Voxel Teams up With Beckhoff on Automated PECM Production Line
This is a short preview of a collaborative article you can find on Beckhoff's blog, Titled "Old Manufacturing Barriers Go to Rust as PC Control Helps Scale Electrochemical Machining".
Daniel Herrington was working for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA–E) when he had a realization. While he’d already earned a master’s degree in engineering management, it wasn’t until that job that he realized the importance of manufacturing. In research projects funded by ARPA-E, advanced manufacturing proved to be a critical enabler for technology breakthroughs.
“Manufacturing underpins most major advances in technology, whether it’s in the energy industry, medical device or aerospace,” says Herrington, CEO of Voxel Innovations. “I realized I wanted to work in manufacturing, and I saw that electrochemical machining had significant untapped potential, especially in the U.S. So a vision formed to build a company based around electrochemical machining and an automation platform that would solve the biggest problems faced by our customers.”
To continue its growth trajectory, Voxel needed to implement a more sophisticated automation platform that would scale. After extensive vendor research, they selected Beckhoff. This decision also led them to Robert Belk, Jr., P.E., Owner and Automation Consultant at Palmetto Mechatronics in Greenville, South Carolina. Working together, the teams at Voxel, Palmetto and Beckhoff developed an automated production line with robotics and inspection capabilities.
After a year of development time, the automated PECM production line went live in June 2023, and is producing roughly four million parts a year. Voxel has hit the performance benchmarks and part-level traceability set in the design phase. The system offers complete visibility into quality control, pH levels, etc., providing traceability to comply with standards like AS9100 in aerospace and ISO 13485 in medical device manufacturing. It can pause production and alert the operator if anything falls out of tolerance............
How and why did Voxel Choose Beckhoff and Palmetto Mechatronics? How does electrochemical machining work, and how did the teams collaborate to develop an automated production line that utilizes this unique material removal process to machine millions of parts a year with little-to-no tool wear or replacement costs? Read the rest in Beckhoff's exclusive article!