Machining centre loader works on and on

Lang Technik GmbH has developed an automatic loading and unloading unit for use with high performance machining centres, based on standard pneumatic actuators from Hoerbiger-Origa.
The high productivity environment of modern manufacturing requires maximised use of assets such as machine tools and multi-function machining centres. While the actual metal cutting
operations within the machines is automated and optimised, loading and unloading of workpieces has often proven to be the limiting factor in a production cycle.

Typically the work handling requires several complicated and accurate movements, and to date these have best been done by a human operative. However, such technicians are expensive to employ, need massive amounts of workplace support (such as the need for heat, light, food, and rest breaks, as well as holiday entitlement, sick leave, welfare and career support, training and safety protection). So Lang was keen to work with Hoerbiger-Origa to see if an alternative could be devised.

Typically, blanks or previously-part worked pieces are stored in a cassette, with an infeed mechanism taking these in turn to the machining area. After the cutting and forming operations, a mechanism transfers the workpiece to a second cassette. However as one cassette empties and the other fills, the mechanisms need to adjust their target positions; alternatively the cassettes need to be configured so that they are able to maintain constant pick-up and set-down positions.

Working together, Lang and Hoerbiger-Origa have developed the Eco-Tower system. This transports machined workpieces to the holding tower and collects the next unmachined workpiece from the holder and places it on the clamping jig of the machine tool. Pneumatic linear drives were chosen for the horizontal and vertical movements of the feed system because they provide safety in automated operation, are robust and simple in construction and offer a favorable price-performance ratio.

In the Eco-Tower, OSP-P pneumatic linear drives or rodless pneumatic cylinders are combined with HD heavy-duty guides to position workpiece grippers precisely, even under heavy loads. A further OSP-P moves the entire feed system between adjustable end positions. At the same time, safety-relevant maximum forces can be fixed via the cylinder size and the pressure.
The OSP-P, like its electrically drive cousin the OSP-E, is designed to be rigid and usable as a structral member within a two- or three-dimensional positioinging system. For applications where loads can regularly or occassionally be extreme, Hoerbiger-Origa is able to offer additional external guides as part of the standard OPS range. With these in place Lang is confident that its Eco-Tower can accommodate loads up to 1.8 tonnes and torques of 1400 Nm.

The guides simplify construction, and are designed for use with other elements of the OSP range, such as grippers. In addition, applications requiring high precision and absorption of torques can be realised without the need for special parts or complicated engineering.

The HD uses a four-row recirculating ball bearing guide, which is designed for heavy loads and precision. Smoothed and hardened steel guide rails ensure accuracy even under particularly high loads in all directions. The cartridges are protected from harsh industrial environments by integrated wipers, while variable end positions can be set over the entire length with shock absorbers that run in slots on the outer surface of the cylinder.

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