When a dispensing process is automated, productivity and reliability will increase. Both batch and in-line flow processes can be programmed with automated dispense systems using either a benchtop or SCARA robot. However, robots must be implemented correctly for manufacturers to watch their robots reach their full potential. As a robot is integrated into a dispensing line, regardless of whether the robotic dispensing is being implemented into an existing or brand new line, manual worker tasks must be translated into an automated setting. The manufacturer needs to determine what type of dispenser he will use and the type of robot that will control the dispensing.
Since imprecise shot size and excess flow are problems related to a manual or semi-automated dispenser, manufacturers can use precision diaphragm or positive-displacement valves to control dispensing instead. Diaphragm valves in particular are compatible with robotic applications due to precise shutoff features. Positive displacement systems are typically more expensive but guarantee consistent shot volumes.
To determine which type of robot should be used for the automated dispensing process, the manufacturer should consider the number of axes, the type of process flow, speed, and part placement and size. Cost, of course, will always be a factor as well.
For applications like medical tube bonding or needle assemblies that require dispensing a single dot onto a part, a one-axis robot might be ideal. The robot locates to the same dispense position each time. For dispensing adhesive or tacking, a robot with two axes that moves up and down and side to side increases speed and accuracy in these basic straight patterns. A three-axis robot adds the front to back motion. Generally, most assemblies will require a three-axis system. Adding four, five, or six axes give the robot capability for a jointed arm and more rotation. With all of these options, the manufacturer should determine how many axes will best suit the operation, bearing in mind the price and challenge of programming increases with each added axis. To determine the size of robot necessary, the number of parts that can fit in the work envelope while making sure the payload specifications of the tool head are not surpassed should be deduced.
Once the dispensing system has been assembled, programming the robot is the last task to occur. Creating an efficient dispensing path might be a challenge, so attention should be paid to the training from the equipment manufacturer.