A case where automation made sense.

on January 25, 2022

Having an example where automation made sense could be helpful. It may shed some light on what to look for and reasons to move to automate a process or part in general. I will have to limit the detail a bit to protect the parties involved and respect their wishes. But in a general sense it gives a picture of what was automated and the results.

Read full article...

Follow up on enclosure finishing.

on January 21, 2022

I received so many really good questions I thought it may be helpful to share some with the answer to help others that may be faced with the same questions or problems. I am going to try and not go too deep and keep it easy to understand. Be aware the dynamics of each situation and the parts will be different. Keep sending me those questions as I enjoy good questions.

Read full article...

Robotics in enclosure finishing

on January 18, 2022

Enclosure and sheet metal  finishing has been one of the areas robots make sense. From blending the finish or grinding weld lines they are fast and flexible. One of the first issues you run in to when working with formed or fabricated parts is variation part to part. It can be the heat from welding or the tension in the material or any number of other factors. This has caused many a project to go off the rails. That is not an issue any longer and has been overcome. It was not a one answer solution by any means. It is a combination of fixtures and tools as well as sensors and the feed back loop in a machine. Having a system that can follow the part and deal with the variations is make these systems so efficient. Processing times can be cut to 10% of manual times in some cases with 3 times the speed being the norm. Lights out operation, QC checks, fixture checks, maintenance reminders, automated lubrication the list just goes on and on.

Read full article...

A CNC project to explain a bit more

on December 30, 2021

I had a few good questions sent to me on the last entry so I am going to give a bit of detail on one application to better show the process.

Read full article...

More automation questions and answers

on December 28, 2021

I thought I would share some more of the questions I get and the answers to them. Keeping in mind each application is different some of the general ideas are universal. I welcome your questions so please feel free to ask any you have no matter how simple or complex.

Read full article...

Working with extrusions

on December 20, 2021

Working with an extrusion is one of the things that seems easy but the devil is in the details. Its a product where the final finish can make or break its acceptance. In some cases it can be as difficult or more than mirror polishing. As you tend to see the grain finish through the top coating on an extrusion the margin for error is much smaller. If the finish is not even or straight it will at minimum mean rework or possibly rejection. When you apply the grain you have to be careful not to over round any profile and go just the right depth with the grain. Too shallow and the top coat fills it in and it vanishes, but too deep and coating ends up thin in places and the grain is too pronounced. With the cost and headaches involved with top coating extrusions rework and rejection need to be avoided.

Read full article...

Robot vs CNC for finishing

on December 15, 2021

A question I get often is robot vs CNC for finishing work. While there is not a clear yes or no type answer there are a few points that can help to guide the person faced with the question.

Read full article...

Working with small parts

on November 2, 2021

Small parts are one of the challenges most shops face at some point or every day in some cases. They can be tough to manage and tend eat up a lot of time while in some cases being dangerous. 

Read full article...

Some of the most common questions.

on October 25, 2021

I thought I would share some of the most common questions I get and the related answers. This will not be a deep dive by any means but rather a few of the most common.

Read full article...

When to automate or how to improve retention?

on October 18, 2021

Automating a finishing process is one of the more complicated things you can take on. When it comes to finishing the definitions tend to be more in the eye of the beholder. There is not one clear standard for finishes and in some cases the end user will confuse all manner of words. It is not uncommon for companies to say they need to polish something and when you dig a bit deeper you find they need a standard #4 type grain. To them that is polishing but to someone else it would not be. This is what complicates finishing processes the most. With bending or cutting the specs and tolerances are more clearly defined for example. The labor consumed by finishing makes it a prime candidate for automation. Being able to free up 3 to 5 people by automating finishing is common and it allows the labor to be moved to other areas of need. It is also an area that tends to have poor retention as it can be some of the dirtiest work in the facility. You can gain repeatability and more consistency as well as speed while reducing labor needed and improving retention.

Read full article...