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Manufacturing

Small Part Bending Automation

We have set out to build a robotic bending cell!  We did an analysis on all of our bent parts and a large percentage of them are small enough to be bent by a robot on a 4ft press brake.  Trying to be distruptive in manufacturing, we are stripping the brake of all controls and writing all of the logic into the robot controller.  As far as we know, no one has attempted to use a “dumb” brake in combination with a “smart” robot.  We found a “no name” press brake and we are using Motomans newest and best material handling robot.  We are at the very beginning of this project but wanted to share some progress of the cell coming alive.

One may ask the question; what does Lean Machine know about building equipment?  The answer is nothing!  We do know our own equipment well and it takes a lot of in-house technical knowledge to keep it performing at it’s peak. We also know how to integrate technology into our customer’s part manufacturing process and this project is an extension of that knowledge.  As with all projects at Lean Machine this is to give our customers a better price on parts with a higher level of quality!

This is the first part we want to bend.  It’s small so the operator has to over-ride the safety light curtain  on each hit which means the activation pedal gets hit twice per bend (4 times per part) which is brutal on an operator when a batch of 500 is the norm.   

This is the first part we want to bend.  It’s small so the operator has to over-ride the safety light curtain  on each hit which means the activation pedal gets hit twice per bend (4 times per part) which is brutal on an operator when a batch of 500 is the norm.

 

Here is an overall view of the robot and brake.  Lots of wires still hanging around during testing and start up. 

Here is an overall view of the robot and brake.  Lots of wires still hanging around during testing and start up. 

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.