Industrial robotics provides high flexibility and reconfigurability, cost effectiveness and user friendly programming for many applications but still lacks in accuracy. An effective workcell calibration reduces the errors in robotic manufacturing and contributes to extend the use of industrial robots to perform high quality finishing of complex parts in the aerospace industry. A novel workcell calibration method is embedded in an integrated design framework for an in-depth exploitation of CAD-based simulation and offline programming. The method is composed of two steps: a first offline calibration of the workpiece-independent elements in the workcell layout and a final automated online calibration of workpiece-dependent elements. The method is finally applied to a robotic workcell for finishing aluminum housings of helicopter gear transmissions, characterized by complex and non-repetitive shapes, and by severe dimensional and geometrical accuracy demands. Experimental results demonstrate enhanced performances of the robotic workcell and improved final quality of the housings.
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