The Sagger Load Station is a system that loads ceramic turbine blade castings into a ceramic box filled with sand called a “sagger”. Loaded saggers are placed on an infeed conveyor where they are indexed into a pick and place station which inverts the sagger over a screen allowing the sand to fall into a hopper. The empty sagger is then indexed around to the backside of the hopper where a layer of sand is fed by a screw feeder from the bottom of the hopper into the sagger. The sagger indexes to a load position where a robot removes ceramic castings from a mold and gently embeds it into the sand layer. Once the layer of castings iss complete the sagger is indexed back to the hopper station and another layer of sand is poured over the casting layer. After indexing back under the robot a layer of castings is inserted, then a layer of sand until the sagger is loaded. A final layer of sand is placed on the top and the sagger exits the station. Operators then place the saggers in an oven for several hours, the sagger is brought back to the station and unloaded and the sand filled sagger placed on the infeed conveyor again.
A unique feature of this station is the spring loaded cammed pick and place inverter which was designed by Joe Angelini from ACS. As the saggers were quite heavy, Joe created a mechanism to balance the sagger load at every point as it was inverted, allowing a much smaller rotary pneumatic cylinder to be used for both forward and reverse motions.
This system was installed in early 2005 and was one of ACS’s first machines. It used an Allen-Bradley SLC5/05 processor and a Maple Systems touchscreen.