Robots to the rescue, speeding up the painting process

The process of painting vehicles is often a time-consuming task, requiring many hours, sometimes days, of masking between coats, usually for more complex designs. With this in mind, a leading digital technology company, ABB Robotics, has developed a robot to perform this task.

Equipped with 1,000 nozzles in a printed head, the robot sees artwork and design tasks completed in less than 30 minutes. Called “PixelPaint”, this technology can be applied in a single layer and opens the door to the automotive industry’s personalized design market.

We spoke to Joerg Reger, Managing Director of ABB Business Line Automotive, Robotics & Discrete Automation to find out more.

Jörg Reger

Just Auto (JA): Can you tell me about your role and what it entails?

Jörg Reger (JR): I have overall responsibility for leading a team that supports both leading automotive manufacturers and a wide range of key Tier 1 businesses.

We have a strong presence in all major automotive markets and while ABB is known for our line automation, our product portfolio and the range of solutions we offer has expanded significantly and will continue to do so.

These include PixelPaint, our RobotStudio virtual operation and ASTI Mobile Robotics, now part of the ABB family, autonomous mobile robots (AMR) that are critical for improved intralogistics in automotive manufacturing. ABB was also a pioneer in the use of co-bots.

How does PixelPaint technology work, what is the process for it?

Depending on customer requirements, ABB can supply PixelPaint with its IRB 5500 painting robot or high-precision control robot. In addition to the robot, the three main components of the PixelPaint system are the inkjet head, the dispensing control package and the programming software.

Hence, it is the pioneering design of the jet nozzle that makes it so capable. It combines 1000 nozzles in just 100 mm and drops and can be used in different sizes with a speed of 1000 drops per second.

This enables precise control of paint film thickness and overlap, provides ultra-sharp definition of paint edges, and eliminates paint wastage. The software package includes a convenient programming tool that allows offline programming for easy setup and testing of two-tone and other complex paint applications.

How did the concept of this technology come about?

We had a series of in-depth discussions with a leading European manufacturer about the difficulties they faced when applying paint designs to certain models.

Concerns were time required, labor availability, logistical issues, high energy consumption and associated costs, as well as paint waste in current processes. So the question was whether ABB’s robotic solution could improve the process. This was the cue to start a research and development program and find the right solutions.

What are the key benefits of this technology in terms of customer satisfaction as well as the automotive industry?

For the automotive industry, PixelPaint is designed to be deployed quickly and does not require the level of capital expenditure normally associated with the introduction of new paint processes.

Additionally, it acts as a time saver for customers as even complex, bespoke designs can be completed more quickly and without the need to drive the car back and forth to the paint shop.

Multi-coloring a car is traditionally a time-consuming, expensive process involving multiple stages of masking and masking, but this technology allows for a detailed, colorful and accurate replication of any design.

For the end user, we believe it’s all about expanding choice and adding creativity. Ian Callum put his thoughts to heart in a recent campaign we produced, highlighting how the demand for even more personalization from consumers remains a key driver of purchasing decisions. We should also add that there is a pleasant and expressive element!

The solution claims to be environmentally friendly, how did it achieve this status?

The technology enhances production sustainability, eliminates the need for protective materials and additional ventilation, which reduces emissions and saves water and energy.

Coordinated by our RobotStudio software, the paint head moves very closely to the car body to ensure 100% paint application to the car without air mist.

Different paint colors are used quickly, the product only passes through the paint store once. For car manufacturers, this can cut production time in half and reduce costs by up to 60%.

Are there any future plans with this type of technology for the automotive industry?

The potential for further product development is undoubtedly there and we will listen carefully to our customers and understand their requirements.

In particular, we will explore ways in which we can paint the entire body, which will be revolutionary in terms of speed, cost savings and sustainability.

Robots to the rescue, speeding up the painting process

Source link Robots to the rescue, speeding up the painting process

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