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Farason Corporation Application Spotlight: Robot Arm Cable Management

For over thirty years, Farason Corporation has designed and delivered custom automation and robotics systems to manufacturers, shipping over 900 machines to North America, Asia, South America and Europe. The Farason team added Markforged 3D printers to boost design and production opportunities, aligned with Farason’s commitment to delivering one-of- a-kind solutions that are closely tailored to specific challenges their customers face. The Farason team designed 3D printed hose clamps that guide airlines along a robotic arm.

Hose Guide Clamp printed in Onyx®

The Challenge

The Farason team recognized a complication when designing a box flap lifter machine for a line that unboxes products from the factory to transfer small packaged goods onto packaging lines for distribution and retail. While testing their new machine, they identified issues in a later cell where open boxes would catch during the dumping process. The solution to that issue? Increasing the degree of rotation earlier in the box flap lifter machine to bend the cardboard fold down further to prevent the inner flaps from catching when the box was upended. Addressing that issue was a matter of some tuning and reprogramming the box Hose Guide Clamp printed in Onyx® flap lifter robot, but also the team recognized that this meant that the cable management down that robot arm needed a rethink.

Cable management is not a new challenge for packaging machine builders. Sorting out just the right positions and angles to pin, tape, strap, guide, and otherwise manage the various wires and hoses needed to integrate third-party actuating systems and sensors onto automation equipment is ever present across the factory floor environment. But when you add complex multi-axis robotic arm movements, particularly with stages moving through large degrees of rotation, these management hurdles stop being a matter of tidiness and shop practice and start becoming a critical concern, especially if your customer will be the one to maintain and repair the routing through multiple deployments on their own.

In the past, an application like this would have simply resulted in more iterations of conventional taping and zip-tying. Christian explained: “It would probably be done and redone a bunch of different times until it was right.” But the story of the machine doesn’t end with delivery: over time the factory technicians themselves would take over the responsibility to service and maintain the machine. “If a technician from the factory has to take it apart to clean it, and then reinstalls part of it incorrectly, this becomes a big question mark for the machine.”

The adjusted action programmed for the FANUC arm and the large rotation of the box flap lifter bar meant that designing for hose management played a functional role in the long term deployment plan for the machine. Markforged helped the Farason team address these needs with a professionally finished solution that was well received by the customer: one designed from the start with future service and maintenance access in mind.


If we didn’t use 3D printing, it would probably have taken a day using zip ties and tape. It would probably be done and redone a bunch of different times until it was right. And then if a technician from the factory has to take it apart to clean it, and then reinstalls part of it incorrectly, this becomes a big question mark for the machine.” 
– Christian Weder, Design Support Engineer, Farason Corporation

The Solution

The Farason team designed a series of 3D printed hose clamps that would guide the two air lines from a vacuum generator mounted on the robot out to either side of a bar with vacuum gripper bars for lifting the flaps of the box. Along this cable management solution, the hose was granted enough play to prevent kinks, strains, or pressure drops while navigating through the axis of rotation for each stage without twisting or catching.

Richard Cook, R&D Support Engineer for Farason, designed the machine and worked with Christian to show him the issues a 3D printed cable management strategy might address. “It might look like simple hose management, but it serves a serious function here,” Richard explained. “The way the robot articulates up and around, those clamps and end connector are necessary to keep that hose and fitting tucked tight to that bar so that it doesn’t interfere with the box lid at all.”

The machine was designed to handle opening five different case sizes, different widths and lengths. Richard demonstrated how important it was to find a unique way of approaching that problem instead of just cabling for one position, “because that gave us the ability to follow the radius that the flap makes for each of the options.”

The team fabricated the production-ready parts to ship with the machine with Markforged, selecting Onyx for the printing material.

The Markforged solution created for this application introduced a new concept for their team. “We’ve physically captured the ‘design intent’ [for cable management] permanently by using printed parts here,” Christian said. “And this ensures that the machine will always get put back together the same way it arrived.”

Markforged Advantages

  • Create custom robot integration solutions as they are needed.
  • Cut lead time to hours for production-ready parts.
  • The Farason team reported that they reduce part costs by up to 90% compared to producing similar parts out of house
  • Increase overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), prevent issues in a crowded cell, and preserve line uptime.
  • Reduce inventory costs by printing on demand.

Robot Arm Clamp printed in Onyx®

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