Machine Design

Belting out belts

A prototype belt-slicing machine built from ready-to-go automation components boosts timing-belt production sixfold compared with manual methods.

Operators place a belt sleeve (12 to 24-in. wide) to be cut on a rotary spindle, enter the belt width into the controller, and hit the start button. In contrast, operators of the manual machine had to set guides and push the blade by hand to cut belts, a physically demanding task that limited production to about 100 belts/hr. Techno-Isel slides come in standard travel lengths of 75 to 1,275 mm and are available in 2.5, 5, 10, and 20-mm screw pitches. Centurion controller/drivers include a standard 32-kbyte, battery-backed memory capable of storing 10 programs (switch selectable) and up to 5,000 motion commands, eight digital inputs, eight digital outputs, operator control panel, remote start-and-stop capability, manual jog, watchdog timer, and motioncontrol software. The controllers communicate with a PC via an RS-232 interface.

The machine churns out 300 belts hourly with minimal human interaction, making it possible for a single operator to simultaneously run two of the machines. Stock Drive Products, New Hyde Park, N.Y., the belt maker, tapped its sister division Techno-Isel (, also based in New Hyde Park, for the design. Belts are cut to proper width from bulk, rubber-toothed sleeving in quantities from one to 10,000. A Techno-Isel stepper-motor-driven, ball-screw slide indexes the knife holder while a pneumatic actuator moves the knife blade. A hydraulic damper engages to stabilize the blade during the cutting operation. The standard-duty ball-screw slide includes an integrated aluminum housing with rubber seals, limit switches on both ends of travel, a stepper motor (125-oz-in. torque) and a 220 3 175-mm table plate for mounting the tooling. The integrated rubber seals expel dirt, dust, and debris without accordionlike way covers that can reduce travel by as much as 15%.

A Centurion single-axis controller runs the stepper motor and lets operators select different belt widths. The user interface, written in onboard ACL software, includes a full-screen text editor, an integrated compiler with debugging features, and an integrated communications program. A jog program permits manual motor positioning from a PC keyboard while a teach mode automatically generates the motion program. Once a program loads into controller memory, it may run either from a PC or from the controller front panel. The controller has all necessary power supplies built-in and includes start, stop, and e-stop buttons. The approach greatly simplifies the prototyping, setup, and manufacturing processes.

“The automated machine substantially lowers production cost and demonstrates how small, low-cost automation projects can provide a big payoff,” says Bob Gaulrapp, manufacturing manager at Stock Drive Products. “The machine paid for itself in a matter of months,” adds Perry Pierides, belt department manager at the company.


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