Active Robotic Contact Flange 10583Active Robotic Contact Flange
March 1, 2011
Aninnovative new device from KEBA Corporation, an ActiveRobotic Contact Flange, enables automatic, touch-sensitive surfaceprocessing independent of a robot or end of arm tooling device through acombination of lightning fast and targeted force regulation. Advanced sensing andcontrol technologies allows the flange to greatly simplify robotic pathprogramming and maintain precise force levels for precise buffing and polishingapplications.
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"Thecombination of active pneumatics and sensing devices along with KEBA's closedloop control platform will streamline implementation processes of roboticpositioning based on force, dramatically cutting implementation times, whileincreasing quality and productivity," says Helmut Schreiberhuber, vice presidentfor KEBA. "The reaction time of this product eliminates typical delayedresponse times when compared to existing technologies which allows forunparalleled touch sensitive positioning of the tooling."
TheActive Contact Flange simplifies robotic path programming because itindependently and automatically compensates for positioning to maintain aconstant force on the work surface regardless of its contour (within the 100 mmstroke envelope of the flange). Thisallows a straight line, linear move, for example, to be used in the robotprogram while buffing a curved object. All that is required is for the user toset the force required and the system takes care of the rest.
Thesystem is designed for touch-sensitive handling of a work piece such asautomating sanding, polishing, buffing, stripping, cleaning and deburringapplications because the device automatically compensates for position andforce control. Other potential applications include gluing, bonding, testingand delicate positioning.
"Thecore of the innovation is touch-sensitive, surface processing which allows theflange to use integrated pneumatics and sensing devices, in conjunction with aco-processor on the control side, to process the interactions and createmotion," says Doug Dalgliesh, presidentof 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 controlpositioning."
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Dalglieshsays to keep in mind that the controller is not commanding the device to moveto a specific position, but actually to apply a specific amount of force. Thepneumatic portion of the system is the means to get the force applied, and theflanges have a stroke of up to 4 in. Oneapplication example is a robot moving down a convex surface with a buffing padon the end of the robot arm. Typically, a robot would need to be programmed tospecify the points along the curve to keep the end-of-arm tooling at the pointof contact.
Ifthe convex curve is four inches high and vertical, the robot would need to beprogrammed to define all of the points in the curve. It would be furtherextended at the top, then move back down along the curve and extend again atthe bottom. But using the robotic flange and controller, the motion can beprogrammed using one linear downward motion in the same plane. The flangeactually expands or contracts to reach the curvature of the convex piece andmaintain the preset commanded force.
"Theflange continues to expand until it reaches the pre-specified level ofresistance or force that the application requires," says Dalgliesh. "As theflange moves down the part, the force is increasing because its position isdeeper into the part and, if it senses an over force, it relieves pressure intothe actuator which allows the flange to retract to apply the preset level offorce."
The flange is commanded to apply xlbs of force to the surface and hold that force throughout the entire range oftravel. From the standpoint of a robotic integrator, the programming is mucheasier because there is one linear move and the flange is flexibly adapting tothe contours in the surface.
Thespecial mechanical design of the flange minimizes the risk of work piece damagedue to tool collisions. Even in the case of sudden interference, the systemreacts at great speed and gives way using a combination of touch-sensitive andcollision protection features.
KEBACorp. is an Austrian-based industrial automation products manufacturer with U.S.operations in Troy, MI.
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