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Robots are a perfect match for injection molding for so many reasons—what’s yours?
28. April 2016 / By Universal Robots / 1 Comment
It’s no surprise that robotic automation offers advantages for a wide range of applications, including injection molding. But what might be surprising is the incredible variety of reasons why injection molding manufacturers turn to robotics—and the additional benefits they achieve. Is your motivation in this list?
Productivity & quality: difficulty filling injection molding jobs has a happy ending, with 4X production output and improved quality
Contract manufacturer Dynamic Group decided to automate repetitive manual tasks when finding employees to fill injection molding jobs proved challenging. In addition, the injection molding application was extremely heat sensitive, requiring consistent cycle times from part to part, which was difficult to achieve with different human operators on the job. According to CEO Joe McGillivray, “Universal Robots’ UR10 robot arm gave us a perfectly consistent cycle. We went from having three operators on a single shift to being able to run three shifts per day with just one operator per shift. So we essentially quadrupled our production capacity and our scrap went from significantly high to near zero. It’s been an extremely successful application for us.”
A second UR robot works alongside a traditional Cartesian robot in another injection molding application, and a third UR robot is deployed in a complex kitting application. The return on investment for the robots was less than two months, and the robots’ flexibility means they can easily be deployed to multiple applications. Read the full case study…
Precision & dexterity: Automating to produce tiny, sensitive parts results in greater flexibility for small, variable production runs
Oticon, the world’s second largest hearing aid manufacturer, had already automated its processes with two- and three-axis robots. But rapid advances in medical engineering resulted in constantly changing production processes, a broader range of hearing aid models, and dramatically smaller parts. “The parts for modern hearing aids are getting smaller and are often only a millimeter in size,” says Arne Oddershede, group leader of the maintenance unit at Oticon. “We looked for a solution that can suction small parts out of a mold. This was impossible manually. We needed a more flexible solution that would also be economically viable for smaller production runs.”
The UR5 robot arm can position itself over the mold and suction up to four plastic elements simultaneously using a specially designed vacuum system that doesn’t damage the sensitive elements and handles parts of only a millimeter in size with great precision. Once the parts have been removed, the robot draws away and the molding machine prepares for a new operation. And the robot is easily reprogrammed by existing staff to deploy on new production runs, with robot payback in as little as 60 days. Read the full case study…
Versatility: Complex, multi-function molding demands a versatile, flexible robot—that pays for itself within 12 months
New Zealand-based plastic manufacturer Talbot Technologies combines plastic thermoforming and injection molding technologies to deliver a wide range of products. Due to rapid company growth, production had to be streamlined, but a fixed-rail robot implementation for the complex in-mold labelling process met with little success. Talbot Technologies needed a more versatile solution.
“We had looked at other robots, however the strong ROI combined with its reliability and versatility made the UR10 a more desirable value proposition for us,” says Steve Wilson, executive director of Talbot Technologies. He adds, “They provide all the flexibility we require to perform complex tasks, moving between in-mold labelling, transfer molding, and co-molding efficiently and effectively.” Read the full case study…
Employee safety: Automating to improve employee safety leads to flexible, higher volume production
British rope cleat manufacture Clamcleats LTD wasn’t sure its volumes were high enough to justify robotics, but employee health concerns drove it search for a solution. “There is an RSI [repetitive stress injury] risk with manual clipping,” explains Julian Emry, Director of Clamcleat Ltd. “To avoid this, our preference has been to clip the runners when still warm and relatively soft. But this puts limitations on when to run our injection molding machines. Automation gives us much greater production flexibility.”
Clamcleats installed a small, lightweight, 6-axis UR robot and had it up and running within a day. Today, the robot provides significant productivity benefits as the clipping process can now be accomplished automatically alongside quality checking and packing. With RSI risks reduced, the company is turning its attention to high-volume products and is confident that its robot investment will reduce lead times significantly. Read the full case study…
Flexibility & employee satisfaction: Robotics add value to a full range of applications around injection molding
Prysm Industries is a family-run contract plastic injection molding business with a reputation for high-quality production. Consistency is essential, which is why the task of applying adhesive labels was entrusted to skilled operators. But this repetitive task didn’t lend itself to employee satisfaction.
The collaborative UR5 robot has led to savings of $550 per day in labelling expenses—savings that will pay for the robot in less than 12 months. And although it works in a confined space, the lightweight robot can be repositioned easily and reprogrammed by current staff as needed. In addition to increasing productivity, flexibility and reducing costs, the UR5 lets employees engage in more interesting tasks, leading to a happier workplace. Read the full case study…
There’s a UR cobot for injection molding applications—no matter what drives your decision
Collaborative robots (“cobots”) from Universal Robots are lightweight and easy to program, with flexible and dexterous 6-axis automation, and are remarkably cost-effective as well. See how quickly a UR cobot can pay for itself in your injection molding application—no matter what drives your decision.
We believe that collaborative robotic technology can be used to benefit all aspects of task-based businesses – no matter what their size.
We believe that the latest collaborative robot technology should be available to all businesses. The nominal investment cost is quickly recovered as our robotic arms have an average payback period of just six months.