FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, GERMANY — Everyone knows robots can improve production and quality. But no one says they can't show a little personality while they're working.
For a production cell at Fakuma in Friedrichshafen, pi4_robotics GmbH's humanoid robot takes center stage, inspecting parts made by Berlin-based injection molder Ehlebracht Plastics Technology and coated by Linköping, Sweden's Impact Coatings AB.
The partners helped create the cell, which is producing plasma vapor deposition (PVD) chrome-decorated parts
Ehlebracht Managing Director Heinrich Prinz Reuss said the company makes a number of parts that are plated after molding, but it does not have its own plating facilities.
“There are relatively few such companies in Europe providing plating services for plastic parts and as a newcomer in supplying customers with plated parts we soon realized that we can't continues this way forever, as it can mean sending parts 300 to 500 kilometers away for plating,” he said. “And then there is also the issue of traditional Chrome 6 plating no longer being considered as an ecologically accepted process these days.”
The integrated process shown at Fakuma overcomes that problem since the metallization takes place alongside the injection molding machine. And the partners — along with that smiling robot — are taking advantage of a Fakuma spotlight to stimulate interest and get feedback.
“We had a good audience already on the first day of the fair with high-quality people with high-quality functions showing interest,” he said.
The process starts with a hydraulic Engel Victory VC330/60 Ecodrive injection molding machine equipped with an Engel linear part-handling robot, which molds an ABS demonstration part bearing the names of the three partner companies in a single-cavity mold.
The tool was built by Ehlebracht's Elektra subsidiary in China.
The Engel robot places the parts on a conveyor belt. A pi4_workerbot 10.3 humanoid robot then identifies the random location of the parts on the conveyor belt with a pi4 vision system integrated in the gripper of its two arms, and places them precisely into the Plasticoat plasma treatment unit.
When they're finished there, the humanoid robot takes the parts for inspection, and packages them in a thermoformed tray.
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