Adhesive & Sealant Industry News

New Robotic Dispenser for Pressure-Sensitive Adhesives

Innovative Automation, a custom OEM in Canada, has launched a robotic pressure-sensitive tape applicator for automotive manufacturing. The new product, RoboTape™, is helping tape manufacturers expand business as pressure-sensitive tapes replace more mechanical methods of joining.

Innovative reports that the robotic pressure-sensitive tape applicator can apply tape faster than humans, up to 10 inches per second, offering better repeatability and less waste than manual application. Robotic application is a favored solution for addressing labor shortages.

From its founding in 1989, Innovative Automation focused on custom automation for the automotive sector, later diversifying into sectors like medical devices and consumer goods. Twenty-five years later, Innovative’s growth allowed for the creation of a small Research and Development (R&D) department. “We always thought it would be great to create a serial (standardized) product,” said Michael Lalonde, president, and co-owner of Innovative Automation with CEO Stephen Loftus. “Then we saw an opportunity.”

The opportunity arrived when Innovative built a robotic foam taping machine for a customer. That machine operated in steps. First, it pre-cut the tape, and then the robot picked up the pre-cut tape and applied it. Lalonde and a colleague began brainstorming innovations that would allow the company to leverage the experience gained from that project and create a serial machine.

Lalonde remembered, “We looked at each other and said, ‘If we could make the tape cut in the robotic head in order to create a seamless and lightning-fast applicator, we’d have a winner.'” One seamless motion meant that tape would have to be routed. “We knew that automotive was the largest market using tape for noise and vibration reduction, sealing and bonding components,” Lalonde continued. “Plus, there was a lot of interest from industries such as architectural, appliances, HVAC, and aerospace in tape. There were many market opportunities for this product.”

And so, the RoboTape development initiative was born. “Our goal was to develop a flexible tape system that could work for a variety of applications with little to no modifications. We focused on understanding our customer base and what they need now, and will need in the future,” said Zac Cutt, lead machine designer.

Innovative identified the primary uses for pressure-sensitive tapes in automotive manufacturing, which included joining, insulating, bonding, and glazing. Their robotic applicator would be a major productivity and labor savings improvement, according to the company.

According to the company, current automated taping application methods have limitations. Some can only apply one type of tape or only tape in straight lines or must be purchased with a particular robot. Others use pick-and-place technology, which can damage the tape and is slow. If the tape supply is mounted on the robot, production must stop whenever a fresh supply is needed. Tape mounted on the robotic head requires robust robots and large cells and…


Source: Innovative Automation