Robotic cutting is an automated process of shaping or removing material. This process is high in accuracy, speed efficient, and quite cost-effective. This is why industries have been evolving their workplaces to involve these robots and their applications. It provides the necessary criteria to increase overall efficiency and helps eliminate any hazards workers are subject to when near cutting installations.
Automated cutting comes in many different forms. These include but are not limited to Laser Cutters, Ultrasonic Blades, Punch and Die, and Routers. In a previous post, we talked about Laser Cutting and its applications. If you are interested in the information supplied there, please visit the web page here.
In this post, we will be covering Ultrasonic Blades and their applications, and touch on the remaining topics (Punch and Die, Routers) in a later post.
First developed in the 1950s with drills, ultrasonic technology has a wide range of applications and is routinely used in industry. Due to their accurate cutting capabilities, robots are often equipped with them to ensure the cleanest cuts out of selected materials. Ultrasonic cutting is commonly used with textiles and food products and can even be seen in medical practices with bone surgery. As for the industrial side, many factories which incorporate ultrasonic blades into their production procedures will cut plastics, rubbers, and foam (since they are often produced in bulk).
Ultrasonic Blades rely on ultrasonic vibrations to allow them to cut various materials. Ultrasonic Blades vibrate around 20 – 40 kHz (20000 – 40000 times per second), which can easily cut through the materials stated above. This blade vibrates so fast that the material between each stroke is minuscule compared to that of the blade size. Therefore, cuts are often cleaner and more accurate with minimal debris compared to other cutting applications. Depending on the thickness of the material or speed constraints a higher frequency may be required.
The cutting blade has what is called a natural frequency. By adding external forces that correspond to the blade’s natural frequency, a large oscillation is achieved. This is known as resonance. Throughout its operation, the ultrasonic blade uses what is called the Piezoelectric effect or Magnetostriction to maintain this resonance.
Although the ultrasonic blade is not recommended to cut metals, it makes up for it by being one of the most accurate ways to cut. Material lost during the separation process is also reduced compared to other cutting methods. Laser cutters burn away unwanted material, and Routers carve it to dust. This saved material from the ultrasonic cutter could be recycled to create more products and therefore reduce costs. The ultrasonic blade also removes any chance of the cutting material being ignited. Laser cutters present that danger due to the high-temperature laser and routers from the friction of griding. Ultrasonic cutters are generally quite cheap compared to other cutting methods, and the blades are easily replaceable.
As for the ultrasonic blade disadvantages, is not as efficient as laser cutters or routers when it comes to engraving or carving designs. The ultrasonic blade is meant for separating materials, not shaping them. This cutting method is also limited to softer materials like plastics, rubbers, and foams.
Like any cutting application, all personnel should ensure they are a reasonable distance away from the machinery to avoid injury; but that should be standard practice when dealing with any robotic automation. Ultrasonic blades have the ability to cut through flesh and therefore should have some protective barriers to avoid human contact.
Integration of a robotic cell would be ideal to increase the safety of this technology. Not only do robotic cells allow full operating capacity, but they also restrict human contact. DIY Robotics offers a wide range of Modular Robotic Cells, which allow for a safe mechanical workspace. The modularity of these cells allows for full flexibility when any changes or layouts are required by the user. If you would like more information regarding our Modular Robotic Cells, please feel free to visit our website.
That concludes the content for Ultrasonic Blades. Please stay connected for the final in the following weeks: “What to know about robotic cutting installations – part 3” where we will touch on Punch and Die, and Routers. If you are interested in the topic discussed or have any questions regarding the material, please feel free to contact us. We shall put you in touch with one of our experts.