Experts called on to design robots

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Process design experts from the Advanced Manufacturing Park have been invited to take part in a major research project to develop industrial robots that can be incorporated into cost- effective, accurate and reliable machining systems.

The £7 million European Commission-funded COMET project involves 14 technical partners from eight countries in Europe.

Among them are two AMP-based organisations – TEKS, a French-owned company that provides hi-tech services for manufacturing in aerospace, energy and motorsport and Sheffield University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.

TEKS research and development manager Roland Krain said: “Traditionally, robots are used as handling solutions for assembly. If machining is required in a robotic line or cell, the robot typically would place the part in a conventional machine tool.

“Such tools range from the high tens of thousands pounds to several hundred thousand pounds.

“A robotic machining cell could provide a cost-effective machining solution. A second- hand robot can typically be purchased for £15,000, along with a quality high-speed spindle for £20,000, giving the end-user mult-axis machining capability for a fraction of the cost of a comparable conventional machine tool.

“The challenge is to overcome the current issues with robots around reduced stiffness and dynamic accuracy but TEKS and its consortium partners are well on the way to achieving this.”