How Injection Molders Turn to Collaborative Robots (Cobots)Leave a Comment
High Volume Injection Molding with Cobots
Port Erie Plastics offers a wide variety of services including mold design, tooling transfer, and injection molding. Injection molding has been an innovative field lately, as the use of collaborative robots or “cobots” has led to the automation of many tasks. There has been a huge increase in collaborative robot usage within the plastics and polymers industry, and this usage is predicted to continue increasing rapidly. In this blog post, we will go into further detail on what collaborative robots are, their benefits, and how they’re used within high-volume injection molding applications.
What are Cobots?
Collaborative robots are a type of robot that works alongside human operators to help automate complex motions and repeatable tasks. Within high-volume injection molding applications, they are used for tasks such as placing inserts into molds or moving parts along various post-mold processes. By completing these repetitive tasks, human workers can focus on jobs that require problem-solving skills.
Using robots in injection molding applications first began thirty years ago, with the use of a simple machine-mounted three-axis point-to-point Cartesian robot. These robots had the task of quickly extracting parts from a mold and delivering them to other locations. Over the next fifteen years, full servo-controlled Cartesian robots became common, and molders began using six-axis robots in greater numbers. This evolution granted greater precision and control.
More recently, the Injection Molding Machine Interface, or IMMI, was developed. There are many inputs and outputs on injection molding machines that are needed to manage the complexities of the molding process. With IMMI, the ability to set up, program, and control the entire application is easily managed. Once the IMMI is installed in the cobot’s control box, enhanced communication between cobots and injection molding machines eliminates machine idle time and increases output.
Are Cobots Taking Jobs Away From Employees?
When considering the use of cobots within injection molding applications, many people aren’t aware of the key differences that separate cobots from traditional robots. Robots complete automated tasks independently, requiring almost no human interaction, and they aren’t designed with human safety in mind. Cobots, on the other hand, were created to work in collaboration with human workers. They assist human operators and are designed to be used in close proximity with employees, preventing injury by immobilizing at the slightest touch.
Rather than take jobs away from employees, cobots have actually been seen to increase job creation and the demand for a larger workforce. The use of cobots has dramatically increased productivity, allowing for companies to expand. Additionally, with cobots fulfilling repetitive or dangerous tasks, human workers can do more satisfying jobs that require critical thinking skills cobots aren’t capable of.
The Benefits of Using Cobots at Port Erie Plastics
Besides increased levels of speed and precision, cobots offer a wide range of benefits, including:
Humans sharing a workspace with cobots greatly decreases production time.
The flexibility of cobots allows them to be programmed for many purposes with quick setup times.
Increased Return on Investment
Cobots lead to great production capabilities and have low maintenance costs. This translates to savings that can be passed on to the customer.
Since they are designed with human safety in mind, cobots ensure a safer work environment, particularly in environments where human errors can be dangerous.
When used in a high-volume injection molding application, cobots offer flexibility in pre and post-mold processes, and simplify complex extraction. Port Erie offers custom plastic injection molding services for large, complex projects and small ones alike. Plastic injection molding reduces manufacturing costs, creates fewer errors, and increases production time.
Injection Molding from Port Erie Plastics
If you have a custom injection molding project, you can save time and money by choosing Port Erie Plastics. The use of cobots with high volume injection molding allows us to produce parts with your exact specifications at maximum efficiency. If you want to learn more about the high-quality products we deliver, browse our case studies. To get started on your next injection mold project, contact us or request a quote today.