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Printing Outside the Box: Hybrid Additive Manufacturing Robotic Workcell for Autonomous Fabrication of Drones

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  • access_time 11:30 - 11:55 AM CT
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The current generation of additive manufacturing (AM) systems are presented as stand-alone boxes that fabricate parts made of a single material. We present a vision for a future of manufacturing in which AM is integrated into a workcell to provide just-in-time, tailored fabrication capabilities in the presence of other manufacturing capabilities. To this end, we present a robotic workcell capable of autonomous, flexible, fabrication of complete, full-scale, functional mechatronic systems. Using an industrial robotic arm, equipped with a hybrid end-effector that incorporates material extrusion (MEX) additive manufacturing and pick-and-place (PnP) capabilities, the workcell can rapidly print enclosures, insert and wire functional electronics, and embed them into the printed structure. The workcell’s scalable control system, digital workflow for creating assembly instructions, hybrid MEX/PnP toolhead design, and autonomous part tending mechanism will be presented. In addition, a modular electronics infrastructure is presented to enable facile, error-free robotic wiring of large-gauge copper wire. The workcell’s ability to manufacture is verified in a case study wherein it is used to autonomously fabricate a variety of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). In the study, the workcell produces a functional quadrotor drone, releases the drone from the workcell, and allows the drone to record the workcell constructing a second, different drone - all without human involvement. The resulting workcell, which combines digitally integrated manufacturing, robotics and automation, and hybrid process manufacturing, enables autonomous manufacture of complete, functional mechatronic systems that are tailored to custom design needs in a just-in-time manner.

Learning Objectives:

  • Upon completion, participant will be able to describe potential opportunities for hybridizing AM processes into robotic workcells.
  • Upon completion, participant will be able to describe a unique workcell that integrates additive manufacturing and robotic pick-and-place technologies to autonomously fabricate complete tailored full-scale, functional drones.
  • Upon completion, participant will be able to define considerations and intersections of both "Design for Additive Manufacturing" and "Design for Robotic Assembly"