Automated Matching & Laser Marking Machine

When the global renowned bearing manufacturer NSK, requested to automatically match and laser mark a wide range of components, Cyan Tec’s engineering team were more than up for the challenge.

Following a number of brainstorming sessions and successful awarding of the contract, Cyan Tec’s design team showed ultimate flexibility to change the concept from a bespoke handling system to using an industry recognised methodology of picking and placing, an ABB industrial six axis robot.

The IRB 6620 is a flexible and agile robot with a large working envelope. The robot combines four robots in one: it is possible to be mounted as a floor-standing, tilted or inverted mounted and shelf capability robotic arm. In this application, the robot is mounted as a floor-standing configuration. This relatively small and compact robot is easy to install thanks to its low weight. In spite of its small size neither the handling capacity nor the reachability are affected. With the IRB 6620 NSK are given a flexible and cost-efficient solution that generates high uptime and lower production costs.

Furthermore, Cyan Tec also aligned with NSK’s request to integrate a pair of MD-F3220 Keyence lasers that were already available from NSK’s impressive Newark facility. In addition to the lasers, Cyan Tec also integrated a number of Keyence laser screens, used to display information that was being communicated to the machine to give information such as bearing measurements and laser marking criteria. The Keyence MD-F3220, described by Keyence as offering a continuous stable operation through high-power marking with 3D control, combines the best-in-class 50 W output and 3-Axis control.

Additionally, the MD-F Series of Keyence lasers greatly reduces marking and processing times as well as tooling change efforts. Furthermore, incorporating environmental resistance and safety mechanisms has strengthened the laser marker’s stable operation capabilities. With consistent advanced marking and processing capabilities, the MD-F Series helps- to improve productivity.

The team at Cyan Tec were extremely confident that the equipment of two of its key strategic partners, ABB and Keyence, are crucial pieces of automation and ideal to make this project a success.

The machine was designed for parts ranging from 26mm to 450mm to run down a bespoke conveyor system and travel inside the guarded area of the matching and laser marking area. The conveyor systems on the machine are integrated with servo driven side guides, which are automatically adjusted by the machine, depending on the component that is being processed.

Once inside the machine, the robot receives the dimensional information about the bearing from the NSK QADB system, which determines how the bearing is matched with a previously processed component(s).

A gripper was fitted to the end of the six-axis robot and designed to handle such a wide range of bearing components. Where typically change tooling would be required for such a vast range, Cyan Tec designed and manufactured a gripper using a combination of electric drives and pneumatics to offer not only the range, but also the precise control to ensure than no damage was caused to the bearings during the picking and placing activities.

The two Keyence laser marking heads that are fitting inside the machine are used to perform two different laser marks on the bearing products.

The first laser marks an alignment pattern on the side of the product, to assist the end user with fitting of the bearings. To ensure a successful matching operation (the bearings can be matched in up to sets of 6 and the alignment mark needs to grow incrementally) the machine communicates with the laser marker to inform it of the size of alignment that has previously been marked on a matched bearing.

The second laser marks the product information on the top of the bearing. This information is determined by the aforementioned NSK QADB system.

The matched bearings are then placed into a storage rack that was provided with the machine by the ABB robot, which is integrated with sensors to detect the part in place.

Once a “matched” set of bearings has been grouped, the QADB system will inform the machine of this and issue a request for the set of bearings to be picked from the storage racks by the ABB robot and transferred out of the machine via the outfeed conveyor. This conveyor is also provided with servo driven side guides, which are automatically adjusted by the machine, depending on the component that is being processed.