SBIR Phase I: Process Control for Robotic Surface Finishing

Period of Performance: 01/01/2006 - 12/31/2006

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Western Robotics Co
8840 Eagle Road
Willoughby, OH 44094
Principal Investigator

Abstract

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project explores the innovation of a robot that, like biological creatures, operates by applying and sensing contact forces. Today's position-controlled robots have limited applicability to many manufacturing tasks, especially those related to material removal and surface finishing. Emulating a human's free-hand motion capability greatly advances robot capability. Such a robot could trace part contours to smooth and polish. It could "feel" for part edges to discover a part's location, and compare measured geometry to a modeled ideal to detect finishing requirements. The robot could follow finishing strategies, acquiring needed information by touch as it worked. These capabilities will be applied to turbine blade finishing. Applications for force capable robots are ubiquitous across industry. Virtually all parts made from casting, forging, machining, or molding require some degree of surface finishing to arrive at a final desired shape and smoothness. Other prospective applications include: mechanical assembly, sorting and packaging irregular objects, and dual-arm manipulation of heavy and bulky items. The hazards to people filling these roles and