What is your engineering team’s approach to using timing diagrams in machine development?
It is such a valuable tool from the conceptual stage to production that I'm surprised when I find that some machine builders are using them seldom or not at all.
It is helpful to start the timing diagram in the conceptual phase, even before the actual 3D modeling starts, especially if many motions are involved. A chart makes it easy to find opportunities to overlap motions and reduce overall cycle time.
Whether your motions are cam or servo driven, the diagram communicates what motions need to happen and how each device motion relates to the others.
As the 3D model develops, the timing diagram should evolve in parallel.
The diagram can be made in a 3D CAD environment, a sketch tool, spreadsheet, on paper, or with a 2D kinematics tool, as shown here, it's pretty simple and fast to keep it updated as changes are needed, and you may also include inertia, torque, and other dynamics calculations.
The curves generated by most software tools can be exported and used to create physical cams or translated into parameters for servo motions for use in the control program.
Later, as the machine begins testing and moves into production, it becomes a great way to consider what-if scenarios, train operators, troubleshoot problems, and consider future upgrades or modifications.
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Richard Lee is the owner of Lee Engineering Inc. and provides engineering and design services to manufacturers
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