Robotic Mechanical Testing Machine Ensures Enhanced Productivity

The 'roboTest F' robotic testing system is designed for flexible specimens, such as films, textiles and fleece materials, but even metals and wires can be tested using the corresponding grips and tooling.

The main benefit of this sophisticated testing system is its ease of use. It allows testing to be carried out overnight and at weekends thereby reducing the need for shift working and saving costs for many organisations. In addition it is possible to carry out testing using unsupervised or relatively unskilled operators. The variance which often occurs with traditional testing systems is eliminated resulting in much better accuracy and reproducibility over time.

The sequence starts by entering specimen data into a database, either locally or in an external database or host computer. The operator simply loads the specimen into a special magazine. Once tested the specimens are either blown out of the grips using compressed air or are mechanically removed by the robot system. The magazine is adjustable over a range from 100 to 300mm to accommodate different specimen lengths and shapes.

How is it possible for robotic testing systems to achieve more accurate and consistent results? Zwick’s Product Manager Automation Robert Kaifler explains, “The positioning accuracy of robotic systems means that they are able to handle and place the specimen into the testing machine in perfect alignment every time. With different operators and shifts this is not always possible, and in addition extensometry used to measure strain during the test can be applied and removed automatically without any human contact. The complete test sequence is controlled by software and results can be automatically logged into databases or spreadsheets avoiding typing errors. With the whole process being very easy to administer it ensures that the testing system follows precisely the same procedure every time”.

Robotic testing systems simplify the processes required for quality management systems such as ISO 9001 because the testing sequence is pre-programmed, and not subject to human error. Results and long term statistics are also available in real-time helping to minimise communication inefficiencies between different production processes.

Zwick has used a modular design concept which allows testing sequences to be changed or adapted to customer specific requirements. These systems can even be retro-fitted to existing Zwick testers. By using Zwick’s testXpert® software platform host computer systems can be interrogated to find out the test specification which then allows the specimen remains to be handled differently after the test depending on whether they pass or fail.

The test system illustrated shows a tensile tester and a roboTest F system. The system has two axes of movement including a rotating clip carrier which can hold up to 200 test specimen. According to which specimen types or shapes are to be handled, the carrier uses metal clamps, braces or magnets in any combination, so it is feasible to test strip metal, wires, or films and textiles using the same system. Manual testing can also be performed whenever necessary by simply disconnecting the robot.

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