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Problem: An integrator needed to feed sensitive metal parts to an inspection table without causing any mars or dings in the parts. The inspection table checked the quality of each part – taking bad parts off the line and sending good parts to the next phase of the automation process. The parts were so sensitive, the customer required they not touch any metal surface during the entire process.

Solution: Fortville Feeders specializes in feeding bulk parts that require special care. There were several factors to consider. First, the material used in the feeder system itself was selected for its low friction surface and durability. The hopper and vibratory feeder bowl were coated with a thermal spray that had no metal particulates in the mixture. All other running surfaces touching the parts were built with Delrin acetal plastic, including the inside of the metal track.

The second factor was the placement and movement of the parts. Most bulk handling hoppers pile parts on top of each other. This piling can cause significant damage in a sensitive part. Fortville engineered and built a round, short hopper with a spiral tracking system to keep parts from mounding on each other. The chute from the hopper to the bowl was designed to drop parts into the feeder bowl at a low profile, cushion each part and immediately move them to the outside of the bowl to keep one part from dropping on another. The parts were singulated and turned heads down before they were placed in the inline track. The inside of the track was lined with Delrin where the parts were held in close tolerances to eliminate any overlapping as they approached the inspection table.

From the bulk loading of the hopper to the orienting and singulation of each part, from feeder bowl to the track that moved them to the end of the line, Fortville built a system that moved these parts to the inspection table without damage.