ABB have had several interesting collaboration projects with AMEXCI in 2019. One example is the development of a manifold for paint robot applications. Industrial robots in general is an ABB application where lightweight structure is of importance. This is especially true for components located at the end of the robot arm. For a paint manifold, this is the paint atomizer module. 

The ABB paint manifold mix two components of a paint right before atomization and is therefore located in the end of the robot arm where weight reduction becomes increasingly important. The manifold is manufactured today from a stainless-steel block through conventional CNC machining. Since the inner side of the manifold consists of a complex network of pipes, the production of the manifold is costly. 

Improvements made with Additive Manufacturing: 

  • Total weight decreases of 30%.
  • Easier assembly and service. 
  • Significantly reduced material waste (88%). 
  • Easier cleaning and improved component robustness. 
  • Shorter lead-time. 

During this design phase ABB and AMEXCI worked together. The design of the manifold was chosen both from functional, assembly, printing and post machining aspects. Especially the post machining was a challenge. Due to the close collaboration, all issues could be solved. Based on the size and complexity of the part, Selective Laser Melting (SLM) technique was selected and has been printed in-house at AMEXCI and post machines at a sub-supplier using AMEXCI’s extensive network. The final prototype has later been tested and verified in verification test at the Business Line with ABB. 

Fruitful collaboration between ABB and AMEXCI 

To summarize, the prototypes of this new generation of manifolds both gives a significant reduction as well as ease for assembly. The use of (SLM) also significantly reduced material waste and shortened the component delivery time. Altogether, this improved manifold would offer a more user-friendly design and open for enhanced robot performance for ABB customers. The manifold prototype is a result of a fruitful collaboration between ABB and AMEXCI. 

Note: Mote details about the manifold development could be found in the ABB, Review, 02/2019.