Robotic Systems

  Prototype of a low-cost robot system with galvanometer scanner for laser material processing Copyright: © Leon Gorissen, 2023. CC BY-SA 4.0. Prototype of a low-cost robot system with galvanometer scanner for laser material processing

In the last decades, the laser has been established as a manufacturing tool with a variety of production processes, such as laser cutting, laser welding or laser structuring. In order to use the laser as a tool in material processing, a relative movement between the laser beam and the material to be processed must be realized. This relative motion is typically realized via kinematic systems, such as milling machines, adapted from other manufacturing processes. Accordingly, these kinematic systems are not optimized for the requirements of laser technology and do not exploit the advantages of laser technology. Due to the non-contact processing of workpieces by laser radiation, no restoring forces act on the kinematic systems. Accordingly, the kinematic systems do not have to absorb these forces and can be designed to be less rigid than in other manufacturing processes, such as machining by milling. Within the scope of our research, the suitability of new, innovative kinematic systems for Laser Material Processing (LMP) are systematically investigated to find out which systems better exploit the process-related advantages of laser technology. For example, low-cost collaborative robots (cobots) such as the UR5e from Universal Robots or our own experimental setups can be mentioned here.

  Attained path of a Universal Robot UR5e compared to command path (left) and the resulting specimen during laser cutting (right). Copyright: © Philipp Walderich Attained path of a Universal Robot UR5e compared to command path (left) and the resulting specimen during laser cutting (right).

Problem

Although new, lightweight and less rigid kinematic systems can exploit the advantages of laser technology, they are not yet suitable for LMP due to their typically low path accuracy (compare Figure 2). Furthermore, process-dependent influences such as reflected laser radiation, welding fumes or additives pose additional challenges for the kinematic systems.

Research focus

  • Identification of the potential of novel kinematic systems (esp. robotic systems) for LMP

  • Identification of the (laser technical) requirements for kinematic systems

  • Development, construction, testing and verification of prototypes of new kinematic systems

  • Continuous optimization of kinematic systems, especially to improve path accuracy

  • Demonstration of the potential of new kinematic systems for LMP