Collaborative Robot Systems Enable Production Metrology Strategies

In the age of Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing, flexible production strategies require intelligent interaction between humans and robots. This interaction is based on the combination of robotics and high-resolution sensor systems. Metrology expert and supplier of optical 3d metrology, Alicona, has mastered the implementation of this interaction on the basis of Focus Variation. Its collaborative systems enable automatic measurement of defined measuring programs and are easy to configure. Measurement results are in high-resolution, traceable and with a high repeatability. How this is achieved, is demonstrated by Alicona using two concrete applications that are proven in the field. “Based on the measurement of turbine disks and large, long round tools, we show what we mean by Smart Manufacturing and how man, robots and automated metrology work together”, explains Alicona president, Stefan Scherer.

Flexible Quality Assurance in Production

alicona-cobots_disccobot_measurement-of-turbine-discs-_manuallyFor quality assurance of round, heavy components the new robot measuring system can support up to 120kg. One application is the production-integrated measurement of turbine disks. Here in particular, it concerns the standardized evaluation of chamfers. By verification of the minimum radii, sharp edges can be avoided, which in the worst case can compromise the safety of aircraft. Other applications are the quality assurance of circular saw blades or grinding wheels.

The collaborative system is designed so that it is easy to program and use. The robot arm, with attached measuring sensor is easily and conveniently manipulated by the operator to the desired surface position. Two handles with integrated joystick are mounted on the sensor, so the robot is easy to move. By means of an app, a smartphone displays the live view for manual, precise positioning and measurement. Using connected automation software, any series of measurements can be defined at several positions, which the operator starts with the press of a button. The control and measurement is fully automated, and at the end the user receives a measurement record with OK or Not OK details.

Measuring Large Tools

A further new collaborative system is available in the field of production metrology, where Alicona is best known for the measurement of the cutting edges on micro-precision tools. Globally, well-known tool manufacturers use the company’s automated tool measuring systems for to verify edge preparation, wear and service life. As Scherer points out: “As a supplier of 3d measurement systems for quality assurance research and production, we also provide automated measurement solutions to measure larger drills and cutters up to 3ft.” The corresponding test set-up is a 9-axis solution: The 6 axis robot is complemented by the 3D optical measurement sensor, the rotational axis of HSK interface and a variable stroke axis. The user thus determines the positioning of his tool in height and, in combination with the rotation axis, creates the best possible access for measurement. The wheeled design also makes the robot portable and flexible to use in a variety of places. Manufacturers, for example, have the option of leading the robot to their machine tools and of measuring the tool in the machine. Components must not be un-clamped and measured in a laboratory. Defects and components out of tolerance can be detected at an early stage, and not at the end of a production process.

Production Capable Measurement, Ready For Operation

Collaborative systems from Alicona are based on the combination of a 6-axis robot with a stable 3D measurement sensor, which delivers traceable measurements in high resolution with repeatable accuracy even under production conditions. Programming and measuring as well as handling of the taught-in measurement sequence require no prior knowledge of metrology. The systems run both in manual and automatic mode and can be optimally integrated into an existing production line. The measurement itself is implemented with a high-resolution 3D focus variation measuring sensor. Users verify the surface quality and dimensional accuracy of their components and determine characteristics such as dimensions, distances, angles, deviations in shape and positional relationships. The dimensional measurement sensor is robust under vibration and insensitive to ambient light.

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