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High-Tech for a Clear View

Stäubli Robotics

Nowadays protective coatings of headlights slice headers made of synthetic substance are a must. With a path-breaking automation technique the transparent protection layers can be reliably applied in micrometer thin coats. The GfO Gesellschaft für Oberflächentechnik AG is Europe´s leading system provider for high-quality grafting in the sector of scratch-resistant coating and PVD-metallization. The enterprise is specialized on the technical and optical grafting of surfaces and coats synthetic substance moldings with metals, oxides and transparent paints.

About 75 percent of the customers come from the Automotive Industry. Almost all famous OEM and suppliers use the opportunities of the GfO developed coating process Elamet and Sicralan. While Elamet provides a conductive shielding for plastics the transparent protection layers made of Sicralan synthetic substance surfaces especially scratch proofed and resistant against an impact on the environment and chemicals. Furthermore certain Sicralan surfaces are able to prevent drop formation of condensation as well as reflex reducing.

“With our surface technologies we support the general trend in the vehicle construction towards the reinforced use of synthetic substances. With Sicralan we make the plastics fit for the exhausting use concerning the indoor and outdoor zone of vehicles. Headlights, indicator- and taillights, side windows, roof modules, body panels, display cover, RKE´s and a lot of more components can get thanks to Sicralan for almost every requirement the suitable functional layer” , according to Gerd Leichner, speaker of the chairman of GfO AG.

Both manufacturers and suppliers are excited from more and more manifold opportunities of surface technologies since with them the using possibilities of plastics can be almost extended every day. Weight savings, increased economy, increased accident safety as well as new latitudes of design are the main reasons for the rising share of synthetic substance parts within the vehicle construction.

Benchmark in theory and in practice
Considering that at GfO not only the development of path-breaking layer technologies are mastered but also their use stresses the view on a plant which applicates transparent antifog coatings on headlight covers made of plastic. The Sicralan AF coat is put on optionally to the component in a layer thickness from 2 to 6 micrometers. This protection layer prevents reliably the droplet formation of condensation on the palm of the header slices so that nowadays no renowned manufacturer should renounce on this technology.

On the basis of the extremely thin layers and a high demand on the surface quality the coating has to take place under cleanroom conditions. With the delivery air you have to keep the cleanroom category 100 or the current ISO 5. In the GfO coating machine 2 painting robots of the type RX160 paint are working together hand in hand on tightest space. The headlight slice header runs over a transfer system into the construction. Already in the laying of the workpiece carriers for the covers you can find a lot of know-how because of course the inner sides of the synthetic substance pieces have to be coated completely. No holding element may lead here to interrupting influences. At a defined position one of the 2 painting robots takes the prefabricated part over including the mounting device of the transfer system and drives together with it to the cleaning station. The second robot which takes on the painting process picks up the cleaned slice header at the cleaning station and leads it into an exactly defined paint jet. The flood process has the great advantage that there is no overspraying at all and the expensive paint can be kept loss-free within the circuit.
“The precision the Stäubli robot works with leads to an optimal layer result with the maximum of six micrometers. Not least we control the painting process because of the perfectly high performance of the robot which let the following quality control being an absolutely visual control”, states Gerd Leichner.
After coating the paint robot drops the piece in a parking position where the predrying is on the agenda. After a certain residence time the handling robot picks up the slice header at this station and hands it over to the transfer system to discharge it out of the machine. Afterwards the coat on the slice headers is hardened in an oven. The tasks for both robots are clearly defined: Only one of both paint robots really works as a coater by moving the slices along the paint jet. The second identical six-axis-robot undertakes exclusively handling tasks within the facility. Due to flexibility GfO takes also therefore an identical paint robot. In case of emergency every robot can take over every task within the cell.
Robots lead to flexibility

Thanks to robot automation the machine is maximally flexible and manages the about 30 variations without re-equipping measures perfectly. What attracts the attention is the small space requirement of the facility. Gerd Leichner: “ Beside the encapsulated construction of the Stäubli robots and the along coming outstanding suitability for clean room use we also like the compactness of these six-axis- robots as they have an impressively reach and bearing load at the same time.

Due to the high demand of antifog coating and the good order situation in the vehicle sector the plant runs at present in a 3 shift operation. While using it continuously the quality of the components shows up. In this discipline, too, the 2 Stäubli RX160 robots perform greatly. There have never been losses so far. “Due to the good experiences with the robots and the support by Stäubli Bayreuth we will use also preferentially Stäubli machines for upcoming applications “, concludes the speaker of the chairman Gerd Leichner.
Für mehr Informationen kontaktieren Sie bitte:
Stäubli Robotics (Deutschland)
Sonja Koban
Head of Marketing
+49 (0)921 88 32 12

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