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Robotic arc welding - successful conclusion to European project

Connect, no. 134, January/February 2005, p.2

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A public demonstration of the EU funded NOMAD project took place in November 2004 at the Caterpillar manufacturing facility in Gosselies, Belgium. The autonomous robotic arc welding system was demonstrated in front of an audience of representatives of the project partner organisations, members of the press and invited guests.

NOMAD is the name given to the EU Framework V project, Autonomous Manufacture of Large Steel Fabrications. In the project a demonstration cell has been developed capable of fabricating steel structures in the 5 to 50 tonne range without the need for special tooling and dedicated capital equipment. Components are loaded into the cell and identified by a vision system. The image of the component is matched to the CAD model and offline programs generate path data to guide a robot arm on a moving platform into position. A laser scanning sensor on the robot arm locates the weld start position and welding is carried out under adaptive control.

After an introduction, describing the aims and achievements of the project, the guests were invited to the welding cell for a demonstration of the technologies. The welding system was demonstrated welding a representative bridge section and a stick, a typical component part of an excavator.

This project was a true collaboration between the partners. Caterpillar was responsible for the work cell, providing one of the components and managing the project. Nusteel Structures Ltd provided the other component. IFF developed the vision system. Delfoi Ltd developed the simulation and planning systems and integrated these with the vision system. Robosoft S.A. designed and built the robot transport vehicle. Reis Robotics provided the robot arm and were responsible for integration of the hardware. Esab AB provided the welding power source and developed a metal cored wire for the project. TWI Ltd was responsible for the welding process development, programming of the laser sensor and the dissemination and exploitation of the results.

For further information please contact Geoff Melton (geoff.melton@twi.co.uk) or Chris Peters (chris.peters@twi.co.uk) at TWI. For further information on the project and details of the other partners visit www.nomadrobot.org/

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