Royal Master Needle Grinding System
In 2019, we took a creative approach to the challenge of grinding trocar needles. The concept we constructed we named the Needle Grinder. Customers that interacted with this new machine at MDM in 2019, and called it a game-changer. What makes the Needle Grinder system so unique is the operational efficiency of the complete process. Grinding 10 or 20 pieces at a time, a fully robotic system creates an efficient process that incorporates post processing without any operator interaction. The needle blanks can be loaded automatically into the robot end effector. After grinding a typical trocar needle at a rate of 1250 per hour, the robot can present the needles to the COMCO grit blaster and any other post processes customers have operators do manually.
Needle grinding has been around for many years with different types of systems. Some systems were homemade, others were a very intricate cartridge system that was very labor intensive. In 2020, Royal Master engineers took a prototype system to the Medical Design and Manufacturing show.
This system used collets and a rack and pinion on Robotic EOAT to grind 10 needles at a time. The customer feedback was extraordinary, and we leapt forward with the project to develop a fully automatic needle grinding system.
After 18 short months and a number of systems sold and shipped, we are proud to introduce the “Needle Grinder” the IMTS family. This system grinds 14 parts at a time and loads and unloads automatically, but it also is a highly efficient method of grinding small parts that have unique shapes on the ends of parts.
The machine starts with an Ohio Manufactured Zanite cast composite base with all the necessary utilities such as plumbing and electrical pathways cast into the base. Building on top of the base is a 12” diameter x 20” wide wheel mounted on a spindle with Timken ceramic bearings. Rated for high speeds, the spindle was designed for super-abrasives. With its servo driven power, it can change speeds after dressing automatically to maintain consistent surface footage.
The Fanuc Robot is mounted over the grinding wheel and has enough reach to retrieve parts from either a manual, semi- or fully-automatic load station. Depending on production quantities, all methods have their place in different manufacturing facilities. In addition, unloading can be done manually or automatically. With its 14 station end effector, the Robot can deliver the parts to the Cognex or Keyence inspection station after grinding. Displaying the dimensions on the screen for each EOAT, the trend lines are monitored and the machine can either alert an operator or make changes accordingly to dimensional deviations.
Operators don’t need to be an expert in robotics. The operator interface is intuitive and easy to have even a novice operator make part adjustments. There is no need to operate the machine through the robot pendant.
The Needle Grinder is easy to use, easy to operate and limitless in potential for applications beyond the Medical device industry. Bring us your “ I wonder if it can grind…” thoughts, and let’s have a conversation!
The Needle Grinding System is:
A fresh and efficient grinding and part handling approach to a growing industry
Custom EOAT that can be adapted to other types of manufacturing challenges
Unique way to grind up to 14 parts at one time, then eliminate the need for multiple post processes that were done by hand with previous manufacturing methods.
Automatic loading solution for a wide range of part diameters while keeping tooling cost low
Engineer Deep Dive
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