Makino uCell B80 Masters Automation Challenge in Die & Mould
Makino launched the uCell B80 automation to meet the die & mould producer’s needs. The new uCell B80 is Makino’s answer to the serious shortage of skilled labour in Europe. The uCell B80 automation solution can connect both 3- or 5-axis vertical machines and sinker EDM machines and bring different-sized pallets and electrodes to the respective machine – an ideal automation solution for customers producing inserts or similar components.
Die & mould companies manufacture some of the most precise components in the machining industry. At this level of precision, even a seemingly simple task becomes really complex. Producing parts with no human intervention sounds nice on paper but is hard to execute. To fulfil this, Makino has been working for years to automate these manual jobs in die & mould. Although the D200Z produces the finest moulds in 5-axis simultaneous machining and the EDAF3 machine has the best Z-axis stability in the market, some parts of the equation were missing up to now: automation and software.
The outcome of Makino’s R&D work, the new automation uCell B80, was presented at EMO 2023 – in an integrated unit with a D200Z and EDAF3 machine. Just a metre wide, this automation cell can be fully customised to customer requirements and the number of parts or electrodes tailored to produce exactly the product the end user wants. A robot arm loads parts into the D200Z or the EDAF3, and electrodes into the latter. To handle both sizes of chucks, the robot hand can be exchanged automatically. Two big doors ensure the operator can access the system with ease – without stopping the machine and the two big windows, front and back, ensure good visibility. The cell can handle one or two machines, as required, and is managed by Makino’s new cell controller. Depending on the complexity of the task at hand, the uCell B80 can be deployed as a master or slave.
Process control is key in die & mould applications as a lot of material has to be moved between the different processes. The new software for the uCell B80 connects to the EDCAM software of Makino’s sinker EDM machines, exchanges all the data required to execute production, and informs the operator how the operation has run. Programmed for more than 50 applications, this software makes life easier for die & mould makers by centralising all the information in a single system.