This project by CITA developed the concept of mold-less incremental sheet forming to add rigidity to metal sheets. The process itself involves one robot pressing on the metal sheet whilst the another robot controls the deformation on the other side of the sheet. By synchronously moving these two robots and incrementally pressing further deep indentations can be created. In addition to the robots themselves force sensors and laser-distance sensors were integrated to validate deformation and ensure consistent force was applied.
The design for each panel was tied into a CAD model on which various, multi-scale optimisations were run to compute the optimal geometry for each panel. This inevitably led to each and every panel being unique. Fortunately, due to the programming of the solution being driven by the HAL Robotics Framework, it was possible to derive toolpaths for both robots directly from the CAD data and run the programs directly from the engineer’s workstation. This part variability and process complexity would be extremely challenging to achieve with a digital automation solution.