Automation Solutions Presented by Methods IMTS 2016


Methods Machine Tools, Inc., a leading supplier of innovative precision machine tools, 3D printing technology and automation displayed a myriad of automation solutions at IMTS 2016, where new multitasking, CNC machining, deburring and inspection cells integrated with robots were demonstrated adjacent to a “Robot Learning Area.” Methods showcased 13 robots at its booth, the second largest display of FANUC robots at the show. Methods continues to expand its leading machine tool automation capabilities by providing profitable, comprehensive high productivity solutions for manufacturers across North America.


A highlight of the Methods booth was the interactive “Robot Learning Area,” where attendees were invited and encouraged to take part in programming a robot.

“People will actually be able to come up to the booth and program the robot to do simple commands. This demonstration will show people how easy it is to program a robot,” said Methods Automation Manager John Lucier.

Interactive automation highlights at the Methods booth included:

  • A FANUC CR-7iA collaborative robot, able to work without the need for a surrounding safety fence, facilitating easier collaboration between operator and robot. A unique feature of the robot is a laser scanner installed at its base, which senses when a person gets too close and enables the robot to slow down or stop as needed. Unlike standard yellow FANUC robots, the CR-7iA is green and designed with a softer exterior surface. Attendees at IMTS were given the opportunity to use a robot pendant (a control box for programming the motions of a robot) and learn how to program the robot.
  • A Nakamura-Tome AS200 lathe cell with the automation guarding around the cell removed and set up with collaborative guarding using laser scanners that were used to detect when a person approaches the machine. The front of the machine was open at the show and the robot was working. When a person began to approach, the lights around the machine turned from green to yellow and the FANUC robot slowed down. If the person got closer, the lights turned red and the robot stopped moving.
  • A FANUC RoboDrill JobShop Cell with Methods/Fanuc JobShop 2D vision. The JobShop vision is optimized for quick setup between geometrically-shaped parts. Show attendees used FANUC’s IR Robot Guided Vision to photograph any geometric part they chose from a bin, enabling the FANUC robot to find that part using 2Dvision.
  • Three stand-alone FANUC robots put together, creating a fine-tuned deburring cell. Two of the robots worked on the deburring and the third robot washed the part (part process machining). This type of cell was actually designed and built for a Methods customer.
  • 3D Vision bin picking was demonstrated. The FANUC robot picked from a much smaller size bin (12″ x 14″ x 5″), ideal for job shops with smaller lot sizes and frequent changeovers. This is unlike much larger robots and larger bins (4’x 4′ x4′) that are typically used in the automotive industry.
  • The High Speed RoboDrill Twin Cell. This cell features one robot loading two machines with no auto doors to slow down the cycle. The FANUC robot is the special “Wash Down” version designed to work in wet environments and is noticeable by being unpainted. Washdown robots such as this are normally used in applications such as in the food industry. Without the doors, part exchanges are reduced from 8-10 seconds down to 2 seconds and a 60 second cycle time including tool changeover.

About Methods Machine Tools, Inc.
Methods Machine Tools, Inc., in operation for over 55 years, is a leading supplier of precision machine tools, 3D printing solutions, automation and accessories, providing extensive applications engineering support, installation, parts, service and training through a network of large state-of- the-art technology centers and dealers throughout North America.

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