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Automated turning meets auto challenge.

The challenge facing first-tier automotive suppliers is really a triple whammy: how to provide the needed part quantities, which can be huge, while meeting or exceeding strict quality requirements and keeping production costs to a minimum.

Such were the dilemmas facing Milan, MI, automotive supplier Mather Seal. The division of Federal Mogul was looking for a way to economically turn Teflon seals and had clearly defined goals for an automation project to do the job. These included:

* Automated loading and unloading of the machine using Teflon tube material that could vary in length;

* Maximizing the number of components obtained from each tube;

* Accounting for deformation of the Teflon during slicing;

* Catching each ring with minimal loss, and automatically loading the sliced ring to a storage carousel for counting, inspection, and shipping on the customer's own assembly machine mandrels;

* Unloading and use of Teflon tube remnants to reduce waste;

* Maintaining flexibility to allow manual use of the machine tool for a larger family of parts or for other components.

The company approached Emco Maier, Columbus, OH, with its list of prerequisites. Emco engineers chose to combine a standard CNC machine tool, the Emcoturn 342 TC lathe, with an engineered automation system that included a patented front loader system and a specially built unloading/storage carousel.

To handle tube length variation, the system included a length measuring gage that allowed each tube to be assigned a size before loading to the system. The measuring process is controlled by a Siemens 810T CNC, which uses a custom macro to calculate the number of rings that can be made from each tube.

Machining begins with OD turning, followed by boring the tube ID. The system then indexes 180 deg to present a catch finger to the bored ID and pick up the next tube from a gravity-fed tube magazine. For slicing, the turret then indexes to a proprietary tool designed by Mather engineers. Once all slices have been cut from the tube, the remnant length is measured to a tolerance of [+ or -]0.002" and sent to a different machine for secondary processing. The accurate length measurement helps minimize waste of the expensive work material.

As the sliced rings fall onto the catch finger, the next tube is prepared for loading. The tube remnant is ejected into a pneumatically actuated chute, and the automation arm end effector indexes 180 deg to avoid dumping the sliced rings into the bed of the machine.

The new tube is loaded, and the automation system with sliced rings from the previous tube advances toward the storage carousel. Once in place, a burst of air slides the sliced rings off onto a waiting assembly mandrel, and the automation cycle begins again. As each filled, the carousel advances to the next mandrel.

The result of all this is production of more than 2000 sliced rings per hour, with minimal waste. The rings are inspected to ensure compliance to customer requirements, packaged on the customer's assembly machine mandrels, and shipped.

For information from Emco Maier Corp, Columbus, OH, circle 313.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Mather Seal automates turning process
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Aug 1, 1993
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