Ultrasonic Cutting Robots
Ultrasonic cutting is a new technology that is starting to break into the robotic world, replacing traditional robotic cutting applications such as laser and waterjet cutting. Ultrasonic cutting robots are integrated with cutting instruments that use ultrasonic energy to separate a workpiece. During this process microscopic vibrations are created in the blade from an electric pulse that is sent through the cutter. These vibrations are so microscopic that they cannot be felt or seen. A powerful force of energy is created from the vibrations allowing the blade to easily cut through the workpiece with very little pressure applied. The clean, precise cuts made by this process is causing manufacturing to begin replacing their traditional cutting robots with ultrasonic cutting ones such as the FANUC Arcmate 120ic.
Why Use Ultrasonic Cutting Robots?
Even though robotic ultrasonic cutting is a new technology, it is quickly gaining popularity among many industries due to the number of benefits provided. These benefits include:
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- Versatility - Ultrasonic cutting robots can be used on a variety of materials from soft to hard allowing manufacturers greater freedom within their operations. Industrial robots such as the ABB 2400-10 are particularly useful for cutting soft materials due to the low cutting force, whereas other cutting processes struggle with them. Common materials cut include: rubber, plastic, piping, film, non-woven fabric, foam, and even foods such as frozen meats.
- Quality - Product quality is greatly increased with the integration of robotic ultrasonic cutting. The cutting instrument used contains a blunt edge that creates a fusion effect after the cut is made. This fusion effect results clean and even cuts, especially in thick, sticky materials. The programmability of these robots allows for precise, controlled movements to ensure there is no deviation from the path and provides the capability of cutting a variety of shapes. Cuts are uniform across all workpieces, regardless of complexity, further increasing the product quality. As opposed to other traditional robotic cutting processes, ultrasonic cutting emits very little heat. This eliminates the risk of workpieces becoming distorted due to too much heat being applied.
- Productivity - Ultrasonic cutting robots like the Motoman EA1900N increase production line productivity. Robotic ultrasonic cutting has a much faster throughput rate than manual methods. Some systems even have self-sharpening tools to further decrease downtime and reduce the need for any human interaction. Robots are capable of working twenty-four hours a day without tiring, unlike their human counterparts. Increased speed along with longer operation hours means more products produced in less cycle time.
- Safety - Cutting applications can be extremely dangerous, requiring a great deal of concentration and ultrasonic cutting is no exception to this. One slip or brief lapse in focus could result in a severed finger, hand, or arm during manual cutting. Integrating robots for ultrasonic cutting improves worker safety as they can be relieved of this job. Robots are not at risk of the same injuries as workers, eliminating costs associated with injury claims and delays in productions.
- Environmentally Friendly - Robotic ultrasonic cutting is an eco-friendly process as it does not produce loud noise, material debris, gas flumes, or smoke as opposed to other methods. It even uses less energy consumption than laser cutting and waterjet cutting.