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H-gantry: No larger than a sheet of DIN A4 paper

Festo (Germany) offers H-gantries, which provide CANopen connectivity to command up to 250 positions. They are used, for example, in the company’s ready-to-install assembly-line equipment.

Festo provides ready-to-install production and assembly systems using its H-gantry featuring CANopen connectivity (Photo: Festo)

SMARTPHONES AND OTHER ELECTRONIC DEVICES are heavily subjected to trends in fashion and technology. For their manufacturers, this means developing new devices to the point of readiness for mass production in less than 12 months. Increasingly shorter product cycles are forcing the manufacturers of assembly-line equipment to reduce the time for the development and production of this equipment still further. They like to buy ready-to-install system solutions.

Additionally, the manufacturing costs are supposed to be low: The production of smartphones is supposed to be below 50 €. “This places our customers under double pressure: either production plants must become continuously more cost-effective or they must offer higher output for the same costs,” explained Jens Heiko Adolph, Head of Festo’s Industry Segment Management Electronics and Light Assembly. Furthermore, machines must be ever more flexible to deal with varying batch sizes. It is also crucial that production plants can be changed easily from one model to another.

“Festo therefore aims to offer its customers flexible and space-saving drive solutions,” said Adolph. Customers bring their applications to Festo and its engineers find suitable ready-to-install solutions, either electrical, pneumatic or a mixture of both types of drive system. “This allows customers to concentrate fully on their core business,” said Adolph.

Festo provides ready-to-install production and assembly systems using its H-gantry featuring CANopen connectivity (Photo: Festo)

One outstanding example of an innovative complete solution is the mini H-gantry EXCM. It is planar surface gantry, which can approach any position within its working space. In its smallest version, its working area is no larger than a sheet of DIN A4 paper. Its parallel kinematic drive concept ensures low moving masses. The drive and controller package is pre-parameterized to allow fast commissioning. The gantry is suitable for use as an automation platform, for example, for testing, screw driving, dosing as well as pick-and-place tasks. The drive system has also been designed to be space saving. The recirculating toothed belt moves the slide within a two-dimensional area (X and Y axes). The fixed motors are connected to the slide and thanks to the parallel-kinematic drive principle the moving masses remain low. This ready-to-install system allows positioning at speeds of up to 500 mm/s and repetition accuracies of the order of ±0,05 mm.

In a more complex handling system, the H-gantry is used to inspect tablet PCs. In another handling system, it handles and transports printed circuit boards (PCB) and equips these with components. The system also includes Festo products such as the DRRD piston semi-rotary drive for dynamic movements and the ATBT air bearing for the frictionless feeding of blank PCBs. The pneumatic drives and grippers within the system solution are controlled by VUVG compact valves or a CPX terminal with an MPA-L valve terminal. These devices provide CANopen connectivity.

Further examples of production and assembly include a solution for gripping, feeding and press-fitting “Pressfit” plugs, another for handling and inspecting components in a very small space using an optimal combination of pneumatic and electronic components, and a third for the precise feeding of electronic components (in this case USB memory sticks) into a test station.

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