Robots have traditionally been used for teach/repeat functions; once they learn what spot to go to, they return to it every time. But composites manufacturing is not exact and product tolerances can be large, so companies may have to change robot positions to work on each part, according to Christopher Blanchette, national account manager, aerospace and assembly for FANUC America, a company that specializes in robotics automation.
Today’s intelligent robots can provide the flexibility needed to adapt to composite parts’ changing geometries based on feedback from sensors. Using the automated systems that monitor and control the robot’s input, operators can achieve more precise results than they can through mechanical adjustments or general calibrations.
FANUC is working on dynamic path modification and sensory tools to improve robots’ responsiveness. Integrated vision tools will allow a robot to locate a part using cameras; integrated touch sensing tools will enable the robot to “feel” the part so that it applies constant pressure in a single direction regardless of the part’s geometry.