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Innovative automation solution by M.A.i – with YASKAWA MOTOMAN handling robot

08/24/2016

(Not) a hard nut to crack

Innovative, highly complex and fully automatic processes combined in a single solution, where formerly a number of individual, manual production steps were necessary – that is the core competence of automation expert M.A.i. Taking the manufacture of a nutcracker as an example, the company demonstrates what is possible in cooperation with strong partners such as Yaskawa when it comes to automation solutions.

35% lighter than its predecessor, significantly sturdier and more decorative – we are talking about a nutcracker. What initially sounds unspectacular is a genuine world’s first. The innovations in the manufacture of the practical household helper, presented for the first time by Kronach-based automation expert M.A.i GmbH & Co KG at Fakuma 2015, were a real trade fair highlight.

In the making of the nutcracker in cooperation with its partners Sumitomo (SHI) Demag, HBW-Gubesch, KURZ and Yaskawa, special-purpose machinery manufacturer M.A.i realised an innovative and at the same time complex automation solution for the insert moulding and back injection of UD tapes. In doing so it demonstrated the effective integration of lightweight construction, decoration and assembling technology as required, for example, for visible parts in vehicles.

To improve stability, a three-layer UD tape reinforces the nutcracker. In contrast to organic sheets, which consist mainly of fibre mats with 90 degree angle alignment, the tapes have unidirectional (UD) endless glass fibres and offer greatly increased tensile strength in fibre direction. Due to the targeted placement, components can be reinforced to meet the demands made on them.

The injected rib structure consists of plastic PP-GF30 (Fibremod from Borealis), and it was possible to reduce the wall thickness from 4 mm to 3 mm. The interlocking is integrated into the back injection as an undulating contour. This enabled the weight to be significantly reduced. 

 

Robot-based hot-handling

The manufacturing cell for production of the nutcracker is connected directly to a Demag Systec Servo 210 injection moulding machine from Sumitomo. Further components are a 6-axis Yaskawa Motoman MH12 handling robot with a multiple gripper system, hot-handling developed by M.A.i for the UD tapes and unloading stations for the decorative film and metal inlay. Hot-handling is the name given to a heated gripper system that serves to control and regulate the heating process of the UD tapes right up until they are directly inserted into the mould. The advantages of the hot-handling process are shortened process times, accompanied by gentler and more targeted temperature control. In addition, the cell integrates a heating and unloading station for the UD tapes, a cutting station for sprue removal and an assembly and riveting station for connecting the two halves of the nutcracker.

In the manufacturing process the robot picks up the film insert, parts to be loaded and UD tape by the hot-handling method and moves directly into the open mould of the injection moulding machine. Here the finished workpiece is removed from the cavity. The robot then positions the film insert, UD pre-cut and metal inlay in sequence. Where individual manual production stages and possible subsequent assembly work may have been necessary, M.A.i can offer for the first time a fully automated solution.

 

Motoman MH12 plus DX200 – convincing performance

The decision of the decision-makers at M.A.i in favour of the Motoman robot was influenced not only by the fact that Yaskawa was able to provide an appropriately fast and uncomplicated solution for the trade fair application. The highly innovative character and convincing outline data of the MH12 also made the choice easy. The six-arm robot employed in the manufacturing cell distinguishes itself by its swift pace. The high-speed robot is designed for a payload of up to 12 kg. To improve the media routing to the gripper, the Yaskawa MH12 has a hollow wrist with a diameter of 50 mm. This helps to significantly reduce mechanical stress on the cables. Possible connectivity problems are also eliminated and the programming and maintenance of the robot is simplified.

The slim, streamlined design of the articulated robots not only reduces the risk of interference between machine and workpiece. It is also consistently space-saving and permits handling in confined spaces as well as a high robot density. The DX200 controller used is also innovative and particularly user-friendly. Compared to its predecessors, the controller of the latest generation offers additional safety features and more than 120 application-specific functions. With the ‘active remote’ production efficiency module the entire robot and peripheral technology was integrated into the control unit of the injection moulding machine. It was thus possible to control the complete manufacturing cell using a single operator interface.

Production and process data can be easily captured, processed and visualized for even the most complex automation applications. The control of partner systems via the operator interface of the injection moulding machine is also possible. Interruptions to the production flow become visible and can be remedied in good time before unnecessary rejects occur. In critical cases that saves time and money.

 

Summary

With its manufacturing cell directly connected to the injection moulding machine, special-purpose machine manufacturer M.A.i has once again demonstrated its competence in highly complex automation solutions. A Yaskawa Motoman handling robot assumes numerous process steps for the efficient and intelligent manufacture of a nutcracker.

 

 

Authors

  • Hermann Fischer, M.A.i GmbH & Co. KG, D-96317 Kronach-Neuses
  • Thorsten Schmitt, Yaskawa Europe GmbH, Robotics Division, D-85391 Allershausen

 

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