On the 18 of September, the monthly RAETIG meeting was held at Vector Technologies where multiple cells of their operation where shown to 20 members of the manufacturing interest group. One of these cells uses blow moulding to produce 1L, 2L, 3L milk containers (one per second). A plastic tube is fed into the moulds, has air blow in to them to shape them and then uses a cutting device to remove any excess material. A second cell showed a similar process with water cooler bottles being made; the alteration being the trimming of excess plastic around the lid and outside of the bottle. Another cell was used to make hand washers using the same technique: making 2 compartments for hot and cold water, as well as a basin. The cell also showed how a robot arm was being used to cut each of the openings to allow the flow of water between compartments.
Another process that Vector Technologies demonstraed was the collaborative robot from Universal Robots, a UR10. They are planning to use it to hold a block of needles where each of the needles would be moulded around the top for medical devices. The last group of cells showed the process of making sleep apnoea masks which included: the moulding of the caps and mouthpiece, cutting of the fabric, and inserting the magnets into the caps. Finally a robot or human, depending on the cell, would place each of the components into their respective places in a mould for a robot to pick up and place into an injection moulding machine. Once finished, a robot would remove the product and placed it on a table for packing.
Overall, it was an interesting experience and worthwhile to see each of the cells in action.