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The robots get on a roll


Joachim Weber, KraussMaffei

Up until now, every injection molding machine with an occasional need for automation has been permanently equipped with a complete set of robot peripherals. This tied up valuable capital, even when the machine or automation was not needed at all. As of now, this is something that can be avoided. KraussMaffei is solving this problem with a mobile automation cell that can be moved from one machine to another with ease. Currently, this cell is designed for injection molding machines of the same design with clamping forces from 35 to 160 t.


Small robots and peripheral equipment – in an extremely small space.

The heart of the cell features a high working speed
It contains everything needed for efficient product handling. The core of the machine is a small robot from the Kuka-Agilus series, with a payload of 6 kg and a range of 900 mm. The main feature of this industrial robot is a high working speed and equally high precision. The robot removes the finished parts from the mold and deposits them on a conveyor belt. The belt features a length of 1,500 mm and a width of 400 mm and is part of the basic equipment. Quality control is taken care of by a QA container, into which the operator can discharge parts to inspect them at any time by pressing a button without stopping production.

The integration of robot cells into the machine control system is a particularly appealing option. As with a permanently installed pendant, the injection molding machine can also be operated via the robot control system’s handheld device. This works in the opposite direction as well; the operator can control the automation cell via the MC6 control system of the machine. Thanks to the VisuX and ProgTechX software packets included in the standard version, the robot is very easy to operate and program.

The cell can be mechanically connected to the injection molding machine by a docking bracket. The electrical connections are made using modular connectors. Plug and play allows you to make the connections in a few steps. The low amount of effort this takes also benefits the operator. The sophisticated mechanical docking system ensures that once the program sequence for the robot is created, it can be repeated with high accuracy on the respective machine even after being docked and undocked many times. Teaching the removal point again is no longer necessary for most applications, as demonstrated in repeated testing. When using multiple robot programs, the program can be changed in a matter of minutes. The added flexibility also significantly reduces set-up times.

Changing the physical location of the automation cell is just as easy. The basic body of the cell consists of a stable steel frame and is set on guide rollers. They enable the operator to shift the unit easily from one machine to another despite its weight of approximately 1,100 kg. However, two guide rails under the cell also make it possible to use forklifts or cranes.


The mobile cell can be quickly and easily docked in just a few steps and used on injection molding machines that have a clamping force of 35 to 160 t.

Compact design for increased flexibility
As soon as the cell is correctly positioned at the injection molding machine, it is docked using quick-release fasteners. Adjustable feet can be unscrewed and extended by hand, providing additional support. A compact enclosure closed at the top with stable polycarbonate viewing windows makes it possible for the operator to look into the cell and ensures the necessary safety. The frame features a width of 2,200 mm, a depth of 1,200 mm and a height of 2,200 mm, allowing the compact design to save an abundance of valuable production space.

This flexibility tool itself also provides a wealth of flexibility – the standard version simply provides a functional, low-cost frame for you to work from. Almost all parameters and components can be changed. Having other robot and conveyor belt types or other robot installation positions within the cell is also an option.

A reject container for bad parts can also be integrated, as can additional peripheral modules, such as testing systems, assembly stations, preparation units for insertion parts or detaching stations. And if the options for a single automation cell are insufficient, multiple cells can be coupled together to provide the necessary range of automation technologies for an injection molding machine. The mobile automation cell gives your imagination almost limitless freedom.

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