We designed and implemented a turnkey manufacturing line solution for a customer whose virtual reality (VR) project required two custom manufacturing lines with multiple process steps within each line.
The challenge our customer faced was that their individual products were being built in a laboratory environment at a small level – focusing on individual material sections with lab-scale process equipment. What their process needed was a web processing solution to transform it into a volume manufacturing environment. The base web material was also very sensitive, which meant that a well-controlled web handling process was crucial.
Controlling the web through multiple process steps required very well-controlled and non-traditional methodology. Even the curing/baking process required us to build a custom solution that would meet the customer’s requirements – an off-the-shelf solution was not available and the lead time from suppliers was too long.
The Custom Solution
Creating a solution to produce this product at a manufacturing volume required roll-to-roll process manufacturing lines to achieve the necessary quantity and cost threshold. The true challenges were in the layout of these two process manufacturing lines, requiring different technologies than what was being performed in the lab. Thus, specification requirements to this new line were not truly definable due to methodologies that were not clearly identified. The product needs were known, but the process parameters were nothing more than tolerance ranges. Stacking these number of ranges would make it even more challenging not to exceed the product tolerance maximums. For instance, the product required coating steps that were being done by spin coating in the lab. In web format, this would not be an option, which meant that replacing this process with a different methodology was necessary to run inline on the roll-to-roll process line.
Integrating all of this within two process manufacturing lines required custom software for complete closed-loop control and data collection. The data collection was not only for process parameter recordings, but also for the in-line vision systems that were provided for quality control and measurement readings across the web width.
From Conception to Completion
This VR project represents another industry for which Northfield Automation Systems was able to provide a high-volume roll-to-roll turnkey manufacturing process solution for a product that was in the lab scale or pilot stage of production.