We love working with customers starting at the concept stage. When we can bring our automation expertise and combine it with our customer’s industry expertise, the results are usually spectacular. And here’s another great example – our customer wanted a prototype/proof of concept for a “small parts dispenser” type of machine. In this case, it would be used to dispense small pills at adjustable, pulsed intervals.
We 3D-printed parts to create a machine that senses and dispenses small, spherical/semi-spherical parts (under 2mm in diameter) from a hopper, one at a time through a glass tube, giving a variable-length, count pulse between each part. The dispensing function is controlled by an IMS stepper motor with speed control, and other units could be made available with programming functionality to extend the fixtures capabilities. Several small holes in the rotor attached to the motor shaft collect one part at a time as it is rotated to the feed hole above the glass tube. Parts drop through as the holes line up during shaft rotation. Dispensing speed can be controlled by motor speed and also how many holes are on the rotor.
And it was the first time that our NEFF team had used 3D printing to prove out a customer dispensing concept. Which means our customer saved a lot of money – not having to machine specialized tools to make parts just for testing.
And now our customer knows their dispensing concept is viable for a wide variety of industries – pharmaceutical, assembly machines (dispensing small parts on demand for machine or operator use), packaging (dispense parts into containers, tubes, blister packs, bags, etc.), and more.