Advanced control of injection-molding machine automation – including the ability to manage multiple high-speed axes of motion and a “flying-start” function that can cut part-removal times by 10% – are among the standard capabilities of the new Visual 3 robot control from Sepro America. The Visual 3, which intended for use with Sepro’s newest S5 Line of three-axis servo robots as well as the Generation 4 (G4) range, was introduced to attendees at NPE 2012 in Orlando, FL, April 1 – 5, 2012.
“Some injection molders want to be able to control their complex downstream equipment through their robot control,” says Jim Healy, Vice President, Sales & Marketing. “Visual 3 was developed for these customers, giving them the fastest, most powerful control capabilities on a simple, easy-to-use platform. That’s why we say that our new control is ‘Simply Powerful.’”
The Visual 3 expands upon the success of the Visual 2 control, which will continue to be available. The major difference between the two controls lies in the speed of the Visual 3 PLC processor. The Visual 3 operates at 20-millisec speeds – five times faster than its predecessor – to facilitate the most advanced automation including stacking, insert positioning and loading, fabric overmolding, in-mold labeling, post-mold fixturing and finishing, and more.
"Flying Start" Speeds Cycles
With its powerful processors, the Visual 3 actually anticipates the end of each molding cycle and starts its movement into the part-gripping position before the mold even opens. In this way, the robot arm is already moving when the mold begins to open and can save up to 10% on mold-open time compared to robots without the Flying Start function.
The control is also able to work with intelligent sensors, providing the option to recognize different grippers with an RFID reader or to use cameras for quality control or positioning of parts. Another option allows for “path tracking,” which programs the robot to move a part through a complex pattern outside of the mold, or for complex in-mold motions if required for part-removal. For instance, at NPE, Sepro is demonstrating the use of path tracking on an SR 4050 robot (one of the largest G4 robots Sepro makes) in an edge-flaming application involving a full size automobile bumper.
Visual 3 also includes Digital Vacuum Switch as standard. This convenient function allows users to fine-tune the vacuum-flow settings remotely, using the control pendant instead of valves located on the robot. All digital gripper set-ups can be stored in memory for easy recall.
Visual 3 can even manage intelligent peripheral equipment including vision, bar coding and RFID devices. A PC Studio editor/monitor function, which works in a familiar Windows® environment, makes it easy to fine-tune complex programs and store them conveniently for future use. These advanced capabilities, along with a standard I/O module with 23 inputs and 24 outputs (extendable to 96 inputs and 96 outputs), make the Visual 3 the ideal solution for controlling multi-function production cells.
Like the Visual 2, the new control has a large, easy-to-read and -navigate 10-inch touch-sensitive LCD screen that make operation simple and intuitive, while giving uses access to full system documentation. A joystick allows operators to actually steer the robot to fine-tune its movements. A Sepro-patented Simple Pick & Place module steps the operator through the robot programming sequence with a series of easy questions about the application. The results are presented immediately in three-dimensional video. Almost unlimited connectivity means users can upload and download information via Ethernet, USB connection or even Wi-Fi.
Sepro America, LLC
Providing automation sales, engineering and service throughout the United States and Canada, Sepro America, LLC, is a wholly owned daughter company of Sepro Robotique, La Roche sur Yon, France. Sepro Robotique was one of the first companies in the world to develop Cartesian beam robots for injection-molding machines, introducing its first CNC controlled “manipulator” in 1981. It has had a substantial presence in North America since 1989. Today, the company exports 80% of its sales and enjoys a 25% market share in Europe. Sepro truly is a global player with operations not only in Europe and North America, but also in South America and Asia.