New tattoo needle production machine in existing production line (Phase 2)

Article phase 1 - How to produce more tattoo needles at the same quality

Imagine an existing production line; one that is already in use. Would it be possible to add a new production module to it in order to achieve complete production automation? By working with IMS standard platform ProMicro it is. With this platform, a production line is modular and can be expanded to suit customer requirements. Not only can process units or components be added to the production line, but a whole new ProMicro based production module may be integrated.

Customer needs

For MT. Derm, the world's top manufacturer of high quality tattoo equipment, product line expansion is important. Not only because the market demands for more of their product, but also because a larger-scale production lowers the cost per unit, meaning that each tattoo needle can be produced at a slightly lower price. In carrying out its production automation step by step, MT. Derm spreads the investment over several phases, which simultaneously limits the risks.

Another need is clear and timely information about the product and the production process, in order to facilitate quality control. The production equipment must also be able to keep running when not all the positions of the product carrier are filled.

IMS Solution

The existing production line (Phase 1) involves two components being joined to form a subassembly. By adding a new production machine to the production line, two extra components can be fitted to these subassemblies.

In the platform, the same product fixtures as in Phase 1 are utilised. Additionally, three bowl feeders are active, as well as pick and placers. Transport between the different processes is automated. Just like the client's existing production line, part of the new production equipment assembles in 12-fold.

The biggest challenge in this process was the application of a new production technique: assembly of a thin-walled rubber product through air injection. Earlier research done by IMS indicated that this would work, and has led to a robust production process. How it works? By blowing air in the first part under high pressure, the product expands. The enlarged opening this creates, can be used to fit the second part. By stopping the air flow, the first part 'shrinks' back to its original size, leaving the second part tightly fitted into it. ProMicro - separate module to be integrated in existing tattoo needle assembly line

In the existing production line, the last machine is given the task to complete an additional check to verify whether the product has been assembled correctly. In order to allow for this check, an additional camera is mounted on the current production machine.

The new production module has to be placed between two machines in the existing production line. Thereby IMS will take into account the situation before and after the new machine. A custom-built transport system allows IMS to mimic the product feeding and transport, as well as testing it under representative circumstances. This Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) enables IMS to rapidly integrate the production module into the existing line, causing minimal production downtime. By unplugging the last machine from the production line, the new machine can be fitted in between.

Results

The machine was installed and integrated in MT. Derm's factory in Germany. With the help of data tracking, the requested functionality is realised. At present IMS is researching the next phase, in which the entire assembly of tattoo needle modules will be automated.

IMS is the ideal partner for manufacturers who wish to produce complex products on a large scale. Phased production automation reduces the risks and costs, which maximises the chances of success. Are you curious to see how IMS would increase your production? Please get in touch to discuss the ways we can help.


Technical specifications

Production line cycle time      ~ 1 second 
Production in 3 shifts per day      15 shifts per week