A prototype belt-slicing machine built from ready-to-go automation components boosts timing-belt production sixfold compared with manual methods.
The machine churns out 300 belts hourly with minimal human interaction, making it possible for a single operator to simultaneously run two of the machines. Stock Drive Products, New Hyde Park, N.Y., the belt maker, tapped its sister division Techno-Isel (www.techno-isel.com), also based in New Hyde Park, for the design. Belts are cut to proper width from bulk, rubber-toothed sleeving in quantities from one to 10,000. A Techno-Isel stepper-motor-driven, ball-screw slide indexes the knife holder while a pneumatic actuator moves the knife blade. A hydraulic damper engages to stabilize the blade during the cutting operation. The standard-duty ball-screw slide includes an integrated aluminum housing with rubber seals, limit switches on both ends of travel, a stepper motor (125-oz-in. torque) and a 220
3 175-mm table plate for mounting the tooling. The integrated rubber seals expel dirt, dust, and debris without accordionlike way covers that can reduce travel by as much as 15%.
A Centurion single-axis controller runs the stepper motor and lets operators select different belt widths. The user interface, written in onboard ACL software, includes a full-screen text editor, an integrated compiler with debugging features, and an integrated communications program. A jog program permits manual motor positioning from a PC keyboard while a teach mode automatically generates the motion program. Once a program loads into controller memory, it may run either from a PC or from the controller front panel. The controller has all necessary power supplies built-in and includes start, stop, and e-stop buttons. The approach greatly simplifies the prototyping, setup, and manufacturing processes.
“The automated machine substantially lowers production cost and demonstrates how small, low-cost automation projects can provide a big payoff,” says Bob Gaulrapp, manufacturing manager at Stock Drive Products. “The machine paid for itself in a matter of months,” adds Perry Pierides, belt department manager at the company.