The objective was to build a system that can perform various surface treatments automatically.
– Fully automated multi-step wet chemical processes, including rinsing and drying steps
– Designed for chemical and electrochemical treatment steps
– Flexible combination of various immersion baths – water-based or organic-based, for instance
– Optimisation of existing wet chemical processes such as acid cleaning or phosphating
– Development of alternative coating systems for specific application purposes
– Including galvanic surface treatment capability
Such processes require samples to remain in certain baths for a variety of durations; thereafter, they must be cleaned and processed in further baths. Manual manipulation of samples does not produce precise durations. Some of the processes are also unpleasant, since the baths can be up to 80°C and/or involve chemical agents that require special safety precautions.
The objective was to automate these processes to the extent possible without great financial outlays.
The process was designed so that up to eight baths can be operated. An igus robot is mounted on a linear rail which controls the individual baths. The robot has the sample and performs the immersion and cleaning steps.
The automation process works as follows:
a Siemens Simatic is responsible for the primary programme which controls the linear axis, the robot position and the bath into which the samples are immersed. When the bath position is reached, a sub-programme is called up in the robot control system to control the robot processes (immersion depth, bath duration, required cleaning steps, etc.). There are a wide variety of subroutines that can be called up for this purpose. When the robot is finished with its subroutine, it notifies the Siemens unit, which either moves to the next bath or returns to the home position as the programme stipulates.
// The photos and videos show test operations. The robot is now equipped with a Schunk gripper system, and a sample storage system with up to eight samples is currently operating. The final version will allow the system to process up to eight samples automatically.