Varied Demos Push Robots Beyond Just Part Handling

Pre- and post-machining automation can help coordinate product flow, increase quality and relieve operator stress.    


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With new partners in EDM drilling, Swiss-type turning and horizontal five-axis machining, Methods Machine Tools is showcasing a broader line of technology than ever before at IMTS. However, some of the most striking aspects of the company’s exhibit aren’t the machines themselves, but the systems that surround and augment them, particularly the large selection FANUC robot arms. One message of these varied demonstrations is that robotic automation can do more than just machine tending. Pre- and post-machining automation can help coordinate product flow, improve quality and relieve operator stress.

For example, one demonstration features a manufacturing cell for shearing aluminum stock to the proper length, then feeding that material to a FANUC RoboDrill for machining. This automation eliminates the need for a separate sawing operation, not to mention the material handling, cutting fluid maintenance, swarf management and other physical tasks that go along with it. In another cell, three robot arms work in concert to automate deburring, a particularly tedious, labor-intensive process that can require fine motor dexterity. 

Automation systems in the booth include more than just robots, and the systems they serve are more varied than ever. Along with equipment from long-term partners Nakamura-Tome, FANUC Japan, Kiwa and VisionGuage, Methods is displaying technology from several new additions to its lineup. Niigata Machine Techno USA specializes in high-precision horizontal machining centers, including five-axis models. EDM drills from Ocean Technologies include systems ranging from manual machines to five-axis models. Another new addition is Tornos, a manufacturer of Swiss-type lathes.