Material dispensing is an integral part of the manufacturing process, whether it’s required for lubrication during assembly, to seal and protect the final product, or in this case, to adhere two components together. In the past our customer, a battery manufacturer, utilized primarily manual dispensing applications. This can often cause incorrect volumes to be dispensed in the wrong spot, leading to ineffective products. GP Reeves designed and built an automated dispense system ensuring their two-part epoxy was accurately dispensed every time, helping our customer optimize the dispensing process for their newest product line.
The Concern: Limiting Manual Applications
The customer’s existing operations are manual. However, manual applications cause inconsistencies with the volumes of the material applied. For their new product, the location of their epoxy dispensing is critical, as incorrect placement could lead to issues with the electrical components of the batteries. The manual process could also result in excess material waste, rendering the circuit or the product unusable. Due to repetitive nature and required accuracy, they decided to utilize automation rather than a manual application.
While integrating automation helps relieve many issues caused by a manual process, developing a company’s first automated system doesn’t come without its challenges. With this system being the first, it was a challenge to measure success and expectations without anything to compare it to.
The Challenge: Handling Epoxy Material
One of the challenges of developing this system was handling the material itself. The epoxy has a low viscosity, so it had potential of moving into the other components. Material movement would require the application to be redone, wasting time and material. Plus, applying two-component material in general can be a challenge, as mixing ratios, curing time and material placement need to be kept in mind. Our dispensing equipment needed to make sure that the material placement was accurate and long-lasting.
The epoxy mix is stored in two-component cartridges. The dual cartridges keep the materials separate until they need to be mixed for dispense. As the customer wanted to continue using the cartridges for their application, we had to provide the proper equipment that could utilize them in an effective way.
Solution: Reliable 2K Epoxy Dispensing
The system utilizes a two-component cartridge dispenser, a tabletop SCARA robot, a custom nest built to fit ten circuit boards, and a vision system to confirm the placement of the boards. To allow for easier integration, the system remained partially manual. The operator would load the circuit boards by hand and shut the drawer to begin the process. Once closed, the vision system scans the circuits, determining if any are missing or misaligned. If there are, it skips those parts in the dispense cycle, allowing partial runs to occur. Our team programmed custom controls for the system, ensuring the system would be able to meet every need the customer had. The cartridge dispenser was mounted directly to the robot reducing the amount of time the material was mixed before being dispensed.
The robot dispenses the epoxy to two areas of the circuit board. The first area coats three upper circuits of the board with a .045 gram daub of material. The next area has .186 grams of material dispensed in a path around the seven lower circuits. This allows the epoxy to spread in a way that effectively covers the areas that require the material. This repeats on each one with a cycle time of two minutes for all 10 circuit boards. Once the dispense is complete, the vision system scans the parts to confirm the dispense. After confirmation, the boards are removed by hand, and the cycle is repeated.
End Result: Simplified Epoxy Dispensing
This epoxy dispensing system helped our customer transition towards simplified production, save material, and reduce the risk of equipment failure. With four more projects on the horizon, we are eager to continue optimizing their production through our precise dispensing equipment. Need a custom solution in your process? Reach out to GP Reeves to integrate dispense automation into your lines!
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