A World's First in Metrology-Assisted Robotic Automation
The MTC delivers a world’s first in robot technology by enabling real-time corrections to a robot’s path during a process, greatly improving accuracy and quality.
"The new process has the potential to transform accuracy and consistency in robotic manufacturing operations. By combining the robot, the laser metrology device and a real-time controller we are able to ensure that the robot can follow complex paths with an extreme degree of accuracy. The project has proved that it is possible to correct a robot’s path in real time. We are now continuing our work to improve accuracy and reliability still further."
Richard Kingston, Technology Specialist, MTC
There has long been a manufacturing problem when extreme levels of accuracy are required for robotised automatic processes. While industrial robots have been used for repetitive tasks for many years, with good results, the increasing use of offline computer programming has underlined the fact that industrial robots struggle to deliver the kind of ultra-accurate precision required in some applications, particularly in the aerospace, electronics and medical fields.
The MTC's approach has delivered a world-first in robot technology. Working with metrology engineers from Telford-based Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, the MTC’s experts came up with a methodology which involves combining the robot – in this case a KUKA KR 240 robot with a KUKA robot controller – with a high-speed ultra-accurate laser tracker, specifically a Leica AT901 laser tracker and a National Instruments real-time controller.
The equipment is able to make real-time corrections to the robot’s path during a process – something which has never been achieved before.
The project has increased the level of accuracy achievable with an industrial robot whilst providing real-time control of accurate robot path corrections.
- Minutely accurate robot applications, which were previously only possible by working extremely slowly on a trial and error basis, can now be carried out with confidence in the accuracy of the completed operation.
- The processes developed are able to deliver higher quality and increased productivity in a shorter time at reduced cost, with eliminated defects.
"Combining the relative benefits of automation, combined with laser-tracking technology can bring real benefits to processes where both point and path-following accuracy is important. Integrated inspection is another key area for us to explore with this development.”
Brett Green, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence