Mobile Lifting Solution for a 25 lb. Part

Mobile PM-RNR

Watch the video of this application at the bottom of this page.

A customer contacted us looking for a solution to lift and move a 25 pound part. A custom pneumatic gripper was designed to fit the PM-RNR. The gripper contacts the side of the part so UMHW polyethylene was used to help protect the surface finish. The vertical and horizontal rotation allows the user to align the part to their fixture while compensating for any leveling differences between the manipulator and the fixture. The part manipulator was mounted to a mobile cart so it will be able to be pulled in and out of multiple workspaces. 

We understand that not every workspace can have a dedicated lift-assist. The FlexArm part manipulators can easily be moved around, as long as the lifting operation is not taking place. The mobile nature of the part manipulator is a cost-saving measure that allows the customer to use one manipulator for multiple workspaces. 

The FlexArm team is dedicated to solving ergonomic problems so contact us today or give us a call at 1-800-837-2503, and our ergonomics team can design a custom solution to fit your needs.

Taking Tapping Operations Offline to Tap Aluminum Extrusions

Tapping aluminum extrusion with the A32 FlexArm

Watch the video of this application at the bottom of the page.

An end-user reached out to us looking for a better tapping solution to help reduce production time without sacrificing quality. They manufacture custom aluminum extrusions of all shapes and sizes and currently tap these parts in the CNC. Before they invested in this solution, they wanted to see if the FlexArm could truly help speed up their operations. 

To demonstrate the arms capability, we tapped their part using an 8-32 tap and paired it with the A-32 pneumatic tapping arm. The FlexArm was able to quickly and easily tap all the holes in the extrusion in much less time than it would have taken in their expensive CNC. Their current tapping process takes minutes to complete, and with some parts having up to 18 holes, the extra time is slowing their productivity. However, the FlexArm decreased downtime significantly by tapping the part in just a matter of seconds. 

If you are looking to free up your CNC, speed up operations, and ready to take your tapping operations offline give us a call at 1-800-837-2503 or schedule your tap test today.

Tapping Cast Iron Parts Horizontally & Vertically

tapping cast iron part with a flexarm

Watch the video of this application at the bottom of the page.

An end-user out of Indiana was interested in a FlexArm because they were looking to take their tapping operations offline. They offer CNC services for customers in the automotive, heavy truck, and agricultural industries, so they deal with a lot of cast iron parts. The problem they were facing is that they were breaking too many taps and scrapping too many parts. So, they went ahead and sent in a part and we ran a tap test for them.

The GHM-18 (signified with the ‘M’ in GHM) was chosen because the part requires both horizontal and vertical tapping. First, we used an m10 tap to vertically tap the blind and through holes on the top of the part. We then adjusted the multi-head by aligning it horizontally to the part using the alignment plug. This will ensure the tap stays perpendicular to the part and will result in consistent threads every time.

We replaced the alignment plug with the m14 tap and tapped the blind holes horizontally. The FlexArm was able to quickly and easily go from vertical to horizontal tapping in no time at all. 

If you are ready to stop breaking taps or looking to take your tapping operations outside the CNC machine give us a call at 1-800-837-2503 or schedule a tap test today. 

Counterbalancing Crimping Tool with a 360º Vertical Rotation Clamp

Crimping tool on S-36

Watch the video of this application at the bottom of this page.

A customer was looking for a solution to counterbalance a six-pound crimper. They needed an arm that would have enough reach to hit every spot in their workstation. The S-36 arm was chosen because it has a reach of up to 51-inches. A custom tool holder with a 360-degree rotation was designed so the user could easily align the crimper to the parts 

The arm is completely mechanical, so the cylinders that counterbalance the tool can be adjusted to the operator’s liking. The angled arm articulates, allowing the user to position it anywhere they need around the radius. This will further assist the operator in reaching every spot within their workstation. 

Contact us today or give us a call at 1-800-837-2503, and our ergonomics team can design a custom solution to fit your needs.

Counterbalancing Solution for a 10-Pound Atlas Copco Grinder

Atlas Copco Grinder Attached to Ergo Arm

Watch the video of this application at the bottom of this page.

A customer looking to counterbalance a 10 pound Atlas Copco Grinder. They are using the grinder in a top-down fashion, so they just needed the ability to move from side to side. The grinder was fastened to the B-19 Ergonomic Arm with a custom tool holder. The 3 rotations of the arm will allow the operator to freely operate the tool in an unrestricted manner up/ down and in/out. While the precision air regulator will give the tool that weightless feel.

The tool was attached to the arm by going through the housing of the tool at its center of gravity. Normally, the mount would go around the tool body. However, this would have made the holder too bulky due to the dimensions of the tool. We attached the tool to the arm by going through the housing of the tool with an extension that way it could be at the tool’s center of gravity. We did not mount around the tool body as it would have added complexity and made it a bulky holder due to the dimension of the tool.

Contact us today or give us a call at 1-800-837-2503, and our ergonomics team can design a custom solution to fit your needs.

Ergonomic Lifting Solution for Different Sized Gas Tanks

Part Manipulator with Vacuum End Effector Picking up parts

Watch the video of this application at the bottom of this page.

A customer was looking for a solution that would allow them to pick up 3 different gas tanks varying in size and weight. The heaviest tank is 50 pounds, so the PM-32 (part manipulator) was chosen for this application. The same end effector will be used to pick up 3 different gas tanks, so a combination of the two vacuum grippers is used for each tank. 

One of the grippers can rotate allowing it to conform to the body of a long tank. This gripper can also rotate out of the way during applications where only one gripper is needed. The customer will be using this part manipulator to take tanks from a conveyor to a tight shipping rack with low overhead clearance.

The box is approximately the size and weight of one of the gas tanks the arm will be lifting.

This will allow them to easily hold the weight of the tank and reach to the back of the rack to set the tank down. This will help reduce neck, back, and shoulder strain for the user. 

Contact us today or give us a call at 1-800-837-2503, and our ergonomics team can design a custom solution to fit your needs.

R&B Wagner Inc. Testimonial

“As a manufacturer of architectural railing systems and components, R&B Wagner, Inc. is always looking for the best way to fixture and machine long lengths of material. Many of our components and products do not fit within standard machining centers. We needed a machine that could securely hold up to 20 feet of pipe/tube, all while machining multiple holes at various points. 

After significant research, we found The FlexCNC was the machine that fit our needs. The ease of set up and operation with its touch screen control and large, open-concept, bed made it convenient in cross-training multiple operators to run the unit.

Once installed on our factory floor, we quickly realized we would also be utilizing the FlexCNC in manufacturing multiple other parts as well. 

Using the “pendulum mode” allows us to run multiple smaller parts by having the spindle turning on one end while the operator safety loads and unloads on the other end. More production, less downtime, simple to operate; that’s what any manufacture looks for in a piece of equipment. The FlexCNC is a great addition to our manufacturing floor at R&B Wagner, Inc.”

Michael N. Olivier

Production Team Lead

R&B Wagner Inc.

Sentry Equipment Testimonial

Flow Drilling on the FlexCNC

“We use the machine for two very specific uses, one of which we had an old machine for and another that we use to do by hand. The main use of our machine is flowdrilling and form-tapping multiple ½” to ¾” NPT holes in 2” schedule 40 304 stainless pipe. These pipes are anywhere from 6 to 20 feet long. The machine is absolutely perfect for this. We used to use a drill press, which required moving and refixturing the pipe for each hole. Not only did this introduce error, but the feeds on the machine were manually operated, so the holes did not all turn out the same.

We knew there had to be a better method to make this product, but most of the machines on the market were overkill or too small. The machine was justified on these 2” pipes alone, everything else we have added is just extra icing on the cake. Another frequent use of the machine is flowdrilling and form-tapping ¾” NPT holes in 1/2 “ carbon steel plate. We more recently have started to use the machine for circle milling 1-3” diameter holes in larger diameter carbon steel pipe. This used to be done by hand with hole saws. Not only did this take quadruple the time, but was inaccurate and left a significantly inferior edge quality. We are always finding new uses for the machine that we never anticipated, which continues to make it an indispensable resource on our factory floor.

As for reliability and quality, we have had nearly zero issues. Any issue we have had has been fixed in a very timely manner. We did have one of the first machines in the USA, so that is saying something. Simply put, the machine paid for itself in the first two years of ownership by producing just one specific product. It has become an essential machine in our plant and continues to be utilized for more operations and products.”

Peter Tishler, CMfgE 

Manufacturing Engineer II


Sentry Equipment

Felker Bros. Reduced Drilling Time by 50 Percent with the FlexCNC

Drilling into Pipe with the CNC

The old saying “Time is money and money is time” has special truth at a machining facility. Plant managers and manufacturing engineers endlessly scrutinize tools and processes in search of laborious tasks that can be sped up without reducing safety or part quality. At a multiple-shift plant, saving seconds in a recurring task adds up to profound productivity over the course of a day.

Many plants seem to have a time vacuum that sucks up precious labor hours, such as when an operator has to change vises or set up the next job. But Felker Bros. Corp.’s Marshfield, Wisconsin, plant struck time-saving gold when it replaced a machining center.

For more than 100 years, Felker Bros. has manufactured fabricated and custom piping products for a variety of industries, including wastewater treatment. The company’s plants in Marshfield and Plover, Wisconsin, and Glasgow, Kentucky, see an incredible range of pipe sizes and materials with different drilling needs every day, which puts a strain on Felker Bros.’ drilling and deburring processes.

The company had been using a drill press on a linear system and would contract out large jobs to a shop with a pipe laser system. Buying a pipe laser was cost-prohibitive, and plasma cutting didn’t provide the needed quality and left dross buildup that required cleaning. So Felker Bros. turned to CNC machining.

When Felker Bros drills 5⁄8" holes every 8" in 4"-dia. pipe for a 21' length on its TRD 35-02, drilling time is reduced 50 percent. Photo credit: FlexCNC
Felker Bros. estimates that when it drills 5⁄8″ holes every 8″ in 4″-dia. pipe for a 21′ length on its TRD 35-02, drilling time is reduced 50 percent compared with the previous method.

Josh Bohman, a member of the product development committee, came across machines from FlexCNC, Wapakoneta, Ohio, by searching the internet. After Felker Bros. determined the total cost of the project and requirements for plant layout, site prep, installation and workflow, Plant Manager Jim Kluball purchased a TRD 35-02. The 35′-long open-bed milling machine efficiently processes large or long components. The equipment was ordered in December 2017 and installed in June 2018 at a cost of $260,000.

Previously, with its drill press, Felker Bros. followed a multiple-stage process in which an operator would mark and manually drill holes, slide the pipe through a fixture to the next position, clamp it and repeat the process position to position throughout the entire pipe length while making sure that everything was perfectly level and in line. Profiling was done on vertical CNC mills.

The TRD 35-02, however, drills, mills, taps and bevels in one setup. As a bonus, the manufacturer eliminated a machining center, as the new machine does the work of multiple machining centers.

Now, someone programs a part and sends the program to the machine. An operator sets the pipe inside the machine with the proper fixturing and calls up the program. Whether it’s one hole or 30, the open-bed mill does the heavy drilling. A fourth axis rotates to handle profiled or other holes on some of Felker Bros.’ most difficult parts with 180° rotation from the original holes. The operator deburrs the pipe before removing it and replacing it with a new pipe for drilling.

Though the team was relatively fresh to the CNC world, it found the new equipment easy to operate, and the learning curve was lessened by training at FlexCNC.

The TRD 35-02 machine from FlexCNC drills, mills, taps and bevels large or long parts in one setup. Images courtesy of FlexCNC.

“The major challenge was designing the correct fixtures to secure the pipe, making changeover quick and using the correct tooling,” said Don Pannhoff, manufacturing engineer at Felker Bros. “Programming is easy and G code-friendly.”

The plant handles pipes from 3″ to 14″ in diameter and up to 35′ long. The majority of the stainless steel pipes are 4″ in diameter and 21′ long and require 5⁄8″ to 7⁄8″ holes. Felker Bros. estimated that when it drills 5⁄8″ holes every 8″ in 4″-dia. pipe for a 21′ length, drilling time is reduced 50 percent compared with the previous method.

In addition to saving time and increasing sales, hole and hole location accuracy are higher than with the manual process. Demands and parts vary from day to day, but saving half the time it previously took to drill a pipe could equal drilling twice as much pipe each day.

In the past, errors in layout would result in cutting out a section and splicing or butt welding a new piece of pipe. This consumed extra material and could potentially cause a shipping date to be missed.

An added advantage of the new machine came at the end of pipes. Whereas laser cutting required an extra foot of pipe to grab the piece and rotate it, the FlexCNC machine can rotate the part as is, saving a customer from paying for extra stock, which ends up as waste.

By combining multiple steps into one process, the machining center handles some of the most challenging parts faster. Every second saved adds up to hours over the course of a day—and saving time while increasing productivity and accuracy is a no-brainer for Felker Bros.

One Ergonomic Arm to Counterbalance Two Different Tools

Grinder and Deburrer

Watch the video of this application at the bottom of this page.

A customer contacted us interested in an arm that could counterbalance a 10-pound grinder. They use this tool underneath a grinding hood, so we went ahead and paired the tool with the B-19-RG. The rotational tool clamp gives the operator full control of the tool. They can easily operate the tool from side to side or up and down, while the air cylinders counterbalance the weight of the tool. 

Ergonomic ar for counterbalancing a grinder and a deburrer

The customer also wanted to test out a solution for a handheld deburring tool. The tool is used to grind the interior circumference of their part. The tool is free to rotate within the mount, giving the operator complete control. The arm will be used for both applications by simply removing one tool and replacing it with the other. The precision air regulator controls the counterbalancing, so switching from the 10-pound tool to the 3-pound tool is possible with just a twist of the knob. 

Contact us today or give us a call at 1-800-837-2503, and our ergonomics team can design a custom solution to fit your needs.

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