A couple of years ago Norton | Saint-Gobain Abrasives saw a need for an improved system that end users and automation technology integrators could use to test and confirm, improve, and sometimes create new abrasive-based processes designed specifically for automated equipment.
The end product is an advanced robotic automation cell, offered as a key part of Norton’s Abrasive Process Solutions (APS) program. APS offers abrasive process development, optimization, automation, and in-house testing for customers using the expertise and abrasives knowledge of the Norton engineering team. The Acme Mfg. integrated robotic-centred process development system is located at the company’s R&D centre in Northborough, Mass., and is specifically designed to help companies in the surface finishing and grinding industry perform various proof-of-concept activities that show what’s possible with nearly any abrasive product on the market today. It also will be used to test future products created by Norton | Saint-Gobain Abrasives.
The APS system has a FANUC R2000iC/210F robot with a 210-kg load capacity that allows the testing team to perform processes using nearly any size part or tool. The force sensor-capable robot performs in a multi-capacity role, meaning it is fitted with an end-of-arm gripper to allow for part-to-media processing, as well as ATI Industrial Automation tool changers that allow the use of traditional hand tools to perform media-to-part processing.
The part-to-media portion of the APS robot uses two finishing heads. By gripping the component in the gripper, either one of the two variable-speed finishing/grinding heads can be used.
The first head, which is a stacked head, has a 40-HP lower spindle. This powerful motor can be used to drive large superabrasive and diamond wheels, as well as bonded wheels and large cutoff wheels (where 2 HP per inch of diameter is a normal requirement). This head, when set up with a metal or hard-durometer contact wheel, also can be used on heavy gate grind-type operations, all without the need for operators.
The top head of the stacked unit has a 5-HP motor that can be used directly on any contact wheel or even on the slack of the belt setup. This runs media up to a 3-in.-wide belt of any type, coated abrasive of any grain, non-woven Norton Rapid Prep belts, and specialty belts. The shaft also drives any type of radial product up to 18 in. dia., including abrasive flex drum-type flap wheels.
Both of these spindles can be used dry or wet, because the APS robotic system is set up with a wet collection system and collection trays. This allows for the processing of almost any type of base metal and material coating, including combustible metals.