Automation System accelerates handling of laser-cut parts.

Press Release Summary:

SortMaster assists flat-sheet laser cutting processes by enabling fully automated production, from stored raw material to stacked finished parts and skeleton disposal. Modular design allows for various setup combinations and enables machining of numerous parts. Automation has 2 main components: LiftMaster sort central handling device and SortMaster part removal and sorting unit. Standard part-size capacities range from 1.125 x 3.125 in. to 23 x 39 in.

Original Press Release:

New Automation Masters Laser Cut Part Sorting

TRUMPF SortMaster speeds up handling of laser cut parts

FARMINGTON, Conn., April 24, 2003 - TRUMPF announces a new modular automation system, the SortMaster, to assist flat sheet laser cutting processes. The SortMaster enables fully automated production from stored raw material to stacked finished parts, and even skeleton disposal. The system also ensures the highest degree of process reliability throughout the entire run.

The SortMaster is easily integrated into most of TRUMPF's new flatbed laser cutting centers. The system's flexible, modular design allows for a variety of setup combinations and enables a wide range of parts to be machined. The part removal strategies - whether each part is dropped, stacked, boxed or stays connected to the skeleton - can be determined in advance during programming.

Components Create Flexibility
The new automation system takes advantage of the manufacturing flexibility inherent to the laser cutting process, whether configured as a stand-alone laser cutting cell or part of a fully-automated manufacturing system. The automation has two main components: a central handling device (called the LiftMaster sort) and a part removal and sorting unit (the SortMaster).

The central handling device, the LiftMaster sort, separates each sheet and transports it to the laser machine. Then, it removes individual large parts and the scrap skeleton by lifting each separately and depositing them in different locations. Designed as a modular system, the LiftMaster sort can be easily fitted for a connection to a storage system.

The SortMaster single part-handling unit removes and sorts the smaller parts into bins or on pallets. With four standard axes of motion and a matrix of 144 individually-programmable suction cups, the finished parts are extracted from the skeleton on the offline machine pallet, while the laser machine is processing the material on the other pallet.

Successful Operation
The standard SortMaster can remove finished parts as small as 1.125 by 3.125 inches and as large as 23 by 39 inches. The device is designed to handle a maximum sheet thickness of 0.25 inches and a maximum single part weight of 44 pounds.

The SortMaster's removal mechanism has three linear axes and one rotational axis, and traverses at a speed of 4,724 inches per minute. The linear axes have the following working ranges: X= 295 inches, Y= 78 inches and Z= 35 inches. The rotational axis turns the entire gripper up to 180 degrees and enables single parts to be sorted and stacked at any angle. Part geometry is analyzed and the center of gravity is calculated for every part, then each suction cup is individually programmable by TRUMPF's ToPs programming software.

First the small parts are removed, then the large parts, and finally the scrap skeleton. Large parts are taken out using the LiftMaster sort's twenty-four suction cups, which hold the parts as the rakes close under the scrap skeleton. In one motion, the LiftMaster sort carries both large parts and scrap skeleton to be deposited separately on a waiting pallet or automated cart.

TRUMPF is one of the world's largest producers of fabricating machinery and a world market leader in lasers used for industrial production technology. More information is available at:

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