Report from Hannover: Daily Innovation Focus
In this daily report from Hannover Fair, we focus on developing projects and technologies of particular interest to the Control Engineering audience. This report focuses on three new initiatives from the Fraunhofer Institute .
Automated precision and micro-assembly processes
|Fraunhofer Institute efforts aim to improve automated precision and micro-assembly processes.|
The global manufacturing industries increasingly require flexible automation solutions for handling and assembly processes that are capable of reducing costs and meeting ambitious quality requirements. The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology (IPT) notes that such assembly systems would be required to achieve single-digit micrometer accuracies by means of integrated high-resolution sensors.
In response, the Institute is developing a flexible assembly system for various positioning, alignment and joining operations, enabling the automated assembly of micro-optical systems.
The IPT system includes sensor-based alignment modules with miniaturized grippers and integrated adjusting axes for multiple degrees of freedom, which make it possible to compensate for positioning errors and enable conventional, cost-efficient handling devices to align components with high degrees of accuracy. Scientists at the Institute are creating pallets, magazines, and containers for micro-components to allow a continuously automatic micro-production, even in multi-company supply chains.
Further research activities are focused on the development of a highly flexible assembly cell consisting of several interlinked robots capable of flexibly applying handling, joining, and measuring equipment. Eventually, the facility will be outfitted with mechanisms of self-optimization, enabling the machine to adapt itself to changing environmental conditions and to optimize assembly processes without human intervention. www.ipt.fraunhofer.de
New directions for future automation technology
The Fraunhofer Institute for Information and Data Processing (IITB) notes that “a systematic computer-based planning of production cells or lines in which the entire geometrical structure as well as the assembly logistics can be planned, simulated and examined in detail and seamlessly commissioned remains technically unrealized to date.” To address this, Daimler (working together with various automation providers), has initiated the Automation ML (AML) project, the goal of which is to develop a neutral data format that closes the gap between the
As a new member in the consortium, the IITB provides control systems through which automated plants, such as the one used for the current C-Class car production, can be monitored. The scope of the project would include everything from the pressroom, to the body shop and paint shop, as well as assembly operations. The control systems also operate with data from the manufacturing execution layer to start running quickly or to monitor virtual systems and examine their interactive behavior before their commissioning. The objective is a seamless integration of the control technology in the virtual commissioning sequence to pave the way for the release of digital production. As a result, plants can be tested in their interplay prior to their construction complete with geometry, workflow, and logic and can be inexpensively improved in the computer. This is made possible by the same software that will later monitor and control the actual operation. www.mes.fraunhofer.de
Services for ultra-precision turning and machining
Ultra-precision machining with monocrystalline diamond cutting tools has a wide range of applications, which is no longer restricted to the production of metal optics for laser applications. The small gears used in watches with mirror-finished surfaces are just one example.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology (IPT) uses various machining systems for ultra-precision manufacturing operations, both commercially available systems and self-developed machines. This is said to enable the Institute’s scientists to machine a wide range of different workpieces, such as drums for embossing structures in plastics, diffractive optics and microstructures on mold inserts, ellipsoid mirrors through off-axis machining, and free-form surfaces through the use of Fast Tool Servo Systems (FTS).
Materials that can be machined include aluminum, brass, German silver, nickel-phosphorous (NiP), and PMMA. Automated solutions for ultra-precision machining have also been developed at the Institute, focusing on automated workpiece and tool changing systems, including tool referencing. www.ipt.fraunhofer.de
See additional information about what the Fraunhofer Institute does in robotics and networking .
Also read, from Control Engineering , other reports from Hannover Fair 2009, above.
– David Greenfield , editorial director
Control Engineering News Desk
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