Kleiner: Automated production cell with optical metrology
Alicona 3D measurement is part of an automated production cell by stamping expert KLEINER. The job is the optical, dimensional measurement of molds.
KLEINER Stanztechnik combines machine tools, measuring technology and robotics in a new production cell. It aims at autonomous, fully automatic production of tool components including measuring protocol. Alicona is not only a selected measurement technology partner because of its automation capabilities.
Business Unit Manager Tool Technology is the mastermind and initiator of the KLEINER 4.0 project
"With Alicona we are already able to automatically start and execute the measuring process in our production process. We are currently working on enabling networking with other machines so that machine parameters are automatically and continuously adjusted based on the measurement results."
Optical 3D measurement combined with tooling, molding and industrial robotic technologies
Christian Hamann, Business Unit Manager Tool Technology at KLEINER Stanztechnik, remains modest: “I can’t just say whether our new production cell makes us stand-alone worldwide. But our customers confirm that they have not yet seen a comparable production cell with integrated measurement technology at this high degree of automation.” The German stamping technology company has been proud to combine expertise in the field of precision stamped parts and high-performance stamping tools with new technologies since its foundation, thus meeting increasing customer demands from various industries.
With its new production cell, combining technologies from tool and mold making, metrology and industrial robotics, KLEINER once again proves its innovative strength. For Christian Hamann, the commissioning is a milestone: “At the moment, man and individual components of the cell are still interacting with each other. The production cell in its final state will enable completely self-sufficient production with a fully automatic process. We hand over a raw part to the cell, and at the end we receive a completely manufactured tool including measuring report without any further intervention.”
The electrode is measured optically and then transferred to an EDM machine
The KLEINER production cell is based on a combination of different state-of-the-art technologies and machines. Two HSC milling machines, a die-sinking EDM machine, a cleaning system as well as tactile and optical measuring technology are currently in use. A 6-axis industrial robot controls the production and takes care of the assembly. KLEINER describes the process as follows: “We load a pallet system with the raw part, which is transferred to the cell or robot via a transfer station. First, a tactile measuring station determines the position of the workpiece. These references or coordinates are fed to the HSC milling machine, which mills the electrode. The electrode is then optically measured with Alicona in 3D and transferred to the die-sinking EDM machine, that finally produces the individual tool part.”
"With Alicona we are already able to automatically start and execute the measuring process in production”
The optical measurement of the electrode is already automated. Measurement results are currently monitored and processed by a worker, who, based on the measurement data, manually initiates necessary changes in the production process. KLEINER lays the foundation for smart manufacturing á Industry 4.0: “With Alicona we are already able to automatically start and execute the measuring process in our production process. We are currently working on enabling networking with other machines so that machine parameters are automatically and continuously adjusted based on the measurement results,” explains Haman, initiator and mastermind of the KLEINER 4.0 project. This is how the stamping technology company entitles the production cell and thus establishes the context to Industry 4.0.
Dimensional measurement of molds with a tolerance range of up to 0.01mm
KLEINER cannot imagine quality assurance without the use of optical measuring technology. Alicona is mainly used to measure molds within a tolerance range of up to 0.01mm. Dimensional accuracy plays a decisive role in the further production and compliance with all quality specifications of the tools. The stamping technology company benefits in particular from the motorized rotation unit, which was purchased together with the high-resolution InfiniteFocus measuring system. Hamann on the advantages of the so-called Advanced Real3D Rotation Unit: “The rotary axis allows us to ideally position and measure any number of surfaces and surface features in just one measuring process. This makes the measurement not only very precise compared to our measuring equipment used up to now, but also very economical due to the short measuring time.”
Measurement of steep flanks
Fast measurement times, high accuracy and intuitive handling, together with the requirement of being able to automate measurements in production, were decisive criteria for the evaluation of a suitable measurement system. Part of the requirement specification was also the implementation of open interfaces for integration into the system landscape of the production cell. Several providers were carefully examined and the decision was easy in the end. Christian Hamann: “Latest at the point where it was a matter of measuring the steep flanks of our molds, many other measuring technology suppliers shrugged their shoulders. Only Alicona has met all our criteria.”
Higher speed and flexibility while maintaining the same resources
An additional bonus for KLEINER is the measurement in registered 3D true color information, which “provides users with a first clear and fast result,” says the head of Tool Technology. “Our eyes detect color much faster than simple numerical results. Color information has become a common procedure that we would not want to do without.” KLEINER expects the use of the production cell to increase productivity while maintaining the same resources. “We can achieve significantly higher productivity and increased efficiency with the same team, as we gain speed and flexibility. We are already producing several different tool components in a shorter time at this stage of the cell,” Haman summarizes. This is a promise to its customers from the automotive, plastics, electronics and medical technology industries with which KLEINER will continue to strengthen its leading position as a manufacturer of unique tools with high quality standards.