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Automated Injection Molding

How We Designed and Delivered a Robotic Cell Integrated to Injection Molding With a 6-Axis Flexible Robot

We’ve grown accustomed to unique challenges that nobody else seems to have a solution for. This project was no different. One of our customers — a contract manufacturer — came to Summit Automation Engineered Automation with a challenge: Redesign and build an injection molding press that integrates seamlessly with a gantry robot cell. Their original design required 16 separate leak detection channels, but due to quality issues with another vendor, the overall approach would have created a more complicated machine that would lead to higher failure rates.

A Smaller, More Effective Leak Detection Automation Cell

We worked closely with Z-AXIS — our trusted leak detection partner — to help us devise a more simple solution while improving the reliability of the automation. Based on the new specifications, we determined that we would have to reduce the automation cell’s size considerably.

Z-Axis is a prototyping and manufacturing services company that specializes in complex electronic products and electromechanical assemblies. The company has been a valued Summit Engineered Automation partner for many years ever since.

Flexible, 6-Axis Robots

Using flexible 6-axis robots manufactured by ABB Robots, we designed the automation to perform four separate functions. What’s more, by leveraging the press feature of these highly capable robots, they were programmed to:

  • Pick and snap together parts
  • Offload complete assemblies
  • Advance stacks of 10 trays
  • Pick empty trays from the escapement

ABB industrial robots are fast, compact and versatile. The company’s 6-axis robots offer 35% faster cycle times for increased productivity and class-leading repeatability, which make them ideal for assembling smaller parts.

Additional Technologies

To control our customer’s injection molding press, we selected programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and human machine interface devices from industry leader Alan Bradley, now part of Rockwell International. Alan Bradley programmable automation controllers (PACs) are designed to meet the demands of smart machines and complex manufacturing equipment. 

We also incorporated pipe drive servo indexer technology, which offers benefits such as low cost, accurate positioning, repeatability and simple operation.

Leading With the Summit Agile Process

Collaborating with customers and with great vendors like Z-Axis and ABB is core to our companies’ philosophy. Following this project we formalized our philosophy and methodology that we now call the Summit Agile Process.

The Summit Agile Process allows for us to overcome potential roadblocks early through an intentional proof of concept. This extra step allows us to identify threats to the project and create alternatives or solutions. This means saved time, and saved cost. It also means more successful implementations that you can count on from the outset. 

Custom designed, or engineered automation systems compared to off-the-shelf systems always offer better performance, ROI, and are usually more reliable. That’s because your risks and potential failure points have been addressed and accounted for. Further, you don’t have to waste time adjusting your existing system to fit an automation. After all, the automations are developed to solve your unique challenges.

To learn how we can help make your next automated injection molding project a success, let’s talk.