Mecafi (Chatellerault, France) is a contract machine shop specializing in precision, high-speed machining and surface treatment of parts made of aluminum and magnesium alloys, as well as titanium, cast iron and other hard materials.

Fifty percent of its business is derived from the aeronautics industry, and 30 percent comes from the medical field. Within the medical industry, Mecafi has a leading position in the production of lumbar prostheses. For the aeronautics market, it produces engine parts, structural parts and subassemblies for navigation instruments.

Mecafi has been supplying a particular part to one of its aeronautics customers for many years. This part requires a high-tolerance polishing operation. After high-speed machining, the part is surface-machined in five axes.

The polishing used to be a manual operation that created many surface quality problems. It was simply too difficult to maintain the required surface quality. The result was a high number of rejected parts and costly rework. Additionally, working conditions at the polishing workstations were extremely difficult.

To reduce the number of rejected parts and costly rework, Mecafi automated the deburring operation with a pair of RX90 robots from Stäubli Corp. (Duncan, SC).

The RX90 robot was selected for its ability to control several parameters, including the geometry of the part and the polishing quality. The robot turned out to be a perfect fit for this demanding process. Together, the part and gripper had to weigh less than 3 kilograms, and the robot needed to be able to remove material to within a few hundredths of a millimeter.

Apart from the excellent technical performance of the robot, Mecafi chose the RX90 because the company was already satisfied with another RX90 robot that it had been using since late 2000 for assembly operations.

The new robots have now been operating for a while, running 20 hours a day, 7 days a week. The results are encouraging technically and financially. Mecafi has increased its productivity, and the quality level is also consistent. Working conditions for operators within the plant have also improved substantially.

For more information on robots, call 864-433-1980, visit or Reply 1.