Robotic routing centers offer numerous advantages such as low capital costs, higher productivity and low maintenance.
To benefit from these advantages, an Australasian plastic thermoforming company, based in New Zealand, recently adopted Nachi’s 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 4 parts, one at each side. This allows the robot to manufacture parts in batches, while the operator is freed to perform other value added tasks.
The robot is programmed offline using an existing CAD/CAM system, installed at the customer’s premises. This benefits the customer as it eliminates the need for additional software and training.
The steps involved from designing a tool path for a product to the robot machining the product are few and simple.
- 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 robot 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 the personnel to easily control the robot cell. Also, the cell was designed to be easily adaptable for future changes or requirement.
While the cost of this cell being considerably lower that traditional CNC routing machines, the robot offers far greater machining speeds and the ability to reach tight spaces where traditionally bulky CNC