Automation has become one of the essential building blocks for any manufacturing company. It saves money and helps eliminate hazards within the workspace. One of the most common practices which should incorporate automation is cutting installations. Automated cutting installations provide a high accuracy, cost–effective way to cut and shape materials without subjecting workers to dangerous components.
In this post, the final topics of our series on robotic cutting installations will be addressed: Punch & Die, and Routers. In previous posts, we touched on the other two applications, Laser Cutting and Ultrasonic Blades. If you are interested in either of these topics, you can find the content located at these links:
Laser Cutting here
Ultrasonic Blades here
Punch and Die (also known as Punching) is a cutting process that forces a tool (the punch) through a workpiece to create a hole or cut via a sheer load. A die is located on the opposite side of the workpiece to support the material around the perimeter of the hole profile. This is to ensure a clean cut is made and all forces are correctly directed to avoid deformations. Clearance between the punch and die is needed to prevent the punch from impacting the die. This clearance is dependant on the hardness and thickness of the material, and the type of profile desired.
Punch and Dies are often made of hardened steel, or a material tougher than that of the cutting material. Punch and Dies are most commonly used to cut metals and plastics. This equipment is usually mechanically operated since a very large load may be required to cut certain metals. However, simple punches can also be hand-powered. Punching is often the cheapest method for creating holes and cuts due to its simple process. Leftover material can also be recycled to create more products (whereas routers grind away reusable material). Punching is used in high production settings where it can cut at an efficient rate and is extremely accurate.
Punching is usually seen in metal cutting industries where parts are produced at a large rate. Automotive manufactures must produce various parts for their vehicles, and the Punch and Die is a common method used to do so.
The amount of force required to pierce the material between the Punch and Die is quite substantial and therefore dangerous. This machinery could easily separate flesh and bone and should be averted from human contact. By installing a robotic cell, it would eliminate any chance of a human coming in contact with an operating punch an die while still keeping an efficient production rate.
A Router is a grinding tool that uses a motor and a specifically designed cutting bit. This bit spins at an extremely high speed which (depending on its type) can cut through wood, plastics, aluminium, and most metals. Various shapes and profiles for bits are available to allow for customed grinding. Basic routers can be seen in woodworking and are usually handheld or affixed to a table. Industrial routers, however, are usually automated through the use of a robot since they are capable of accurately following a specific path and/or geometry.
Unlike the other cutting methods discussed in past blogs, routers possess the ability to cut, shape, and carve materials in 3D (rather than 2D surfaces). Although ultrasonic blades can be used in 3D shaping, they are not as accurate or efficient as routers. Specific depths and contours of a material can be met through the use of routers which may be essential to certain manufactures (i.e. Automotive parts). Routers can be incorporated with CNC machines to allow for an efficient 3-axis way to create 3D parts.
The bits that routers are equipped with have the capability to grind away hard materials and therefore would be a risk if humans interacted with it directly. Like any cutting application, it would be ideal to have protective barriers limiting human contact with hazardous devices. Robotics cells provide the necessary safety precautions for this cutting application.
That concludes this three-part series on robotic cutting installations. Each topic has gone into detail about their advantages, process, and safety. If you missed the other two topics on cutting installations, or perhaps you are interested in other technical topics, please feel free to visit our blog page: https://diy-robotics.com/blog/. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this topic or would like some insight to our products, please feel free to Contact Us. Stay connected with DIY Robotics for more technical posts in the near future.