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 that 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.