Cobot and lathe cell bring speed, precision and flexibility to metal gasket production

A lengthy investment project was realized with the inauguration of our new cobot and automatic lathe cell at the start of 2023. Also known by their more informal names Aino and Ilmarinen, the new production machinery has introduced unparalleled precision and speed to our gasket manufacturing.

”We started preliminary work on the investment after receiving an offer request for cylinder head gaskets from a known motor manufacturer. The product they wanted featured very high quality and tolerance requirements. Lengthy testing and several prototypes resulted in successful components which we then began to produce using traditional gasket manufacturing methods,” Production Manager Teemu Piipponen recounts.

Early in the collaboration we acknowledged that to increase production capacity, the manufacturing process needed to be sped up and automated. Thus, preparations for acquiring a lathe cell began, and took almost two years to finalize.

Data flows within the cell

The lathe cell consists of a multi-use lathe, measuring and laser marking instruments plus protective oil application. The dual-spindle lathe can take on several different work phases simultaneously, and automated measuring ensures that each part meets every requirement. The finished parts are individually marked, and protective greasing is applied. The cobot Aino speeds up lead times by inserting and transporting materials and units between different work phases.

”Data is transmitted in every direction within the cell. If the measuring instrument finds that the production tolerances are starting to drift, it’s a sign that the lathe’s blades are wearing out or there may be some other unforeseen problem. The lathe can then automatically adjust its bits and process accordingly,” Piipponen illustrates.

Double-speed manufacturing

Experience has shown that as the number of interfaces between production machinery increases the risk for malfunctions also rises. We wanted to find a provider who could deliver the entire lathe cell implementation as a complete turnkey delivery.

”We could’ve purchased all the machinery separately, but we wanted to partner up with a company that could implement a single interface for the entire cell. MTC Flextek had the expertise to connect all the equipment into a solution that is seamless to operate,” Piipponen says.

The 700,000-euro investment has already been harnessed into our day-to-day production. The lathe cell has halved the production time of a single gasket and automated several repetitive tasks. This enables TT Gaskets’ experts to focus on tasks that require a human approach.

For our customers, the lathe cell enables faster production times, higher-quality products, and flexibility in our production. We can also produce challenging metal gaskets and parts with increased precision and quality.

“Parts that previously required several work phases and lathe bit swaps are now manufactured in a streamlined way with the lathe cell handling all work phases simultaneously. It has halved the production time of one gasket from five minutes to approximately two and a half minutes.”

Investing in the future

Teemu Piipponen predicts that gasket quality and tolerance requirements will only increase in the motor industry in coming years. The green transition places an emphasis on higher efficiency and lower emission levels for all kinds of engines.

”Manufacturing these kind of motors requires precision-made metal products and components that are simply not feasible to manufacture manually. We have learned a lot about working with different metals, their properties as well as machining data and different lathe bits in a short time while working with the lathe cell,” Piipponen sums up.

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