Robotic Flame Treatment Case Study

Customer, Challenge & Risks

Our customer was an engineering manager specializing in flooring and acoustic products for passenger cars and trucks. He was installing new capital equipment to manufacture a large volume vinyl flooring program that was awarded to his facility.

They could not pass the automotive adhesion specifications for this flooring product. Something needed to be identified, either in the material or manufacturing process, that would allow for proper adhesion while maintaining their required cycle time and floor space.


The customer’s corporate manufacturing engineering team reached out to Pioneer Industrial Systems (PIS) to propose a robotic flame treatment system.

Flame treatment is a proven technology that’s been around for many years in the injection molding industry for treating TPO materials to promote paint adhesion.

The customer was producing 3 sizes of vinyl floors at this work cell. To accommodate this part variation, as well as controlling precise target distances and passing speeds for flame exposure time, mounting a burner to the end of a robot arm was the most practical solution. The robot would be an inverted mount centered over the vacuum mold to maintain the existing work cell footprint and to provide open access for mold changing between the three sizes of flooring.

Using RoboGuide, Fanuc’s 3D simulation software, Pioneer was able to identify a Fanuc robot that would meet the payload and reach requirements for this system. A proposal was submitted and the customer submitted their Capital Project Approval Request to their corporate management and a purchase order was issued to Pioneer.

Pioneer worked with a partner integrator to build and supply all of the Compact Flame Treatment System, which Pioneer then integrated into the cell’s controls for a turn-key system. Fanuc’s Dual Check Safety (DCS) package was installed in the robot to reduce the safety distance requirements around the robot cell by defining protective DCS zones around the working robot envelope. Robot travel outside these safety zones creates an immediate stop.

Upon customer approval of all project mechanical and electrical design drawings, the material was ordered and the build began on Pioneer’s shop floor. Once the cell assembly was completed, the customer came to Pioneer for an onsite one-day runoff. After customer approval on the runoff, the machine was disassembled, shipped, and Pioneer’s assembly crew went on-site to install the equipment.

The customer was provided support documents including machine drawings, a detailed machine manual, the latest copies of the robot programs, and a spare parts list.

Outcomes of Success

The customer replaced a manual flame operation with repetitive motions to a fully automated system, where the operator became more of a machine tender than the one performing manual labor. The safety was drastically improved by removing the operator from a hot-flame environment. Efficiency and quality also improved.

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