Robotic sealing automation: How it works

July 3, 2024
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What is robotic sealing automation?

Robotic sealing automation is all about using industrial robots to automatically apply sealants, adhesives or lubricants during a manufacturing process. 

Robotic sealers can precisely dispense liquids through programmed paths at very high speeds.

Components of a robotic sealing system

There are many components of a robotic sealing system: 

  • Industrial robot: The main part, often a six-axis articulated arm or SCARA robot (but other models like Delta will do), is responsible for moving and positioning parts with pinpoint precision.
  • Dispensing system: The behind-the-scenes part, this system includes pumps, regulators, and applicators that control the flow, pressure, and temperature of sealants, adhesives, or other fluids.
  • Applicator: The robo-hand is specifically designed to apply the sealant. Different applicators are necessary depending on the material and application, ensuring optimal results.
  • Sensors: The sensing organs, these components include vision systems to guide the robot's movements, force-torque sensors to handle delicate tasks, and potentially other sensors like proximity or level detectors to monitor the sealing environment.
  • Controller: As the command center, this system executes pre-programmed instructions and coordinates the seamless interaction between the robot and the dispensing system.
  • Integration components: To create a fully automated and efficient sealing process, you may need additional equipment like conveyors, part feeders, or vision inspection systems.

How robotic sealing automation works

Total teamwork: Industrial robots and automated dispensers join forces for flawless sealing.

Steady-handed robots: Precision machines handle parts with care, ensuring accurate placement.

Ultra-sensitive sensors: Vision and touch sensors guide the robot, guaranteeing precise sealant application.

Precisely programmable: Software controls robot movements and sealant dispensing for consistent, high-quality results.

The right tool for the job: Specialized applicators ensure the right amount of sealant is applied every time.

No assembly line slowdown: Robots integrate with production lines for a smooth, efficient sealing process.

Common types of robot sealing applications 

Robotic sealing systems are excellent for high-volume, repetitive sealing tasks. 

Some of the most common applications include:

  • Packaging: Robotic sealers are workhorses for sealing boxes, bags, and other packages. They can handle everything from folding cartons to stand-up pouches.
  • Component assembly: Robots excel at picking up parts, applying sealant or adhesive, and joining components together with speed and precision. This is useful for assembling electronics, medical devices, automotive parts, and more.
  • Product finishing: Robotic sealers can apply protective or decorative coatings to products. For example, they are used to apply varnishes, lacquers, or paints to wood and metal products.
  • Waterproofing: Robots can be used to apply waterproofing sealants and coatings to materials like concrete, masonry, and roofing. Their speed and consistency lead to high quality, durable results.
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Integration with existing production lines

Integrating a robotic sealing system into an existing production line requires careful planning. 

The good news is that most robotic sealers are designed to work with standard conveyor systems and production equipment.

Let’s dive in a bit deeper: 

  • Assess your layout: Scope out your current line layout and sealing process to determine the best placement for the robotic cell. It should have easy access to parts moving down the line and not disrupt other operations. Think about factors like the size and shape of your workpieces, the direction of material flow, and the availability of space.
  • Think about your space: Make sure you have enough space for the entire robotic sealing system, not just the robot itself. This includes the controller, sealant equipment, peripheral devices like part fixtures or conveyors, and adequate clearance for the robot to move and operate safely.
  • Line reconfiguration: Be ready to make adjustments to your existing production line to accommodate the robotic sealing system. This could involve modifying line speeds, relocating other equipment, or adding conveyors or part feeding systems to get a smooth and efficient flow of parts to and from the robot.
  • Choosing the right robot: Choose a robotic sealer that can handle your production volumes and the complexity of the parts you seal. For intricate parts or varied production needs, consider a multi-axis robot (like the six-axis articulated arm) or a SCARA robot for its flexibility and dexterity. Delta robots might also be OK, depending on the specific requirements of your application.
  • Being a good teacher: Program the robot with the proper sealing paths and application specifications for your parts. While many robotic sealers offer intuitive graphical programming interfaces, some level of "teaching" may be required to ensure accurate and consistent sealing. Advanced systems, like Standard Bots' RO1, offer no-code frameworks, simplifying the process for those without coding know-how.
  • Testing and optimization: Thoroughly test and fine-tune the robotic cell before full production deployment. Verify that the robot is accurately sealing parts, the line integration is seamless, and cycle times and quality are optimized. This may involve adjusting robot speed, sealant flow rate, or other parameters to get the best possible results.
  • Maintenance is not an option: Like any complex machinery, robotic sealing systems require regular maintenance and occasional troubleshooting. Set up a maintenance plan and double-check you have access to technical support from your robot supplier to address any issues that may arise.

Robotic sealing benefits

You’ll find that robotic sealing has some attractive advantages, such as: 

  • Production gains are inevitable. Robotic sealers operate 24/7 without breaks, increasing throughput. They handle repetitive tasks with precision, freeing workers for higher-value jobs.
  • Massive productivity increases. Robots apply seals uniformly and consistently, reducing errors and waste. They can also inspect seals and components for defects during the sealing process.
  • You’ll cut costs. Although robotic sealing systems require an upfront investment, they reduce long-term costs through increased productivity, improved quality, and decreased waste. They also minimize costs associated with worker injuries and compensation.
  • Your workers will thank you for it. Robotic sealers eliminate risks associated with potentially hazardous sealing applications, like applying hot melt adhesives. They create a safer work environment for all personnel.
  • Not one-size-fits-all. Robotic sealers can handle a range of materials, components, and sealant types. They easily integrate with existing production lines and can be reprogrammed as needed for new products or sealing applications. Some systems even allow for on-the-fly program change.

Major robotic sealing considerations 

Robotic sealing automation offers many benefits, but it can also prove difficult if you don’t stop and think about potential challenges. 

Let’s take a look: 

  • Think about the upfront costs. Factor in costs for the robot, end-of-arm tooling, programming, and integration with your existing lines. While robotic sealing can lower long-term labor costs, the initial capital outlay can be a barrier for some companies.
  • Not all sealing applications are a good fit for automation. Robotic sealing works best for high-volume, repetitive tasks where speed and consistency are priorities. Applications requiring complex or dexterous manipulation of parts may still need human operators. Evaluate if your specific application is a good fit for automation.
  • Integrating a robotic sealing system with your existing production line can be a tricky business. Consider how the robot will pick up parts, the space required, timing with other equipment, and any impacts it will have on the whole process. Close collaboration with your robotics provider and in-house engineering teams is essential.
  • Robotic work cells still require proper safeguarding (for humans). Give some thought to safety cages, light curtains, emergency stops, and a risk assessment to identify any hazards. Proper training on robotic safety is also important!

    Note: While cobots (collaborative robots) don’t tend to require measures like safety fences, it doesn’t mean they’re 100% foolproof, so exercise care around them. A risk-assessment is still necessary.

Summing up

Now you know what robotic sealing automation is all about. 

From understanding the components like grippers and sensors to seeing it in action on production lines, it's clear this tech can save you a lot of work. 

So, take some time to carefully consider your sealing application and your shop floor characteristics. Then, if they align with automation, we recommend you take the leap.

Next steps 

Unlock the best in robotic sealing automation with RO1 by Standard Bots, an innovative six-axis robotic arm engineered to optimize operations across industries with:

  • Cost-effective over-achiever: Get superior automation results at half the price of competing robot arms. 
  • Industry-leading performance: RO1's exceptional 18 kg payload capacity and rapid operation outpace similar robotic arms.
  • Intelligent adaptability: Leveraging state-of-the-art AI technology akin to GPT-4, RO1 effortlessly learns and adapts to your specific processes, all within an intuitive, no-code interface.
  • Prioritizes safety: RO1 is designed for safe collaboration with your team, using advanced vision and sensor systems for risk mitigation.

See what RO1 brings to the table firsthand with a 30-day risk-free trial. Contact us to schedule a demo today.

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