Demand is up for automation in clean rooms and sensitive production environments of plastic processing plants for the medical and pharmaceutical markets.
Sepro Group officials say the design and operational features of the new Med Series of three-, five- and six-axis robots are based on that demand, particularly what medical customers requested during 1,500 recent sales of automation units for molding machines in ISO 7 and 8 clean rooms.
The features of the Med Series increase productivity and improve workflows, according to Claude Bernard, product marketing director for Sepro, which is based in La Roche-sur-Yon, France.
Founded 48 years ago, Sepro automation is equipped on about 40,000 presses worldwide, the company website says. Sepro robots are used mainly for part removal, but there is a trend toward secondary operations both inside and outside the mold, such as packaging, assembly, inspection, part separation and traceability.
In the last year, the health and medical sectors have been "really demanding" and Sepro continued to prioritize those orders, according to Chief Sales Officer Xavier Lucas.
"Their needs for efficient and reliable solutions to manufacturing clean plastic parts and packaging led Sepro to give special attention to this key market," Lucas said in an email. "For instance, in the U.S. and several locations in Europe, we helped customers quickly develop capabilities they needed to keep up with demand caused by the pandemic. We have also given priority to the food industry and all other industries that are strategic in this context of a sanitary crisis."
Sepro's medical customers are packaging a variety of medical products from pipettes to testing swabs and laboratory equipment to personal protective gear.
Fischer & Söhne, a Swiss molder of medical and pharmaceutical products, uses Sepro robots in its clean rooms. Production is based, in part, on the food industry standard of the British Retail Consortium, according to Fischer & Söhne CEO Iwan Tresch.
"With Sepro robots, we can increase our productivity while guaranteeing an optimal level of hygiene," Tresch said in a news release.
Sepro's Med robots use lubrication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on all linear guiding surfaces and gearing. For easier cleaning, cables can be protected in conduits and all robot surfaces are smooth and painted medical white with limited decoration so that dust does not accumulate.
Places where grease or other lubrication is used are enclosed so that none can escape into the molding area.
Sepro's 5X Med and S5 Med lines each include robots in three different sizes to allow them to serve molding machines with 30-800 tons of clamping force.
The company's six-axis robots are offered in collaboration with Stäubli Robotics. The standard Stäubli arms are certified for ISO 5 clean rooms without modification. Four models are available to serve molding machines from 20-1300 tons.
In addition to three-, five- and six-axis Med robots, Sepro supplies peripheral and downstream equipment, including end-of-arm tooling, safety guarding, conveying systems, part inspection and part separation.