ATI Aims to Speed Up Machine Tending Processes and Material Handling With New Robotic Tools

April 03, 2021 by Seth Price

ATI released the QC-7 Robotic Tool Changer, designed to speed up machining, material handling, and machine tending operations across multiple platforms.

Who is ATI Industrial Automation?

ATI Industrial Automation has been in the robotics and tooling business since 1989. They specialize in tool changers, force, and torque sensing systems, couplers, and collision sensors. The company develops and supplies the hardware and software required for robotic systems. They also offer technical support for developing engineering solutions in any industry where automation is required.


ATI’s Latest Robotic Changing Tool 

Ultimately, a robotic tool changer saves time over manual tool changes. The QC-7 allows for a machine to walk through a set of tools to complete a series of operations without shutting down the robot. It then sends a technician into the robot cell, replaces the tool, checks alignment, and then restarts the system. The QC-7 will perform these tasks automatically. 

The QC-7 can be mounted to various robots and cobots, provided they have a standard ISO 31.5 mm robot pattern. This robotic tool can be configured with an optional stand and has many attachments to improve this system’s versatility.


Video used courtesy of ATI Industrial Automation


It also may increase worker safety by keeping employees out of the robot cell. Technicians no longer need to enter the robot’s space to change tools, but they can program the robot from outside the cell. This virtually eliminates the temptation for a technician to hop into the cell to change tooling without taking all necessary safety precautions.

The QC-7 Robotic Tool Changer is pneumatically activated and has five pass-through pneumatic ports for different pneumatic tools, such as grippers. The user can configure these by connecting the lines radially or axially, depending on the particular application.


ATI’s new QC-7 Robotic Tool Changer and its key features. Image courtesy of ATI Industrial Automation


To support tools that require an electrical connection, several optional electrical modules are available. Besides air and electric, hydraulic systems (hydraulic fluid or water) and vacuum can also be ported through these tool changers.


The Positive Locking System

ATI developed a patented ball lock and unlock system so the tool mating and lockup is sturdy is positive. This can save time when dealing with multiple pneumatic lines and ensuring that they connect without leaks. 

The positive locking system is designed to be reliable and even when handling payloads up to 35 lbs (16 kg). Lock and unlock sensors provide feedback data to the software, ensuring that the tool has been properly placed. 


ATI’s new QC-7 Robotic Tool Changer and its key features. Image courtesy of ATI Industrial Automation


This locking feature also prevents the robot from dropping the tool, should air pressure drop. For example, picture a scenario where a robot moves quickly, carrying a 30 lb tool that relies on pneumatic pressure to operate. 

Suppose there is a power bump, and the air compressor stalls for a moment, unable to supply the proper air pressure. A system without a solid locking system may launch the tool across the room. Instead, the QC-7 only uses the pneumatic system to lock and unlock the system, reducing the chances of a 30 lb tool projectile.

The ATI QC-7 Robotic Tool Changer aims to increase the speed and the safety of machine tending, machining, and materials handling operations. The tool may be capable of mounting to many common industrial robots and handling control fluids or electrical signals.