Implementing Robots into Your Die Casting Process
Excessive warmth, molten alloy, dust particles, noise pollution, and fumes may make foundries unpleasant and dangerous for people, but they can be ideal locations for robots. Die-Casting applications are among the ideal tasks to automate with robots in foundries.
Whether you want to improve product quality, increase productivity, or reduce costs, this article will help you understand the potential benefits and challenges of integrating robots into your die-casting operations.
The Benefits of Automating the Die-Casting Process
Automating die-casting applications with robots offers several benefits that can improve efficiency, quality, safety, flexibility, and profitability. Those benefits include:
- Improved Efficiency,
- Higher Quality Part Production,
- Increased Worker Safety,
- Greater Flexibility,
- Reduced Labor Costs,
- Data Collection.
Robots can work tirelessly without getting tired or making errors, ensuring high precision and consistency in producing parts that meet the required specifications. They can handle hazardous or repetitive tasks that may pose a risk to human workers, such as pouring molten metal or trimming sharp edges, improving safety in the workplace.
Manufacturers can program robots to perform various tasks and adapt to different production scenarios, allowing them to respond quickly to changing customer demands or production schedules, increasing flexibility and competitiveness. Additionally, automating with robots can reduce labor costs and provide valuable data collection capabilities for continuous improvement and optimization of manufacturing processes.
Overall, automating die-casting applications with robots can lead to higher throughput, faster cycle times, lower costs, and improved customer satisfaction, making it a worthwhile investment for manufacturers looking to improve their operations.
How Manufacturers Use Robots for Die-Casting Tasks
Die-casting is a process that has multiple steps and tasks. Interestingly, many can be automated with the right robotic systems. Here’s how robots can help in those various applications:
One of the most common tasks for die-casting robots is sprue picking. Robots can remove excess material from the casting by cutting or breaking off the sprue.
Once the casting is complete, the robot can use a cutting tool or a gripper to remove the sprue–the excess material that connects the casting to the runner system. The robot can cut or break the sprue in a controlled manner, ensuring the part is not damaged.
Ladling is an essential and hazardous task in the die-casting process. Robots can pour molten metal into the die cavity using a ladle or other dispensing system.
The robot can control the speed and flow rate of the metal, ensuring that the cavity is filled uniformly and avoiding defects such as porosity, voids, or cold shuts. Additionally, automating this process limits the risk to human operators.
The robot can spray the die cavity with a lubricant or a release agent to prevent sticking and improve the surface finish of the casting. In addition, the robot can apply the spray in a consistent and controlled manner, ensuring that the die is coated evenly.
After the casting is complete, the robot can remove it from the die cavity using a gripper or a vacuum suction cup. The robot can ensure that the part is extracted without damage, and it can place it in a designated location for further processing or inspection.
Trimming the casting using a cutting tool or a grinding wheel is often necessary to remove any excess material, flash, or burrs. The robot can perform the trimming operation with high precision and consistency, ensuring that the part meets the required specifications.
Sorting and Inspection
Robots can sort and inspect castings based on their dimensions, surface finish, and other quality criteria. The robot can use sensors, cameras, or other measurement devices to check the part for defects such as cracks, porosity, or dimensional deviations. Then, it can sort the pieces into different categories based on their quality.
Packaging and Palletizing
After the castings are inspected and sorted, the robot can pack them into boxes or pallets, preparing them for shipping or further processing.
Finally, the robot can stack the boxes or pallets in a designated location, ensuring they are correctly aligned and secured.
Industries Using Die-Casting Robots
Die-casting robots are utilized in diverse industries that require the mass production of metal parts.
- Consumer Goods
- Medical Devices
- Industrial Equipment
Notably, the automotive sector commonly uses die-casting to manufacture engine blocks, suspension components, and transmission cases. With the aid of die-casting robots, automotive manufacturers can increase productivity, enhance quality, and reduce defects in their production processes. Similarly, the aerospace industry requires high-quality and dependable parts for aircraft engines, landing gear, and other critical applications.
By using robots, aerospace manufacturers can achieve high precision, accuracy, and consistency in producing complex parts with demanding specifications. Consumer goods, medical devices, and industrial equipment are other examples of industries that benefit from die-casting robots.
The Types of Robots Used for Die-Casting Applications
Manufacturers have some flexibility when choosing the type of robot for their die-casting applications. The most common types of robots used for die-casting tasks include:
- Six-axis robots
- Cartesian robots
- SCARA robots
- Collaborative robots
Six-axis robots are versatile and can perform complex and precise movements, making them suitable for various tasks in die-casting applications. These robots are typically a more expensive option but offer a good balance of speed, payload capacity, reach, and flexibility.
These robots have three axes of motion and move in a straight line along each axis. Cartesian robots are well-suited for tasks that require high-speed, high-thrust, and high-precision movements, such as sprue picking and part extraction.
These robots have a vertical axis of motion and can move in a circular motion in the horizontal plane. SCARA robots are often used for tasks that require high-speed and precise movements, such as ladling and die spraying.
SCARA robots have a small footprint and are unsuitable for larger applications. However, they are an affordable option when available.
These robots are designed to work alongside human workers and can perform a wide range of tasks, including those related to die-casting applications. Collaborative robots (cobots) are often used for tasks that require dexterity and sensitivity, such as trimming and polishing.
Cobots are suitable for most six-axis robot tasks as they have the same general mechanics and construction. However, cobots will be more limited in size, speed, and payload capacity.
The type of robot used in die-casting applications depends on the specific needs and requirements of the production process, including factors such as speed, precision, and load capacity.
How to Get Started with Die-Casting Automation
For those new to die-casting automation, there are a few key steps to get started:
- Identify the process to be automated: Identify the process that needs to be automated and evaluate its suitability for automation. You should consider factors such as complexity, repeatability, safety, and potential benefits.
- Define the scope of automation: Define the scope of the automation project and establish the objectives, goals, and expected outcomes. This step involves identifying the tasks and processes that will be automated and determining the required resources.
- Analyze the current process: Conduct a detailed analysis to identify opportunities for improvement and potential challenges. You should document the current process flow, identify bottlenecks, and evaluate the performance metrics.
- Design the automation system: Design the automation system based on the requirements and objectives identified in the previous steps. This step includes selecting the appropriate hardware and software components, developing the system architecture, and designing the user interface. 3rd party integrators and suppliers are often helpful at this step.
- Develop and test the automation system: Develop the automation system based on the design specifications and test it to ensure that it meets the requirements and objectives. Programming the control logic, integrating the hardware components, and testing the system under different scenarios is required here.
- Implement and deploy the automation system: Implement the automation system in the production environment and deploy it to the operators. This step involves training the operators on using the system, monitoring the system performance, and fine-tuning the parameters as necessary.
You may be ready to take the next step toward automating your harvesting process, but where do you start?
The HowToRobot platform connects buyers of automation with a variety of suppliers in a streamlined, easy-to-use environment.
Post your project on HowToRobot today for free, and begin receiving offers from vetted, relevant, and eager automation vendors from our certified supplier network.