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In the frame

24 April 2015

Profiles represent a sustainable approach that eliminates the need to weld together metal frames. Andy Pye reviews some recent development and applications of machine frameworks

Item pioneers building kit systems to build machinery, manual work benches, end-to-end automation and lean production applications. It reduces development time and gives the ability to extend or alter plants and factory equipment. "The products we are manufacturing today can still be used with the very first aluminium profile that item launched onto the market in 1982," says Stefan Geutjes, area sales manager, Europe, at Item Industrietechnik.

Most often, rectangular profiles are used, but tubes may also be used. "Tubes make the kit easier to work with," says Geutjes. However, both are fully compatible. "If you want to build a customised transport trolley using D30 tubes and mount it on a frame built from MB profiles, that's no problem."


LG Motion has been commissioned to supply the Portsmouth division of Airbus Defence and Space with a custom-designed Antenna Turnover Rig to provide mounting and free access for assembling and testing large antennae panel assemblies. The specification calls for manual operation with built-in safety measures to firmly secure and position the large panels with complete 360 degree rotation and height adjustment.

Using its own in-house design and build service, LG Motion employed Profile System aluminium machine framing components and Linear System power transmission components – both from its associate MiniTec UK. The assembly design and build was made easy with a combination of 45 x 90mm and 45 x 45mm sectional profiles and standard MiniTec components including the braked wheels, hand wheels, M12 eye-bolts and many interfacing brackets.

Hinged frame

Harting has added a hinged frame to the Han-Modular range of industrial connectors, which allows Han-Modular components to be integrated with the family of High Mating Cycle (HMC) connectors.

The hinged frame incorporates a plated PE (protective earth) contact with enhanced mechanical stability, enabling it to be used where the number of mating cycles exceeds 10,000, with no loss in performance.

The Han-Modular system can now be integrated into applications involving modular structured production facilities where there are likely to be more frequent intervals between retooling and machinery changeovers and a higher number of mating cycles. Mobile equipment and medical technology present similar application challenges.

Gantries – line, flat and room

Igus has introduced a range of room, flat and line gantries built on its Drylin E linear axis system. From simple linear systems to complex, three-dimensional automation, measurement and positioning applications, the Drylin E gantries feature sliding, self-lubricating linear components and therefore require no additional maintenance.

Used to implement three-dimensional applications, the Drylin E room gantry is based on a flat gantry system with a single vertical axis. The room gantry has a working space of 500x500x100mm and can carry payloads of up to 2.5kg. With an accuracy of up to 0.1mm and speeds of up to 0.5m/s, the room gantry is ideal for general pick and place applications, including those found in medical and microelectronics.

Radio remote units

A Chinese manufacturer of radio remote units has chosen Hepco to create an automatic assembly system, based on the HepcoMotion Precision Ring Track PRT2 product programme.

The application also includes the automation of sub-processes, such as fixture/closure location, accurate positioning and installing the PCBs within the enclosure. This was no simple task given the overall line length is 20m and positioning accuracy for the PCBs required was ±0.05mm. The final process in the operation is to fix and tighten the screws.

PRT2 provides components, sizes and options to allow a limitless variation of open paths and closed circuits to be created.

The resultant HepcoMotion TR76 track system has 30 carriages that are attached to a customer-made chain drive system. The fixtures are located to each carriage and then the necessary components, supplied by the robots situated around the track system, are added. To achieve the required positioning accuracy, a custom-designed system physically locks each carriage.

Key Points

  • LG Motion commissioned to supply Portsmouth division of Airbus Defence and Space with a custom-designed Antenna Turnover Rig
  • Harting has adds hinged frame to the Han-Modular range of industrial connectors
  • Igus introduces range of room, flat and line gantries built on Drylin E linear axis system
  • Chinese manufacturer of radio remote units chooses Hepco to create automatic assembly systems