Laser robot: a winning solution for thermoformed finish

Wednesday 27 June 2018

Thermoforming is a heat plastic molding technique; objects resulting from this special processing are called thermoformed items, whose finish can be carried out through laser systems. 

Laser robot operations on thermoformed objects

The necessary finish processes are as follows: trimming and realization of openings within the thermoformed body ; such operations require an accurate and fast cutting tool and a 5-axis displacement system. 

             

The RX3 system, namely the laser robot, perfectly meets these requirements combining the robot’s flexibility with the laser cutting advantages

In fact, laser cutting produces a clear, accurate and fast cut as such operation does not require any direct and physical contact between the cutting head and the thermoformed part. This aspect prevents any risk of deformation while allowing considerably simplifying the positioning templates of the thermoformed object, thus reducing both loading and unloading times, and operation costs.

The RX3 laser robot by Cutlite Penta

The RX3 laser robot, developed by Cutlite Penta and combined with the CO2 laser, is a valid and cost-effective 5-axis system that is particularly suitable for thermoformed components processing, composites too.

This laser robot system is made up of the following main components:

-       A console equipped with the CO2 laser source, its power supplies, the interface with the robot and the air filtering  system  required to keep the optical paths clean;

-       The articulated 7-degree-of-freedom arm directing  the laser beam on the robot elbow; -       The robot equipped with a further optical path with four mirrors directing the laser beam on the robot elbow on which the focusing head is placed 

-       The chiller for the laser source cooling.

The solution adopted by Cutlite Penta has the great advantage of having the focusing head only on the robot elbow and accordingly, due to its reduced dimensions and weight, there is no limit of accessibility upon the thermoformed object processing.

Furthermore, the use of the RF series laser , with output power ranging from 350W to 850W, produced by El.EN., a company from the same group, does not require the replacement of the source in that  each of them is equipped with a little bottle of laser mixture of 1liter@6 that, due to an automatic check, proceeds to readjust the laser mixture, thus preventing the decay of the laser source performances over time.

As the RX3 laser robot does not have its own working table, it can be easily combined with automatic moving systems such as the rotating tables that allow loading and unloading while the machine is working, thus considerably improving the working cycle time. This certainly is an important aspect since it allows customizing the solution depending on the working’s specific requirements. 

Autofocus: one more plus

The RX3 laser robot system  can be equipped with a module checking the correct focal distance between the cutting head and the part being processed. This module measures, in real time,  the head’s distance from the part and, in case it were not the correct one, it controls the robot so as to reset it 

Currently, the RX3 system can be combined with the ABB IRB2600 ID 200 and 180 robots only.