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    Default building a Semi-Automated drilling machine

    Semi-Automated drilling machines

    Im looking to build or buy a semi auto drilling machine to help produce some recurring projects. We are an architectural fabrication shop and the products in question are custom doors that utilize a lot of mechanical fasteners on lengths of material upto 8’ long. One door could have 12 lengths of material that is peppered with drilled and coutersunk holes or corresponding tapped holes and all need to bolt together to form the door profile and end in perfect miters. Right now we have an order for 6 of these doors all slightly different dimensions. Material is all fairly light, bar stock, tubes and angles in steel, stainless and brass.

    Currently these are laid out by hand and drilled on a drill press or a bridgeport. I am able to lay them out accurately, but my employees cannot or take way too long. We make variations of these doors regularly so I am looking at easier and more accurate solutions. Which leads me to my questions. I suppose these could be done on a CNC bed mill or VMC but I am totally unfamiliar with CNC with the parts getting indexed 2-3 times. Other deterrent of the CNC is overall complexity for both programing, setup and running, I am looking to set up a dead simple process.

    The two directions I see going in is retrofitting a 96” Tigerstop to a Bridgeport or drill with a X-Y table. I can dial in the Y dimension of the hole on the Bridgeport and then make a simple program for the tigerstop to push the material to the appropriate stops. Tigerstops are not cheap so I would be looking at a $8000 minimum investment to set up an existing bridgeport. I like the idea of the Bridgeport retrofit as I can easily adjust Y dimensions and be able to angle the head which could be useful. The second option would be finding a used pre built auto drill line, but I would not even know where to begin to find one in decent shape and would be worried about it being overly complicated as we dont need a full auto set up.

    Does anyone have any thoughts or recommendations for alternative ways to drill and tap these parts in a simple and accurate way?

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    Hebo makes one- not sure if it will do exactly what you want, but I think it would.
    USA Hebo

    these guys also make some- CRD-3 Handrail and Plate Drilling Machine - US Concepts, Inc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Whetstone View Post
    I am able to lay them out accurately, but my employees cannot or take way too long.


    I'll expand on my snark a little bit- This sounds like the sort of thing where the whole lean mentality might solve the problem cheaper and faster than trying to engineer a piece of equipment (or buy an expensive ready-made solution). Set up a workstation that makes the layout process easy, simple, and accurate.

    Something like a stand that the 8' lengths go on where they are stable and easy to work with. All the tools you'll need to perform the job (measuring/marking, etc) in shadowed storage panels. You could make templates for each kind of hardware to be mounted, with easy to measure datums and bent for perfect positioning on the frame.

    There are ways to solve this process problem that don't involve a big capital expenditure or time suck of trying to cobble something together.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ries View Post
    Hebo makes one- not sure if it will do exactly what you want, but I think it would.
    USA Hebo

    these guys also make some- CRD-3 Handrail and Plate Drilling Machine - US Concepts, Inc.
    I’ll take a closer look, but these look a little too limiting.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Whetstone View Post

    Does anyone have any thoughts or recommendations for alternative ways to drill and tap these parts in a simple and accurate way?

    For your application, I think templates would be the answer. Surely, even with different sizes, large groups of features remain with the same spacings. This has the advantage of being duck soup simple so that low paid help can handle it.

    if you go this route, use hardened drill bushings at each location and your template will last for years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Karl_T View Post
    For your application, I think templates would be the answer. Surely, even with different sizes, large groups of features remain with the same spacings. This has the advantage of being duck soup simple so that low paid help can handle it.

    if you go this route, use hardened drill bushings at each location and your template will last for years.
    While templates are a good way to go I’m not going to make multiple templates for a one off door. At that point I might as well just drill the door the first time around.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Whetstone View Post
    While templates are a good way to go I’m not going to make multiple templates for a one off door. At that point I might as well just drill the door the first time around.
    No, we're saying make templates of the hardware hole patterns and re-use them. Make laying out the door idiot-proof - you put the frame on a simple jig, grab the templates for the hardware you'll install, place them on the frame measured from the top to the edge of the template, use a punch and you're done.

    You could even just use a printer, and spit out a build sheet with all the hole patterns and landing pads on a piece of copy paper, detailed with layout lines and the dimensions to the top of the frame.

    If you're going to automate this, you'll need to capture all the data for drill patterns on each piece of hardware you install anyhow. Unless there is some level of complexity you haven't presented, there are a thousand lean/basic process efficiency ways to solve this problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post
    No, we're saying make templates of the hardware hole patterns and re-use them. Make laying out the door idiot-proof - you put the frame on a simple jig, grab the templates for the hardware you'll install, place them on the frame measured from the top to the edge of the template, use a punch and you're done.

    You could even just use a printer, and spit out a build sheet with all the hole patterns and landing pads on a piece of copy paper, detailed with layout lines and the dimensions to the top of the frame.

    If you're going to automate this, you'll need to capture all the data for drill patterns on each piece of hardware you install anyhow. Unless there is some level of complexity you haven't presented, there are a thousand lean/basic process efficiency ways to solve this problem.
    Maybe I’m not clearly conveying my issue, but I am not having issues with hardware bolt patterns but linear assembly patterns.

    Attached is a door set we built last year. 3/4” angle iron retains the glass on each face. One side is welded, but the other is bolted every 10” or so with a countersunk #6 to the 1/2 x 2 stainless flat bar. This project had doors in 4 different bathrooms and each one was a different hight and width. For visual consistency sake we use the same number of screws per length at different hole centers. There where over 105 parts that needed to be drilled, countersunk or tapped. And yes there was some repeatability between parts (maybe 25%). For this project I did make drill template. My upcoming set of doors are more complicated and multiple materials so I will not be able to weld half of them.



    img_0334.jpgimg_0352.jpg


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    Those where shitty images maybe these will be better quality


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    To the OP:
    My humble opinion is that You wont / cannot get a good answer/solution for what You originally wanted.

    All the other responses above were also pretty good.

    If is very easy and flexible to setup and program a cnc tool to do simplex ops on std materials.
    Yes.
    But there are no cheap, simple, large, good cnc machines for sale to do this with.

    You best bet might be a used haas gxx router, i think now discontinued.
    Still 30k++.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Whetstone View Post
    Maybe I’m not clearly conveying my issue, but I am not having issues with hardware bolt patterns but linear assembly patterns.

    Attached is a door set we built last year. 3/4” angle iron retains the glass on each face. One side is welded, but the other is bolted every 10” or so with a countersunk #6 to the 1/2 x 2 stainless flat bar. This project had doors in 4 different bathrooms and each one was a different hight and width. For visual consistency sake we use the same number of screws per length at different hole centers. There where over 105 parts that needed to be drilled, countersunk or tapped. And yes there was some repeatability between parts (maybe 25%). For this project I did make drill template. My upcoming set of doors are more complicated and multiple materials so I will not be able to weld half of them.
    Yea, starting to wrap my head around it...

    It's a bit of a pickle you're in because of the travels required. In CNC world, you're looking at an expensive machine. Even if you want something less automated, you're in very specialty equipment that I am sure exists, but is probably oriented for larger volume outfits. Perhaps this is an application where the bigger volume guys have gone to more flexible/capable gantry routers, so you can snag the manual stuff for a deal?

    But I have to bring myself back to my original snark- this is very basic layout/drilling work. It does require being detail oriented and competent, but it isn't something someone working in construction/fabrication shouldn't be able to whip out speedily. What's going on with your guys that they aren't able to do this work to your standards?

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    We build machines to do this kind of work. Typically custom drilling, tapping, grinding machines that are used for tasks not normally encountered in a typical job shop.

    One option for you to consider is an automated electrical backpan drilling / tapping machine.

    You can go robotic with something like a Kuka or Comau robot with a Siemens “run my robot” CNC . . . https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2Q3GHUIMi_I

    Or you can go with a gantry style machine . . .

    High end $olution . . . https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RhiSr_hfjpQ

    My sense is that a Robotic solution would provide more flexibility for you and a Comau robot with a Siemens CNC controller would give you the easiest way to program it for your needs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by motion guru View Post
    We build machines to do this kind of work. Typically custom drilling, tapping, grinding machines that are used for tasks not normally encountered in a typical job shop.

    One option for you to consider is an automated electrical backpan drilling / tapping machine.

    You can go robotic with something like a Kuka or Comau robot with a Siemens “run my robot” CNC . . . https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2Q3GHUIMi_I

    Or you can go with a gantry style machine . . .

    High end $olution . . . https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RhiSr_hfjpQ

    My sense is that a Robotic solution would provide more flexibility for you and a Comau robot with a Siemens CNC controller would give you the easiest way to program it for your needs.
    What kind of price point is a Comau robot system with a Siemens CNC controller? Are they available on the used market?


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    Can you drill the holes in the parts before bending/mitering ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    Can you drill the holes in the parts before bending/mitering ?
    Most of these parts are not bent, so that is not an issue. But it would be best to start with a pre mitered part.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Whetstone View Post
    Most of these parts are not bent, so that is not an issue. But it would be best to start with a pre mitered part.


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    So if they are mitered from a piece of long stock, why not a simply machine
    that cuts the miter, and drills the holes ?

    No need for very large travels.

    Much like something Peddinghaus makes, only for small cross section material.

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    So if they are mitered from a piece of long stock, why not a simply machine
    that cuts the miter, and drills the holes ?

    No need for very large travels.

    Much like something Peddinghaus makes, only for small cross section material.
    That sound exactly like what I am talking about can you share a link to the peddinghaus machine?


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    How would an NC panel router frame with the router replaced with a drilling/tapping head? Use the positioning portion of the router and a second control for the drilling head.

    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by Whetstone View Post
    Maybe I’m not clearly conveying my issue, but I am not having issues with hardware bolt patterns but linear assembly patterns.

    ...For visual consistency sake we use the same number of screws per length at different hole centers...
    I feel your pain. This is the kind of work that I have done in the past, and appreciate the dilemma of appearance vs. efficiency. If I had this type of work on a solidly recurring basis, I would probably standardize on a set of hole patterns for a given range of door sizes, maybe a few inches plus/minus, then set up drill templates that can be centered on the lengths of material, so all you need to do is go get the template for the part in a certain size range, and locate it from one end so the hole pattern is symmetrically located. That may not work for your specific aesthetic considerations, but I would likely relax those standards to get a more efficient setup.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TDegenhart View Post
    How would an NC panel router frame with the router replaced with a drilling/tapping head? Use the positioning portion of the router and a second control for the drilling head.

    Tom
    That would be an option, I am totally unfamiliar with setting up a second drill head with its own controller. What would that entail?


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