Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Application Spotlight: Linear Motion and Glitzy Glass

MOTION ACROSS THE OCEAN Liverpool, the city across the pond that spawned advances in motion like helicopters, steamships, electric trains and public trams, is home to a company that launched its own innovative motion control solution using our custom linear slides.

Credit: DiBro
DiBro — it's one of the largest plants in the United Kingdom that finishes glass bottles, according to an article by Packaging Europe. The way they finish the bottles is pretty cool, too. Their machinery coats different types of bottles in glammed-out metallic, lacquered or acid-etched finishes. And evidently, according to this same article, DiBro gets it done thanks to a custom system built around one of our hybrid HepcoMotion® Profile Driven Units, the PDU2. The story explains:
"The company is a specialist in its field but by its own admission no expert in linear motion. So when it came to automating a glass treatment process on the new plant to increase productivity it chose HepcoMotion to recommend the most appropriate system for linear actuation."
STEADY AS SHE GOES Basically, DiBro wanted to automate the process of spraying bottles with a special coating as they run along a conveyor through a kiln that slowly cools them so they don't crack from quick temperature changes. The PDU2 unit guides a spray nozzle across the conveyor to coat a row of bottles with every pass.

DiBro needed a system that drove at a steady speed so each bottle got an even coat. Plus, the sprayer needed super accurate positioning so that the sides were coated too, DiBro Managing Director Tom Dickinson said in the Packaging Europe article. This was a case in point of a customer knowing exactly what they wanted, but having limited technical know-how, HepcoMotion notes in the article.

The family-owned business set the new unit in 24/7 motion last year and it's already bringing in new business because of its improved efficiency.

Credit: Packaging Europe
THE NUTS AND BOLTS The belt-driven actuator at the core of the DiBro system works well for this demanding application because it's small and runs almost friction-free along Herculane® linear guide wheels on the inside profile, the article says. More about this unique application:

  • A firm-but-light aluminum profile fits the carriage and toothed belt drive, enclosing the unit to protect it against the damp environment.
  • Stainless fixings bolster the system's durability — a standard HepcoMotion offering.
  • HepcoMotion gave DiBro an extra-long beam to match the width of the lehr — the industry name for what's basically a glass kiln — and motor that actuates the PDU2.
  • How fast the system goes depends on the size of the bottles being painted, etched or printed. Typical speeds hover around 200mm per second. Since the lehr runs about 2 meters wide, it takes the machine 10 seconds to spray 50 perfume bottles or 15 one-litre soda bottles.