Coin design at the U.S. Mint has been largely made digital, with software enabling the small team of sculptor-engravers to produce a
staggering number of new designs each year to meet Congressional demands. Now computers are tackling the assembly lines. This Coin
World article by Paul Gilkes describes new robotic equipment recently installed at the San Francisco mint. -Editor
The San Francisco Mint has completed installation of a robotic loop assembly system that triples the speed of packaging Proof coins into
plastic lenses for special collector sets.
The system, developed by the Mint’s engineering team in conjunction with the manufacturer, Farason Corp., Coatsville, Pa., gives the San
Francisco Mint the ability to fill coin lenses at the rate of 1,800 lenses per hour, versus the previous 600 per hour, a Mint official
The system replaces a labor-intensive system installed in 1999 that required significant manual inspection of coins and plastic lenses,
checking for damage that would prompt removing the coins or lens from the assembly system.
The new robotically controlled digital inspection assembly inspects each coin and lens at each phase of the assembly operation. Coins
and lenses can be rejected if they fail to meet quality control specifications. If defects are found, the system will shut off for the
defective item’s removal, and then restart.
(Each lens is composed of a top and bottom plastic enclosure and a cardboard insert with openings sized for the respective coins, which
are robotically placed into them.)
Once the multistep operation is complete, the finished lenses are moved by automated trolleys to the next station where they are loaded
for placement into the full-color cardboard storage boxes before final shipment in delivery boxes.
Don Penning, the San Francisco Mint’s industrial manager for packaging, said the digital visual detection equipment will, at every entry
interval, inspect the coins and lenses for defects. A final quality control inspection is conducted at the end of the line when the
finished lenses exit the assembly loop.
Where the previous assembly system required three full-time operators, the new system requires only two workers to keep the system
stocked with sufficient top and bottom plastic lenses, cardboard inserts, and coins. The system will shut down if any station from which
coins or lenses are fed runs out.
To read the complete article, see:
Robots invade San
Francisco Mint for assembling plastic lenses for Proof coin sets (www.coinworld.com/news/us-coins/2015/08/
Wayne Homren, Editor
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