Fully automated engraving or embossing of aluminum molds
Tool Specialist Meissner intends to explore new approaches in the use of robotic systems. These solution should help to diversify and expand the product portfolio. In addition to mold loading and unloading equipment Meissner develops special, customized machines and fixtures. The team led by Maximilian Kombächer alos goes beyond in a true startup attitude and kickoff entirely new initiatives. The effort has yielded excellent manufacturing solutions, including a project in which a robot executes 160,000 surface embossing operations that look as though they have been done by manual engraving. To realize its robot programming objectives, Meissner partnered with CENIT’s FASTSUITE team.
Project Objectives & Difficulties
The molds are used to make truck floor coverings from plastic. The finished product has to be skid-proof and high-quality in appearance. To achieve this effect, an embossing process is applied over the entire surface. The aim is to create an evenly applied irregular surface structure that appears as random as possible.
Creating a mold tool manually can easily take two or three months because to ensure a uniform pattern, each mold should only be stamped by a single metalworking specialist. And it’s a job that no employee can do for more than three or four hours a day.
The automation specialists at Meissner determine whether a robot could be tasked with this manual processing step. and with support from the Fraunhofer Institute, the team developed an algorithm. The algorithm generates points on the surface of the 3D model which correspond to the contact points for the embossing tool. Each point is representing a process position with corresponding attributes such as position on the surface, the orientation of the tool, etc.
But another problem arisesd from the enormous amount of data that needs to be processed. “Just to give you an idea of the amount of data: Embossing an entire tool requires approximately 160,000 individual robot operations”, says Duchhardt. “When creating the program, we therefore also have to program all robot movements for 160,000 positions, because our data don’t yet include the approach and retract motions of the robots. If you now assume that we need four robot motions per operation, you can see that we have to be able to program a large amount of operations at one time, otherwise the process will take forever.”
Relying on the FASTSUITE Team for a unique concept for offline programming.
“We didn’t get that many responses when we presented the challenge to several providers of offline programming software. – there weren’t many who were confident they could do it”, says Marvin Duchhardt, Application Engineer. “With the FASTSUITE team, things were different right from the start – they were all fired up from the get-go. Their commitment never flagged after that, and this has been the nature of our partnership with CENIT until today.”
CENIT software service team developed the necessary downloader (postprocessor). The process points are transferred as a data set to FASTSUITE Edition 2 and programmed area by area. The pilot project covered the 160,000 process points mentioned above, but the solution can handle a great many more
Thanks to the highly realistic FASTSUITE E2 simulation, Meissner can prevent collisions or problems caused by singularities before the robot actually begins embossing the mold. The only limiting factor during production is the robot control system which can currently consume not more than 6,000 operations at one time.
“Depending on size, we can now produce a fully embossed tool within seven to ten days! That shows just how much automation can reduce throughput times. And because simulation lets us safeguard the process, the robot can run for up to 24 hours without any manual intervention”, says a satisfied Duchhardt.
We can use FASTSUITE to program just about any brand of robot or machine. That’s a great benefit because of course our clients give us different models to work with. Also, the 3D simulation software already offers us a wide selection of turnkey manufacturing technology modules. This means that as our team gains more and more routine in working with the program, they can focus on their actual task – developing new, creative solutions for our clients.
Jan Müller, Plant Manager, Meissner AG
founded in 1922, is located in the rural region between Siegen and Marburg. For about 100 years, the traditional company represents competence, reliability and innovation in the development, design and manufacture of prototype and series tools.
- No delays: embossing is done shortly before the scheduled shipment
- Programming methodology for embossing as an uncommon production technology in the industry
- Programming a large number of operations at one time
- Failure-free uploader (postprocessor)
- Eliminate collisions between robot and workpiece or problems caused by singularities
- Distances between individual stamps must lie within a certain range
- Retain a hand-tooled appearance: high variety in stamp spacing and direction; no repetition of predefined stamping clouds
Key to Success
- FASTSUITE proofed to be a powerful software suite for everyday automation tasks and special innovation projects
- FASTSUITE Team developed a suitable programming methodology in close coordination with the client.
- Offline programming up to 200 000 individual robot operations per mold
- CENIT software service team developed suitable programming methodology based on FASTSUITE technology package and necessary downloader (postprocessor)
- Simulation safeguards the process: robot can run for up to 24 hours without any manual intervention
- Dramatically reduced throughout time by automating the highly complex manual process - from 12 weeks to 10 days
Maximilian Kombächer, Automation Technology Division
Marvin Duchhardt, Application Engineer
CATEGORIES & TAGSSuccess StoriesSheet Metal FabricationOffline Programming
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