innovative new device from KEBA Corporation, an Active
Robotic Contact Flange, enables automatic, touch-sensitive surface
processing independent of a robot or end of arm tooling device through a
combination of lightning fast and targeted force regulation. Advanced sensing and
control technologies allows the flange to greatly simplify robotic path
programming and maintain precise force levels for precise buffing and polishing
combination of active pneumatics and sensing devices along with KEBA's closed
loop control platform will streamline implementation processes of robotic
positioning based on force, dramatically cutting implementation times, while
increasing quality and productivity," says Helmut Schreiberhuber, vice president
for KEBA. "The reaction time of this product eliminates typical delayed
response times when compared to existing technologies which allows for
unparalleled touch sensitive positioning of the tooling."
Active Contact Flange simplifies robotic path programming because it
independently and automatically compensates for positioning to maintain a
constant force on the work surface regardless of its contour (within the 100 mm
stroke envelope of the flange). This
allows a straight line, linear move, for example, to be used in the robot
program while buffing a curved object. All that is required is for the user to
set the force required and the system takes care of the rest.
system is designed for touch-sensitive handling of a work piece such as
automating sanding, polishing, buffing, stripping, cleaning and deburring
applications because the device automatically compensates for position and
force control. Other potential applications include gluing, bonding, testing
and delicate positioning.
core of the innovation is touch-sensitive, surface processing which allows the
flange to use integrated pneumatics and sensing devices, in conjunction with a
co-processor on the control side, to process the interactions and create
motion," says Doug Dalgliesh, president
of Flex Market Solutions and a master distributor of KEBA products in the U.S.
"The PC-based co-processor is the brains that accepts input from the sensors,
and provides the outputs to the internal mechanisms that provide force control
says to keep in mind that the controller is not commanding the device to move
to a specific position, but actually to apply a specific amount of force. The
pneumatic portion of the system is the means to get the force applied, and the
flanges have a stroke of up to 4 in. One
application example is a robot moving down a convex surface with a buffing pad
on the end of the robot arm. Typically, a robot would need to be programmed to
specify the points along the curve to keep the end-of-arm tooling at the point
the convex curve is four inches high and vertical, the robot would need to be
programmed to define all of the points in the curve. It would be further
extended at the top, then move back down along the curve and extend again at
the bottom. But using the robotic flange and controller, the motion can be
programmed using one linear downward motion in the same plane. The flange
actually expands or contracts to reach the curvature of the convex piece and
maintain the preset commanded force.
flange continues to expand until it reaches the pre-specified level of
resistance or force that the application requires," says Dalgliesh. "As the
flange moves down the part, the force is increasing because its position is
deeper into the part and, if it senses an over force, it relieves pressure into
the actuator which allows the flange to retract to apply the preset level of
The flange is commanded to apply x
lbs of force to the surface and hold that force throughout the entire range of
travel. From the standpoint of a robotic integrator, the programming is much
easier because there is one linear move and the flange is flexibly adapting to
the contours in the surface.
special mechanical design of the flange minimizes the risk of work piece damage
due to tool collisions. Even in the case of sudden interference, the system
reacts at great speed and gives way using a combination of touch-sensitive and
collision protection features. KEBA
Corp. is an Austrian-based industrial automation products manufacturer with U.S.
operations in Troy, MI.