Offenburg - HIWIN, the specialist for drive technology is an industrial partner of the Flitzmo lighthouse project.
Flitzmo is a cross-faculty project of the University of Applied Sciences Offenburg, which has been launched in November 2018 under the direction of the university laboratory Work-Life Robotics, by Prof. Wendt. Since then, an impressive cooperation from numerous students, professors and companies such as HIWIN has been developed. The goal of the project is to develop a production and transport system that can be used for various autonomous activities of a company. Above all, the production and transport system is characterized by its omnidirectional operation, its modularity and its low-cost approach.
As a long-standing partner of the university laboratory Work-Life Robotics, which has already equipped HIWIN with an articulated robot and its peripherals, it was an obvious step to become active for the lighthouse project Flitzmo. With a monetary donation and additional support from development engineers, HIWIN has been a cooperation partner of the lighthouse project since the end of 2018.
On November 6, 2020, the project started a new round in cooperation with HIWIN: the "Young Talents" of HIWIN were included in the project. The goal was to work out new future perspectives and development opportunities for Flitzmo. For this purpose, the Flitzmo was brought to the HIWIN trainee workshop for two weeks. The trainees provided food for thought for the further development of the project. Initial suggestions have already been made for the frame, the power supply and the existing Mecanum wheels.
Innovative and autonomous - a production and transport system that can be used for numerous activities in companies. As a long-standing partner of Offenburg University of Applied Sciences, HIWIN is happy to support the Flitzmo lighthouse project.
With efficient automation, competitive series production is also possible in Germany. König Automatisierungstechnik is currently proving this with an ingenious automation system for machining formed sheet metal parts. The heart of the automation solution is a three-axis system with linear axes from HIWIN, which makes a significant contribution to the high productivity and flexibility of the system.
A Cartesian three-axis system, a turntable, a stack magazine and a machining centre – these are the most important components of a new production cell from König Automatisierungstechnik GmbH. With only minimal conversion effort, the cell can be used for the series production of different parts and still achieve high throughput: The automation technology is designed so that the cell can operate with a minimum cycle time of 15 seconds. At this cycle speed, the processing machine does not slow down and high spindle running times can be achieved. In practice, the machining times per part are usually much higher, meaning that in these cases, the automation solution can even supply several machine tools with blanks at the same time or transport the finished parts away.
A Cartesian three-axis system at the core
The workpieces are fed and removed by a Cartesian three-axis system, which is made entirely of HIWIN components. This gantry retrieves the semi-finished products to be machined from an externally accessible stacking magazine secured by light grids and places them on a rotary table. In the following cycle, the rotary table transfers them to the loading system of the turning machine(s), which loads the turning machine and removes and returns the finished parts to the rotary table. Once there, the finished workpieces pass through several stations. First a cleaning station, followed by a measuring site in the next cycle. The data recorded there is not only used for gapless documentation, but also by the turning machine control system to correct trends. Statistical evaluation takes place separately for each interlinked turning machine. After measurement, the part can pass through another station, for example to apply a QR code. Finished parts identified as good are then taken from the rotary table by the gantry and placed in a washing basket or goods carrier in the palletiser. The goods carriers stacked on floor rollers are easily accessible for machine operators so they can remove full baskets and set up new empties in the shortest possible time. Bad parts are ejected via an ejection chute. They are then checked manually and the error patterns are analysed.
In operation around the clock
Six production cells based on this new concept are already installed in the production halls of König Automotive, a manufacturing service provider that produces serial parts for many well-known automotive suppliers on a subcontract basis and from which König Automatisierungstechnik emerged as an independently operating company in 2018. Components for a CVT gearbox of a well-known automotive supplier are currently being produced on the lines in four shifts. Thanks to the high degree of automation, one employee can operate three lines, each with two turning machines. "But we are still at the very beginning of the project. There is still potential for optimisation", says Tobias Hauser, Design Manager at König Automatisierungstechnik GmbH. "In other systems, we have used robots to make it possible for every machine operator to operate ten turning machines. This is our long-term goal here as well".
For handling of workpieces in the production cell, however, König Automatisierungstechnik decided against using a robot from the outset. For good reason, as Hauser explains: "A robot is heavy, takes up a lot of space, requires one robot expert per shift in case of problems and, last but not least, is expensive”.
Complete package reduces expenses for installation and commissioning
At the beginning of the project, Hauser still had a classic Cartesian system in mind for handling the workpieces within the production cell. In such a system, linear guideways are mounted on a stable machine bed and the linear movement in the X and Y direction is generated with ballscrews. As part of the process of selecting suitable products, Hauser discussed the proposed design with the responsible HIWIN account manager. However, he ultimately advised against it for several reasons: With the required stroke of 800 mm, the critical bending speed would have been exceeded at the targeted cycle time. In addition, the solution would have required a relatively large number of components with correspondingly high assembly and alignment expenses, which is why the HIWIN expert suggested using the three-axis system. Its core consists of an HD (X) double axis and two HT-B (Y and Z) linear tables from HIWIN. "Since HIWIN offers components as well as ready-to-install axes and multi-axis systems, I knew from the very beginning that they would recommend the best solution for me", says Hauser.
"I took the recommendation and decided on the two-axis system from HIWIN. The technically sophisticated and rugged construction as well as the high-quality design simply won me over", says Hauser. "An important aspect is that the HIWIN system has a particularly maintenance-friendly design. For example, this means we can easily replace the toothed belt on our own when it wears out. Another plus is the cover strip, which is available as a standard option on HIWIN axes. The rugged stainless steel cover strip reliably protects the inside of the axis from chips and cooling lubricant, which significantly increases the service life. In addition, unlike with a robot, which usually requires special know-how, shift supervisors are also able to perform axis referencing on their own if required, which in turn increases the availability of the system.
Short delivery times – but of course!
HIWIN has also considered the constructor: With an online configurator, the gantry can be set up in minutes. At the end of the process, CAD data can be retrieved. HIWIN also stands for fast delivery after the order is placed: It only takes about two weeks. "Even in the boom year of 2018, the promised deadlines were kept, even while we had to wait for up to 40 weeks for delivery from other suppliers", emphasises Hauser.
The drive specialist achieves short delivery times because core elements, such as guides, are produced in-house. The company also has its own production capacities for turned and milled parts such as housings and flanges. The short delivery times are also helped by the fact that HIWIN stocks supplier parts with long replenishment times. The purchase of spare parts is also quick and easy: Wear parts, such as toothed belts, can be easily re-ordered using the serial number of the axes.
In the case of König Automatisierungstechnik, the three-axis system consists of a size 3 HD double axis with two axes driven in parallel (profile cross section: 80 mm, stroke: 400 mm) as a base and is combined with one HT-B linear table each with belt drive (profile width: 150 mm, stroke: 800 mm) in the Y and Z direction. "I also like the fact that we can get complete packages from HIWIN, such as the gantry, but also individual parts that we assemble ourselves", says Hauser. Among other things, König Automatisierungstechnik ordered the drive components for the palletiser from HIWIN and set up the drive system itself.
Efficient automation solution for series production
The result has impressed Hauser and the customers of König Automatisierungstechnik: "Also thanks to the Cartesian three-axis system, with this machine we have succeeded in combining minimum cycle times with a high degree of flexibility and availability, enabling us to map production processes very efficiently. Due to the high adaptability of the basic machine, we were able to create a highly automated solution for competitive series production in Germany for our customers in the shortest possible time. Our customers’ interest in the new automation solution is very high".
Offenburg – Standardisation and individuality - two terms that normally contradict each other. But not for innovative linear guidance and drive technology manufacturer HIWIN. The new HS3 three-axis systems cleverly combine the advantages of both worlds.
These three-axis systems are based on a HIWIN HD double axis in X direction. This guarantees both quick and precise positioning. A linear table from the HT-B series is built into the Y-axis. Thanks to the integrated double guides, it can absorb high levels of torque and is exceptionally rigid. The HC cantilever axis with Omega belt drive and a particularly lightweight yet rigid cantilever ensures dynamic movements in Z direction.
As a standard HIWIN product, the HS3 is assembled ready to install in the company's Offenburg plants and can be delivered within just 2 weeks.
A further advantage: The entire system can be ordered conveniently via the HIWIN web shop. And this is where individuality comes in: every three-axis system can be configured with just a few clicks using the HIWIN configurator at https://www.hiwin.de/de/service/cad-konfigurator. Simply specify the desired size, enter the stroke for all three directions of movement, precise to the millimetre, and select from a wide range of options, for example limit switches, energy chains and drive adaptations. As soon as you have completed configuration, the three-axis system is available for download in all common CAD formats.
An individual multi-axis system at the touch of a button - machine and plant engineering solutions don’t get any more efficient than this.
Offenburg – Drive technology specialist HIWIN is expanding the functions, properties and areas of application of its linear guideways in the CG series with a modular building block system.
This opens up numerous options for tailoring rails and blocks in the CG series to different requirements.
The advantages are clear to see: The mechanical linear guideway can be quickly and easily turned into an intelligent guiding component with highly accurate, integrated distance measuring. Depending on the application, additional lubrication units can extend the maintenance intervals to achieve maintenance-free lifetime lubrication.
Thanks to the modular building block principle, HIWIN delivers in record time, whether it be the standard version or a customised linear guideway.
The CG linear guideways are generally characterised by their high precision and load-bearing capacity. As the four ball tracks are arranged in an O shape, the linear guideway is more rigid and can sustain much higher rolling moments. This is particularly beneficial for applications with single guides.
Offenburg – The linear technology expert HIWIN has now expanded its tried-and-tested linear axes of the KK series with the new KF series, the four-row guidance of which offers optimised synchronous performance when high demands are placed on the running behaviour of the axis. The axis is available as a ready-to-install complete axis and can be used universally. Through additional options such as a cover, limit switches and additional blocks, the axis can be flexibly adapted to different requirements.
High levels of accuracy and rigidity are achieved in the linear axes of the KF series through a linear guideway in the steel profile with integrated ballscrew. The axes made of steel are particularly compact because the ballscrew is integrated into the block. They are especially suited to applications requiring high feed thrust and precision combined with high rigidity. The axis is available in sizes 60 and 86 with stroke lengths of 50 to 800 mm.
Offenburg – The online and offline worlds are growing ever closer together. The linear technology specialist HIWIN has reacted to this challenge by relaunching its company website. In addition to the personal consultation customers are familiar with, the HIWIN online portal now acts as an additional source of support, from the initial idea right through to the finished product.
Thanks to the revamped web design, the site provides a whole new user experience. On the one hand users can select the product they’re after quickly and easily, and on the other adapt it to their individual needs in advance using the configurator. For more complex matters, the new calculation tool lends a helping hand and automatically identifies the suitable product solution based on customer-specific application data. Alongside extensive engineering documentation, assembly instructions, technical data sheets and CAD models are available to download around the clock in all common exchange formats.
Registered users enjoy an additional benefit: Items can either be ordered directly or saved in their personal customer area. Here, specific information on pricing and delivery times can be viewed. What’s more, individual projects and orders can be conveniently stored and managed with great simplicity. “A modern way of accessing modern products. Drive technology has never been more enjoyable!” (Werner Mäurer, Managing Director).
Seventh axis extends the range and increases efficiency in production
HIWIN – The Offenburg-based supplier for linear drive technology is paving new paths for robot users. The working radius can now be expanded quickly and easily with a seventh axis from the HX modular building block system.
Jointed-arm robots can be used in a wide range of applications thanks to their kinematic properties. By combining them with a seventh axis from the HIWIN linear axis family, their areas of use are greatly multiplied. Two or more machines running in parallel can be handled at the same time. Use in interlinked machines is also possible. The robot can unload a station, move linearly between parts of the plant, and transfer the workpiece to the next station. If the workpieces are located on a conveyor belt, the robot can process them on the fly.
The seventh axis should be just as versatile as the robot and its range of applications.
The HX linear axis family therefore offers the ideal solution with its modular building block system: tailored to your application, different sizes and drive types as well as the free selection of the working stroke in mm increments ensure unlimited performance of the robot.
On the HIWIN online portal at www.hiwin.de, you will find the right axis in next to no time: simply enter your required dimensions in the design tool and subsequently adjust the axis to your individual needs using the CAD configurator. The CAD data will then be available to download straight away.
HIWIN performs when it comes to the delivery time too because your axis will be ready to dispatch from Offenburg after just a few days.
HIWIN’s seventh axis for robots: not only a plus, but also a multiplier for versatility and functionality.
ThermProTEC manufactures equipment for the production of more lightweight tubular stabilisers for a leading German automotive supplier. The key task of each piece of this highly automated equipment is not only to thermally treat the pre-bent tubing blank, but also to glue on the rubber bearings and assure quality. Robots from HIWIN ensure the flexibility required at central points during the production of these sophisticated suspension components.
Stabilisers play an important role in a vehicle’s suspension system, as they prevent the vehicle from swaying on a bend or uneven road surface. They therefore contribute significantly to the comfort of modern vehicles. In the past, these stabilisers were exclusively formed from all-metal bars in a cold or hot process. What are referred to as tubular stabilisers are now becoming more and more popular due to the fact that they weigh up to 40 per cent less.
However, tubular stabilisers call for entirely different thermal production methods compared to all-metal stabilisers. ThermProTEC, a specialist in thermal process technologies, has developed the ideal method for this and has successfully broken into the market with it.
“Our in-depth understanding of thermal processes opens the door for us, even to companies that are much bigger than ourselves,” explains Dr. Rainer Gaus, founder and Chief Executive Officer of ThermProTEC GmbH based in Offenburg. “Here, like in other markets in which we are active, such as tempering equipment for heavy mining chains or gear racks, clients are increasingly requesting that, alongside the actual thermal treatment, we cover as many of the production steps required in the respective application as possible with our equipment.”
This entails end-to-end automation including necessary measurements for quality assurance as well as the handling of workpieces.
In this context, ThermProTEC has been increasingly implementing robots in its equipment for some years now in order to feed or withdraw heavy components. When it comes to the stabiliser production equipment, numerous robots also come into play. Robots from HIWIN have been involved in this from the very start.
A robot instead of a gantry system
“We have a large number of HIWIN linear guideways installed in our equipment and have experienced very positive results with them over the years,” says Gaus. “I therefore followed HIWIN’s plans to develop its own robots with a great deal of interest and ordered three of the RA605-710-SL model for test purposes as soon as these were available. I already had our stabiliser production equipment in mind as a potential area of application.”
Once the compact 6-axis robots had been successfully tested, the design engineers at ThermProTEC suggested using a robot with a 5 kg load capacity in a Pick&Place application conventionally solved with a gantry system. By means of a dual gripper, the robot picks up a clamp and a counter-piece from an infeed belt and places them in the two receptacles of a pressing station. The station then presses the clamp pieces onto a rubber bearing previously glued on by the equipment.
Flexibility cuts costs in terms of construction and tools
Thanks to the flexibility of the robot, the equipment can process different clamp designs without any problems, which isn’t the case with a gantry system. A 2D smart camera of the Inspector PIM 60 model detects the type and orientation of the clamp fed in by a conveyer belt and forwards this information in XML format to the HIWIN robot control system via Profinet. The robot learns the different gripping positions depending on the clamp type via teach-in.
“Despite the higher entry price compared to a gantry system, the customer opted for the robot solution as a result of its flexibility,” reveals Gaus. “In the long term though, robots are less expensive for us, especially if the production of variants is to be possible or product changes are to be expected.” Whereas, for example, an extra tool has to be produced for every new product when using a gantry system, usually only a few standard grippers are enough to handle a whole product portfolio when using a robot. What’s more, the construction effort is generally lower with a robot solution in contrast to conventionally arranged Pick&Place systems because the latter have to be individually adapted to the equipment and task each time. ThermProTEC also chose not to have the clamps taken directly out of a provided crate by the robot. “Depending on its implementation, this concept would have required at least one 3D camera or an additional sensor and would have therefore simply not been worth it. We decided to place the clamp on the infeed belt using a magnet. That is much more cost-effective and reliable,” according to the CEO of ThermProTEC.
All-in-one control system
HIWIN robots also offer users added investment security and plannable costs. When users purchase the modular RCA605 robot control system developed in collaboration with KEBA, they get access not only to comprehensive hardware comprising an integrated safety controller, a configurable real-time Ethernet interface, a sequence controller (PLC) and extendable I/Os, but also to wide-ranging function libraries.
As a result, functions for palletisation or conveyer belt tracking, for example, do not have to be licensed or paid for separately. They can be used without additional costs when upgrading or converting equipment. A scope analysis software program is also supplied as standard for optimising movement sequences.
Programming is carried out in a consistent engineering environment for PLC, motion and robotics.
Wide range of applications through high repeat accuracy
The robot proved its worth in the first piece of delivered equipment, leading ThermProTEC to expand the area of application of HIWIN robots. In the second piece of equipment realised by the company and delivered at the end of 2018, two of these little helpers place clamps in a pressing station. Another RA605-710-SL additionally works in a measuring cell. In this application too, the robot cooperates with a 2D smart camera of the Inspector PIM 60 model. However, this time the camera is mounted on the flange of the robot. A distance sensor is also located here. The trio allows the stabiliser to be measured in 3D at nine positions within 15 seconds.
The RA605-710-SL has the best prerequisites, even for tasks of this kind: Alongside the simple handling of small parts, its high repeat accuracy of +/-0.02 mm also makes it suitable for applications such as assembly, deburring and polishing or even for quality assurance, as Gaus confirms: “Owing to the high repeat accuracy, we were able to achieve absolute overall measuring accuracy of 0.05 mm with the measuring cell.”
Outlook: more HIWIN robots
In light of all this, the HIWIN robot has performed impressively in this application too, and the CEO is therefore already considering other ways in which it could be used, such as for placing rubber blanks in mould cavities, which has been carried out manually up to now. “We have to take each day and each application as it comes though and weigh up whether a robot solution ultimately makes economic sense. But in general, we will certainly be installing even more HIWIN robots in our equipment in future,” proclaims Gaus with optimism.
Offenburg – HIWIN is expanding its range of drive technology. The HM linear modules with a square cross-sectional area and the HT linear tables with an integrated double guide – for applications with high torque loads – have now been joined by the cantilever axis from the HC series. This axis has been specially developed for use in vertical applications, and combines tried-and-tested quality, high power density and precision with an outstanding design.
The HC cantilever axis is equipped with an Omega toothed belt, which is integrated into the drive block in order to save space. With this axis, the drive block with the motor and gearing remains stationary and it is the lightweight cantilever that moves. Thanks to the sophisticated structure of the aluminium profile, the cantilever features high torsional rigidity despite its low weight and is therefore suitable for dynamic applications.
The use of high-quality HIWIN linear guideways inside the axis enables the compact linear axes to achieve high power density and outstanding performance.
With a whole host of individual configuration options available even in the standard version – including a pneumatic clamping element, limit switch, distance measuring system or drive adaptation for all standard motors, plus free selection of the stroke in millimetre increments – the HC cantilever axis is a true all-rounder. The product can be configured in just a few clicks using HIWIN's user-friendly configurator at www.hiwin.de.
Design engineers tasked with designing and developing robots, rotary tables, machine tools and many other types of automation system come up against the same challenge time and time again: the need for a rigid precision bearing in the tightest of spaces.
HIWIN has come up with the ideal solution in the form of its CRB series of crossed roller bearings.
The crossed arrangement of the rollers at an angle of 90° means that the bearings are able to absorb not only axial forces from both directions but also radial forces and tilting moment loads, as well as any load combinations they might be exposed to.
The secret behind the bearing's load capacity is hidden deep inside it. Thanks to their specific geometry, the spacers located between the rollers save a great deal of space, enabling more rolling elements to be packed into the bearing compared with similar models. The special design of the spacers also minimises the points of contact with the rollers and, as a result, friction losses.
The advantages over angular ball bearings or bearings with two bearing positions are obvious: HIWIN crossed roller bearings are much more compact and can therefore be installed in the tightest of spaces. They also score highly where rigidity is concerned. The linear contact of the rolling elements makes the crossed roller bearings three times more rigid than conventional ball bearings.
HIWIN offers its crossed roller bearings in five different models, two preload classes, three accuracy classes and with or without an optional seal – providing the perfect match for any application.
In order to secure linear guideways, mounting holes are required in the profile rail. As mounting the profile rails from above (R rail) is significantly more economical than mounting from below (T rail), this type of fastening is used in the majority of cases. In order to ensure a long service life for the linear guideway and to effectively protect the block from dirt, the holes in the profile rail must be closed again after mounting.
Thanks to their extremely high load ratings and rigidity, the HIWIN roller guides are frequently used in tool machines or special machine construction. Due to the predominantly harsh environmental conditions involved in these applications, the cover caps usually have to be made from brass or steel, which require much more mounting work than the standard plastic cover caps.
The new cover strip for HIWIN CRG linear guideways also offers reliable protection in particularly harsh environmental conditions, while simultaneously enabling rapid mounting. By removing the time-consuming work of pressing in the individual cover caps, mounting times can be reduced by over 90 %.
Offenburg – The precision delivered by HIWIN's LMX linear motor axes and their long service lives have established them as a popular choice among manufacturers. Now, the Offenburg-based specialist in linear technology is setting the bar higher than ever before in bringing its new generation of LMX axes to the market, with even more powerful motors and a more compact axis structure.
These axes represent the second generation of the equipment and use a new type of motor technology with a higher force density. This has made it possible to reduce the height of the system by some 40 % compared with the previous generation, allowing users to take advantage of more compact structures for their machines and pack more functions into the same amount of installation space.
All of the key components in the system are produced by HIWIN in-house, and this has given the manufacturer freedom to introduce new production processes and boost the mechanical precision of the axes even further.
The positioning measuring system and its sensors have been relocated to the protected axis interior, making the system more resilient as a whole. This also means that the axis can last up to 50 million cycles before requiring maintenance, if the operating conditions allow it.
With all these features, the second generation of LMX axes is continuing to set new standards in straightness, flatness and precision. It is the perfect choice for even the most demanding positioning applications, such as 3D measurement systems, laser processing machines or semiconductor production facilities.
The new linear motor axes are available now.