Robotics, Automation & Control

Siemens Processor Helps KUKA Boost Robot Productivity

KUKA Flexible Production Systems is a leading producer of production systems for car bodies and chassis. When KUKA decided to become a Tier I supplier of automobile bodies to Chrysler, they needed to use their extensive knowledge of body shops and find a partner willing to work with them to change the landscape of the North American market.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Robotics, Collaboration and partnering, Production engineering, Productivity, Robotics

Fanuc Painting Robot Boosts Production for Metal Finisher

Classic Metal Finishing, based in Jackson, Mich., supplies components for the aerospace, motorcycle, racing, and medical industries. The plant was purchased in February, 2008 by Classic Metal Finishing and Classic Turning. Classic Turning performs high-end CNC machining of components and Classic Metal Finishing performs anodizing and dry film lubricant applications. Classic Metal Finishing’s anodizing line can anodize with two different types for corrosion inhibitor resistance, and can die aluminum in eight different colors. Dry film lubricant is applied to parts to help with high friction tolerance fits and moving assemblies.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Robotics, Metal finishing, Production, Robotics, Spraying, Coatings Colorants and Finishes, Coatings, colorants, and finishes

Magnetic Rotary Encoders Aid Remote Control Vehicle

AB Precision (ABP) prefers to call its Guardian a vehicle (as in MROV - Miniature Remotely Operated Vehicle) rather than a robot. Names aside, the UK-based engineering company’s quadtracked, articulated creation is characterized by dexterity and maneuverability. Its network of ten Renishaw non-contact encoders provide absolute positional feedback to a CPU.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Automation, Architecture, Architecture, Kinematics, Robotics

Assembly Machines Produce Optics for NASA’s NuSTAR Telescope

Cylindrical optics module assembly machines
Swanzey, NH

ABTech has completed the first of two cylindrical optics module assembly machines for Columbia University’s Nevis Astrophysics Laboratory. The multi-axis air bearing machine platforms are optimized for the construction of high-energy xray telescopes. The optics modules will be used to produce the telescope optics for NASA’s NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) program. ABTech will provide installation and on-sight operational training to Columbia University scientists at the Nevis Laboratory and ongoing technical support during the production of the optics modules.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Optics, Automation, Optics, Optics, Assembling, Automation, Manufacturing equipment and machinery, Production

HAWE Hydraulic Valves Improve Maintenance for Conveyor Application Systems

HAWE Hydraulics, Charlotte, NC, offers proportional valves and controls typically used by companies manufacturing machine tools, lifting platforms, mobile cranes, construction machinery, forestry, material handling, shipbuilding, wind and solar power, offshore technology, and waste recyclers. All of HAWE’s pressurized components are made of steel, and are known for their compact design, resistance to high pressure, and reliability and durability.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Automation, Supplier assessment, Valves, Hydraulic fittings, Reliability, Reliability, Commercial vehicles, Off-highway vehicles and equipment

Machine Vision Guides Robot Motion

Machine vision can quickly and accurately determine the location of parts so they can be inspected, measured, or manipulated by a robot. An example is using machine vision to guide a robot unpacking one-gallon cans from a large pallet of cans. Machine vision components — cameras, vision processors, and software — were provided by DALSA, and Faber Industrial Technologies developed the can-picking robot and integrated the robot with the machine vision.

Posted in: Articles, Machine Vision, Robotics, Artificial intelligence, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Artificial intelligence, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Identification, Robotics, Parts

Machinery & Equipment Category Winner

Winner of an HP Workstation

Small-Area Thin-Film Heat Flux Sensor

Mahmoud Assaad
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
Akron, OH

This sensor is being used in tires of all types and sizes, and has also been applied to engineering products such as hoses, belts, and conveyor belts. The product can be used in components for process control, modeling validation, determination of cooling requirements, and general calorimetry in rocketry, aerospace, and automotive environments. The sensor allows transient, bidirectional heat flux measurements on curved and flexing surfaces over areas that are smaller than those allowed by other sensors. This makes it perfect for measuring the convective heat transfer coefficient on various parts of a rolling tire.

Since temperature is one of the primary damage indicators of a tire under service conditions, accurate prediction of the temperature in a tire is vital. The sensor provides the engineers, designers, and material scientists with a means of verifying that the temperature will not reach a level where rubber reversion can occur. This state can only be predicted with accurate heat transfer analysis of the tire. With this information, tire designers and material scientists will be better able to design a tire structure that will not have critical zones of high temperature anywhere within the tire cross-section.

This new sensor design consists of a Wheatstone resistor bridge fabricated onto a 1/4-mm (0.010") thick polyester film, with half the bridge on each side of the film. The temperature sensitive element is sputter-deposited platinum, patterned and applied using a photolithography technique, with line width and line spacing approximately 60 microns. With no heat flux applied to the sensor, all of the resistor bridge elements are at the same ambient temperature, and have the same initial resistance. With the application of heat flux, the resistance of the two elements of the bridge on the hot side of the polyester film changes due to platinum’s temperature coefficient of resistance.

The resistor elements of the bridge on the cold side of the polyester film also change resistance, but by a lesser amount. The change of the resistances unbalances the bridge, and a precise measure of the heat flux can be determined from the output based on the fractional change of the resistances and the excitation voltage. With the application of “negative” heat flux (that is, a reversed heat flow), the output of the bridge will change sign. Thus, the sensor determines the direction of heat flux as well as its magnitude.

For more information, contact the inventor at

Honorable Mentions

Automated 3-Axis Instant Printed Circuit Board Prototyping Machine

Ryan Anderson
Sandia National Laboratories
Albuquerque, NM

Today, printed circuit board (PCB) production involves cutting the board, printing the masking pattern, etching, rinsing, applying flux, drilling holes, and soldering components onto the board. This new method for creating a PCB involves cutting the board, drawing traces, drilling holes, and soldering the components. This machine has three axes of motion, each controlled by a small stepper motor. The three axes move a plate located on the front of the machine. Attached to this plate is a magnetic tool changer that allows the user to change between a silver-loaded pen and a drill. When the user is ready to create a PCB, a blank piece of C10 board is secured in the slot on the steel base of the machine, the silver loaded pen is attached to the tool changer, and the CNC is used to run the automated tool path.

LumenFlow 360-Degree View Imaging System

Harold Brunt
LumenFlow Corp.
Middleville, MI

This imaging system is a photonic device capable of illuminating the interior surface of any near-cylindrical object and then focusing the reflected light on the detector of a CCD camera (or any device configured to accept an image from a camera lens). The configurable system has the ability to resolve features as small as 20 microns along the interior of a cylindrical object within a range of diameters. Vertical walls, under-cut diameters, deep bores, or gaps beneath inserted components can be viewed and inspected. The system is inserted within the cylindrical surface, the image is captured, and areas of interest are identified and then analyzed. The device can be used in machine vision applications where automating bore inspection is not currently taking place.

Posted in: Articles, Automation, Tires and traction, Measurements, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Thermal management, Thermal management

Yaskawa Controllers Help Echo Hill Upgrade Grinding Operation

Echo Hill Automation Inc., a Beamsville, Ontario, Canada company founded by mechanical engineers and brothers Dan and Harry Schellenberg, has grown from a small two-man operation to a successful manufacturer of centerless grinding automation, with the help of servomotors and controllers from Yaskawa Electric of Waukegan, IL. Centerless grinding automation is used for high production grinding, where tight tolerances and good part roundness has to be achieved.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Automation, Automation, Machining processes

Matrox Helps Military Vehicles Get the Robotic Touch

To camouflage an object is to hide it, conceal it so that it blends in with the surrounding environment. For the military, it’s a tactical necessity and can make the difference between a platoon’s success or failure, a soldier’s life or death. It’s no wonder that the military takes camouflage very seriously. Especially for vehicles.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Robotics, Body structures, Automation, Robotics, Spraying, Coatings Colorants and Finishes, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Military vehicles and equipment

FARO Inspection Device Aids in Robot Calibration

Parallel Robotic Systems Company (Hampton, NH) designs and produces high-precision positioning systems to provide effective solutions for difficult motion problems, correct errors in automated welding lines, develop newer and better product designs, and further testing in bio-mechanical research.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Robotics, Calibration, Kinematics, Robotics, Biomechanics, Inspections

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