A mini work-cell for handling and assembling microcomponents

Gianmauro Fontana (ITIA-CNR, Milan, Italy)
Serena Ruggeri (ITIA-CNR, Milan, Italy)
Irene Fassi (ITIA-CNR, Milan, Italy)
Giovanni Legnani (Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy)

Assembly Automation

ISSN: 0144-5154

Publication date: 28 January 2014



The purpose of this paper was the design, development, and test of a flexible and reconfigurable experimental setup for the automatic manipulation of microcomponents, enhanced by an accurately developed vision-based control.


To achieve a flexible and reconfigurable system, an experimental setup based on 4 degrees of freedom robot and a two-camera vision system was designed. Vision-based strategies were adopted to suitably support the motion system in easily performing precise manipulation operations. A portable and flexible program, incorporating the machine vision module and the control module of the task operation, was developed. Non-conventional calibration strategies were also conceived for the complete calibration of the work-cell. The developed setup was tested and exploited in the execution of repetitive tests of the grasping and releasing of microcomponents, testing also different grasping and releasing strategies.


The system showed its ability in automatically manipulating microcomponents with two different types of vacuum grippers. The performed tests evaluated the success and precision of the part grasping and release, which is a crucial aspect of micromanipulation. The results confirm reliability in grasping and that the release is precluded by adhesive effects. Thus, different strategies were adopted to improve the efficiency in the release of stuck components without negatively affecting the accuracy nor the repeatability of the positioning.


This work provided a flexible and reconfigurable architecture devoted to the automatic manipulation of microcomponents, methodologies for the characterization of different vacuum microgrippers, and quantitative information about their performance, to date missing in literature.



Fontana, G., Ruggeri, S., Fassi, I. and Legnani, G. (2014), "A mini work-cell for handling and assembling microcomponents", Assembly Automation, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 27-33. https://doi.org/10.1108/AA-11-2012-087

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