Without our robot colleagues, the Industry 4.0 age is inconceivable.
The topic of automation is the focus of mechanical engineering companies, and also of FLP Microfinishing GmbH. “As part of the advancing digitisation of the industry, we have focused on the topic of automation,” states managing partner, qualified engineer Thomas Rehfeldt. “We are strengthening the business field of automation.”
Mechanical engineering, microfinishing, automation, consumables – over the last few years, FLP Microfinishing GmbH has developed an extensive full-service offer which is unique in the European market. The company, based in the Bitterfeld region, is one of the most important medium-sized manufacturers of honing, lapping and polishing machines in Europe, and has made a name for itself as a systems provider for complex precision surface treatment.
Robot colleagues – automation in sight
In as early as 2012, robot-supported automation for the FLP SINGLE PRECISION machine range was introduced. However, a solution for automating a large range of machines from all manufacturers only came about with the loading robot C60. The loading robot works in a compact, modular processing cell. This is used as an interface for planing and parallel planing to fit honing, lapping and polishing machines.
The use of palette memory systems, a visual control system for aligning and positioning the parts in the templates and carrier wheels, makes it possible to carry out an unstaffed shift operation. The great load capacity of the palletising system and the use of various types of pallets are also among the important benefits, as is the possible use of a quick-change mechanism for the double gripper and a centring and turning station, which, by means of a control laser, allow an innovative service in series production and an unstaffed shift operation.
Automation cell expands machine concept
The standardised automation cell expands the FLP HIGH PRECISION machine concept. It offers the option to prepare customer-specific semi-automation or full automation suitable for the component via a vast number of modules which can be sequenced in a flexible manner. The camera system on the handling device gripper controls the productivity and permits a maximum clock speed of under 2.5 seconds for the most varied of components.
Customer-specific individual solutions for small series and clock systems to optimise handling make it possible to operate multiple machines, and short re-equipping times based on the latest control and drive technology. The use of special tools also frequently makes it possible to consolidate process stages without compromising on quality.
Range of applications and good automation capacity
Standard structures with component-specific modifications form the basis for automated individual solutions and robot-supported production systems. The FLP machine concept combines a range of applications with a good capacity for automation, energy efficiency, intuitive operation and features – such as process data recording systems, error analysis programmes. The possibilities offered by FLP machines are shown, for example, by the HIGH PRECISION FLP 830 with full automation: mounting the carrier wheels – 6x / 3.7 minutes and 126 components in 110 seconds, for each carrier, a parts storage system with isolator and positioning system, position, tear and visual quality monitoring at 1.5 seconds / part, replacing the carrier wheels in < 40 seconds, feeding the components into a downstream washing system. Customer-specific solutions can be implemented within just a few weeks.
The FLP business model is based on several pillars:
- Mechanical engineering (complex precision surface treat-ment of planar and geometric shapes)
- Service sector, job order processing of high-precision sur-faces (microfinishing)
- Trade with tools and consumables, including wholesale trade of silicon carbide
- Automation and 3D processing
Highly precise honing, lapping and polishing machines
FLP Microfinishing’s core competence is in mechanical engineering. The portfolio includes standard machines and special machines for the precise processing of planar surfaces and geometric forms, as well as machines and technology for upstream or downstream processes as an integral solution. Special FLP machine designs cover the design and optimisation of critical components, right up to partially or completely automated solutions. They are tailored individually to customer processes and range from a completely new machine development to a workpiece-specific adjustment. One area of focus is special machinery for the planing and parallel planing of components in micro and nano processing, as well as machinery for processing geometrical shapes
Highly precise double-wheel machines
While the basic range covers affordable entry-level models for simple applications and small series, the FLP SINGLE PRECISION series single-wheel machines are designed for the series production of highly precise components. In the highly precise double-wheel machines from the FLP HIGH PRECISION series, the high art of mechanical engineering becomes evident. The monolithic portal design, based on the material granite, guarantees a structure with reduced vibration and the greatest level of rigidity. “The HIGH PRECISION series machines are a great source of pride. They impressively demonstrate our competence in mechanical engineering and are the results of our decades of experience,” explains managing director Thomas Rehfeldt.
With the FLP RL 500 micro/nano, FLP has brought a new edging, lapping and polishing machine onto the market, the basic version of which with normal accessories is designed for processing workpieces with a ø of 2-150 mm.
The FLP machine series SINGLE PRECISION FLP2200/3 plus 1 is completely new on the market. The special feature of these special polishing machines with plan master and oscillating work stations is the granite design of the tools and the plan master. Machine 1 is for pre-polishing with a polishing pad fitted onto a granite polishing wheel bearer. Machine 2, for the final polish, uses optical polishing pitch, also poured onto a granite bearer. This ensures a very high level of precision. In addition, the plan master constantly monitors the treatment process and can intervene in the controls at any time.
Custom-fit tools + consumables
FLP does not just trade in powders and suspensions of silicon carbide, corundum, aluminium oxide, diamond, in retail, but also tools as well as lapping and polishing liquids or accessories. The in-house catalogue lists well over 4500 products. The mechanical engineer can have many products manufactured from selected suppliers, certified according to DIN ISO, according to their own specifications. Since 2018, FLP has offered the abrasive silicon carbide under its own brand as well as for bulk buyers.
Microfinishing customer service
FLP makes available its own competence in honing, lapping and polishing to its customers as job order production as well, and manages precision treatment contracts in flat honing, honing, lapping, polishing and brush deburring.
FLP customers use the offer to secure their production peaks or to award contracts in an affordable manner. The certified and audited processes and procedures are predominantly carried out by employees trained by FLP in-house. The modern machine park and high-performance measurement and programming systems guarantee the highest precision and innovative machining processes. In the microfinishing segment, FLP offers the one-sided and two-sided processing of workpieces. The processing of small parts of Æ1mm to an edge length of 2200 mm is possible. We can achieve an evenness of ≤ 0.1mm and surface finishes of 0.001Ra.
Editing: RedAktion Elvira Döscher