At formnext this week, Dutch company AM-Flow is introducing its new Vision Robot, a tool that automatically removes and sorts 3D printed parts. Automation is becoming more and more of a part of additive manufacturing, but where it often stops short, the company points out, is when the 3D printing process starts. Humans are still commonly required for removing parts from machines and sorting them, which results in extra work, time, cost and sometimes human error. The Vision Robot removes humans from the equation, by automatically sorting parts.
According to AM-Flow, the robot requires only one operator to perform the amount of work that eight people would be needed to do normally. The Vision Robot can identify and sort anywhere from 200 to 10,000 parts per day, cutting labor costs by 80 percent. It’s highly accurate, with 95 percent correctness the first time in number one recommendations, and 100 percent correctness in its top three recommendations. It has shown close to zero false positives.
The Vision Robot works in three modes: manual, continuous and semi-continuous. It can be custom-made depending on the type of 3D printer farm it’s being used with, and it is built from industrial-grade components. It seamlessly integrates with other AM-Flow modules, and features a user-friendly touch screen operator console.
Part recognition takes less than one second per part, resulting in up to 1,200 parts identified per hour. The return on investment is instant, says AM-Flow, as soon as the automation results in one fewer hire for post-processing alone. It enables both high mix and high volume, says Stefan Rink, CEO of AM-Flow.
“This is the golden key unlocking industrialization and true end-to-end digital manufacturing in 3D-printing environments,” he adds.
Customers have several options, including buying the Vision Robot outright, leasing it, or a pay per part program.
AM-Flow’s goal is to accelerate the industrialization of additive manufacturing, and it offers several other modules, including:
With these products, AM-Flow is striving to automate as much of the additive manufacturing process as possible. The company isn’t the first to develop a system for automating the picking and sorting of 3D printed parts; Voodoo Manufacturing is also working on a complete lights-out factory solution for 3D printing, and other companies are also taking steps to simplify and automate certain areas of post-processing. One concern may be that solutions like this could cost jobs, and that can’t be ignored, but automation isn’t always a matter of eliminating jobs so much that it is freeing up workers to spend more time on the more technical requirements of 3D design, for example. AM-Flow wants to eliminate menial labor, essentially, with its robotic products.
Formnext is taking place in Frankfurt, Germany from now until November 16th. You can visit AM-Flow at Booth H17 in Hall 3.1.
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