Using Carbon Fiber in Industrial Automation and Robotics
Facilities incorporating industrial automation into their manufacturing processes continually strive to improve efficiency through increased speed and greater precision. Often the most direct means to achieve these goals is reduced weight and increased stiffness of the robotics, and in particular the end effectors. Lightweight end effectors translate directly to increased speed on the production line, higher precision, reduced motor and actuator loads, and improved reliability. For many application, such as injection molding, a 0.1 second reduction in cycle time translates into a yearly savings of $300,000 or more. One of our customers actually saved $1 million a year with a custom carbon fiber robotic arm solution we helped them develop.
DragonPlate works with companies in the consumer products, semiconductor, beverage, injection molding, aerospace, and automotive industries, as well as many others that utilize robotics in their manufacturing or inspection processes. In addition, we work with companies that specialize in the design and fabrication of automated systems to replace their obsolete metal end effectors with lightweight carbon fiber composites, with typical weight reductions of 50%-75%.
Many carbon fiber options are available to robotics and automation designers. Using basic structural materials (flat sheets, angles, hat stiffeners, c-channels, rectangular tubes), lightweight end effectors can easily be designed and implemented, often into existing manufacturing lines with minimal other changes. With relative ease 40 pound end effectors can be reduced to 15 pounds or less, substantially reducing vibration, as well as bearing and motor wear.
By utilizing our DragonPlate tube connector systems, a myriad of additional options are available. For example, square and rectangular tubes can be connected with flat gusset plates creating extremely strong, yet lightweight frames. Pultruded round tubes are easily connected using our patented universal joint connector system to form trusses. And our patent pending modular connector system provides an efficient and extremely robust way to make easily disassembled carbon fiber tubular structures out of our braided and roll-wrapped round tubes.
Leveraging in-house finite element analysis, CAD design, and tool making, DragonPlate regularly works with customers to produce highly specialized robotics and automation end effectors. We specialize in custom components and assemblies, bladder molded high modulus prepreg parts for complex geometries and lowest weight, and the utilization of a wide variety of ancillary materials to complement the carbon fiber, such as Kevlar.
For those companies whose operating temperatures regularly reach between 250 and 500 degree Fahrenheit, DragonPlate also offers a high temperature carbon fiber that can withstand said temperatures for extended periods of time. This new material can survive direct exposure to a propane torch for 30 to 60 seconds with only a minor reduction in stiffness and is perfect for those in high temperature automation looking to significantly reduce the weight of their tools.
If your company is interested in learning more about using carbon fiber composites in robotic end effectors and automation, please contact us to discuss your specific application.