Plastic Components for Modern Medical Technology: DENSO Robots in an Automated 3D Cutting System by Klement Engineering.
The manufacturing of plastic medical technology components is now being operatedin a totally new way by Klement Engineering, using an innovative, fully automated 3D cutting system.In many areas of modern medical technology, accuratelyfitting yet complexand quite often sophisticated plastic components to be set into the human body are required –mostly in fairly small numbers. These parts predominantly follow the same basic design but have to be moulded individually to fit a specific patient. Klement Engineering, based in Neu-Ulm (Germany), is defining itself as a creative centerfor mechanical and special engineering. The company is specialized in realizing various robot-based automation solutions for recurrent operations, tailored to the specific needs of the client. This includes the handling of parts, the loading of machines and the separation of assembly and packaging tasks, as well as automation processes and human-robot collaboration.
“Transferring parameters and data from the medical diagnosis to the manufacturing process manually proves to be challenging and time-consuming”, explainsPeter Klement.In addition, these components require a highly precise cut and must meet the most exacting safety and reliability standards, as often they need to functionfor years. A manual production never delivers the exact same part with full precision in all details, while manual production is time-and cost-consuming and tend to carry a relatively high risk of injuries for the person cutting the components.
A central part ofthis system is a DENSOrobotVS-060, delivers all of these plastic components with full cutting precision in all details, but still individually moulded –fast andreliable.Thanks to the DENSO VS-060, the system is now fully automated, with only the loading of the unprocessed plastic material carried out manually. Currently, the system is cutting these parts in small quantities from 1 to 12 pieces. The robot’s cutting speed is also very high –on average, it needs 35 seconds per part. A manual manufacturing process takes up to 45seconds. Given the fact that up to 100 parts are being manufactured every day, the system offers a considerable improvement in operating efficiency, resulting in cost and time savings for the client. Above all, the robot cuts all parts error-free and delivers a very high iteration precision.“
The 3D splines cut out by the robot are always identical, something which is impossible to achieve in manual manufacturing. If required, the client can also order a higher number of products withthe exact same dimensions and in a consistent quality”, says Peter Klement. The components currently being manufactured have a size of 80x80x30mm and are individually formed.
“We have opted for DENSO robots because these can be easily connected to the CAM software”, says Peter Klement. “In addition, the robot can be calibrated precisely and is easy to program. And we are also impressed with the long lifecycle and technical reliability of DENSO robots.“ The VS-060 was the natural choice for this application, as a six-axis robot is essential for 3D cutting processes in order to reach as many different axes as possible and all cutting positions. “As the robot can achieve all of these, the part does not have to be rotated, and therefore the cutting processes can continue without any interruption; the next part can be loaded immediately after the previouscutting process has been completed”, explains Peter Klement.
The system is set up with two PCs and a robotic arm, which is equipped with a moulding cutter. A suction brush can be mounted on the arm as well. In the system, the robot is mounted on a wall with all connections leading from the robot foot directly into the control box beneath it. The system is controlled through thetwo PCs. One of these is a stationary, touch-screen PC attached to the system on site, while the other is operated by the client and features a CAM program used to generate the data for a 3D design sample which acts as a model for the subsequent plastic parts.
After the sample data hasbeen transmitted to the system PC on site, the robot will apply the cutting process to the plastic components. The interface between the PC and the CAM software, as well as between the stationary PC and the robot, are set up in a straightforward configuration. Operating the system PC is also very easy, as all data and control elements are displayed on a clearly arranged, diagrammed desktop. The user simply loads the system with the unprocessed base plastic parts, selects therequired cutting program, chooses a quantity and starts the system. Thus the cutting path commands are transmitted directly to the robot. The VS-060 then cuts the 3D splines of the component along the preset lines. The interface communications are carriedout via ORiN (Open Resource interface for the Network), a programming interface facilitating the robot’s programming using different high-level languages via TCP/IP protocol.Last but not least, in addition to cutting, the robot servesanother function: it can be equipped with a suction brush to clean out the plastic chippings –an important task in order to deliver fully cleaned components.
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