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Positioning gantry improves structural panel production

Positioning gantry improves structural panel production

Dorset based Inrekor has developed an innovative structural sandwich panel technology with far reaching potential for lightweight and low-cost structural frame applications across all industries, particularly in vehicle chassis. The high strength to weight ratio Inrekor panel can be applied to small and large scale manufacture with minimal tooling investment.

A critical process in the panel’s production is joining the materials together to ensure optimum peel and tear strength. Inrekor developed an plasma bonding technique to accomplish this. The atmospheric pressure plasma treatment activates the surfaces to be bonded prior to the application of the adhesives and the lamination is completed using a separate high pressure cold press.

To help develop this successful procedure into a fully automation process, Inrekor turned to LG Motion to design and supply a large frame gantry positioning system. The system supplied was free-standing and incorporated the bed for the panels to be supported on, the XYZ gantry system and a motion controller. 

The motorised gantry supports and positions the plasma head over the panel bonding area where flat sheets of core or skin material are supported on a wire-mesh bed. The vertical height of the plasma head is manually operated Z-axis stage and panels up to 3x2m may be processed using a simple PC programmed raster scan where the width of the plasma beam is tracked over the entire surface to be treated.

To meet the speed, cost and performance requirements, belt-driven linear actuators were selected for the XY motion. The lower X-axis is comprised of two parallel-coupled actuators to prevent axis crabbing and supports a single Y-axis linear actuator for the 2 metre span. Motorised axes are open loop stepper motor driven, with in-line gearboxes for increased torque output. The motors are fitted with rear shaft handles that allow operators to manually move the plasma head if required and also assist greatly in development. Both X and Y axes include datum switches for homing the gantry before the automated scanning process begins, over-travel limit switches for safety and a cable management system. A simple stepper motor control and drive system allows the operator to set-up individual axis sequential moves using a basic like programming language.

LG Motion rotary and linear stages can be combined with servo and stepper drives and motion control components and systems supplied by a number of key global partners.

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