How much can we automate?

by Thinkertoys

Is anybody interested in, or working on, trying to automate entire build processes rather than just individual operations?

In particular I'm thinking of workpiece movement.

When I kick off a keyboard build, for example, I'm going to be using the mill for several operations. I'm going to use it to cut the PCB board, then I'm going to use it to cut the switch plate from aluminum, then I'm going to use it to carve the individual keys out of plastic to mount on the switches. None of these operations are a problem for the mill - but the build will repeatedly stop as I move workpieces in and out. Move the PCB board in. Mill it. Move it out. Move the switch plate in. Change endmills. Mill it rough. Change endmills again. Mill the sharper inside corners. Move it out. Move a plastic block in. Change to a ball-nose endmill. Mill the keytops (positive) on the left side and (negative) on the right, then separate left and right sides, turn the left side over onto the right (which holds it exactly in place), change endmills again, and mill the key mounts onto the backs. Then separate the keys and move the workpiece (now a tray with the keys nestled upside down in individual sockets) out.

If I had a tool changer and a robot arm whose entire purpose was fairly versatile movement of workpieces, this process wouldn't need to stall until I was ready for final assembly. As it is, it stops at least six times waiting for the human to do something with his clumsy hands.

Posted on Mar 3, 2017, 9:05 PM

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  1. Diminishing returns.... Doc Nickel, Mar 3, 2017
    1. Re: Diminishing returns.... B.O.B., Mar 4, 2017
    2. Synergistic returns.. Thinkertoys, Mar 4, 2017
      1. Not really the case.... sniper1rfa, Mar 4, 2017
        1. Re: Not really the case.... Thinkertoys, Mar 4, 2017
          1. It's part of how i make my living.... Sniper1rfa, Mar 4, 2017
            1. Here here!. Renegade_Azzy, Mar 5, 2017
      2. Cleaning.. Fish Preferred, Mar 5, 2017
  2. As mentioned, batch productions ftw.. Kylekatern, Mar 4, 2017
  3. Start with the tool changer. James, Mar 4, 2017
  4. down the rabbit hole. ydna-zds, Mar 5, 2017
    1. Your logic is sound, but... Lord Redacted The Censored, Mar 6, 2017
      1. Fully agreed. ydna-zds, Mar 6, 2017
      2. Except.... Doc Nickel, Mar 6, 2017
        1. Re: Except.... Thinkertoys, Mar 7, 2017
          1. how much tinkering have to done until now?. ydna-zds, Mar 9, 2017


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