Automated Sanding of Aircraft Coatings

Period of Performance: 03/24/2008 - 07/24/2011


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Aerobotix, Inc.
125 Jetplex Circle
Madison, AL 35758
Principal Investigator


The development of a robotic sanding system is of particular importance to implementing an automated method for sanding critical, high performance coatings to final thickness and surface finish requirements on internal/external aircraft composite structures. The objective of the proposed research project is to continue development of robotic sanding technology and produce a fully functional prototype device (or devices) for use in robotic applications. Phase I of this project demonstrated the ability of a specialized sanding device to be integrated to a robot as an end-of-arm-tool and used to perform automated sanding of multiple coatings in a variety of orientations, maintaining a controlled application force. This sanding tool features integrated force control, surface compliancy and vacuum recovery. Phase II of this project will target refined development of a production prototype robotic sanding tool (or tools), robotic path plans and operator control software that can be integrated for production use onto existing robotic coating systems. A second robotic sanding tool, utilizing pneumatic force control, has been identified as requiring development to support the integration and use on older generation robotic systems which do not have the capability to use the integrated force control sensor. Both prototype sanding tools will be refined and adapted to integrate to the end of existing long-arm tools already in use on the identified robotic systems.