This discipline is technically sophisticated, complex and most often an order incorporates only a few individual units. Additionally, these are the reasons why many manufacturers so far, have not even attempted it. However, the situation is different at the Bystronic Armatec Technology Centre, which has specialised specifically on the construction of these special machines. The EDK P 250 S has been developed for curved glass lites, has just brought a new model onto the market again .
At the present time, two trends can be observed on the glass market, both of which have already had a strong effect in respect of handling equipment. In the architectural glass area, the trend is moving increasingly towards curved lites. At the same time, the glass formats used are even more enormous. The sound barrier of 3.21 x 6 metres has long been exceeded and a new maximum limit is still not in sight.
“The increased demand for large, curved lites also poses an immense challenge for the suppliers of vacuum lifting equipment”, reports Gerhard Brodmerkel, who is responsible for the design of handling equipment at the Bystronic Armatec Technology Centre. “Not only the weight and the format of the lites are to be considered. There is also a third dimension: the bending radius. Under certain circumstances, a lite can even have two radii – one for length and one for breadth. It must also be guaranteed with these lites that the vacuum suction device is applied securely and flush to the curved surface.”
The variety of requirements make the construction of an all-round device practically impossible. A bespoke customer solution is often required. The design and manufacturing of this handling equipment is therefore very labour-intensive. Nevertheless, considerable value is placed on the Special System Construction area at Armatec, explains Brodmerkel.
“As a complete supplier, it is important that we get the right message across. We must be able to offer concept solutions that are tailored to the customer in accordance with their own requirements. To leave the customer out in the cold as soon as it gets complicated was never our philosophy. At the same time, naturally there is also the fact that we want to continuously expand our understanding in this segment as the demand for handling equipment for curved glass lites will certainly increase further in the years to come.”
The order situation gives Brodmerkel good reason. Two Type EDK P 250 S handling devices for curved lites were just installed at a major customer in France again. “These handling devices are a good example of just how special the requirements can be”, explains Brodmerkel. “The devices are optimised for horizontal acceptance and vertical set-down of convex curved lites. The maximum lite size is 2.00 x 1.80m with a minimum radius of 1500 mm and a maximum weight of 250 kg.”
Even if the EDK P 250 S is a special device, it was based on the development of the Easy-Lift column vacuum lifter, which has already made a name for itself in the flat glass area through its ease of use and reliability.
“Nevertheless, we had to replace the standard suction devices with special ones, which are specially designed for curved lites. They have a significantly larger volume and can thus better handle the radii of the lites. Simultaneously, they still provide very good suction for the glass even in a slightly inclined position.” To be able to handle the bending radius even better, they are also swivel-mounted.
This resulted in the EDK P 250 S, which is once again a handling device optimally designed towards the customer’s needs. Nevertheless, Brodmerkel knows that the designers will probably have to start completely from scratch again when designing the next handling device for curved lites. “Special system construction is of course very complex, but I am certain that with time solutions will also be found here which we can transfer modularly to different radii.”