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Automated finishing for tool making processes - Robots remove milling traces from forming tools

The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT has developed an automated manufacturing system for the manufacture of forming tools for use in the automotive industry with which to cost-effectively smooth over and brush-polish tools with reproducible quality. During the EuroMold 2011 tool and die making trade fair, the Fraunhofer IPT will be presenting this robot-based processing plant at the joint Fraunhofer booth C66 in Hall 11.

Transferring manual dexterity to a robot

The Fraunhofer IPT's automated plant uses a lineal grinding motion to remove the milling traces that arises when manufacturing forming tools and molds. The manufacturing unit on display at the trade fair consists of a conventional industrial robot and a pneumatic smoothing tool in which the processing movements and the forces acting on the workpiece are introduced and controlled via air pressure. The processing path is programmed using the so-called "CAx-Framework" software especially developed by the Fraunhofer IPT.

Without the right tool holder or process parameters for the robot to reproduce the manual dexterity and the experience of a human operator, it was virtually impossible to automate the smoothing and brush polishing processes on freeform mold surfaces. As part of the "Green Carbody Technologies Innovation Alliance" (InnoCaT), the engineers in Aachen therefore performed scientific investigations to find the right processing methods and tools for different materials and geometries. A comparison of the results of an optical component measurement with the original design data then provided the basis for developing the optimum processing strategy for automated finishing operations.

The plan is to continue developing the system in order to fully automate the processing of free form tools both with robots as well as in milling machines.

The "Green Carbody Technologies Innovation Alliance" is an association of over 60 companies and scientific institutes that aims to make automotive manufacturing more energy and resource efficient. As part of this alliance, the Fraunhofer IPT develops new tool and mold manufacturing systems together with its industrial partners in order to reduce the resource consumption and manufacturing costs involved in component production.

Contact Dipl.-Ing. Dennis Andrecht Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT Steinbachstr. 17 52074 Aachen Germany Telephone +49 241 8904-718 Fax +49 241 8904-6718 dennis.andrecht@ipt.fraunhofer.de www.ipt.fraunhofer.de

idw :: 08.11.2011