Flexible Turning Automation from Nakamura

Posted on July 15, 2021

Now available from The Engineering Technology Group (ETG) is the new Flex Arm from Nakamura-Tome. Nakamura has developed the new Flex Arm for its turning centres to provide complete automation from workpiece transfer to chuck jaw replacement. By incorporating the Flex Arm into Nakamura turning centres, manufacturers can automate the entire process from workpiece transfer to jaw replacement.

Flex Arm is a new product that allows for automated operation for multiple types of workpieces without stopping the machine. In addition to the loading of material and unloading of finished products as with the Nakamura compact loader, the new Flex Arm has an additional gripper and chuck jaw change function.

The key to unmanned operation in high-mix low-volume production is the ability to change the types of products quickly. In the past, automation has mainly focused on loading materials and unloading finished products with product changeover being one of the biggest challenges. By using the new Flex Arm, unmanned operation with product changeover is possible, improving production efficiency even further for ETG customers.

The Flex Arm system is mounted on the machine and can be easily integrated and controlled via the CNC control panel on the machine, making this a more attractive proposition than changing parts and jaws with an industrial robot. As the system is installed in the machine, it is highly compatible and fully integrated, making installation and start-up times fast enough to be used immediately after delivery.

From a specification perspective, the Flex Arm incorporates a transfer station for billets and finished parts, a Hakobei pallet system that uses a TP standard, and a special pin unlocking system that coincides with the chuck to automate chuck jaw changeovers. This changeover is simplified with a teach mode that can be tailored by the operator to work in harmony with the chuck and the programming process. The system can accommodate parts from 32 to 100mm diameter with a workpiece length from 50 to 100mm. Each of the two grippers can hold a maximum of 3kg and the Flex Arm is offered with up to three types of interchangeable grippers as standard.

In recent years, with the shift to high-mix low-volume production, Nakamura has received many requests from customers that want to automate setups and changeovers. Nakamura has been developing the Flex Arm to solve these customer needs to realise long-time automated unmanned production in a high-mix low-volume production environment – now, this system is available in the UK from the Engineering Technology Group (ETG).