Automated Injection Molding Operation
by John Clark
Customer builds electronic components for the automotive industry. They had only 30 seconds to unload molded circuit plates from a four cavity mold, inspect each cavity to ensure that no debris was left behind, load a new insert into each cavity and inspect each insert for proper location and orientation.
Flexible Automation Inc., a manufacturer of automation equipment located in Burton, MI, provided a robot-vision workcell that unloads molded parts, inspects the parts and the cavities and loads new inserts. For this time sensitive application, they used a high speed, EPSON TT8800 SCARA robot.
Flexible Automation attached a specially designed multi-headed tool to the robot. The robot picks up all four molded circuit plates and the runner simultaneously. After dropping the runner into a scrap chute, the robot moves to a four station index table and loads the parts into holding fixtures for inspection.
While these four molded parts are being inspected, the robot picks up new mold inserts from a vibratory bowl feeder and loads them into each cavity prior to molding. After loading the inserts, the robot's integrated vision system verifies that each empty cavity is free of debris and that the inserts are properly seated prior to molding.
- Fast robot cycle times mean that secondary operations take place during molding time.
- Post molding vision inspection ensures that bad parts do not leave workcell.
- Vision inspection of cavities prior to molding eliminates damaging expensive molds.
- Increased quality because consistent mold open times eliminate mold temperatures fluctuations that affect the molding process.