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Implementation of a robot control architecture for additive manufacturing applications

Filipe Monteiro Ribeiro (Universidade de Coimbra Departamento de Engenharia Mecânica, Coimbra, Portugal)
J. Norberto Pires (Universidade de Coimbra Departamento de Engenharia Mecânica, Coimbra, Portugal)
Amin S. Azar (SINTEF Industry, Oslo, Oslo, Norway)

Industrial Robot

ISSN: 0143-991x

Article publication date: 21 March 2019

Issue publication date: 12 April 2019

1610

Abstract

Purpose

Additive manufacturing (AM) technologies have recently turned into a mainstream production method in many industries. The adoption of new manufacturing scenarios led to the necessity of cross-disciplinary developments by combining several fields such as materials, robotics and computer programming. This paper aims to describe an innovative solution for implementing robotic simulation for AM experiments using a robot cell, which is controlled through a system control application (SCA).

Design/methodology/approach

For this purpose, the emulation of the AM tasks was executed by creating a robot working station in RoboDK software, which is responsible for the automatic administration of additive tasks. This is done by interpreting gcode from the Slic3r software environment. Posteriorly, all the SCA and relevant graphical user interface (GUI) were developed in Python to control the AM tasks from the RoboDK software environment. As an extra feature, Slic3r was embedded in the SCA to enable the generation of gcode automatically, without using the original user interface of the software. To sum up, this paper adds a new insight in the field of AM as it demonstrates the possibility of simulating and controlling AM tasks into a robot station.

Findings

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the AM field by introducing and implementing an SCA capable of executing/simulating robotic AM tasks. It also shows how an advanced user can integrate advanced simulation technologies with a real AM system, creating in this way a powerful system for R&D and operational manufacturing tasks. As demonstrated, the creation of the AM environment was only possible by using the RoboDk software that allows the creation of a robot working station and its main operations.

Originality/value

Although the AM simulation was satisfactory, it was necessary to develop an SCA capable of controlling the whole simulation through simple commands instructed by users. As described in this work, the development of SCA was entirely implemented in Python by using official libraries. The solution was presented in the form of an application capable of controlling the AM operation through a server/client socket connection. In summary, a system architecture that is capable of controlling an AM simulation was presented. Moreover, implementation of commands in a simple GUI was shown as a step forward in implementation of modern AM process controls.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Dr Albert Nubiola, CEO of RoboDK, is gratefully acknowledged for granting access to the software for the Hyroman initiative.

Citation

Ribeiro, F.M., Pires, J.N. and Azar, A.S. (2019), "Implementation of a robot control architecture for additive manufacturing applications", Industrial Robot, Vol. 46 No. 1, pp. 73-82. https://doi.org/10.1108/IR-11-2018-0226

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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