Heavy Duty Linear Guides used on automotive production line

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When a textile machinery engineering company in Germany were contracted to supply an automated non-woven fabric production machine for an automotive supplier, they were clear they wanted a solution with the key mechanical components sourced from one supplier.

Heavy Duty Linear Guides used on automotive production lineIn reality, though, this proved a difficult challenge. The machine would need construction elements to provide the machine frame – allowing multi axis linear products to be fitted without incurring costly precision machining. There was also the requirement to design the machine as compact as possible to take up the limited floor space available.

In addition, vital to the success of the project would be the use of low maintenance, highly reliable linear motion products that would ensure a long and trouble-free life in this demanding automotive application.

The engineers were sceptical whether there would be a supplier with the product technology and range to provide them with this complete package – until they entered discussions with linear motion specialist HepcoMotion.

The end user is a world leader in the production of many types of interior and exterior textile lining components for all the major automobile manufacturers. In this application an infeed conveyor supplying the non-woven material to be processed, is positioned centrally within the machine.

The operation involves putting together fleeces and bonding them in order to produce the final product. In turn, the finished cut material is fed to a palletising station ready for collection. The palletising speed is vital to the application and, with material under 1m in length, they require to produce 20 per minute.

Within the machine, four stations were designed including the palletising position, served by an X motion with a travel distance of 8.2m. Two X axes in parallel are linked by fixed Y axes 3m long. The Z motion fitted to the Y provides the vertical lifting and lowering of pneumatic suction pads that carry the material to each station.

In order to minimise the overall machine size, the X axis motion for the complete machine comprises three Heavy Duty HB33 beams in parallel. The middle beam has a guidance system fitted to both sides that allows two pairs of X axes to work independent of one another.

Inaccuracies accommodated

The problem of ensuring that the X axis guidance systems work exactly in parallel, without the need for precision machining, is solved by the use of HepcoMotion proprietary flat track and rollers. These are positioned on one of the parallel axes with the V guidance on the other – this enables inaccuracies in the frame to be accommodated.

All X axis guides are Heavy Duty size 33 rack driven with a Lenze helical bevel gearbox and servo motor providing the drive. The integral carriage for the X axis guidance bearings is made long enough to allow the fixed Y axis to be end located, maintaining the overall compact design of the machine.

HepcoMotion’s Heavy Duty Compact beams HB25C are used for the Y axes – these are of a lighter construction to the main load bearing X axes but provide excellent rigidity for the location of the Z motion systems.

The Z motion suction pads are fitted to an MCS frame; four GV3 NM44 rails located on to an MCS aluminium profile act as the vertical guidance for the frame.

The objective of having the key components from one supplier was easily met by HepcoMotion’s extensive range of advanced linear solutions.

One of the key elements of the machine was the use of Hepco’s Heavy Duty beams. These robust sections provided the X and Y axes structures without the need to fit the guidance systems to separate machined members.

The integral carriages supporting the Y axes for the movement of the suction pads, are fitted with lubrication canisters for both rack and V guide lubrication hence meeting the requirement for a low-maintenance solution.

HepcoMotion V guide systems, being low maintenance by design, are sized to suit the life required – complete system replacement is not part of any planned maintenance.

The end result has meant that the manufacturer has been able to increase production output to meet the growing needs of their automobile customers. The customer has also seen first hand the expertise HepcoMotion can bring to a challenging application.

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