Name of demonstration
Transforming an operator driven Laser Metal Deposition cell into a fully automated cell to improve laseron time, reduce setup time, validation time and operator dependency. This to increase efficiency and reduce yield loss.
The implemented LMD-Auto system enables to transform an operator driven clad cell into a fully automated turnkey system. This automation is successful realised by implementing 3 key technologies: By using vision technology together with a robot parts of varying series can be detected and picked up from a pallet. Once the part is picked up the clad robot will work together with the pick robot to perform robot-robot welding to coat the part on the correct spots. During the cladding a coaxial camera monitors the melt pool to log the quality and if necessary, control the laser power.
Owner of the demonstrator
LASER CLADDING VENTURE NV
CTO, dr. ir. Stijn Clijsters, firstname.lastname@example.org
Industry 4.0, Laser Metal Deposition, Valves, Ground engagement tools, Laser Cladding.
Benefits for the users
The developed module results in reduce of cost of the products this is the result of 4 main benefits: less setup time, less validation time, increased laser-on time and reduced yield loss. Each of these benefits are the result of the implementation of the three key technologies.
Vision based picking: Reduces the complete setup time of valves. The completely automatic detecting and allignment reduces also the possibility for human errors and therefore reduces the yieldloss.
Robot-robot welding: with the implemented robot-robot welding setup time and laser-on time is increased by a parametric robotprogram. This results additionally in reduced yield-loss
Meltpool control: opens the possibility to perform online quality controll and reduces the yield-loss and process validation. Based on the melt pool signal the process can be judged on their performance, without time consuming macro analyses.
At the start of the project the laser metal deposition or laser cladding process is purely operator driven. The process is characterized by regular operator checks to validate that hardware, process and toolpaths are running as they should; multiple operator manipulation to setup a machine and a lot of expertise to judge and estimate the process.
By implementing the LMD-Auto module LCV made a step towards a turn-key installation which enables machines to perform checks automatically and avoiding labor intensive manipulation of parts. This results in an increased up-time and reduced yield-loss which results in a more cost-effective solution for endusers.
Risks and limitations
Complexity of robot-robot welding: for most applications basic robot-robot welding can be applied. One robot positions it self’s while the other performs the welding. However for complex synchronous multi robot actuation no clear solution could yet be found. This step is quite an R&D topic on its own. Melt pool process variation: it is clear from the experiments that cladding the same parts results in similar melt pool behaviors and therefore the melt pool can be controlled towards a validated specimen. However to bring melt pool control to a level that unique parts can be cladded without expertise still a big step is to be taken.
Technology readiness level
7 - System model in operational environment
Sectors of application
Process industry Parts such valves, pistons come in various sizes and all need a corrosion weld overlay or hardfacing. The developed module is perfect for such applications, Ground engagement Components of the ground engagement such as drill bits all need a cost efficient coating. Often manipulation of these components is the cost driver, therefore these components are perfect for the module..
Potential sectors of application
All industries with weld overlay or hardfacings could benefit of this development.
Patents / Licenses / Copyrights
Hardware / Software
Vision Camera: necessary to detect parts and to pick them up
Robots: robots to perform the robot robot welding
Thermal coaxial melt pool camera: this camera is necessary to monitor the melt pool to have data to perfrom melt pool control
LMD-Auto controller: A controller who can coordinate the separate modules and run feedback loops for melt pool control
Software to program the controller loops and to manage all seperate modules