Collaborative robots used for material handling and thrusting of injection molding machines

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01Background

This injection molding factory in Guangzhou has 250 employees and 40 injection molding machines, with an annual output value of about 50 million RMB. The factory has fully examined the robotic arm market before the introduction of collaborative robots for machine loading and unloading and material removal applications. At first, they thought that traditional industrial robots could meet the automation needs. The robotic arm would take plastic parts from the machine tool and then place them under the stamping equipment to complete the material removal, and then feed to the textile plastic parts packaging bag to complete the whole process. Therefore, considering the cost, collaborative robots were not their first choice.

02Pain points

In addition, users believe that the current working space of the factory is sufficient, so whether or not additional safety fences are installed will not really affect the project in any way. However, during subsequent communications, business staff and user engineers discovered a phenomenon: the factory’s production tasks were intensive and affected by the customized requirements from the clients. The injection molding product batches were numerous. When calculating the actual production efficiency throughout the year, we found that if the robot was reprogrammed and debugged due to changes, the downtime may account for 30% of the effective working time. If the programming and debugging time of the robot can be shortened, the operating cost will be reduced in terms of system efficiency. From this perspective, collaborative robots provide users with an alternative.

03Solution

In the end, the client decided to try collaborative robots from a long-term perspective. In this application, one robot corresponds to two devices—the injection molding machine completes the plastic part processing and demoulding, and the ELITE 6kg collaborative robot EC66 removes the two plastic parts by sliding into the injection molding machine and puts them into the stamping robot. After the punching machine finishs punching out a plastic part, it will be picked up by a robotic arm, and after the two parts are taken out, they are put into the unloading box together. After configurating the visual instructions of the collaborative robot, the program setting time was shortened from 1-2 days to several hours.

Collaborative robots can be used in all areas of plastics and polymer production, including: gate removal, PCB handling, picking and placing projects. Due to the different processing and temperature ranges required for different materials, the production of plastic products and polymers has high requirements for flexibility. The use of collaborative robots not only improves production efficiency, but also reduces workers’ exposure to harmful gases released during the production of plastics and polymers. It also protects workers in the production line from the dangers of plastic shavings and handling sharp objects, thus improving safety .

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