyor are actually vacuum ports which help to hold the part in place while the brushes do their work. 

Here is an aluminum laser cut part about to be fed into the machine.  Laser cutting aluminum usually leaves a burr all of the way around the cut edges.  A part such as this could take someone approximately 2 minutes to debur properly. The small holes you see in the conveyor are actually vacuum ports which help to hold the part in place while the brushes do their work. 

 Here is a view of the brushes about to do their work on the part!   The shape of the "fingers" on the brushes makes sure that the inside of every hole and cutout are well looked after.

Here is a view of the brushes about to do their work on the part!   The shape of the "fingers" on the brushes makes sure that the inside of every hole and cutout are well looked after.

 The finished part exiting the machine is completely free of burrs and sharp edges.  You'll also notice the large surface of the part has received a slight brushed finish which helps eliminate small scratches on the surface of the part. 

The finished part exiting the machine is completely free of burrs and sharp edges.  You'll also notice the large surface of the part has received a slight brushed finish which helps eliminate small scratches on the surface of the part. 

Compressor shed turns into high tech wind tunnel project

Compressor shed turns into high tech wind tunnel project

We have yet to visit a manufacturing facility (including ours) that does not have a problem with equipment overheating.  Compressor and vacuum pumps are definitely the worst for overheating as they run constantly and under full load conditions.  It is ideal to keep a noisy compressor outside of the main plant, but protecting the compressor from the elements means possible overheating as it is difficult to build a big enough shed to handle the heat load. Rather than go buy a large sea can or simply build a larger housing, we decided to design and build our very own wind tunnel.   

 If you are driving by our plant you may notice the new compressor structure off the back of the building. The base is made of steel so the entire structure can be moved easily for future expansion.  The bottom side of the steel base has 8" of spray foam insulation.

If you are driving by our plant you may notice the new compressor structure off the back of the building. The base is made of steel so the entire structure can be moved easily for future expansion.  The bottom side of the steel base has 8" of spray foam insulation.

 The north side of the structure is the intake and has louvers to keep driving rain or snow out.   The north side intake means prevailing winds help to increase airflow.

The north side of the structure is the intake and has louvers to keep driving rain or snow out.   The north side intake means prevailing winds help to increase airflow.

 Directly behind the intake are slide-out removable filters so all air entering the structure will be free of debris.

Directly behind the intake are slide-out removable filters so all air entering the structure will be free of debris.

 Moving inside the structure, the entire intake wall is made of 6 electrically controlled dampers.  These dampers open based on the inside temperature so only the necessary amount of air passes through.  This is great for the winter months when almost no outside cooling air is needed.

Moving inside the structure, the entire intake wall is made of 6 electrically controlled dampers.  These dampers open based on the inside temperature so only the necessary amount of air passes through.  This is great for the winter months when almost no outside cooling air is needed.

 Here is a view of the south wall with 2 of the fans.  You can also see the compressor and 2 vacuum pumps installed.  We sized the fans to completely exchange the air in the building in 30 seconds.  Notice the walls are also lined with white aluminum sheeting so cleaning the entire structure is simple.  Behind those walls is 6" of spray foam insulation to stop moisture build up and to make sure that the structure can hold its own temperature no matter what the outside ambient is.   

Here is a view of the south wall with 2 of the fans.  You can also see the compressor and 2 vacuum pumps installed.  We sized the fans to completely exchange the air in the building in 30 seconds.  Notice the walls are also lined with white aluminum sheeting so cleaning the entire structure is simple.  Behind those walls is 6" of spray foam insulation to stop moisture build up and to make sure that the structure can hold its own temperature no matter what the outside ambient is.   

 All of the fans and dampers are thermostatically controlled through a custom programmed PLC.  At certain set points, dampers are opened and fans turned on so the minimal electricity is used and ideal operating temperatures are maintained. 

All of the fans and dampers are thermostatically controlled through a custom programmed PLC.  At certain set points, dampers are opened and fans turned on so the minimal electricity is used and ideal operating temperatures are maintained. 

 A gable mounted cross draft fan was installed to add additional cooling as well as draw in warm shop air in the cold winter months to prevent freeze up.  

A gable mounted cross draft fan was installed to add additional cooling as well as draw in warm shop air in the cold winter months to prevent freeze up.  

 Electricity service to the shed is 600V, and the appropriate transformers are installed to drop down to both 460V and 208V.  Notice the use of LED overhead lights to make sure maintainence and electricity use are at a minimum. 

Electricity service to the shed is 600V, and the appropriate transformers are installed to drop down to both 460V and 208V.  Notice the use of LED overhead lights to make sure maintainence and electricity use are at a minimum. 

 Outside the south wall, you can see the flaps open for both one large exhaust fan and the gable fan.  As a side note, the white entry doors (left side of picture) were also manufactured in house at Lean Machine! 

Outside the south wall, you can see the flaps open for both one large exhaust fan and the gable fan.  As a side note, the white entry doors (left side of picture) were also manufactured in house at Lean Machine! 

Steel and Black Powder

Steel Pipe on the bandsaw, Laser cutting, machining, welding, and some black powder-coating from our friends at Advantage Powder.  Sometimes it's hard to believe how many different areas of our production a part can cross.  This wasn't robotically welded but thanks to our Fronius Transteel welders you can't tell the difference.

 That's a clean looking steel bead layed on this part! 

That's a clean looking steel bead layed on this part! 

Spheres and street lamps

What starts as a really cool aluminum sphere made on one of our CNC lathes is actually the bottom of street lamp brackets all over downtown Saskatoon.

 Here is a Google street view of an example of this part.  If you can see the bracket attached to the pole, the sphere is opposite the light fixture.

Here is a Google street view of an example of this part.  If you can see the bracket attached to the pole, the sphere is opposite the light fixture.

Laser Precision Beer

Some trick tap handles one of our engineers designed up for a local brewery.  We don't normally do smaller jobs like this at Lean Machine but sometimes you have to break the rules.  I think the results show that if you have access to the most advanced equipment in the world the possibilities are endless.

 Normally cutting 10g thick steel with this much detail would result in a glob of molten metal left on the table but our HK laser and a great programming sequence made it happen.  The rear handle is Stainless Steel and the front handle is Mild steel.

Normally cutting 10g thick steel with this much detail would result in a glob of molten metal left on the table but our HK laser and a great programming sequence made it happen.  The rear handle is Stainless Steel and the front handle is Mild steel.