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Robotic & CNC Trimming

What is the role of Robotic & CNC router trimming?

Most heavy gauge plastic thermoformed parts require some post forming trimming, polishing, or cutting before they can be considered a finished part. The plastic thermoforming process uses thermoplastic material in sheet form. To process a part, the sheet material must be held in position over the tool during the heating and forming cycles which requires a small volume of excess material that is outside the dimensions of the part’s finished design. This excess or web material must be removed after the forming process to create a finished part. The most efficient and precise way to accomplish this is with CNC Router or Robotic trimming machinery.

Robotic Trimming & CNC Router General Capabilities

  • Excess part material trimming accomplished through routing or sawing
  • Drilling holes for attachment points
  • Cutting out window openings or similar in-part apertures
  • Deburring

Robotic Trimming & CNC Router Advantages

Automation
CNC Router/Robotic trimming automation increase safety, reduces defects, and improves the efficiency of the plastic thermoforming manufacturing process
Precision
CNC Router/Robotic trimming is accurate within +/- .005”. With highly accurate machinery, once the trimming model is programed and calibrated, CNC Router/Robotic trimming will produce repeatable and precisely trimmed parts
Reduced lead time
CNC Router/Robotic trimming machines are fast, efficient, and can operate continuously. Human factors, such as fatigue and error are avoided, resulting in an increase in safety, productivity and quality.
Flexibility
Design changes are generally easily completed with a programming change. Multiple part configurations and variations can be created from a single formed part by using additional trim programs. Advanced CNC and robotic trimming machines are equipped with integral tool changers, which allow the machine to change finishing tools automatically during a trim cycle. This enables the machine to perform multiple finish operations within one set up with no operator involvement.

Trimming Fixtures

Both CNC routing and robotic trimming operations require the use of a trimming fixture, the primary function of which is to hold the part exactly and securely while trimming. Quality fixtures are essential to the trimming process and key to producing an accurate and repeatable thermoformed part. Imagine hand tracing a template on a piece of paper multiple times. You could have the steadiest hands, but if your template is not held securely and in the exact location each time, your tracing will be inaccurate and inconsistent each time.

Looking for more technical information?

Download the Thermoforming Design Guide, Process Comparisons, Conversion Guides, and other useful thermoforming information from our technical resource library.

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