Machine Design

Kevlar conveyor takes the heat

Material-handling systems can be designed to move almost anything.

However, retrofitting a conveyor into a work cell as tight as a phone booth and handling 550°F parts presented some unique challenges for Dorner Manufacturing Corp., Hartland, Wis.

The goal was to automate recycling in a zinc die-casting operation at ZF Lemforder Corp., Brewer, Maine. The company molds chassis parts such as ball joints and tie-rod ends. Excess zinc sprues are robotically trimmed and deposited via a gravity chute into a bin. Employees had to shut down the machine and manually remove trimmings several times a day.

The work cell wasn’t initially designed to accommodate a conveyor, so the first challenge was to find a low-profile machine to fit the cramped space. Peter Doyle, an engineer with Boston distributor StampTech Machine Tools, selected a Dorner 3200 Series because it handles a wide range of belts, heavy loads, and its 3-in. height lets it fit into tight spaces.

The conveyors feature fast and accurate rack-and-pinion belt tensioning. V-guide belts provide positive tracking despite demanding side loads, and belts can be changed in less than five min. Dorner builds its conveyors to virtually any length and width on a made-to-order basis, affording ZF Lemforder quick delivery on a 4-in. wide by 4-ft long model. And to take the heat, Doyle specified an 8-mmthick Kevlar belt assembled with stainless-steel cleats. It’s rated for temperatures to 930°F.

The 3200 Series has been operating flawlessly for about a year, and proven to be an economical investment – reducing machine downtime and eliminating a hot and dangerous manual operation.

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