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Artistic robotic surface processing for stone

Final Report Summary - AROSU (Artistic robotic surface processing for stone)

Executive Summary:
As the natural stone industry is of a crucial importance at European level and under the worldwide growing demand for natural stone products, the AROSU project proposes to develop and to evolve a novel production concept, able to extend industrial robot usage as an active assistant during the complex and demanding artistic work of hard natural stone carving.
In fact in the last years globalization is transforming the competitive scenario at a fast pace, with high technology available to most of worldwide players, who are able to offer good alternatives at extremely affordable prices; quality alone is therefore not able to keep up with the price gap, and the result is that the traditional European sculpturing and artistic stone processing is becoming an endangered art. Thus, it became mandatory that the processes of artistic stone processing urgently evolves technologically, to remain competitive in the international market, maintaining the inimitable artistic touch, at the same time keeping up with the new industrial requirements in terms of productivity and lean manufacturing.
The main goal in the AROSU project and of the entire consortium is to advance and facilitate traditional artisan and art-work with new technologies, helping the European stone industry to lower their production costs by automating various production steps through a new flexible production concept.
This, it is aimed to achieved through the implementation of a novel robot cell, able to produce artistic looking surfaces by implementing the following core components: new robot mounted pneumatic chisel tool, an automated path generation from geometry data provided by a design interface for architects and artists. In addition, the competitiveness of the stone processing industry will be improved, by increasing drastically the production efficiency and by widening the range of the natural stone products, with different sizes, through a novel co-operative workspace, between the sculptors and the robotic work-cell system.
The AROSU consortium is formed by a strong industrial participation: KLERO and BAMBERGER from Germany, G. GIBSON from UK, II A MIMARLIK from Turkey and world leader in robot manufacturing KUKA CEE.
On the other hand the research is carried out by: ROBOTS IN ARCHITECTURE from Austria, LABOR from Italy, TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITAET DORTMUND from Germany.

Project Context and Objectives:
As per project contract and work-plan outlined in Annex I, dated 22/06/2012, AROSU project has been devoted to attain the following strategic goals with the activities performed under the specific 9 work packages, spread on the two years duration of the project.
• S.01 – To ensure maximum control, reproducibility and accuracy of robot strokes
• S.02 – Developing a software environment for designers
• S.03 – Developing of intuitive Robotic Path Planning
• S.04 – Implementation of the robot cell, integrated in the stone processing working environment
These goals have been fully achieved by performing the activities of the work packages planned for the project, as follows:
1. The definition of AROSU end-user and system requirements and identification of the technical specifications;
2. The definition of the currently applied manual processing workflow, including the type of natural stone types, geometric restrictions, techniques applied and identification of the typical working parameters;
3. The design of the chiselling tools to be adapted to the robot cell, designed through a kinematic mechanism which allows to follow the trajectory commonly used in the manual operations for each kind of chisel; the definition of the hammering tool realised through a mechanical system which is able to control hammering force and frequency of hit during the process, also allowing single hit.
4. The development of a programming system in which the end-user can create the desired design, including its properties, and the robot programs are generated. The new interface for artistic stone processing will feature the following properties: it will be based on CAD software that is popular in the creative industry, thereby making AROSU accessible to as many architects, artists, sculptors, and designers as possible, it will use the visual programming to enable users without scripting skills to create custom fabrication patterns for artistic stone processing, e.g. via chiseling, hammering, it will include processing strategies to allow the mass customization of stone elements, and it will reduce costs not only for larger numbers, but also for a small lot size.
5. The creation and development of an intuitive, dynamic path-planning by highly specialized algorithms, using the environment of SG3 will allow users and SMEs to: easily, change the parameters of a stone processing strategy and evaluate the result for the pattern, as well as the robot’s kinematics in real time; to use the accessible visual programming environment of SG3 to define completely new strategies; to accurately apply stone processing patterns to arbitrary surfaces for automated stone processing that goes beyond what is possible with manual labor and to process stone quickly and safely.
The dissemination activities and management of the Consortium (WP8 and WP9) were continuously ongoing activities during the project and have produced outputs, such as: active dissemination activities for the project itself and of the project results, nonetheless the defined and clear exploitation strategy to be implemented after the end of the project, also a good management of the project partners and the technical activities.
Finally, let us consider the milestones list for the entire period of the project, reassumed in the table below:
• MS1, AROSU concept, to be delivered at M3, involving the WP1;
• MS2, Mechanical Tools, at M15, involving the WP2;
• MS3, Path planning, at M16, involving the WP3;
• MS4, AROSU work cell, at M21, involving the WP4;
• MS5, Accessible stone processing software, at M20, involving the WP6;
• MS6 AROSU Demonstrator, at M24, involving the WP7.
Basic results have been fixed and achieved for the first period, as means of definition of the AROSU system requirements and definition of the specifications for the AROSU system concept, achieving this way the first Milestone MS1, although the core objectives of the project have been concentrated in the second period with the achievement of the remaining Milestones 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, realizing the mechanical tools, through the implementation of the chisel and hammer mechanisms, realization of the Arosu software and integrated with path planning algorithms.

Project Results:
WP1 – Process analysis and user centered design
This work package, started at month 1 of the project and ended at M18, having as main objective the analysis the process of stone processing, its field of applications and its limits, taking into account all the regulatory and technological aspects.
• Task 1.1 – Workflow Analysis and Optimisation Potential (RIA), in which the task leader, supported by the other SME’s, conducted some studies and surveys on the actual characteristics and of the software’s target market scenario, by revealing aspects such as robotic fabrication workflows within the target organization. The WHAT operational constraints for the system have been defined and the HOW constraints on the effective adoption of the developed technologies into operational use. A report which describing the software market scenarios and current robotics workflows, was made available important for both the software and the hardware tool development.
• Task 1.2 – Analysis of the processing techniques (DTU), in which the task leader has analysed the different processing techniques for one type of stone surface, in the manual work and the skilled masons, using a high speed optical 3D measuring system. This task produced a structural qualitative and quantitative knowledge of the processing parameters, such as: punching force in respect with the tool form, size and angle to surface.
• Task 1.3 – Analysis of different stone types and their applicability for the robotized process (DTU). An analysis based on the previous task results, has been performed, considering different types of natural stone, form the point of view of its behaviour during the process. In base of these results, the applicability of the different type of stone will be assessed, considering the mechanical properties and the resulting appearance, if considered acceptable.
• Task 1.4 – Analysis of surface geometries (DTU). Under these tasks, the tool sizes restrictions on surface geometries are analysed for the different tools and natural stone types. These results will be added as knowledge database, for the ongoing WP3 – Path planning activities
• Task 1.5 – Prediction algorithm (DTU). Under this task, an algorithm Grasshopper has been implemented to give the designer a feedback of the expected chisel results.

WP2 – Tool Development (LABOR)
Objectives and Status of completion
This WP is intended to design the chiselling tool and in the specific:
1. The development and implementation of a chiselling tool;
2. The development of a hammering tool with frequency control mechanism and hammering force control mechanism;
3. The development of a damping/decoupling strategy to avoid problems with the robot
The WP is led by LABOR, started at M1, and ended at M15.
• Task 2.1 – Development and implementation of a damping or decoupling strategy (LABOR), which imposes to find the mentioned strategy in order to protect the robot gear from the forces impulses.
• Task 2.2 – Development of a tool frequency control mechanism (LABOR), under which a force control of the frequency control has to be searched for, in order to achieve the coordinated control mechanism of the tool applied to the robot. The frequency control will be measured by a sensor and the respective collected data will be used by the robot.
• Task 2.3 – Development of a hammering force control mechanism (LABOR), to control the air pressure forces of the robot processes, by the means of an electromagnetic actuator, which can be controlled in power, frequency and strength of the hits. After performing the tests and experiments, a prediction algorithm will be developed that allows a priori calculation of the hammering force based on air pressure.

WP3 – Path Planning algorithms
This WP has as objective, the development of a dedicated path planning algorithm for the process, including a measurement method of the initial positioning on the stone object, as well as, a method to avoid singularities in the processing. According to the results from the WP1, Process analysis, the tool frequency, robot velocity and punching force will have to be defined for every point of the robot program. This robot program will have be developed, by considering fine adjustments of these values, based on process measurements and by defining the initial punching forces values.
The main activities planned for this WP are the following:
• Task 3.1 – Initial measuring of stone position and orientation (DTU);
• Task 3.2 – Surface subdivision and definition of tool sizes (DTU);
• Task 3.3 – Development of geometric algorithms to generate paths (DTU);
• Task 3.4 – Smooth transition between independently processed subareas (DTU);
• Task 3.5 – Avoidance of singularity positions (DTU);
• Task 3.6 – Definition of working parameters (DTU);
• Task 3.7 – Online control of tool frequency and/or robot movement velocity (DTU);
• Task 3.8 – Knowledge database
The main output of this WP will be the realization of a highly specialized path planning algorithms for the AROSU process. It will allow users and SMEs to: easily, change the parameters of a stone processing strategy and evaluate the result for the pattern; to use the accessible visual programming environment of SG3 to define completely new strategies; to accurately apply stone processing patterns to arbitrary surfaces for automated stone processing that goes beyond what is possible with manual labour and to process stone quickly and safely.
Additional details
At this stage of the project, the work-plan has been respected, and the deliverables for the period submitted at M9, as the Deliverable D3.1. With respect to the original work-plan, this work package had been planned to last from M1 to M22.

WP4 – Cell layout (DTU)
Under this WP, the tests and the verification of the project demonstration cell have been planned to be performed. This consisted in the development and standardization of the automatic components. Depending on the size of the products different layouts were needed, therefore the cell layout concept had to be flexible to cover different application scenarios and typical product range. After implementation of the cell layout, a refining procedure was followed in base of the experience gained from the previous activities.
The main activities planned for this WP are the following:
• Task 4.1 – Definition of the components (KLERO);
• Task 4.2 – Definition of working range (KLERO);
• Task 4.3 – Implementation of a demonstration cell (DTU);
• Task 4.4 – Refining of the cell layout (DTU);
The main output of this WP will be the realization of the AROSU demonstration cell and the definition of cell layouts for the AROSU process.

WP5 – Software, framework and HMI development (RIA)
The objective of this work packages, under the leadership of RIA, RTD performer, was the development of innovative, accessible software tools for a non-standard robotic fabrication, by proposing new fabrication strategies for the general of artistic stone surfaces, based on existing stone sculpting processes, such as chiselling and hammering. This WP is closely related with the WP3, which has developed new path-planning algorithms.
It is crucial under project phase, the human to machine interface development and the translation of the artistic concepts into path planning algorithms, robotic tool paths. The main activities planned for this WP are the following:
• Task 5.1 – Modular software Framework for artistic stone processing with industrial robots (RIA);
• Task 5.2 – Software and Process Prototyping (RIA);
• Task 5.3 – Accessible human machine interface for robotic stone processing (RIA);
• Task 5.4 – Automated processing of stone surfaces (RIA);
• Task 5.5 – Web to real applications (RIA).
The main output of this WP was the realization of a software framework, intended to be targeted to architects artists and designers, who are proficient in CAD applications and not really experts in robotic fabrications. The software will be built on the KUKA|prc, a proven software tool developed by Association for Robots in Architecture.

WP6 – Software integration (RIA)
Under this WP, the main objective was the integration of the developed robotic end-effector, developed under the WP2 – Tool design, with the integrated sensors, as well as the path planning strategies. The end-users will be able to quickly change the path planning strategies or alternatively, to adjust the properties of the new end-effector by either exchanging components or editing the parameters of the components themselves.
The main activities planned for this WP are the following:
• Task 6.1 Integration of path planning strategies;
• Task 6.2 Integration of tool feedback for parametric toolpaths;
The main output of this WP will be the realization of the AROSU software integration with the end-effector and chisel tool developed by Labor, under the WP 2 activities.

WP7 – Verification of the concept (BBG)
Under this WP, the main objective was the verification of the developed cell concept, the different manufacturing techniques and stone combinations, the developed tool and the sensor concept.
The main activities planned for this WP are the following:
• Task 7.1 Test of the whole system - BBG
• Task 7.2 Economic assessment - LABOR
The main output of this WP will be the validation of the AROSU concept tool and the assessment of its economic value.

WP8 – Exploitation, dissemination and training (BBG)
Objectives and status of completion
WP8 is devoted to the definition of an exploitation route with all the partners, of an ownership agreement and strategy for the protection of the IPRs generated during the project, and to the realization and implementation of a dissemination plan for fully utilization and promoting the results obtained at the end of the project. A project website will be created by the Coordinator and video clips, press releases and other communication activities will be planned under this WP. The leader of the WP will be KLERO, and the WP will last the whole 24 months of the project.
The focus of this WP was put on the following activities:
• Task 8.1 – Dissemination (BBG),
• Task 8.2 – Exploitation (KLERO),
• Task 8.3 – IPR Management (BBG),

Potential Impact:
The knowledge generated in the AROSU project is summarised, intended as exploitable results, that is, knowledge having a potential for industrial or commercial application or for developing, creating and marketing a product/process. This is intended to provide an overview, per exploitable result, of how the knowledge could be used in further research or commercially exploitation.
The results are listed according to the Transaction Table included in Annex I – Description of Work.
1. Result 1 - The mechanical damping/decoupling tool
2. Result 2 - The path planning algorithm
3. Result 3 - Software design framework
4. Result 4 - Robot work cell

The fourth result of this project is in fact represented by the integration of all the previous 3 components and of a commercial robot, to produce an industry ready dedicated natural stone surface processing robot cell. Each robot work cell will consist of:
• Commercial industrial robot with a payload of at least 200 kg (depending on the aimed work piece size of the cell equipped with a 7th linear axis);
• The new developed hammering and chiseling tool, including the tool exchange system (result 1);
• Path planning algorithm and software and initial stone position measuring (result 2);
• Computer system for surface designing (result 3);
• Stone moisturize and extraction removal system for stone dust (prevention of silicosis);
• Safety system conforming to 2006/42/EG;
• Commercial flexible clamping device to fixate the stone and workpiece positioner;
• Measuring system for online result verification (optional).

For this reason the result 4, comprises the other 3 results and integration with commercial components and can be considered as the AROSU product to be sold to potential clients. The whole value chain for the production and commercialisation of AROSU is present internally in the Consortium:
• Two of the SMEs (KLERO and GIBSON) will be involved in the manufacturing and commercialisation of the system.
• Two of the SMEs (BBG and IIA), being potential direct and indirect user of the system, will get favourable access to the technology, such as time limited exclusive use or priority access.

KLERO is the direct link between the Consortium and the market, commercialising the technology directly towards the reference market in Germany and indirectly through licensing agreements or commercial network (in EU countries), possible agreements with the big player KUKA, which is involved in the project, represents a valid option to speed up the commercial launch. As previously stated and agreed in the Annex 1 of the contract, each SME is entitled to exploit the foreground generated in the project, within its area of business and it is confirmed as final exploitation strategy.

The exploitation rights are assigned to each consortium member as follows:
• KLERO is the exclusive producer and supplier of the AROSU robot work cell;
• BBG will benefit of free use of the technology developed and exclusive rights in its region for 2 years, as well as, privileged access to new systems and system updates;
• GIB will be the exclusive manufacturer of the mechanical tools;
• IIA will benefit from the exclusive use of the technology developed and exclusive rights in its region for 2 years.

Moreover for each partner, a strategy for the best exploiting strategy has been set and a strong collaboration is implemented between the partners for the further production and servicing for the AROSU robot cell.

List of Websites:
The domain of the AROSU website has been registered at: and the contents are online since January 2014, and it has been kept updated throughout the project.