IBG’s ability to innovate was once again in demand with regard to the development of a large, fully automatic production facility for the automotive industry. The challenge was the fully automatic assembly of rubber and soft plastic molded parts which should also be easily adaptable to changing production conditions.
Rubber and soft plastic molded parts have many parameters for a successful automation process compared to injection-molded or metal parts, which make operation considerably more difficult.
However, with specially developed process technology, IBG has succeeded in automatically installing bellows that serve to repel dirt on the surrounding components. The bellows are fed via a handling robot of the assembly device. Eight specially developed, pneumatically operated claws grasp the outer edge of the bellows, which is only a few millimeters wide, and expands it force-defined. Thus, the vulnerable components can be automatically inserted and fully enclosed in the bellows.
In another station, rubber sleeves are pulled over the metal subassemblies. This task was also solved by IBG using a special device for expanding these cuffs. The cuffs are gripped both on the outer edges as well as on the front edge and expanded for the following assembly steps. In any case, automation solutions for molded rubber parts require much more unconventional approaches than is required for dimensionally stable plastic or metal parts. This task was fulfilled and damage to the rubber bellows avoided because of the special shape, the surface selection, and force-side adjustment of the claw.