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Increasing costs and environmental regulations have forced composites manufacturers to consider robotic automation for the application of fiberglass chop and gel to a variety of products including boats and tubs. Overall, robots can provide several key benefits when compared to manual application methods.
Variations in the amount of material used for manual application of resin or fiberglass leads to excessive expenses through warranty costs, part re-work, production delays, part fit and performance problems.
There are robots designed specifically for industrial coating applications such as fiber reinforced plastic processes. Robotic application provides consistent material delivery control which reduces material variation and increases part production consistency. As a result, material costs and lay-up times are significantly reduced.
Manual fiber chop applications can lead to repetitive motion injuries and prolonged exposure to resin fumes and fiber chop can potentially cause other physical complications. In addition, strict EPA regulations to employee exposure and styrene emissions to open molding materials have increased.
Inconsistent application of gel coat results in the reduction of product quality and performance. Gel coat applied too thickly can cause product cracking; if it is applied too thin, the gel coat may not cure properly, or bleed through of the fiber reinforcement may occur. Automation ensures that materials are applied consistently, which helps manufacturers improve quality and reduce warranty costs.
Taken from an original article by Fanuc Robotics
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