As part of its continuing involvement in the European Research Agency FP7 project framework, TWI is coordinating the MARWIN project. Aimed primarily at Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), the project will develop a vision based welding robot with automatic track calculation, welding parameter selection and an embedded quality control system.
Robotic welding is critical to welding automation in many industries such as automotive and construction. The biggest challenge for small companies is to have a flexible robot that can be set up quickly and switched over to another product line as and when required. As existing welding robots need to be programmed for manufacturing small batches of products, reprogramming is often necessary and time-consuming, thus expensive for SMEs.
MARWIN offers a potential solution for this problem to increase the competitiveness of SME partners; by developing a welding robot with automatic track calculation and quality control system that can reduce manufacturing time and costs, increase production flexibility and improve product quality and production efficiency.
A schematic of MARWIN system is given below. The system will consist of:
- A control computer The computer comprises a user interface and controls both the vision system and the welding robot. A 3D image of the real components will be reconstructed by the vision system and compared to a CAD drawing of the real assembly. The computer then determines the best trajectory for the robot from the user input. Adjustments to the trajectory are automatically made from the reconstructed image. Welding parameters will be automatically chosen from an in-built database. Users will also be able to add their welding procedures or modify existing ones.
- A welding robot The Marwin system will be compatible with any production welding robot
- A vision system The vision system will reconstruct a 3D image of the components using structured light and pattern recognition
MARWIN will provide a competitive edge for SMEs within the EU in a field where the production of differentiated, high quality welded parts is mainly dominated by large enterprises. By using the MARWIN system, companies will not only widen the range of products / services offered, but they will also reduce their production costs. The combination of these two elements will result in both higher effectiveness and significantly increased competitiveness.
TWI is acting as Research Technology and Development (RTD) project coordinator and is also responsible for all welding related tasks, including the development of welding procedures for commonly used materials and joint configurations, and the management of a welding parameter database development.
Other partners in the project include Rolan robotics (Netherlands), Nemetschek (Bulgaria), G-robots (Hungary), Recam Laser (Spain), Sheffield Hallam University (UK) and MFKK (Hungary).
The project began in November 2011 and will run for two years. The system specifications and system design were recently finalised and work has started on the database creation, the vision system for 3D object reconstruction and on the automatic robot trajectory and parameter calculation. Further articles will be published as the project progresses and more information is available on the project website at http://www.marwin-welding.eu/
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