Delcam recently held the inaugural meeting in Alicante, Spain, of the eight million Euro COMET project funded by the European Commission. As the Co-ordinating Partner, Delcam is combining its experience and expertise in manufacturing with thirteen other technical partners from eight countries across Europe to develop plug-and-produce COmponents and METhods for adaptive control of industrial robots for high-end machining that will enable cost effective, flexible and reliable manufacturing solutions.
The other partners include Nikon (Belgium), ARTIS (Germany), AMRC (UK), TEKS (France), Fraunhofer IPA (Germany), BTU (Germany), Lund University (Sweden), Gizelis (Greece), University of Patras (Greece), N Bazigos (Greece), DemoCenter Sipe (Italy), SIR (Italy) and Nisaform (Czech Republic). The COMET project will impact on high-precision automotive, aerospace, and mould and die applications.
The thirty-month project aims to overcome the challenges facing European manufacturing industries by developing innovative machining systems that are flexible, reliable and predictable, with an average 30% cost-efficiency saving in comparison to machine tools. From a conceptual point of view, industrial robot technology could provide an excellent base for machining, being both flexible (due to their lay-out) and cost efficient (robots cost two to five times less than machine tools). However, industrial robots lack absolute positioning accuracy, are unable to compensate for deviations caused by process forces, and lack reliable programming and simulation tools to ensure right-first-time machining. These three critical limitations currently prevent the use of robots in most machining applications.
Innovations to overcome these limitations proposed by the COMET consortium include an adaptive toolpath-generation system for robots based on kinematic and dynamic models, an adaptive tracking system and a High Dynamic Compensation Mechanism. These innovations will improve robot accuracy, reduce setup times by as much as 50%, and enable precise first-time programming and simulation with real-time correction of the robot path.
According to the coordinator of the project, Jan Willem Gunnink from Delcam, “The COMET consortium contains a unique combination of partners from industry, research institutes and universities who all have an enormous drive to deliver project results to European manufacturing industries. The inaugural meeting already showed a great team spirit and a strong belief in the project goals. With my colleagues in the Management Board of this project, I am confident that these goals can support European manufacturing industries to continue to move forward.”
From January 2011, the website www.cometproject.eu will provide regularly updated project results.