Robots Drive High-Performance Manufacturing
As anticipated, IMTS brought a nice list of technological eye-openers. Many of these we provided advanced information about in Production Machining’s September print issue, and many we’ll continue to discuss in upcoming issues. I spotted a cool set of robotic automation demos in the ABB Robotics booth that highlighted products, systems and technology designed to increase manufacturing productivity for operations of varying sizes and needs.
One machining cell featured an ABB IRB 2600 robot with a Schunk pneumatic, three-finger centric gripper tending an Okuma Genos L200E-M lathe. The cell simulation showed the speed and accuracy in which the robot can move a small, pre-machined valve body in and out of the machining center, assisted by the IRC5 controller that incorporates QuickMove technology.
ABB has recently joined the Okuma Partners in THINC network of companies that collaborates to solve problems and explore new productivity ideas for metalcutting and manufacturing industries. Together, ABB and Okuma designed a software package to integrate the programming and controls of a robot in combination with a machine tool, delivering a more seamless interface for the system operator. The PC application allows the operator to control the entire system through one common user platform.
ABB also had on display a machining cell with an ABB IRB 4600 tending a Haas SL-10 CNC lathe—a small footprint turning center with a 14-inch length by 14-inch diameter maximum capacity. With an SAS Automation vacuum gripper, the robot picked raw material from the feeder and loaded the lathe after removing a completed aluminum coin from the chuck. Compressed air was used to blow off coolant and machining chips during the transfer process. The finished parts were dropped off on a chute for additional processing or packaging.
To remain competitive, high-end manufacturing companies are looking for accurate, reliable and maintenance-free machine tools offering fast change-over, programming and setup. Industrial robot technology could provide an excellent base for machining because it is flexible and affordable.
Urethane spindle liners present a viable option to steel to fill the gap between spindle ID and bar OD. They protect both the spindle and bar stock and increase machine performance.
Here's a broad look at different ways to approach workholding, from bar feeders to collet chucks to robotics.