Plastic clips and fasteners are becoming increasingly popular in the automotive industry. They are lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and quick and easy to install. They are used to secure wiring, fluid lines, panels and trim. They are also used to prevent plastic from creeping, to keep dust and water out of assemblies, or simply to provide a neat, finished appearance.

Recently, a manufacturer of plastic parts needed a flexible system to feed a large family of injection-molded plastic clips for an automotive application. The company wanted the system to be able to feed its current family of 12 clips, which came in many different geometric shapes, as well as handle new parts that would be introduced for upcoming model years. The objective was to build a flexible system that could feed the entire family of parts, inspected 100 percent of them in the process, and then assemble the parts into the product. This manufacturer also wanted an easy way to change out the background, so the system could feed parts in a rainbow of colors.

The manufacturer contacted Vibromatic Co. Inc. in Noblesville, IN, for help. Vibromatic developed a flexible feeder that combined a simple cascade-style vibratory feeder with an indexing disk.

This system presents the parts to the pick area for a vision-guided SCARA robot. After the robot picked up all of the available parts, the disk would index and repopulate the pick area with fresh parts for the robot to pick. Any parts not picked by the robot would be returned to the vibratory bowl to start over again. Made of plastic in various colors, the disk is easily swapped out so the vision system can readily detect dark-colored parts on a light background or light-colored parts on a dark background.

For more information on parts feeding equipment, call Vibromatic at 317-773-3885 or visit