Modern Machine Shop

OCT 2017

Modern Machine Shop is focused on all aspects of metalworking technology - Providing the new product technologies; process solutions; supplier listings; business management; networking; and event information that companies need to be competitive.

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Page 46 of 188

44 MMS October 2017 SHOP TALK AUTOMATION EVENTS HIGHLIGHT DEBURRING BY M AT T DA N FO R D Whether they were transporting parts, building complex assemblies or serving iced cream, the robotic displays on the floor at Applied Manu- facturing Technologies (AMT) during amtExpo, held in August, made automation look easy. H o w e v e r, a n y o n e w i t h f i r s t- h a n d p r o c e s s - automation experience can attest that integrat- ing robots can be anything but. Hosted in Orion Township, Michigan, the automation engineering spe cialists' eve nt provided oppor tunitie s to network with 400 people and 60 different com- panies to learn about what it takes to success- fully automate. One of the more complex tasks that's both common to machine shops and highly beneficial to au tomate is d e bur r ing. W hile a pplic ation displays left little doubt about the possibility of automating this process, attendees who had the oppor tunity to attend a complementar y event down the street learned that technology isn't necessarily the biggest hurdle to doing so. Accessible via a short shuttle ride from AMT, ATI Industrial Automation's Annual Technology fair highlighted applications of the company's automatic toolchangers and force/torque and collision sensors. There, presenter John Lucier, national automation manager for Methods Machine Tools, explained that part of the battle of auto- mating deburring is convincing manufacturers that it's worth doing in the first place. The problem isn't motivation, he says. After all, manufacture rs that still de bur r manually certainly understand the financial (and sometimes even physical) pain that comes with using hand tools to smooth minute imper fections on par t af ter par t. They understand that this work is tedious, potentially dangerous, inconsistent by nature and renowned for bottlenecking produc- tion lines. Where they tend to balk is the seemingly high cost of robot arms, par ticularly in com- parison to the cost of the machines doing the bulk of the metalcutting in the first place. Mr. Lucier argues this comparison is wrongheaded. That is, the cost of the robot arm shouldn't be compared to that of any equipment, but rather, to the cost of the labor it will replace—typically, the salary and benefits of a skilled person who ATI's new Axia80 six-axis force/torque sensor enabled this robot to maintain constant force on the surface throughout its path, even when attendees pushed or pulled on the handle. One highlighted sensor-related technology that can be particularly beneficial for deburring is Kuka Robotics' Force Control. By adjusting robot movement in real time from force/torque-sensor feedback, the system can reportedly specify contact forces relative to the programmed path, directly monitor those forces, detect faults, and compensate for tool wear or other process fluctuations.

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