Robots Become Team Players

May 26, 2006
For new equipment and systems that enhance process efficiency, C.M.H. and KUKA find working together works well.

It started with a new, flexible pouring system for aluminum and more recently it’s involved a diversified work cell, but there’s no doubt that KUKA Robotics and C.M.H. Manufacturing are forming an effective team.

C.M.H. produces the Hall foundry equipment line, with a special emphasis on aluminum tilt-pour gravity diecasting among its products. Because aluminum castings produced in metal molds have a tighter dendrite structure than castings produced with other techniques, pouring the cleanest metal possible is critical.

Tilt-pouring reduces turbulence as molten metal enters the die cavity, providing shorter cycle times and requiring less metal for feeding systems. To achieve the cleanest pour possible, C.M.H. chose KUKA Robotics to supply a seven-axis robot for the ladling application.

The six-axis KUKA robot (primarily the "F" foundry class model) is fitted with an end-of-arm tool to create the seven-axes ladling robot for pouring molten metal. The robot’s seventh axis provides an additional 360° of rotation, allowing it to pour the molten metal consistently, and then inverting the ladle to clean it of leftover oxide waste.

For producers of aluminum castings, this seventh axis resolves a serious concern over part integrity. Without the seventh axis, oxide debris continues to build and is reintroduced into the molten metal. The additional rotational capabilities allow the metal composition to remain pure — and part integrity is not compromised.

C.M.H. designed the seventh axis, but turned the concept over to KUKA for manufacturing. "When we needed a seven-axis robot to solve this waste issue, we immediately chose KUKA robots for their reliability, flexibility, and performance," said John Hall, president of C.M.H. Manufacturing.

More recently, C.M.H. chose KUKA to provide robots for its new "total work cell" for permanent-mold casting.

These cells are designed to complete multiple tasks, including furnace and casting tending, sawing, sanding, milling/drilling, inspection, and machining.

"C.M.H.’s new total work cell concept is a great tool for manufacturers working toward lean manufacturing," stated Kevin Kozuszek, director of marketing for KUKA. "In addition to the advantage of one cell that accomplishes multiple tasks it also allows casters to have an integrated work cell that can take a job from liquid metal to finished part without employees being exposed to hazardous working conditions."