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SYMPLEXITY Report Summary

Project ID: 637080
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SYMPLEXITY (Symbiotic Human-Robot Solutions for Complex Surface Finishing Operations)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2016-06-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

In almost every sector of industrial manufacturing polishing techniques are applied. Despite the high grade of automation in today’s industry, the polishing processes are often performed manually since the required tasks partially demand high cognitive effort as well as motoric flexibility.
SYMPLEXITY is closing the gap between the highly automated production processes and the manual polishing of complex geometries by creating a safe environment of collaboration between robots and the human workers so that cooperative finishing becomes possible. To ensure relevance to European industry and practical use of the proposed objectives, SYMPLEXITY is strongly driven by end-users from different markets who are involved in the project.

SYMPLEXITY is the consistent continuation of 3 recent EU projects that achieved a technology readiness level (TRL) of TRL 4-5 and dealt with polishing technologies, robot control as well as physical interaction of humans and robots. SYMPLEXITY brings together the results and key partners of these 3 projects to achieve TRL 7 and thereby support the European industry to win the competition in the global market with higher quality, efficient manufacturing and economic production, based on human robot collaboration for polishing complexly shaped metallic surfaces. Case studies show that for many applications todays >90% of manual work can be converted to 80 % of robotic work under human control and 20 % of manual work. Key branches are tool making, medical engineering, aeronautics and automotive industry.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The collaboration concepts for the three robot cells were developed under consideration of the different requirements concerning safety and the level of collaboration. To ensure a high level of safety, appropriate pHRI safety measures were determined. This mainly encompasses a visual system based on an RGB-depth sensor (all robot cells) as well as a dynamic robot model combined with a force sensor to estimate the exchanged contact forces between the human and the robot (LP robot cell). The basic components for the robot cells were selected. Additionally, the required safety measures for each of the three finishing processes (abrasive finishing (AF), laser polishing (LP), fluid-jet polishing (FP)) have been determined. Based on these reults, the devlopment of the robot cells has begun.
The requirements of the end-users regarding surface quality and finishing processes were collected. Basic investigations for the three surface finishing techniques were performed to adapt the surface finishing techniques to the materials and surfaces of the end-users' parts. This was done by conducting experimental parameter studies. Additionally, investigations for the implementation of the surface finishing techniques into the robot cells have started. Until now, this encompasses the combination of manual and laser polishing (LP), the use of high-pressure fluid-jet polishing for enabling high material removal rates (FP) and the use of the DEL software for pre-processing the parts, combining the metrology device and the robot as well as using process parameters for abrasive finishing that allow a high level of saftey (AF).
For the objective metrology system, metrology standards and surface parameters were determined that can be used for evaluating the polished surfaces. A base metrology device and the corresponding HMI were set up that can be used for fast and contactless measuring of the quality of a surface. The devlopment of measuring strategies and evaluation for the three different types of surfaces (AF, LP, FP) has begun.
The concept for the HMI and the data handling was created. This concept comprises three different interfaces: The pre-process interface for generating the nominal toolpath strategy, the in-process interface for visualizing the current status and online replanning of the polishing strategy as well as the after-process interface for visualizing the surface data acquired with the metrology device after the polishing process. The development of the three interfaces is currently ongoing. Additionally, the development of a data management system for managing the process paramter sets for different materials and surface qualities has been started.
The manual surface finishing processes used by the end-users were analyzed. Additionally, the surface finishing of demonstrator parts from the end-users was started.
A plan for dissemination and publication activities was created. First activities were carried out such as participations in trade fairs, conferences and workshops as well as scientific publications. Additionally, a website was set up containing information on the project and the current progress. Certain project partners also participated in discussions for the planned ISO TC 213 standard which will contain profile and areal descriptors and methods for surface texture metrology.
Several project meetings as well as regular telephone conferences took place to discuss new results and to plan further investigations and devlopments.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Basic investigations and developments as preparation for setting up the robot cells and for adapting the surface finishing processes to the parts of the end-users were carried out so far. Hence, the project mainly has not left the state of the art now. However, the project partners are participating in the standardization process for the planned ISO TC 213 standard that will define new profile and aereal descriptors for surface texture metrology.

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