Basic Knowledge Robots Improve Casting Processes in Foundries

| Editor: Alexander Stark

Automation is becoming increasingly important in many different industries around the globe. The sharp increase can be explained by the high potential of robots and continuous optimization processes in the manufacturing industry. The foundry sector also benefits from the use of robots.

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Robot-based automation is becoming increasingly attractive for foundries.
Robot-based automation is becoming increasingly attractive for foundries.
(Source: gemeinfrei / Pixabay)

Industrial robots are automatic motion machines which are equipped with grippers, tools or other production tools. The sequence of movements and production steps are freely programmable, allowing them to be individually adapted to the requirements of a company. A major advantage is their versatility which makes them ideal for a wide range of applications. Especially in foundries, they generate a great deal of added value because human workers are exposed to high temperatures, noise and chemicals in this industry. Robots, on the other hand, are specially designed for use under hot conditions and can withstand chemical exposure and high-pressure sprays. The integration of robots into manufacturing processes ensures a safe and healthy work environment. Robots in foundries can also save floor space because they can work in confined areas. Furthermore, robot-based automation increases efficiency and productivity and guarantees maximum precision. The latter aspect is particularly important when safety-relevant products such as cars are manufactured.

Robots are Successfully Used in a Wide Range of Casting Processes

Die casting: Thanks to flexible grippers, robots can be used for casting, spraying, loading or unloading tasks. A robot can be mounted either on top of or next to the die casting machine to save space.

Sand casting: High precision is required for deburring, assembling, finishing and gluing. Robots ensure a high level of reproducibility and offer an economical use of materials such as adhesives. Despite optimized cycle times, quality standards are precisely observed, resulting in homogeneous metal structures with reduced shrinkage.

Chill casting: In this application, robot ensure optimum feeding and casting processes, which are constantly maintained and repeated. In this way, the post-treatment requirements of cast parts are reduced.

Lost foam process: Robots assume the task of casting, removal cast parts and ensure optimum trimming or finish plastering processes. They can also be used for finishing, assembly and clustering tasks.

Investment casting: By using robots, ceramic dipping of pouring clusters can be automated easily. This can significantly increase productivity in the manufacture of metal products. Robots can also be used for post-processing tasks such as polishing or grinding of cast parts.

Robots Used in Quality Control

Apart from the production and finishing of cast parts, robots are also suitable for non-destructive quality control. With their help, precise functional, durability and load tests as well as measuring techniques can be applied, which subsequently ensure the quality of the cast parts. This can be achieved, for example, by integrating visual scanners or specific sensors for the surface control of cast parts. An advantage is in the automatic capturing, evaluation and archiving of the data. The early detection of errors and deviations can in turn save costs, which can increase the profitability of foundries.

Robots Have Demonstrated their Usefulness in Practice

An example of the benefits offered by robots in foundries is Dynacast Italy, a global producer of precision-manufactured metal die-cast parts made of zinc, aluminum, magnesium and metal injection molding. The company uses a FRECH hot chamber die-casting machine equipped with an ABB IRB 1410 robot for automatic mold extraction. The traditional type cell has been configured with additional improvements, allowing employees to program ejections for any type of new product. The robot sequentially takes over the printing process - from lubricating the mold to injecting the alloy to cooling the metal. Dynacast Italy benefits from reduced personnel costs, assured quality as well as production continuity and increased competitiveness.

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