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17. May 2017

Processing solutions for foams and flexible materials

Albrecht Bäumer GmbH & Co. KG, a manufacturer of machines and plants for the foam industry, is showcasing its solutions for the processing of foams and flexible materials at the furniture production trade fair interzum (hall 9.1, aisle A 10/B 11), which is being held from 16 – 19 May 2017 in Cologne, Germany.

Besides its new networking platform B+ Connect, the company will present the following highlights:

Automated handling system for the production of mattresses

According to Bäumer, for many producers of mattresses, the subject of automation has gained enormously in importance and has become much more than a trend. “In the high-tech market of labor-intensive countries, the trend is leading to higher output through increased process optimization. Not only have the demands made on precision and simultaneously short lead times increased but larger levels of flexibility are now required”, explained Jan Leisse, managing director of the Albrecht Bäumer GmbH & Co. KG.

Bäumer's automated handling system for the production of mattresses combines the horizontal contour cutting machine OFS Twincut and the adhesive application unit Lamit HM by means of a handling robot. (Source: Bäumer)

Bäumer's automated handling system for the production of mattresses combines the horizontal contour cutting machine OFS Twincut and the adhesive application unit Lamit HM by means of a handling robot. (Source: Bäumer)

The number of mixed productions for making sprung mattresses and foam-filled sandwich mattresses has also increased and has posed handling and adhesive application technology with new challenges. And it is in this very sector, that Bäumer will be presenting a new handling system at the interzum in the form of the OFS Twincut horizontal contour cutting machine in combination with the adhesive application unit Lamit HM. The Lamit HM is mainly used in the manufacturing of sprung mattresses, but by extending the unit with a variety of options, the company will be demonstrating its use in the production of foam-filled sandwich mattresses. A robot functions between the two machines.

Each part of the production line has its intrinsic advantages which together create added value for more flexible and cost-efficient production. No manual handling is required and therefore the quality is higher, says the company. This handling system avoids waste and the material can be used more efficiently.

The OFS Twincut contour cutting machine is available directly with two functions. One option is its use as rotating knife for cutting upholstered parts and mattresses quickly; or alternatively it can be used as an oscillating knife for cutting high-density materials. The oscillating blade provides a more precise cut of intricate mattress sections. Both options are combined in a single cutting unit to provide increased flexibility.

According to Bäumer, in the classic production of sprung mattresses, the makers primarily opt for the hotmelt process for bonding the mattresses. This is because a variety of fibrous and non-fibrous materials are used in the making of sprung mattresses thus practically predestinating them for the non-contact hotmelt application of adhesives. Foam-filled sandwich mattresses on the other hand are usually bonded with a dispersion adhesive applied using a roller. Therefore, if both options are required, then it will normally involve two processes and two different machines.

The Lamit HM, a classic hotmelt machine, has been modified with technical innovations and options to permit its universal use in mix production processes. The Lamit HM features motor-controlled adhesive dispensing heads allowing freely programmable applications. Its additional benefit is high because, whatever the product – sandwich mattress or sprung mattress – the surface coating is freely programmable regarding the connection point and the width position, says Bäumer. The oscillation and intermittent function opens and closes the adhesive dispensing head at freely programmable points and needs up to 30 % less adhesive. A further plus is the automated return function, which reverses the layers and sandwiches fully-automatically. No manual handling is required.

Bäumer will also be presenting a handling robot to be used between the two machines described above. After the mattress layer has been cut to shape with the cutting machine, the robot brings the individual layers of the cut block directly to the adhesive application unit. Here, the layer is placed precisely and without offset. The operation is camera- and laser-controlled. The first layer is given a coating of adhesive and the robot places the second layer on top of the first one. The process is repeated until all of the layers of the sandwich mattress have been bonded together. Because of its rotating function, the robot can handle several stacks in a variety of materials. The production line can therefore be equipped with five to six different material positions. The robot’s arm features a needle gripper. The gripping mechanism is available either with a pneumatic drive or a servo drive; the pneumatic version is designated for up to two layer thicknesses, and can been programmed as desired. The inverter-controlled servo drive provides a more flexible use where a variety of different layer thicknesses are to be handled and allows any number of exactly defined penetration depths of 10 mm and more.

New nesting program – mattress nest

When using high-quality materials in a sophisticated and expensive manufacturing process, it is essential to make the best possible use of resources, says Bäumer. Nesting programs therefore have been standard for some time now; in cases where, for example, short blocks must first be split horizontally and then, using nesting software, vertically contoured. Bäumer has developed a new software for horizontal contour cutting machines, which automatically put different mattress programs together, nesting them in a foam block (short and long blocks).

Up until now, the daily production from importing to finishing had to be planned manually. Manual nesting, however, is not true to quantity because the machine operator nested only one type of mattress from the block until the complete block was full. This inevitably resulted in overproduction and warehousing. Bäumer Mattress Nest makes it possible to carry out nesting true to quantity and fully automatically by planning the complete daily production in one go. Less manpower is required for planning and machine operation. Manual intervention in production is not necessary, but still possible. The complete production is quicker and more cost efficient, says the company.

Bäumer Mattress Nest imports the order data into the system every day or for several days and first sorts automatically them according to the required qualities. Then programs for different mattresses which can be cut out of a short block or long block are optimally nested automatically, and the cutting programs created in this manner are executed in one continuous process on the horizontal contour cutting machines.

Because the cutting program executes the main program (e. g. the mattress contour) and the side programs (e. g. cutting the mattresses to length) in one continuous process, different mattress types (e. g. children's mattresses and overlengths) can be processed in one single short block. In addition, the program automatically detects during nesting whether different mattresses have to be processed without any interval between cuts or whether an interval must be maintained. The remaining capacity of a residual block is also identified and factored into the calculations allowing for a freely selectable, tolerable waste quantity. In case of larger residual blocks, the order list can be filled with standard sheet dimensions or other orders.

OFS-HE3 with 3,400 mm block width for 100 % more efficiency

Furthermore, Bäumer is now offering the OFS-HE3 with circulating knife for cutting cushions and mattresses, the company's fastest and most efficient horizontal contour cutting machine solution, that handles a 3,400 mm block width. Now it is possible to cut instead of two blocks up to four blocks at the same time. With the new size, the machine is especially suited for companies that produce large quantities of the same mattress types or for mattress cutters who offer the entire range of mattress widths. Increasing the working width significantly improves machine efficiency. For example, it is possible to process mattresses with a width of 800 mm in four blocks at the same time, or mattresses with a width of 1,600 mm in two blocks simultaneously. A second center support stabilizes the knife and ensures precise cutting results. A fully automatic sheet holding-down device holds the block in place.

Bäumer's horizontal contour cutting machine OFS-HE3 with 3,400 mm block width (Source: Bäumer)

Bäumer's horizontal contour cutting machine OFS-HE3 with 3,400 mm block width (Source: Bäumer)

  • Quick bulk production of mattresses made of PU flexible foam, visco or latex
  • Flexibility in the production of a wide variety of mattress widths
  • Increased efficiency, since up to four mattresses can be produced at the same time
  • Highest possible dynamics thanks to the design principle of separated table and cutting unit drives
  • High productivity and quality when cutting simple to complex mattresses composed of materials such as PU flexible foam, PU cold foam or latex
  • Two center supports for improved knife support and greater accuracy
  • Hold-down system to secure the block and ensure superior cutting accuracy
  • Fully automatic horizontal contour cutting machine design available with automatic turntable and transport conveyors for loading and unloading
  • Using a micro-toothed knife prevents regrinding and guarantees a constant cut quality

 Bäumer Cube – 3D nesting software for cuboids

Although a vertical cutting machine may seem to be a straightforward device, it is quite a complicated tool to operate, says Bäumer. The machine operator is confronted with the task of optimally nesting various sizes of rectangular blocks from many different orders in diverse blocks while producing as little waste as possible. Then these cuboids have to be cut from the block in a time-saving sequence. The job also includes sorting the orders according to different material qualities, colors, etc. as well as marking any residual blocks that are produced.

Complicated nesting from many different orders, as shown in the example here with Cube, can only be performed by an operator who has an excellent capacity for spatial thinking and can anticipate the next steps as in a chess game. Therefore, not only good planning but also an outstanding capacity for spatial thinking and logics is required for processing a daily production on the vertical cutting machine. The efficiency and quality of the process depend heavily on the operator, says Bäumer. The solution for fast, forward-looking planning, constant quality, and minimum expenditure of time is Bäumer Cube software, which nests the orders three-dimensionally with a special nesting algorithm and ensures optimum block utilization. Usually this step is performed by work preparation staff.

The new 3D nesting software Bäumer Cube provides an optimum workflow for vertical cutting machines (Source: Bäumer)

The new 3D nesting software Bäumer Cube provides an optimum workflow for vertical cutting machines (Source: Bäumer)

The special challenge Bäumer's software programmers had to meet with Cube is the combination of automatic and manual processes. Compared to a CNC machine where cutting programs are sent to the machine and are processed fully automatically, only sub-processes can be automated with PLC control on a vertical cutting machine. For example, partial blocks have to be manually removed from the machine now and then or rotated around an axis before the workflow is continued or, in other words, the next step is done.

On the machine, Bäumer Cube specifies the optimum workflow for the operator. The software guides the worker step by step. First, Bäumer Cube specifies which block to use and how to position it on the machine. Then the block is cut. Initially, all the cuts which are possible according to the current orientation of the block are carried out. Afterwards, Bäumer Cube indicates whether the created partial blocks are finished parts, residual blocks, waste, or temporary blocks for further processing. Finished parts are assigned by Cube to orders or commissions so that the operator can remove, label, and store them. Residual blocks are provided with a clear identifier and back posted to the stock. Temporary blocks are still required in the further course of the cutting program. They are also provided by Cube with a clear identifier, stored temporarily, and repositioned for the next steps according to the specification from Bäumer Cube. Every instruction from Bäumer Cube must be confirmed by the operator by pressing the button on the touch screen before the next step is specified.

The purpose of Bäumer Cube visualization is to provide clear instructions to the operator. In a simplified model of the machine, the position of the knife and the stop as well as the positioning of the block are shown in relation to the machine. In addition, the edges of the block are measured and it is clearly indicated whether the edges need to be trimmed.

Features at a glance:

  • Preparation of cutting jobs in the work preparation department
  • Optimum block utilization thanks to clever nesting algorithm
  • Operator-specific parameters can be stored
  • Feature for estimating the cost of the individual cut part
  • Bäumer Cube is network-compatible – cutting jobs can be selected by the operator via a client PC at the machine via a large screen
  • Specification of optimum workflows
  • Clear instructions to machine operator thanks to clear visualization
  • Marking and debiting of finished parts and finished messages
  • Integration into the control of vertical cutting machine IS-M for automatic processing of instructions from Cube, such as stop positioning, setting quantity and cutting thicknesses, or performing the cutting job
  • Cutting errors can be communicated to the system, and parts planned from the (partial) block are automatically sent back to the order pool
  • Identification of identical finished parts within a block and request to remove entire layers
  • Consideration of block edges (side, upper and lower skin or untrimmed edges)
  • Label printing for marking finished orders, residual, and temporary blocks
  • Integrated residual block management
  • Log data as MDE data (BDE)

Basically, Cube can be provided for any vertical cutting machine, says Bäumer. The operator enters the dimensions specified by the software manually and individually in the control, adjusts the stops, etc. It is, however, a quantum leap in efficiency enhancement when the work steps specified by Cube are automatically performed by the machine, says the manufacturer. According to Bäumer, this total integration of Cube is now available in the new generation of vertical cutting machines IS-M, on sale starting in May 2017. The cutting process takes place automatically, allowing for material-dependent cutting parameters such as cutting speed. Cutting progress and, finally, cutting end are displayed on the IS-M. Finished parts are visualized and labels can be printed.


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