Manipulator for automatic tool replacement - developed at BUT workshops

Manipulator for automatic tool replacement - developed at BUT workshops

02. 01. 2013

A research team under the supervision of automation expert Prof.Ing. Zdeněk Kolíbal, CSc., working at the BUT Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, has developed a device for automatically replacing tools in CNC cutter machines. 

People have always tried to mechanize and automate exhausting and monotonous human activities in order to use human potential in working processes more effectively. Nonetheless, the large-scale automation of all types of manufacturing machines came about mainly due to economic reasons: shortening production time, minimizing labour costs of operators, minimizing training costs and, importantly, minimizing errors caused by human factors.

The automated replacement of tools is achieved by a manipulator, which through a handling arm replaces the currently used tool with another one from the tool reserve. The manipulator is realized mechanically through a system of cams which transfer the driving force to the handling parts of the line in a way precisely calculated in advance. In a typical handling system one cam causes rotary movement (turning the handling arm) while the second performs a translation movement (e.g. lifting and lowering the arm).

What is a cam?

A cam is a wheel, usually ovoid in shape, which when it rotates transfers the rotary movement of the cam shaft to the advance motion of a tappet.

The innovate construction of the manipulator replaces a two-cam system with a single-cam one. By eliminating one of these cams we can simplify and cut the costs of manipulator production. The new solution is 100% compatible with current manipulators. The equipment is protected with a Czech patent and as a utility model. The innovation offered by this solution lies in the use of a single cam for executing the main movements of the manipulator arms and use of a telescopic arm for realizing the tool grip. The equipment can be used by manufacturers of CNC cutting centres using automated tool replacement; the market is therefore extremely large. 

kolibalProf. Ing. Zdeněk Kolíbal, CSc. works at the BUT Faculty of Mechanical Engineering as a professor and as Head of the Department of Robotics and Robots at the Institute of Production Machines, Systems and Robotics, he is the Head of the Research Centre of Automated Handling and the Head of the Automated Handling Section and, last but not least, is a senior researcher for the Mechatronics Division of the NeTMe Centre. He regularly gives lectures at TU Chemnitz in Germany, and has worked for many years as an expert in the field of transport, mechanical engineering and economics. The subjects of his science-research activities include industrial robots and automated handling in manufacturing machines.

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