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Motoman

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.

Welding and labour continuous improvement

Welding and labour continuous improvement

Every single day at Lean Machine we work hard to make our customer's parts look better.  Also, we need to continually drive down our internal labour costs.  Our favorite type of part to improve and automate are the repetitive ones.  Every time we are able to automate a process we can re-purpose an employee's position to do something more interesting or increase our capacity.  Below you will find a video of robotic welding on aluminum landing gear as well as some before and after pictures of manual versus robotic processes.

A manual weld on a large arc between 3/8` and 1/8`aluminum plate.  This is a great example of a solid manual aluminum weld using Fronius welding equipment.  This weld is challenging because the employee has to re-position themselves several times to make sure the correct torch angle is achieved as they move around the arc to ensure the shielding gas is protecting the leading edge of the weld pool.

A manual weld on a large arc between 3/8` and 1/8`aluminum plate.  This is a great example of a solid manual aluminum weld using Fronius welding equipment.  This weld is challenging because the employee has to re-position themselves several times to make sure the correct torch angle is achieved as they move around the arc to ensure the shielding gas is protecting the leading edge of the weld pool.

Here is the after picture of the same parts welded together but using an automated robotic welding cell.  The weld has a bit more shine to it mostly due to the perfect torch angle being achieved by the robot`s perfect welding program made directly out of our CAD models.  The weld bead size is also perfect every time. 

Here is the after picture of the same parts welded together but using an automated robotic welding cell.  The weld has a bit more shine to it mostly due to the perfect torch angle being achieved by the robot`s perfect welding program made directly out of our CAD models.  The weld bead size is also perfect every time. 


The Advantages of a CNC router

The Advantages of a CNC router

At Lean Machine we have many different ways to cut metal.  When cutting aluminum one of our favorite ways is with a CNC router.  The router is extremely cost effective to run, it can cut very thick aluminum, and one of the coolest things is that it can depth cut (cut partially down into the sheet) to do engraving and pocketing.  Below is a part that we have designed to take advantage of the router's depth cutting capabilities.

This is the base part of an aluminum assembly that is robotically welded together.  The half-depth slot is a way to index the gussets that will be welded in without using an additional jig or measuring and tack welding each one in.  As a side note, the finished edge quality is excellent on the Onsrud CNC router.

This is the base part of an aluminum assembly that is robotically welded together.  The half-depth slot is a way to index the gussets that will be welded in without using an additional jig or measuring and tack welding each one in.  As a side note, the finished edge quality is excellent on the Onsrud CNC router.

The gusset is a 3/16" thick 5052 aluminum part that is also cut on the CNC Router.  The little tab sticking down seems like it is cut on an odd angle; however, much thought was put into the shape of it.  The Robot Cell Operator can easily slide each gusset into place, but they will not fall out when the entire assembly rotates in the robotic jig.

The gusset is a 3/16" thick 5052 aluminum part that is also cut on the CNC Router.  The little tab sticking down seems like it is cut on an odd angle; however, much thought was put into the shape of it.  The Robot Cell Operator can easily slide each gusset into place, but they will not fall out when the entire assembly rotates in the robotic jig.

With the final assembly welded together, you cannot see depth cut slots anymore and everything was lined up perfectly for the robot to weld.  This design makes for an extremely repeatable part that saves cost for Lean Machine and its customers.

With the final assembly welded together, you cannot see depth cut slots anymore and everything was lined up perfectly for the robot to weld.  This design makes for an extremely repeatable part that saves cost for Lean Machine and its customers.