Manual gluing is a dull and repetitive task for human workers. It is also a very wasteful process. The high amount of scrap product produced due to inconsistent manual gluing is a common problem.
To add to this, it is often difficult to find enough skilled workers to carry out the gluing process. With low staff numbers and low productivity, the gluing station can become a bottleneck for the other steps in your manufacturing process.
But, one company noticed a gap in the market. They saw a need for robotic gluing systems that are easy for people to program and use.
By using RoboDK, they provide manufacturers with an easy entry point into the benefits of automated gluing, helping them to reduce waste and improve their processes.
Introducing… DVF Corporation
DVF Corporation is an engineering and manufacturing company based in Maryland, USA. For the last 20 years, they have specialized in technical and fabrication solutions for both industrial customers and the Department of Defense.
In their team, DVF Corporation has specialists in fields like mechanics, electronics, optics, hydraulics, pneumatics…
… and robotics.
They are a preferred integrator for Universal Robots collaborative robots, with which they create integrated solutions to help other manufacturers to improve their processes.
The Problem: Inconsistent Hot Melt Glue
DVF Corporation’s latest project comes with the arresting tagline “Stop Talking, Start Gluing.”
The project is called Robotic Glue Systems and it provides integrated gluing systems to any company that usually dispenses glue by hand, especially for engineered foam packaging.
With this solution, they are trying to solve a persistent problem: inconsistent gluing.
If you have ever manually glued a product, you will know how difficult it is to achieve a consistent gluing pattern. It is especially hard to maintain consistency over a long shift with many gluing operations.
Defective gluing patterns lead to a high scrap rate which means less productivity, more waste, and a higher cost per part.
Jay Wolfe, President of DVF Corp, explains:
“Before this, clients could not rely on precise glue dispensing coming from manual application. The goal was to eliminate scrap and eliminate the need for skilled operators. With our solution, someone puts a part on the table and pushes a button. When complete, they replace it with another blank part.”
DVF Corporation’s Robot Setup
The team at DVF Corporation incorporated their various skillsets to create a system that is simple to deploy and easy to program — the RGS UR1024.
The Robotic Hardware
The core of the setup is a Universal Robots collaborative robot that gives the user the flexibility to use the robot alongside the human operator, without safety fencing.
The System can be configured for hot melt, cold glue or epoxy applications.
The Software Setup
The robot can be programmed using the teach pendant provided by Universal Robots. However, for more flexible programming, the team offers RoboDK for offline programming.
RoboDK allows users to program the robot offline using a simulated robot and tool.
How the Gluing Application Works
Operating the gluing robot is a simple task. When the system is ready, the user only needs to program the desired path into the robot using one of the available options.
There are 2 options for programming:
- For online programming on the robot, the user can create the program line-by-line using the robot’s teach pendant.
- For offline programming with more control, RoboDK allows the user to program directly with their CAD files. The program is then loaded into the robot for operation.
Example operating procedure
One of the benefits of gluing with a robot is that it allows the human operator to load the next items to be glued while the robot is performing the current gluing operation.
To do this, you need to program the same gluing pattern at two different locations in the workplace, a task that is very simple to do in RoboDK. You just change the target reference frame for each workpiece.
An example operating setup would be as follows:
- The operator loads a blank part into Station 1.
- They press the start button on Station 1.
- While the program is running, they load a blank part into Station 2.
- They press the start button on Station 2.
- As the robot completes the glue dispensing task, the operator assembles the part in Station 1 and removes it.
- The cycle repeats.
In this way, the operator can achieve a steady cadence of gluing and assembly which results in the gluing operation being carried out continually.
Who is a Gluing Robot Suitable For
Jay Wolfe explains that the gluing station has many potential users:
“Our first two systems went to a company that couldn’t hire enough people to do the work manually. Our main customers fall under the field of “Engineered Foam Products” but really the solution is suitable for anyone who dispenses by hand.”
If you are using already gluing items by hand in your business, a gluing robot could be a useful and productive addition to your operations.
How to Set Up Your Own Gluing Robot
Finally, if you are interested in learning more about Robotic Glue Systems, you can find out more about their solution on their website.
Or, perhaps you are thinking about creating your own gluing station? If so, you will have to do a bit more work to integrate the robotic cell yourself. But, the programming step can be just as simple if you are using RoboDK.