For decades, the Kern Studios name has been associated with high-quality accessories. Many of the manufacturing techniques are still used today, and many of them date back to the beginning of time. We recently invested in a very exciting new “hire” to ensure we stay ahead of our game for years to come.
Pixie is our new robotic manufacturer, also known as sculptor robot. The flexible robot from KUKA / Robotic Solutions can mill sculptures up to 60 feet long with astonishing precision. Suitable for large-scale accessories, such as banners and arenas. However, by cutting the sculpture into manageable chunks with our software, the full-size sculpture is theoretically infinite. Says Kern Studios.
It uses drill bits attached to its long metal arm to carve low-density Styrofoam, wood, clay, stone, and even metal to within 1 millimeter of precision. Pixie is mounted on a 44 foot rail flanked by a 5 foot by 10 foot rail, vacuum table, and 16 foot radius turntable.
Pixie’s main medium is polystyrene, which has been a staple of Kern Studios for a long time. Most Carnival floats have a polystyrene spout covered with painted paper mache. For sturdy floats that come back year after year, or for commercial projects that need more durability, a plastic liner is used.
Alex Sherrod, the robot’s floor manager, learned to use the robot’s Delcam app to monitor its movements. The application creates toolpaths, which are instructions for creating a certain accessory at the desired scale based on a 3D model file. Subsequently, the materials for the job are established and the project starts in manual mode after configuring the trajectory in the application.
Pixie can work in automatic mode until it runs smoothly so the robot will run unattended overnight. The robotic arm also uses bits of various sizes to take roughing runs before switching to finishing runs to hammer the finer aspects of the pattern, with an accuracy of 0.01mm. And so the finished accessory can go to the next level of development.
Sherrod commented. “You are just adding a new tool”, “It is not going to cost anyone work. It will allow us more flexibility and create new jobs that we have never had before in our company. ”
“I don’t see a robot replacing any employee.” “I’ve been hand sculpting at Kern for the past eight years, and now I’m working with the robot, so it hasn’t taken my job away from me. It’s just a piece of modern technology that can transform things, and while some modifications will be needed, the human aspect will still be there. “