IMF installs giant manipulator capable of handling big flasks and castings up to a weight of 20 tons

Foundry equipment manufacturer IMF Group, with headquarters in Italy, has recently manufactured a tele manipulator capable of handling big flasks and castings up to a weight of 20 tons. The giant Automa K20 manipulator has been installed at the Italian VDP Schio foundry and is believed to be the biggest manipulator ever manufactured worldwide.

The manipulator, specifically designed and supplied by IMF, has been installed on the shake-out and finishing line at VDP Schio. The line manufactures big castings for a number of heavy industries – casting from three up to 20 tons. The Automa K20 manipulator has been deployed for the opening, shaking-out and handling of the castings before and after the sand blasting and before the final finishing operations of the castings.


The design and manufacture of the giant Automa K20 took approximately eight months, which is a relatively short period considering the manipulator is a prototype and needed to pass safety and operational criteria before installation. The main advantages of using such a machine are the increase in the safety level for operators, increase in productivity and the reduction of down time.

The machine, manufactured at IMF di Luino, has a total weight of 160 tons, an installed power of 250 kW and a capacity of vertical clamping and lifting of 20 tons. The working radius covers approximately 12 metres and the manipulator can work at speeds of up to 24 m/min.

The hydraulic components have been designed considering the big loads involved, using electronic proportional servo valves specifically conceived for this application. The software of the tele manipulator, developed by the IMF electrical design office allows the total control of all operational parameters.

The operator on board controls all the operations inside a conditioned and sound- proof cabin with screens that allow the visualisation of all the working areas through cameras installed on the machine.


The manipulator is maneuvered via a control stick inside the cabin are controlled through a control stick. IMF has made improvements in the operational aspects of the manipulator, having previously manufactured a number of smaller capacity manipulators. These include incorporating an active feed-back system, equivalent to the operator seeing in real time the actual movements of the machine.

The installation of the Automa 20K manipulator at the VDP Schio foundry, which is based in the town of Schio in the Province of Vicenza in the Veneto region in northern Italy and has clients in the marine, energy and construction applications, manufacturing castings from a few kilos up to 100 tons, has been to allow the manipulator move inside the shake-out and shot-blasting areas. This allows the manipulator to seamlessly move the heavy castings from the one operation to the other before transferring the castings to a conveyor system that takes the castings off to the machining department.

IMF have previously supplied VDP Schio foundry with a smaller manipulator. IMF has also recently supplied a moulding plant that can produce up to four moulds per hour in box sizes of 2500mm x 3600mm and castings up to 10 tons in weight, completely designed and manufactured by IMF.

More details on IMF systems and equipment can be found on or for further information contact Ceramic & Alloy Specialists on TEL: 011 894 3039 or visit