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Robotics Notebook: Robots Improve Insert Molding Processes

December 18, 2008
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Molding International and Engineering Inc. (MIE-Temecula, CA) is a custom insert-molding company that serves the automotive, telecommunications, electronics and medical industries. It specializes in producing precision components incorporating metal terminals and lead frames as thin as 0.005 inch.

Some time ago, MIE found that it needed a better way of loading precision stamped terminal pins in one of its connector assemblies. Of critical concern was the accuracy with which it was placing the inserts prior to molding. Specifically, it needed to place a set of terminal pins measuring just 0.008-inch. The pins needed to be placed quickly and carefully, both to meet the customer’s production targets and avoid damaging either the pins or the molds.

To solve the problem, the company implemented a workcell equipped with a VM 1000 six-axis robot from DENSO Robotics (Long Beach, CA)-a first for MIE, which had never before employed robotics in its manufacturing process. According to MIE engineering manager David Hart, his company employed automation only sparingly in the past.

Today, MIE is using robots on nearly all of its insert-molding jobs. The result has been a significant improvement in part cleanliness, dimensional consistency and in-process yields. Process consistency, for example, has greatly improved due to the fact that there is less shot-to-shot cycle-time variation when robots are use to load and unload the molds.

The company has also realized a significant reduction in the number of small particulates generated when the soft tin plating on some of its connector terminals comes in contact with a hardened mold steel cavity-a chronic problem when loading and unloading an injection mold.

“We were very surprised at seeing how much cleaner our processes have become as a result of deploying the DENSO robots to more accurately perform insert loading tasks,” says MIE director of sales and marketing Stephen Hughes. “MIE customers demand insert molded connectors free of embedded metal particulate, which we are now able to produce using DENSO robots to load our inserts.”

For more information, call DENSO Robotics at 888-476-2689 or visit www.densorobotics.com.

For more on robots, including a robots-for-assembly tutorial, visit the Robotic Industries Association at www.robotics.org.

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