At Demcon Industrial Systems, the development of industrial systems extends further than automating production lines and workspaces using mainly standard components. Demcon Industrial Systems works on high-quality, innovative production technology for manufacturing industry in the broadest sense, which can also include the field of medical technology. A great example is the Plissee machine for Humeca in Borne, a global supplier of skin transplant technology for the treatment of third-degree and other burns, using so-called MEEK technology.
Dermatologists cut donor skin from the patient into ‘skin islands’ of 3 by 3 millimetres. These are placed in a 14 x 14 grid on a carrier that the dermatologist can stretch to the dimensions required to cover as much of a burn as possible. The carrier, a laminate of aluminium foil and nylon, is first folded (plisseed) prior to stretching to the required expansion (expansion ratio from 1:2 to some 1:9). At Humeca, this used to take place using several machines and a lot of manual work. For high and consistent quality and rapid response to sudden demand (for example following a disaster), Humeca wanted to integrate and automate the folding.
Demcon Industrial Systems developed a machine that first carries out the lamination and cutting, followed by the folding. For this, a blade folds the laminate back over the desired distance, depending on the expansion ratio. For the 14 x 14 grid, this takes place in 15 stages, after which folding takes place at a ninety degree angle to this, again in 15 stages. Finally, the folded carrier is rolled flat.
The material thickness is extremely critical for precise and reproducible folds; the final carrier needs to be 42 by 42 millimetres, with a permitted deviation of no more than 0.5 millimetres. Demcon Industrial Systems devised a new fold design and first built a proof of concept. This was used to investigate such things as the required number of degrees of freedom for controlling the blade.
This shows how thinking in degrees of freedom and other mechanical and mechatronic design concepts can be used for industrial systems. Where necessary, Demcon Industrial Systems takes the freedom to investigate advanced concepts for industrial application. All the disciplines needed for this are available as part of the Demcon Group.
For more information visit www.demcon.com/industrial.