Thermoforming company adopts routing robot

ROBOTIC routing centres offer numerous advantages, such as low capital costs, higher productivity and low maintenance, says Nachi a provider of robotic automation systems.

ROBOTIC routing centres offer numerous advantages, such as low capital costs, higher productivity and low maintenance, says Nachi a provider of robotic automation systems.

To benefit from these advantages and to stay ahead of its competitors, an award-winning Australasian plastic thermoforming company, based in New Zealand, recently adopted a Nachi robot routing cell.

The cell consists of two routing stations, serviced by a Nachi ST166 robot with integrated traverse axis. An integrated tool changing station allows the robot to automatically change up to 12 different tools during routing. Each station has a rigid rotary table for loading/unloading parts.

Each rotary table could be programmed to accommodate four parts, one at each side. This allows the robot to manufacture parts in batches, while the operator is free to perform other value added tasks.

The robot is programmed offline using an existing CAD/CAM system, installed at the customer’s premises.

The steps involved from designing a tool path for a product to the robot machining the product are as follows:

The CAM operator designs a tool path for the robot.

The CAM operator simulates the path in Nachi’s offline programming/simulation software, the “AX on DESK”. Also, in this step, a robot program is generated by the AX on DESK.

After finalising the tool path, the program is downloaded into the robot controller through an Ethernet connection.

The robot is ready to run the program. The operator loads the parts and signals the robot to start machining.

The cell is designed with elaborate control and safety systems. A simple yet comprehensive operation panel allows personnel to easily control the robot cell.

While the cost of this cell is considerably lower that traditional CNC routing machines, the robot offers greater machining speeds and the ability to reach tight spaces where CNC routing machines may not be able to reach.

Nachi (Australia), 03 9796 4144.