What are Injection Molding Robots?
Injection molding robots are automated devices capable of mimicking human hand and arm movements to carry out fixed programmed tasks, such as gripping, handling, or operating tools.
Specifically designed to assist injection molding machines, these robots integrate injection and gripping functionalities. In recent years, the plastic injection industry has experienced rapid development. Besides, plastic processing factories have shown keen interest in using injection molding robots.
Why Use Injection Molding Robots?
Prototool, a large and experienced injection molding company, has been using injection molding robots on the production floor for many years. They highlight three advantages: Safety, Guaranteed Product Quality, and Improved Efficiency.
A. Safety of Injection Molding Robots
The application of injection molding robots eliminates the risk of accidents caused by labor laws and regulations.
Human contact with products is reduced, preventing burns caused by hot products.
Manual removal of products from the molds is avoided, eliminating safety hazards.
Injection molding robots have built-in mold protection features that automatically alert when products are not removed, preventing mold damage.
B. Ensuring Product Quality with Injection Molding Robots
Automatic mold ejection by injection molding robots prevents product scratches and contamination caused by product dropping.
Manual handling may result in product damage or contamination due to unclean hands.
Inconsistent manual product removal time can lead to shrinkage and deformation of products, while injection molding robots ensure consistent product quality.
Manual product removal requires closing safety doors, which can shorten or damage the lifespan of the molding machine. The use of robots ensures injection quality and extends the machine’s lifespan.
C. Improved Efficiency with Injection Molding Robots
Controlled production of products ensures timely delivery to customers, maintaining a company’s reputation and enhancing competitiveness.
The quick return on investment makes it economically viable, and the capital investment can typically be recovered within six months.
Injection molding robots significantly boost productivity and reduce production costs. They stabilize and enhance the quality of injection-molded products, preventing losses due to human errors.
As a result, the role of injection molding robots in the injection molding process has become increasingly crucial. Currently, injection molding robots are relatively simple in design, primarily used for picking and placing items.
However, with the development of the injection molding industry, more robots will be employed for multiple processes, such as loading, mixing, automatic mold handling, and waste recycling, moving toward intelligent automation.
Classification of Injection Molding Robots
In the injection industry, robots are generally classified based on their level of intelligence into two categories:
- Basic Injection Molding Robots: These robots can operate with fixed mode programs or teaching mode programs designed according to the production process. Fixed mode programs include several standard injection processes for simple, regular, and repetitive actions. Teaching mode programs are tailored for special injection machines, arranging standard process actions in a sequence to meet complex action requirements.
- Intelligent Injection Molding Robots: These robots include functions such as standby at any point, multiple-point memory placement, and multiple degrees of freedom. Driven by servo motors, they can imitate complex human actions of hands and arms. Some robots are also equipped with advanced sensors, providing tactile, visual, and even thermal capabilities, making them more intelligent.
Components of Injection Molding Robots
Injection molding robots typically consist of three main parts: the execution system, the drive system, and the control system. The execution system functions like our hands, performing the set actions.
The drive system, like our muscles, provides power support to the execution system. The control system acts as our brain, sending instructions to the execution system.
Functions of Injection Molding Robots
As injection molding competition intensifies, product quality and efficiency are critical for a company’s survival. The quality and efficiency of injection molding are related to the performance of the injection machine, mold technology, and surrounding environment.
As labor shortages and increasing labor costs affect human production, injection molding robots are increasingly utilized. The wide-ranging applications of automation in plastic molding include:
- Removing products from the mold to transition from semi-automatic to fully automatic production.
- Taking products out of the mold and embedding them for special processes (labeling, metal embedding, secondary molding, and so on).
- Automatically packaging and storing products after removal.
- Automating raw material supply systems and waste recycling systems.
- Establishing complete factory production control systems.
With diverse product characteristics, the application of automation is highly complex. Injection molding robots are becoming increasingly popular as they replace manual labor, ensuring efficient molding processes and maintaining product quality. Injection molding robots are widely used in injection molding automation.
Trends in the Development of Injection Molding Robots
The application of injection molding robots is continually expanding, and their technical performance is continually improving. The current development trends are as follows:
- Multifunctionality: In the past, injection molding robots were mainly used for picking items. However, modern robots have evolved to offer various functions, such as arranging, stacking, embedding, cutting, and inspection.
- Combination: In applications that require high demands, multiple robots can be coordinated to work together. For instance, during a rubber and plastic exhibition in 2015, a company demonstrated how three robots worked in harmony to orderly extract and place various products into a packaging box.
- Sensory and Visual Enhancements: Injection-molded products typically require manual inspection to avoid packaging defective items. By utilizing image processing technology, robots can replace human inspection, thus saving on labor costs.
- Intelligent Adaptability: Equipped with perceptual capabilities, such as sensors, future robots might be capable of detecting external changes and adjusting accordingly. For example, with wear and loose joints, a robot’s movements might deviate slightly. Future robots might have self-adjustment capabilities to maintain precision.
In conclusion, injection molding robots are increasingly pivotal in the plastic injection industry. They provide enhanced safety, improved product quality, and higher production efficiency.
Robots in the injection molding industry are set to expand their scope of application, and their technological capabilities will continue to advance. As the injection molding industry moves towards intelligent automation, these robots will undoubtedly contribute to more efficient and sophisticated manufacturing processes.