Rubber-to-metal bonding is an essential step in the process of manufacturing mounts for shock absorbance or vibration attenuation in automotive and heavy equipment applications.

Due to the way these components are designed, manufactured and assembled, manufacturers have targeted rubber-to-metal bonding as an opportunity to reduce production costs while increasing throughput and quality.

But once that the decision is made, manufacturers must make the leap from concept to concrete reality. To do help them do it, the providers they vet must have answers to these key questions:

  • How does automation guarantee a consistent, quality product?
  • How does automation reduce material costs?
  • How does automation enhance safety?
  • What types of rubber-to-metal bonding processes have you automated in the past?

Let’s answer each question one by one.

How does automation guarantee a consistent, quality product?

Consistency and quality are improved when variability is removed from critical production steps and when bias or error is removed from inspection.

Incorporating a custom automated machine means the rubber-to-metal bonding process is less reliant on operators. Humans cannot be calibrated like robots can. They cannot do a task the exact same way at the exact same speed every single time with zero errors.

Opportunities for errors grow exponentially in the case of rubber-to-metal bonded parts because they are ordered and manufactured at such high volumes. Because the margin on these parts is so low, error rates of even a fraction of a percent can mean the difference between profit and loss.

Through the use of an automated spray system for adhesives, the exact amount of adhesive is applied to the part with precision, eliminating the risk of human error and repeating that application without variance. Similarly, automating the transfer of parts between production stages also reduces the risk of error significantly.

Inspection is an essential manufacturing step that also can be automated. Using sophisticated positioning sensors or sensitive cameras, automated assembly systems can provide bias- and error-free inspection — and execute it much, much faster than a human can.

Together, these factors result in greater certainty and savings on the back end of production. That’s important because rubber-to-metal bonding cannot be undone. Failed parts cannot be taken apart and re-worked. The entire cost of a rejected part is lost forever.

How does automation reduce material costs?

The primary opportunity to reduce material costs in rubber-to-metal bonding comes in the form of more precise metering of adhesives.

Depending on the type of adhesive you use, you’re spending anywhere from $50 to $100 per gallon. How much of each gallon actually makes it onto your parts currently? Do you even know?

When humans are responsible for applying adhesive, there is no way to guarantee that they will spray the exact amount of material required on the exact location of a metal component without error or waste every time.

Automated spray adhesive systems deliver the exact required amount to the exact location on every part, every time without the overlap or overspray that causes avoidable waste (and can pose serious safety risks to boot).

Another benefit to integrating an automated system is the adhesive storage cabinets that usually come included. Temperature controls and viscosity sensors inside the equipment allow manufacturers to optimize storage and process conditions so that every last drop of costly adhesive is utilized.

How does rubber-to-metal bonding automation guarantee employee safety and VOC compliance?

Safety always comes first no matter the facility and no matter the process.

But in rubber-to-metal bonding, it’s an especially serious matter: The adhesives used in the process are extremely flammable and contain a high concentration of hazardous volatile organic compounds (VOCs). From material handling to exhausting impacted air, safety must be guaranteed.

Quality automated rubber-to-metal bonding equipment is designed to include 100% air-capture systems that collect all air inside the spray chamber and ensure no harmful emissions are released into the work area.

Depending on the volume of VOCs generated in a facility, a thermal oxidizer may be necessary. These can be easily tied in to the end of a system to receive air from the spray chamber. Or, if a facility produces a higher volume of VOCs from numerous processes, routing air from the spray chamber to the site’s central oxidizer might be the better course.

What rubber-to-metal bonded part production processes have you automated?

Since 1994, AMI has engineered and built automated spray adhesive and assembly equipment for rubber-to-metal bonded part production serving applications ranging from small cars to light trucks to heavy equipment.

In other words, we’ve built rubber-to-metal bonded mount assembly equipment for facilities that produce just about anything that has an engine and requires vibration attenuation. Learn more about automated anti-vibration part assembly from AMI here.

Learn more about automating the spray adhesive process for rubber-to-metal bonding by reading this case study.

If you’re seeking a safe way to boost precision, consistency and quality while keeping costs in check, talk to an AMI engineer about automated rubber-to-metal bonding equipment today.