Manufacturing Systems Today: Assembly Equipment

Ultraclean assembly robots
Compact VS-series six-axis robots from Denso Robotics are available in ISO Class 5 and ISO Class 3 cleanroom versions for use in medical device assembly applications requiring very high levels of contamination control. The high degree of flexibility inherent in the robots’ articulated design and choice of end effectors, according to the manufacturer, makes them suitable for performing a variety of high-speed, high-precision assembly tasks and for carrying out such secondary operations as packaging, testing, and inspection. Assembly cycle times range between 0.37 and 0.33 seconds and repeatability between ±0.03 and ±0.02 mm. Offering reaches of 500 to 900 mm and payload capacities of 4 to 7 kg, the robots can be mounted on the floor, ceiling, or wall. They have ultraslim arms that facilitate production-line integration, and an optional bottom-side cable connection saves floor space.
Denso Robotics
Long Beach, CA

Manual dispensing systems
Manually controlled dispensing systems from Dymax Corp. feature the normally closed handheld Model 200 diaphragm valve, which is designed to facilitate accurate dispensing of such low- to medium-viscosity fluids as light-curable adhesives, epoxy resins, cyanoacrylates, and activator-cured adhesives. Made from materials compatible with a variety of assembly fluids and characterized by a lightweight, ergonomic wand-style body, the precision valve is engineered to deliver good performance over a long service life. Each dispensing system includes light-blocking polyethylene tubing in two sizes: 3⁄8 in. OD for maximum flow and 1⁄4 in. OD for handling flexibility. An air filter regulator with an integrated shutoff valve and pressure exhaust to quickly and safely depressurize the system is another key design element. The turnkey dispensing systems can be used for dot, bead, and potting applications.
Dymax Corp.
Torrington, CT

Assembly fluid dispensers
Available from Nordson EFD, the high-precision Ultimus V and Optimeter dispensing systems for adhesives and other fluids used in critical medical device assembly processes have been designed to keep fluid quantities consistent as viscosity changes or the volume of fluid in the syringe decreases. The former dispenser models can store and then automatically adjust dispense settings to keep the volume of applied fluid constant in the case of fluids that undergo viscosity changes. To compensate for changing fluid levels when thinner fluids are used, the latter model automatically adjusts airflow to maintain uniform deposit size. The dispensers enable users to set dispense parameters in standard, metric, or SI units and to select among English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish as the language for menu displays and prompts.
Nordson EFD
East Providence, RI

SCARA robots
THL300 and THL400 SCARA robots, offered by Toshiba Machine Co. as additions to its THL series of small robots, have arm lengths of 300 and 400 mm, respectively, and a 5-kg payload capacity. Equipped with lightweight yet rigid die-cast-aluminum arms, the robots are designed to help automation system integrators reduce costs by requiring only minimal supporting and vibration-suppression elements. Other system design advantages include relatively low energy consumption, which contributes to good overall system efficiency, and easy-to-maintain gearboxes and motors. A high-rpm motor maximizes robot speed, and cycle times are 0.48 seconds with a 2-kg load. The lightweight SCARA systems feature a four-axis working envelope and 360° z-axis rotation. They are suited for handling and assembling small medical devices and components.
Toshiba Machine Co., America
Elk Grove Village, IL

Laser-welding system
The compact LQ-Smart system for particle-free laser-welding of plastic medical device assemblies with welding contours as large as 4 × 4 in. is suitable for benchtop use or integration into a production line. By splitting its system into a 16 × 21 × 24-in. control unit and a 13 × 24 × 15-in. welding unit, LPKF Laser & Electronics North America has made the welder flexible enough to fit into virtually any production environment. The control unit contains full control electronics and safety technology, and the welding unit houses the laser optics and clamping tools. The company claims that weld seams produced by the system are tough, optically perfect, and hermetic. The welder can join transparent materials to other transparent materials. It also contains all of the functions necessary for melt travel monitoring and can accommodate the optional integration of pyrometer control and burn-detection monitoring systems.
LPKF Laser & Electronics North America
TUALATIN, OR