Automation Blog

Panel Fastener & Expansion Nut Automation

August 4, 2021 11:22 am

Panel fasteners and expansion nuts come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Each type can have several different names, depending upon what company manufactured the fastener or which company is using them in production. Common names are box-nut, push-nut, and mid-panel-nut.

In production environments, these nuts are often installed by hand or by a robot. Fixed tooling is rare since most panels or structures will require a dozen or more nuts and they are often installed on various angles.

box style fastener
wedge style fastener
fastener nuts

Manual Panel Fastener & Expansion Nut Installation

Manual installation using a hand tool requires a smaller investment and can be implemented quickly, but doing so has several significant drawbacks. The ergonomic impact of installing a push-nut by hand is not good. Operators quickly become fatigued or injured. Recruiting and retaining employees for this task can be difficult. Quality is difficult to control when installing by hand as certain hole locations are difficult to see and can be altogether missed. Speed is another factor to consider. Installing by hand leads to highly variable throughput, and even the best operators fade over the course of a shift. Over time, the cost of manual installation of push-nuts is far greater than most people realize.

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What Is A Vibratory Feeder

August 23, 2016 8:05 pm

While many facets of the manufacturing industry has changed, there are some things that remain the same. A vibratory feeder is one of those machines that have not changed much over the years, and remains a much-needed piece of equipment in the manufacturing industry. In fact, it has many uses in industries such as pharmaceutical, food, automotive, electronics and packaging industries.

Many times in the automation industry, there are small parts that need to be put in place, and many times there are hundreds, even thousands of the same part that need to be placed in the proper position. Instead of an employee having to place these small parts one by one into place, a vibratory can feed the small parts into another machine one by one, orientated in a particular direction.

Vibratory feeders come in all different shapes, sizes and styles, depending the objects it needs to displace. Just as it sounds, a vibratory feeder can vibrate and rotate in order to get specific objects to face a particular direction upon dispensing it into a machine.

Vibratory feeders speed up the process and provide accuracy that would otherwise slow down an overall project. When using a vibratory feeder, one must take into consideration part shape, part size, weight and material properties in order to select the proper feeder. Also, lining and coatings of the feeder are important to ensure proper traction of the component when orientating and feeding.

Placing tiny party parts into specific positions can be a tedious job, and can slow the overall process. With the proper feeder(s), your process will continue to move along smoothly and quickly.

What Is CNC Machining

August 23, 2016 8:05 pm

In the manufacturing industry, it’s all about speed and precision. You want to complete a task or project as fast as possible, but without jeopardizing the precision of your work. In the past, machining was mostly done by hand. In order to speed up the process and eliminate error, the first Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machine was introduced in the early 1950’s.

So what exactly is a CNC Machine and what does it do?

To put it in its simplest form, it’s basically a way of controlling machine tools programmatically by the use of a computer. Tools that typical use CNC Machining are lathes, mills, routers and grinders.

If used properly, a CNC machine is proven to be much quicker and more precise than manual machining.

At first, a CNC machine looks like a normal PC, but the computer is wired with precise, unique software and control panels. By using CNC Machining, machine tools function through this numerical control panel. To create a specific object, part, etc. that part is given a customized computer program through machine CNC language called G-code. All the specific programming dictates how the machine creates a specific object through feed rate, coordination, location and speeds.

CNC Machining helps the computer control speed and exact positioning and velocity, and can be used in metal and plastic fabrication. Each object begins with a CAD drawing, and then a code is created based off that CAD drawing for machine to read. Once the code is ready to go, an operator runs a test run which is known as “cutting air” in order to ensure perfect fabrication.

Once the fabrication is perfected, the operator can use that specific code to produce parts quicker and more efficiently with less error, and can produce parts that are virtually impossible to create by hand.

Benefits Of Adding ShopBot To Our Process

August 23, 2016 8:05 pm

Since the inception of Computer Number Control (CNC) tools, the manufacturing industry has experienced a tremendous increase in productivity due to its abilities to cut, carve and drill all kinds of materials with precision and speed.

This past December, we started using a ShopBot CNC router to cut Lexan for our safety guarding panels, cut sheet metal for our chutes, guards, and shrouds, and to engrave logos and signs for our machinery. The ShopBot is a top-of-the-line CNC router, which provides better fit and finish, better quality and precision and allows us to reduce hours to build.

So What Makes A ShopBot CNC Router So Advanced?

A ShopBot is comparable to a plotter, in that it moves pens around the surface on an X and Y axes. However, a ShopBot also moves up and down along the Z axes, allowing it to make 3D movements. This allows for the ShopBot CNC router to create virtually any pattern or shape with precision in a small amount of time.

In the manufacturing industry, product changes come fast and furious. Therefore, you must have the ability to quickly adapt production to changing needs of customers and adjust accordingly to shifting priorities. Robotic capabilities need to be integrated into the cellular approach, meaning it must be adaptable, flexible and somewhat mobile.

A ShopBot CNC router can be affordably distributed to multiple production operations where it can easily be adjusted to fit each task at hand. This saves time and money for our company as well as our clients. In fact, ShopBot is proven to provide high-level performance and cut quality of tools that are 5 to 10 times as expensive.

It’s easy to see why we have started using the ShopBot CNC router as part of our manufacturing process. At Flexible Automation, we always strive to improve our production process in order to save ourselves, as well as our client’s, time and money, and the ShopBot allows us to do so.  Through the process, it has also given us the ability to customize our solutions even more with custom branding elements that our clients have fallen in love with. 

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