With its ST series needle gripper, the Zimmer Group supports Scholl Concepts GmbH in its polishing wheel production. An application example that shows that the handling specialist also has the right standard components in its range for special challenges.

Scholl Concepts GmbH in Remseck am Neckar looks back on more than 60 years of company history and is a leader in the market for polishes, pastes and polishing wheels. The company produces 2.5 million polishing wheels annually, which it sells through 150 dealers in 40 countries. Its customers include well-known automotive manufacturers. For production, Scholl Concepts relies on state-of-the-art machinery unique in-house developments. "We are very proud of our patented Spider Pad. It strongly distinguishes us from our competitors on the market," says Sven Orlowski, technical purchasing and production planning team leader at Scholl Concepts GmbH. With its "spidering," a special structure, this pad combines the properties of lambskin pads and conventional foam pads.

In the case of production equipment, too, great importance is attached to in-house development and custom-fit solutions. For example, the company worked closely with Sinn Mechanische Werkstatt in planning the special system for the production of polishing wheels. In the system, foam blanks are first milled into the customer's individual shape and then the pattern, the so-called spidering, is cut in to better hold the polishing agent. The polishing pads are rotated in the system to apply the logo with a laser. The pads are then rotated again to place them in the correct position from the line onto a conveyor belt for final packaging. This final step presented a challenge in this plant. A suitable end effector was sought for picking up the pads in the system and placing them on the conveyor belt. One problem was the different material of the workpieces with different foam densities, sizes and thicknesses. Vacuum cups were not possible due to the porous density of the foam pads, which are too permeable to air. "We tested a number of vacuum cup suppliers here," recalls Jürgen Sinn, owner of Sinn Mechanische Werkstatt.

The solution was finally provided by Klaus Tritt, Technical Consulting & Sales at the Zimmer Group, with the ST series needle gripper. The special gripper enables infinitely variable stroke adjustment by means of a setting ring and has a workpiece blow-off function for safe and fast depositing of the polishing wheels. Thanks to the magnetic field sensor system, the gripper can detect the end positions, resulting in shorter cycle times and consistent control. 20 needles in the gripper take over the safe picking up and holding of the pads without damaging the material. The end effector also impresses with its long service life of up to 5 million maintenance-free cycles. It has now been in use at Scholl Concepts GmbH for 6 years. The IP30 protection class ensures a high level of safety during use. The close cooperation between Scholl Concepts, Sinn Mechanische Werkstatt and Zimmer Group has shown that innovative technologies and solutions help to successfully master challenges in production. Zimmer Group is pleased to be able to actively contribute to economical and reliable production processes at Scholl Concepts with its needle gripper.

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