Robotic Sanding Solutions for Multiple Grits

Multiple Grit Sandpaper Changer

Aerobotix (ABX) pushes the limits of robotic sanding automation technologies with each new challenge customers supply. After being tasked through a SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) program to create a partially automated sanding and polishing solution, ABX has continued to improve the robotic system by developing a fully automatic sanding solution for changing adhesive-back sandpaper for multiple grits.

Background

Prior to the implementation of the SBIR, the government customer was hand sanding each part. Initially Aerobotix developed a solution that automated the majority of the process, with the operator changing paper on individual sanding heads and the robot changing sanding heads and continuing to sand the part. Since sanding and polishing the outer and inner surfaces of a transparency can take roughly 15-19 hours, this could require upwards of 200 changes per part. Additionally, the 30-60 seconds required to change the sanding head could add hours of labor to the production time.

Opportunity

ABX’s customers, GKN, ATI, and the Office of Naval Research, saw the need for the next step in automation. Aerobotix began working to develop a fully automated sanding solution that was capable of operating with little to no intervention from personnel over a typical day of production.

Solution

Aerobotix designed, constructed, and integrated the robotic sandpaper changer into an existing workcell. The system has the ability to dispense, apply, and verify the correct grit of sandpaper (of three grits), dispose of used sandpaper, and sand the part, all with little to no operator intervention.

Results

The fully automated system provides significant labor cost savings, while speeding up production. It also provides added verification of using the correct sandpaper and correct positioning of the paper on the sander head.

Estimated Cost Savings
Estimated Cost Savings Per Unit $500
Estimated Canopies Affected by Cost Savings 30,000
Total Estimated Cost Savings $15,000,000

Conclusion

Aerobotix does not settle for simply meeting expectations but is always looking to exceed them. After fulfilling the initial SBIR, ABX provided a complete automated system that improves all aspects of production.