Private Client

Akron, New York

Sandblaster Automation

Project Objective

To allow for increased production volume while improving operator ergonomics, Encorus was enlisted to design and commission an automated material handling system for an existing sandblasting machine. The new system allowed for unattended operation of a previously manual process, along with process monitoring and data collection.

Unique Project Features

Due to the various alloys the system needed to handle, vacuum was the only option available to grip the parts. This necessitated the design of a custom high payload vacuum system to safely lift the parts. 

Additionally, the abrasive media present throughout the machine was a key design consideration across the system. This led Encorus to incorporate features such as:

  • IP67 sealed electronics
  • Dry polymer linear bearings
  • Sealed rotary bearings
  • High capacity vacuum system filtration
  • Automatic vacuum system cleaning

Encorus Group Solution

Encorus designed a pair of custom automated gantries to load and unload the parts as they were processed through the machine. The gantry frames and off-the-shelf mechanical components were designed and modeled in Autodesk Inventor. This allowed for coordination between the client and multiple vendors to ensure that all equipment received the installation footprint and maintenance access required. These gantries are controlled by an Allen-Bradley PLC-based control system, with an operator interface built on FactoryTalk View. The control system includes sensors throughout the machine to track parts, monitor performance, and detect faults. Intelligent sensors were selected for ease of maintenance and standardization.

Specific Project Tasks

  • Create 3D model of existing machine
  • Define required machine paths and design gantries within a new 3D model
  • Create shop-level mechanical drawings from 3D model
  • Create mechanical, electrical, and process drawing packages
  • Coordinate machine fabrication
  • Select and program control system
  • Integrate material handling system with existing machine
  • Provide onsite support for system commissioning