Hexagon Metrology supports European Commission research project

Prototype large-format manufacturing robot becomes a reality with the help of laser tracker system

12 October 2015

An international project supported by Hexagon Metrology has installed its first prototype after three years of research. Aimed at enabling large format manufacturing operations to be performed to the accuracies expected in small-part production, the €4.3 million MEGAROB project is an ambitious scheme to develop a multifunctional manufacturing robot for accurate work on parts in excess of 10 metres in length.

The MEGAROB project is coordinated by Spanish research institution AITIIP Technology Centre with the support of CSEM (Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology) and funded through the European Commission’s Factories of the Future (FoF) programme. MEGAROB uses a spherical robot and an overhead crane to create a flexible automated platform. Mounting the multifunctional robot on the crane enables it to be deployed for different tasks anywhere within its working volume while the workshop floor is left completely clear.

The project objectives demand accuracies well outside the positioning capability of standard industrial robots, so the researchers turned to the robotic guidance expertise of Hexagon Metrology and a Leica Absolute Tracker portable coordinate measuring machine was integrated into the design. With a Leica T-Mac probe consisting of three individual faces mounted on it, the robot‘s movements can be monitored in six degrees of freedom by the laser tracker. The robot’s end effector position and orientation are corrected up to a thousand times per second, ensuring that it operates accurately along the provided toolpath.

“MEGAROB is a project which embraces our vision of connected sensing, thinking and acting to integrate metrology directly into operations and improve manufacturing,” said Duncan Redgewell, Vice President Hexagon Metrology – Laser Tracker and Portable Measuring Arms. “Installation of the prototype began at AITIIP’s Zaragoza site early in 2015 and it can already complete functions including milling, drilling, deburring, grinding, polishing, riveting, screwing, welding, coating and painting. The long-term development goal of the project is to reduce the need for investment in specialist machinery for all these tasks, and with the positioning accuracy provided by the Leica Absolute Tracker we hope to help AITIIP and CSEM achieve this.”

The MEGAROB prototype will be publically presented during the projects final conference on 20 October 2015 in Zaragoza, Spain. For more information about the conference, visit the AITIIP website. More information about the project can be found on the MEGAROB website.

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