Automatic Medical Feed Tube Assembly

Project Scope:

Automatic Medical Feed Tube Assembly

SDC’s long-term client in the medical manufacturing industry was looking to add another of our custom machines to their production facility. Our experience designing and building these machines for this client made this project quick and simple with a few updates.

Three FANUC LR Mate 200 iD robots

Servo driven tube dereeling and cutting system

Two vibratory bowl feeding systems

Machine vision measurement of cut hose ends

Finger feeding system for Y-ports

Double primer station and solvent pump

The Solution:

This fully automated machine assembles and verifies a medical tube set assembly. Two synchronized FANUC robotic arms pick a freshly cut tube, dip the ends into a medical-grade solvent, then place the tubing into a feed set. A third robotic arm collects the completed product, inserts a y-port for the next tube assembly, and places the completed product in an output bin.

This custom machine requires unique feeding systems and custom mechanical tools to efficiently perform the assembly process. Due to the complex nature of the medical tubing and y-port characteristics, SDC integrated two unique feeding systems to provide consistent and continual part supply.

  1. Dereeling system – The medical hose comes wrapped in a coil and has a slightly sticky attribute, making it a challenge to unravel and feed into the machine. SDC developed a custom hose dereeling system that provides an easy solution to this challenge. By rotating the coiled hose in an enclosed housing, it is fed through a weighted arm that maintains tension, and into the assembly machine. When the hose reaches the specified length, it is cut and ready for the two synchronized robotic arms to pick.  A camera measures the cut end of the hose, and the measurement is fed back into the hose feeding system to correct the length.
  2. Vertical finger hopper – Supplied by a conveyor driven parts hopper, y-ports are fed toward a vertical conveyor where “fingers” brush against the stack of tangled parts to drop them well-spaced on a horizontal conveyor. An overhead light and inspection system accurately locates y-ports for the third robotic arm to pick from. If none of the visible parts can be picked, air blasts located above the front and to the sides of the conveyor shuffle the parts and the camera reevaluates part locations for the robot to pick from.

Machine Rate: 240 parts per hour