Innovative vacuum technology for manual mounting

Quick and easy mounting with vacuum

Especially in manual handling of miniaturized components for highly sensitive high-tech final products, both short cycle times and cleanness are very important. The use of a newly developed mounting method shows that even in manual mounting there is still considerable potential for improvement.

In the mounting of highly sensitive single components, cleanness is always very important because even the smallest particles of dirt in the micrometer range that cannot be recognized wit the bare eye can cause impairment of the function of the final product.

In manual jointing, the worker is often faced with the problem that single components cannot be precisely aligned because of small tolerances.

After thousands of joining operations, a certain amount of wear cannot be avoided after some time. That is why previous handling operations do not fulfil the stringent cleanness requirement to the required extent.

We had the idea of adding vacuum methods to the mechanic methods used so far. We wanted to create a tool that permits reliable, fast and especially clean mounting of small components and also ensures handling without damage.

Together, BOSCH and MPM have found a solution that fulfils the requirement profile for vacuum tweezers in an all but ideal way.

Ergonomic design and simple and safe handling have been taken into account especially. For example, the air suction is controlled with a membrane key instead of the pneumatic switch used on normal commercially available devices.

This type of control has decisive advantages. With the conventional method of operation, it was necessary to hold a pneumatic switch pressed during the entire mounting process.

This method of operation meant that it only needed a moment of inattention or lack of concentration on the part of the mounting worker and the work-piece fell to the ground causing both longer cycles times and the risk of the ingress of particles of dirt.

With the newly developed µ-vac-tweezers, the operator can now fully concentrate on the work-piece to be worked on because he only needs to press the membrane key once to activate the vacuum suction and hold the component. If the operator presses they key again, the vacuum is deactivated and the part to be processed is released again.

A further advantage of this type of control is the aspect of energy consumption, which is not to be underestimated. Unlike the previous vacuum handling devices, the µ-vac tweezers only consume power during the time the vacuum is being supplied. With this requirement-oriented compressed air consumption, it has been possible to reduce the energy costs considerably. To provide additional safety for the operator, a visual check has been integrated into the ergonomically shaped handle. It informs the user about the status of the handling tool.

Much shorter cycle times

The type of joining operation and the distances to be covered are the decisive factors in the entire mounting duration. The vacuum handling is used for gripping, clamping, moving, joining and positioning small components. The exchangeable work-piece-optimized adapter makes the vacuum tweezers suitable for spheres, gear teeth, pins, O-rings or spray hole disks.

Whereas with the previous method of manual mounting, correct positioning of the tweezers already took a relatively long time, now with vacuum technology only rough positioning of the tweezers is required. The component to be worked on is attracted be the suction flow like a magnet and then positioned in the right place.

It is even an advantage when handling more than one component. And one especially interesting aspect: the otherwise complicated manual joining operations are simplified because of the high suction force and self-centring due to the vacuum.

Successful use of the vacuum tweezers is already apparent after a short time. A clear reduction of cycle times can be achieved. This improvement is of the order of 20 to 50 percent.

Cleanness first

Cleanness is especially important during the entire mounting process. One example: components, mounting supports and test stations can be contaminated with airborne dirt, abraded matter and skin. With the use of the vacuum tweezers, the amount of dirt emanating from the work-pieces is drastically reduced. The suction already has a cleaning effect that frees the component of loose particles. Impurities are sucked away through the vacuum adapter and collected in a dirt filter integrated into the vacuum tube.

A further low-cost solutions is visual inspection with simultaneous cleaning of deep holes. The necessary light for illumination is hone into the hole via a fibre-optic cable integrated into the vacuum tweezers. Parallel with the testing process, it is possible to remove any impurities with the vacuum adapter at the press of a button.

The sophisticated vacuum handling solutions has proven reliable and flexible in practice. It leads to clear improvements in productivity and cost-effectiveness.

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