Automotive Molder Finds More Floorspace with “L”-Mount Robots

Midwest Molding finds room to expand capacity with space-saving robot mounting arrangement.

Midwest Molding Inc. in Bartlett, Ill., custom injection molds primarily auto parts in a plant that was built in 2007. By 2015, with business expanding, the family-owned firm knew it had to do something to achieve more efficient space usage. Midwest Molding consulted Wittmann Battenfeld, Inc., Torrington, Conn., which has a tech center in nearby South Elgin, Ill. Midwest Molding has a robot on every press and has used Wittmann robots since 1999. Wittmann and Midwest Molding arrived at a solution to the space restriction. Instead of the traditional mounts for the robots, which track outward from the press and require several extra feet of floorspace, they switched to L-mounts (pictured), which run the robot tighter to the machine, requiring less clearance and allowing machines to sit closer together.

In an L-mount, the robot runs along a beam located close alongside the non-operator side of the press and deposits parts at the end of the injection machine. This occupies less than half the footprint of the standard mounting. Midwest Molding is now running 55 machines with room for up to 25 more.

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To ensure the robots would still have the flexibility to take on the toughest jobs, Midwest Molding added the A/C servo flip and rototation wrist to all the new robots they purchased. This helps the robot make the most of its allotted space. What’s more, Midwest Molding takes advantage of the control software on the Wittmann robots.

“The programming on these robots is a real advantage,” says Mayur Patel, a Midwest Molding manager. “The open architecture allows us to program complex, customized processes; and some of the built-in features like SmartRemoval and EcoMold allow us to ensure efficient, cost-saving usage of the robots. With EcoMode, if we lengthen the cycle time on a machine, the robot will automatically adjust itself to run more slowly and smoothly to save energy as well as wear and tear, and not be needlessly rushing to sit at the mold and wait for it to open. And with SmartRemoval, the robot is tied directly into the machine processes and will enter and exit the mold in the most efficient and timely manner possible without relying on the operator to program that in.”

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