CoPolMould - Cobotic Polishing of Moulds

The European CORNET project CoPolMould, in which Sirris collaborates with Fraunhofer IPT and FG Ultra, aims to develop and demonstrate a proof-of-concept of a generally applicable tool for polishing basic shapes and surfaces of unique objects, such as injection moulds.

Context

Finishing processes are very important in manufacturing, but they are usually carried out manually. This means that they weigh heavily on costs and lead times. Research has shown that the cost of polishing moulds manually in the automotive industry can represent 38 percent of the labour cost of the mould and 30 percent of the production time of a mould. Up to 30 percent of the cost price of plastic products can be linked to the making of the mould. Regardless of whether the finishing process consists of grinding, lapping or polishing and whether it is applied to moulds or other products, the challenges for automating finishing processes for small series and single pieces are similar.

No general automation solution is commercially available yet which can be applied to most of the use cases in the tooling industry.

Purpose

That is why Sirris wants to develop and demonstrate a proof-of-concept of a generally applicable polishing tool. While typical approaches to the automation of polishing processes generally focus on the automation of the entire process, the relatively new technology of collaborative robotics (cobots) may allow a more practical approach. Instead of trying to replace the polishing expert through automation, a user-friendly collaborative robotic system can extend the polishing expert's capabilities and allow him to work side by side with a mechanical arm that can work on less challenging surfaces (e.g. larger surfaces), while at the same time the polishing expert works on smaller shapes and difficult transitions on a surface.

Approach

To investigate and test the feasibility, Sirris works together with Fraunhofer IPT and FG Ultra. The project does not only focus on the injection moulding industry, but also on surface finishing in general.

Integrating developed elements into an industrially relevant demonstrator allows companies to learn and get inspired, that's what this project is all about in the first place. Other objectives are to draw up guidelines to achieve similar solutions in a company-specific setting through the introduction of this semi-automated polishing process.

Target group

The project focuses on aspects relevant for companies with manual polishing processes on small series and single pieces.

The industrial user group of the CORNET project provides input for the specification of typical applications and produces representative use cases. The members of the user group will have priority when it comes to knowledge acquisition and are invited to experiment with relevant cases.

Manufacturing companies and technology suppliers (e.g. automation companies, integrators, suppliers of emerging technology, ...) which have registered, are also part of the industrial user group. 

Reference

CoPolMould: Cobotic Polishing of Moulds / HBC.2017.0643

Project partners

Sirris

Fraunhofer IPT 

FG Ultra

Financial

Flanders: VLAIO

Germany: AIF- Forschungsnetzwerk für den Mittelstand

Timing

01/09/2018 - 31/08/2020

Communication

https://www.sirris.be/blog/efficient-finishing-surfaces-collaborative-robots