Purpose – The use of thin sheets with 3D geometries is growing in quantity, due to current progress towards life-cycle design and sustainable production, and growing in geometrical complexity, due to aesthetic and quality concerns. The growth in manufacturing equipment flexibility has not kept pace with these trends. The purpose of this paper is to propose a new reconfigurable fixture to shorten this gap. Design/methodology/approach – The design implements a novel concept of fixturing. Without interrupting the machining process, a swarm of adaptable mobile agents periodically reposition and reconfigure to support the thin-sheet workpiece near the tool-point. The technology has been developed by adopting a multi-disciplinary, life-cycle approach. Modularity and eco-sustainability paradigms have informed the design. Findings – The performance of the physical prototype in an industrial scenario is highly satisfactory. Experiments demonstrate the ability of the system to reconfigure while maintaining machining accuracy in scenarios typical for aircraft part production. Research limitations/implications – Coordination between the machine-tool numerical control and the fixture control is not complete and its improvement will make the manufacturing process more robust and autonomous. Practical implications – The system allows reduction of shop-floor fixturing inventory. Compared to other reconfigurable fixtures, SwarmItFIX is smarter, more flexible, lighter, and offers shorter reconfiguration times, easier set-up, and better adaptability to a wider range of workpiece shapes. Originality/value – This is a breakthrough idea, answering the challenges of hyper-flexible manufacturing and the proliferation of thin-sheet use. It is of significant value to mass-customized industry and of special significance for small-series production

SwarmItFIX: a multi-robot-based reconfigurable fixture

DE LEONARDO GIRARD, LUIS MIGUEL;ZOPPI, MATTEO;LI, XIONG;ZLATANOV, DIMITER;MOLFINO, REZIA
2013-01-01

Abstract

Purpose – The use of thin sheets with 3D geometries is growing in quantity, due to current progress towards life-cycle design and sustainable production, and growing in geometrical complexity, due to aesthetic and quality concerns. The growth in manufacturing equipment flexibility has not kept pace with these trends. The purpose of this paper is to propose a new reconfigurable fixture to shorten this gap. Design/methodology/approach – The design implements a novel concept of fixturing. Without interrupting the machining process, a swarm of adaptable mobile agents periodically reposition and reconfigure to support the thin-sheet workpiece near the tool-point. The technology has been developed by adopting a multi-disciplinary, life-cycle approach. Modularity and eco-sustainability paradigms have informed the design. Findings – The performance of the physical prototype in an industrial scenario is highly satisfactory. Experiments demonstrate the ability of the system to reconfigure while maintaining machining accuracy in scenarios typical for aircraft part production. Research limitations/implications – Coordination between the machine-tool numerical control and the fixture control is not complete and its improvement will make the manufacturing process more robust and autonomous. Practical implications – The system allows reduction of shop-floor fixturing inventory. Compared to other reconfigurable fixtures, SwarmItFIX is smarter, more flexible, lighter, and offers shorter reconfiguration times, easier set-up, and better adaptability to a wider range of workpiece shapes. Originality/value – This is a breakthrough idea, answering the challenges of hyper-flexible manufacturing and the proliferation of thin-sheet use. It is of significant value to mass-customized industry and of special significance for small-series production
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11567/625150
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