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Automated Manufacturing with Adhesives and Tapes

Posted by John Merchant on 4/21/2023

Automated Manufacturing with Adhesives and Tapes

Companies are moving to automation to meet changing customer demands— and are improving their own businesses at the same time. Even low levels of automation can have a significant effect on improving your process, quality, and cost. Regardless of your needs, 3M™ has the resources and support to help you take the first step toward automation.

Why Automate?

Increase/Improve

  • Rate/speed of production
  • Number of units produced
  • Consistency from unit to unit
  • Precision, accuracy at a specific stage
  • Quality or design of finished unit
  • Traceability or future optimization

Reduce

  • Reliance on human labor / number of labor hours per unit
  • Waste, re-work, and scrap
  • Work-in-process inventory

Where do you sit on the readiness scale?

When we talk about automation it helps to understand what the different levels of automation are, where you’re at now and how you can best meet your production needs. These are not rigid categories where you’re in one at a time – different parts of your production might be at each level, or a process might straddle two levels. The general categories are just to help understand the continuum of automation options so everyone in the discussion understands the possibilities.

As you can see below, there are several factors that can play into the decision about what range of automation best meets your needs right now and what to consider as a future option. Your decision for any process will be based on your part volume, labor, how precise the application must be, available budget and whether you do short or long production runs.

Level 1: Basic Tools

  • Assembly Volume: Low volume, job shop
  • Value of Parts: Least expensive
  • Labor cost: Lowest, inexpensive easy-to-hire employees
  • Quality Requirements: Quality can be achieved manually
  • Experience with Automation: None
  • Technology Examples: 3M™ Hand Tape Applicator, EXP Applicator, Pneumatic Gun

 Level 2: Process Assist

  • Assembly Volume: Low-medium volume, job shop
  • Value of Parts: Less inexpensive
  • Labor cost: Low-medium less inexpensive easy to-hire employee
  • Quality Requirements: Quality can be achieved semi-manually
  • Experience with Automation: None
  • Technology Examples: 3M™ Digital Dispensing Assistant, Push-Through Linear Laminator, Electronic Dispenser, Foot Pedal Control

Level 3: Fixed Automation

  • Assembly Volume: Medium-high volume, identical parts
  • Value of Parts: More expensive
  • Labor cost: Medium-high, more expensive, difficult to hire employees
  • Quality Requirements: High precision, accuracy required
  • Experience with Automation: Use automation or robotics today
  • Technology Examples: 3M™ Digital Dispensing Assistant, Automated Straight-Line Laminator, Gantry System

Level 4: Flexible Automation

  • Assembly Volume: High volume, identical parts
  • Value of Parts: Most expensive
  • Labor cost: High, most expensive, difficult to hire employees
  • Quality Requirements: Extreme precision, accuracy required
  • Experience with Automation: Use automation or robotics today
  • Technology Examples: 3M™ On Demand Bonding System, RoboTape™ System for 3M™ Tape, Modular Robots

3M Bonding Process Center can help you take the next step in your automation journey

It’s nice to get help choosing an adhesive, but where do you turn for a deep dive into automation? 3M has a state-of-the-art Bonding Process Center with three locations around the globe where our expert scientists and application engineers can work with you in person or remotely to address production challenges from manual dispensing to complex multi-axis robotics.

3M Bonding Automation Network

The 3M Bonding Automation Network brings together leading suppliers of automation equipment and integration services to provide customers with complete adhesive automated solutions. Companies in the network have been trained on the 3M bonding product portfolio and work closely with 3M on automation projects. The combination of 3M material science and supplier automation expertise can help make automating an application easier.
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