FDM End-of-Arm Tools Delivering Quick, Cost-Effective Results
Headquartered in Davenport, Iowa, Genesis Systems Group designs and produces robotic automation systems, allowing manufacturers to produce a wide array of products in the automotive, construction, aviation and recreational vehicle industries. As one of their specialities is to trim composite parts using robotic and waterjet cutting systems. Due to many of its parts having complex geometries, the traditional approach for trimming would be to mount the waterjet cutter on a robotic arm and move the cutter around the part, but this proved to become increasingly dangerous.
“Normally it would take weeks to get traditional grippers made. With the FDM gripper, you can have a new end of arm tool complete and bolted up to the robot within a day or so”- Doug Huston, Technical Advisor, Genesis Systems Group
In response, the engineers at Genesis created a safer process by using an end-of-arm tool (EOAT) that gripped the part and moved it around the cutter to safely trim the part. Genesis depended on traditional CNC machining to produce these grippers but the lead time and cost were proven to be expensive.
Genesis engineers examined the feasibility of using 3D printing to reduce the time and cost of making EOAT grippers. They determined that while most 3D printed parts were not rugged enough to withstand the rigours of the water jet cutting process, grippers created with FDM technology were more than equal to the task.
In addition, engineers were able to leverage FDM’s ability to create intricate and complex shapes by creating an internal channel for a pneumatic airline. This allowed the grippers to hold parts with a vacuum. It also reduced the need for cumbersome, external pneumatic lines that could be damaged in the waterjet environment.
With lightweight FDM plastic, the EOAT was redesigned to weigh just 3 pounds compared to 35 pounds with traditional CNC machining. This made it possible to use smaller, less expensive robots, further driving costs down and allowing Genesis numerous opportunities to reduce overall costs and streamline production throughout the company.
|CNC Machining||20 days||15.9 kg [35 lbs]|
|FDM||3 days||1.4 kg [3 lbs]|
|SAVINGS||17 days (85%)||14.5 kg (91%)|