AIA: Switch from Steel to Aluminum Saves Both Time and Money
KASS Automation Systems (Carrollton, TX) manufactures downline equipment for blowmolding machines, including takeaways, spin trimmers and deflashers, which are used throughout the plastics industry.
Recently, the company switched from using welded structural steel framing on its T200E takeaway machines to extruded aluminum from Bosch Rexroth's Linear Motion and Assembly Technologies Division (Buchanan, MI). The result has been a reduction in both the time and expense required to manufacture the machines.
KASS's T200E keeps all the containers produced by a molding machine correctly oriented as they are transferred to a conveyor. The standard model can accommodate containers as tall as 12 inches, with widths up to 6 inches. The machine needs to be easily adjustable to handle a range of container sizes. With this in mind, it is equipped with screw-type legs that provide 6 inches of height adjustment. It also incorporates movable aluminum-extrusion guide rails that change to fit various container widths.
By using T-slots, bolts and aluminum framing to fabricate the supports for each machine-as opposed to welding the framework, as had been the case when the company used steel-KASS has cut its production times dramatically. In fact, according to KASS Sales Manager, Larry Zeleznak, the required time for frame fabrication has now dropped from weeks to just days. "Sometimes the steel welder's lead time would be even longer, depending on their workload," Zeleznak says.
As an added bonus, the new approach has eliminated the minor warping that would previously occur during the welding process. This warping, in turn, forced KASS engineers to build a number of post-fabrication drilling fixtures, which the company employed to create the tapped holes it uses for mounting the machine's different components. "We used three locating fixtures for these purposes, and the fixtures cost hundreds of dollars each to fabricate," Zeleznak says.
The end result is that the T200E's extruded aluminum framing takes just 5 or 6 days to fabricate from start to finish. KASS also has complete control of the timeframe, because it can machine the extrusions as required in-house. Ultimately, extruded aluminum framing costs about 25 percent less than the welded and painted structural steel frames KASS used in the past.
"The aluminum extrusion has proved to be a clean, simple industrial solution that prolongs the life of the machinery, reduces maintenance and keeps the plant looking well-maintained," says Zeleznak. He adds that wiring and pneumatic lines are easily concealed and protected within the extruded tube and T-slots, enhancing the safety of the machine. "Aesthetically, aluminum extrusion adds to the overall organized and well-engineered look of our machines," he says.
For KASS customers, one of the biggest benefits of the new framing is the ability to lengthen the machine, going from the shorter version to the longer version in the field. In the past, this typically required buying an entirely new machine. Now, customers can make field modifications by adding aluminum structural framing profiles and connectors to the existing machine using the simple T-slot design. No welding, grinding or additional work is required. Customers can quickly return the machine to production.
Finally, switching to aluminum framing has simplified supplier logistics. Back when it was using steel frames, KASS had to work with multiple vendors, including a weld shop for frame fabrication, a machine shop for precision surfaces and a paint shop for final finishing. Now, that complexity is a thing of the past.
"Since the extrusion is modular, we can stock a few sizes of the extrusion and quickly turn it into the final product we need," says Zeleznak.
Because of the modular nature of the extrusion, KASS simply mounts the components on the required side and uses a spacer to lengthen the frame on the T200E's longer version. The modularity of the framing also allows KASS to make final location adjustments to mounted components by simply sliding the component along the extrusion to the desired position and then tightening the fasteners.
For more information on aluminum framing, call 800-322-6724 or visit www.boschrexroth-us.com.
For more information on the KASS product line, visit www.kasscorp.com.