TWI staff have used computer graphical robot simulation tools in feasibility studies for two Industrial Member companies in the aerospace industry.
In a resistance spot welding task the robot was required to move a component of complex shape through an existing pedestal welding machine, virtually emulating a manual operation. As a welding and simulation study it was particularly interesting because it was the component that was manipulated and not the welding tool.
The exercise examined several robots and indicated that the task could be performed by a number of them. Variations in the workplace layout were also examined, as were modifications in the way in which the robot would hold the component. In considering the layouts it was also necessary to recognise that, at times, other components would need to be manually welded and therefore a certain minimum clearance between robot and welding machine had to be maintained.
In a second study the TIG welding of an aeroengine component was examined. The TWI CAD facilities were used to produce a 3-D model of the complex component. This model was then transferred to the simulator software that was used to study welding torch access.
Both simulation studies allowed automation concepts to be assessed without the need to build expensive models or buy capital equipment.