AMRC project a step-change in aerospace robotics

Posted on 20 Jun 2017 by Jonny Williamson

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) has completed an £850,000 project to offer the UK aerospace sector a unique capability for high accuracy robotic machining.

Robotics - The newly upgraded KUKA Titan robot at the AMRC’s Factory 2050 - image courtesy of AMRC.
The newly upgraded KUKA Titan robot at the AMRC’s Factory 2050 – image courtesy of AMRC.

The Flexible Robotic Machining in High Accuracy Applications project was launched by the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing, with backing from the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI).

The ARMC reportedly identified the need for the project after carrying out three years of robot machining research for aerospace OEMs and high-end automotive manufacturers.

Ben Morgan, who heads up the AMRC’s Integrated Manufacturing Group at Factory 2050, explained: “We believe there is great potential to achieve a step change in high accuracy robotic machining on the back of our previous research and our understanding of the fundamental techniques.”

The AMRC has combined an existing accurate robotic platform with high expertise in CNC machine tool dynamics in a bid to enhance the robot’s accuracy and overcome its “lack of stiffness and dynamic stability”.

The centre has had the latest accurate Renishaw rotary encoders incorporated into its KUKA ‘Titan’ robot and linked to the robot’s Siemens 840D controller.

The technology has been developed by Electroimpact, described as being one of the world’s leading aerospace automation companies, with UK offices in Deeside, which has experience in creating accurate robotics for the aerospace market.

Morgan noted: “The project has the potential to develop accurate and stiff robotic machining for both metallic and composite structures, offering manufacturers increased flexibility and greater efficiency when it comes to producing higher quality components.

“It would reduce the need for expensive specialised multi-axis machine tools and would have applications in both current and future commercial aircraft programmes, as well as in a wide range of other high value UK industries including the defence, automotive and marine sectors.”

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