Premium Aerotec, a Tier 1 supplier for Airbus, approached the Center for Lightweight Production Technology in Augsburg, a research facility within the German Aerospace Center, with a vision to automate a part of the CFRP production. In particular, the focus was put on a sub-process of rib production in which the edges of a CFRP rib are manually sealed by the worker using 2K-material. In cooperation with the client, a process concept was developed using light-weight robots, where the worker can work with the robot in shared work area: the robot processes the simple edges (i.e. larger radii), while the worker processes the few edges that are not accessible by the robot. Through parallelization – with several parts in the work area - the tasks can be distributed without both agents interfering with each other.
The first step was the process development, which focused on a fast and simple check-in of the component to be processed. As a result, the component can be placed freely on the robot-accessible area without having to be fixed. The operator can now guide the end effector to three characteristic points of the component and refer them with a measuring tip. This enables the system to recognize the component and its three-dimensional position in space. After pressing the start button, the robot starts to apply the sealant at the predefined edge-areas. As a further development, a stand-alone optical recognition or a mixture of both systems is possible for further reduction of processing times.
The second work package was the development of the control of robot and end effector. First of all, a force-torque sensor had to be used to enable a comfortable hand guidance of the probe tip. A tool for generating the three-dimensional path based on the CAD model of the part, including the varying width of the edge, was developed. Also, the integration of the applicator control to apply constant material thickness depending on speed and width of the parts edge was successfully implemented.
The third challenge was the sealant application and the mechanical integration of the applicator. Viscotec GmbH was greatly assisting in this task and delivered a system consisting of the ViscoDuo-P 4/4 2K dispenser together with the ViscoDos-2K-V/-2K-P control system. This setup is able to combine the two components of the sealant very precisely and provide it in a controlled manner. A mechanically flexible nozzle, also supplied by Viscotec, was able to compensate the inaccuracies emerging from the path generation, the measuring process and the component itself very well.
Together with Premium Aerotec GmbH, the DLR was able to develop a system that shows great potential in automated production, especially in the area of human-robot collaboration. With this system, a production cell geared to a concrete application scenario can be designed and quickly set up.
We wish to thank all the contributors and partners for this successful colaboartion!
For further questions please contact the following
- project management, control: Marcin Malecha - email@example.com
- control, process: Lucas Kiefer - firstname.lastname@example.org
- sealant application hardware: Robert Pulzer - Robert.email@example.com