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With KUKA flexibleCELL, WOLL machines its components more effectively
With the KUKA flexibleCELL modular robot cell, highly sensitive components – such as those manufactured for customers in the medical technology sector – can be welded quickly and flexibly.
The initial situation
As an established special-purpose machine manufacturer for customers in the medical technology sector, WOLL Maschinenbau has to meet a lot of demands: complex machine concepts, high standards for technical implementation, expert knowledge of the materials used and compliance with pricing targets. In KUKA Industries, the family-owned company has found a helpful partner who provides an extremely flexible, automated welding system, programming tools which offer enormous time savings and the process knowledge of KUKA experts – which is now being applied to manufacturing at WOLL.
WOLL was planning the use of a welding system on which to machine components – made of stainless steel for the most part – for machinery and systems. These components are primarily supplied to customers in the medical technology sector. Companies from this industry place the highest demands on the materials to be processed. Only certified companies such as WOLL are accepted as suppliers.
One of the extremely sensitive components – used, among other things, in autoclaves – is a so-called ‘product pallet’ which receives the products within the autoclaves. This product pallet is used to convey medical items for one-time use – such as fluid-filled bags inside pressure vessels for the sterilization of products – and then hold them in position there. The solution therefore required top precision: the work had to be 100-percent reproducible and of consistent quality.
Laser welding stainless steel with the KUKA flexibleCELL laser
KUKA Industries has developed a robot-based solution which WOLL is using to further optimize welding processes and increase productivity.
Switching the welding process as required
The KUKA flexibleCELL laser cellallows WOLL to switch between laser welding and tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding. Thanks to the combination of welding processes, WOLL can use the advantages of both technologies depending on the application (little or no reworking with laser welding, filling of larger gaps with arc welding). The result is a more even seam profile overall. Particularly after laser welding, the visible seams look better than ever. For components whose design means that laser welding is not yet possible, WOLL can simply switch processes within the same cell, making optimal use of the system.
Simple component handling thanks to the KUKA positioner
Depending on their size or the complexity of machining, the components to be welded can be loaded in different ways: either via a turntable from a safeguarded loading area outside of the cell or fed directly into the robot’s workspace by hand via a sliding door. The KUKA flexibleCELL can optimally machine all parts – large series, small batch sizes or extremely large parts – by means of the positioners.
Offline programming with KUKA.Sim
Instead of programming directly in the cell, WOLL can use KUKA.Sim to program offline in a virtual environment. This is a big advantage in the construction of special-purpose machines where there are usually few components of the same type to be machined and the system often has to be reprogrammed. With KUKA.Sim, teaching times are reduced significantly. Decoupled from the ongoing production process, WOLL can also select the settings for the next component.
User-friendly operation via the smartPAD
The WOLL operator can program directly at the cell using the smartPAD. The robot receives the laser welding commands via KUKA Laser.Tech software . This software enables readjustment of the process parameters via the same interface – both online and offline.
Secure remote maintenance
The WOLL system is protected against unauthorized access via end-to-end encryption. Ongoing access is ensured through the “life bit”. Quick onlinediagnosis is possible via the Remote Service Client– which allows KUKA to easily rectify faults without being directly on site.
KUKA was able to offer us a laser welding cell specially tailored to our requirements and needs.