Robotic Grinding and Finishing Conference 2023

The A3 Robotic Grinding and Finishing Conference, presented by 3M, is the premier event in North America for learning the latest technologies, discovering best practices, successful techniques, types of tooling, and more for robotic grinding and finishing processes.

Abrasive Identification Using Elastomeric Sensing

Abrasive Identification Using Elastomeric Sensing

Kimo Johnson - Chief Science Officer, GelSight, Inc

A grinding and finishing process often involves the careful selection of abrasives and process parameters to achieve a precise surface finish. The surface finish itself might be specified by functional requirements, such as roughness, or to match subjective requirements, such as appearance. Many critical properties of the abrasive, the surface being finished, and the finishing process are revealed by analyzing the microscale topography of the surfaces involved in the process. We will discuss a fast, handheld surface measurement system capable of capturing micron-to-millimeter surface topography of any material, regardless of its optical properties. This system, when combined with modern artificial intelligence methods, can be used for various applications relevant to grinding and finishing processes, including abrasive identification, abrasive lifetime prediction, and surface appearance characterization. This system can also be integrated into a finishing process to provide dynamic assessments of the abrasive, the surface or both.  We will present experimental results on abrasive grit and type identification and abrasive lifetime prediction. People often rely on tactile perception rather than vision for assessing abrasive quality and surface finish. At its core, GelSight technology is a tactile sensor that uses an elastomeric material, imaging sensor, and computer vision algorithms to capture high-resolution 3D data from any surface. The elastomeric material has a thin reflective coating that closely conforms to the topography of the surface on contact. This coating lends its controlled optical properties to the surface allowing for fast and precise 3D measurements at a micron-scale. The resulting data is significantly richer than a profilometer trace and can capture complex surface characteristics. In addition, the rich surface data is directly compatible with modern machine learning methods that were designed to work on images. Despite advancements in manufacturing processes, many aspects of surface finishing still rely on visual and tactile inspection, which is qualitative and often not repeatable across different operators. The properties of abrasives and their effect on surfaces can be captured by micron-scale surface imaging combined with modern artificial intelligence methods. This technology has the potential to digitize and automate a variety of tasks within grinding and finishing processes. 

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Developing Leading Robotic Technology

Developing Leading Robotic Technology

John Schmidt - Technical Manager, 3M

Industrial robots are well established in a variety of large-scale manufacturing operations, but there are still many challenging problems to drive the continued expansion into new applications. 3M’s Advanced Robotics group within the Corporate Research Process Lab specializes in various aspects of robotics and builds bridges with process understanding between academic robotic technology and industrial applications.  Recently, our robotics group collaborated closely with our customer-facing Abrasive Systems Division to build process understanding, tools, and even whole solutions to solve challenging abrasive applications for our customers.  This work builds upon years of experience solving academically interesting and commercially valuable problems for 3M’s internal manufacturing.  In this talk, we will discuss some of 3M’s robotics technology development and the effect 3M’s robotic technology (including process development) has on new automation / abrasive applications and the critical collaboration with external partners (integrators and OEMs) to drive successful solutions.

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Cobot Programming with Automated Material Removal

Cobot Programming with Automated Material Removal

Charles Gales - Manager of Automation Sales, Weldon Solutions

A manufacturer of aerospace components had a complicated part that needed to be deburred. A Cobot was selected to move the Deburr Spindle around the profile of the part. This original program could then be utilized to generate alternate paths by the end-user without the assistance of the System Integrator. The Cobot program was simple enough to modify that different media could also be successfully programmed by the end user. The ability of the end user to modify and also add future part programs was a key selling point for this project. The Cobot programming structure made this all possible.

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Why We Automate – End User Success Stories

Why We Automate – End User Success Stories

Dan Yokes - Advanced Process Engineer, Sub-Zero Group

John Newman - CFO and Co-owner, Athena Manufacturing, LP

Pat Murphy - Process Development Tech, Stryker Orthopaedics

Why We Automate – End User Success Stories

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Physics-Informed Artificial Intelligence

Physics-Informed Artificial Intelligence

Ariyan Kabir - CEO, GrayMatter Robotics Inc.

Manufacturers need more qualified workers and automation technologies to speed production and achieve consistent quality. Surface finishing represents a large portion of manufacturing operations, including sanding, polishing, grinding, and coating used to manufacture parts made from metal and composite. Traditionally robots have been used only in mass-production applications. Manually programming robots is not viable in high-mix applications. The availability of 3D vision and force sensors enable robots to operate without custom fixtures and accommodate part and fixture variability. Now, advances in AI and affordability allow robots to be used in high-mix applications, amplifying human productivity to deal with labor shortages. This is an overview of physics-informed AI, enabling smart robotic cells to program themselves from the high-level task descriptions.  We’ll also cover how robotic cells utilize sensor data to adapt the programs to deliver efficient and safe operational performance in high-mix sanding and polishing applications. These surface finishing solutions ensure quality consistency and increased productivity and enable manufacturers' production scalability.

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Benefits Of Using Torque-Controlled Robots

Benefits Of Using Torque-Controlled Robots

Ran Xu - Manager, Robotics, Flexiv Robotics Inc.

This presentation highlights the benefits of using a torque-controlled robot and will explore the three main advantages of this technology. The first advantage is that torque-controlled arms are able to directly control output forces with high accuracy, regardless of the stiffness of the surfaces being worked on. As a result, there is no need for extra compliance devices between the robot and the grinding tools, which makes the system less complicated and easier to maintain. This advantage is particularly significant when multiple sanders need to be attached to the flange of the robot, as it eliminates the need for additional compliance devices, reducing costs and increasing efficiency. The second advantage of using a torque-controlled robot for grinding tasks is that it is the perfect choice for tasks that use remote TCPs. When robots pick up workpieces and push them against large grinders or belt sanders, there is no need to add force control ability to the grinder or sander, which can be expensive. Torque-controlled arms can simultaneously control forces in multiple directions, ensuring that the force applied is consistently accurate in the remote TCP frame, regardless of the robot's configuration. This feature increases accuracy and efficiency, allowing for more precise and controlled grinding. The third advantage of using a torque-controlled robot for grinding tasks is the built-in compliance of torque-controlled joints. These joints are designed to absorb vibrations from grinding tasks, making them more durable in vibration-heavy environments, especially when there is hard contact between the grinder and metal workpieces. The compliance feature ensures that the torque-controlled arms last longer in such environments, reducing downtime and increasing efficiency. The presentation will showcase lab experiments and real-world applications to demonstrate the effectiveness of torque-controlled arms in robotic grinding. We will illustrate how the advantages of torque-controlled arms improve the grinding process, making it more accurate, efficient, and cost-effective.

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Optimizing Automated Material Removal

Optimizing Automated Material Removal

Henry Kistenmacher - Team Lead CoLab, SCHUNK Intec Inc

The range of use cases that fall under the topic robotic material removal is broad. Deburring, grinding, and finishing are the three main clusters of material removal. The industries, materials, manufacturing processes, and object geometries are more diverse than many people realize. From plastic injection molded parts to cast aluminum, machined metal parts, or the wood and furniture industry. As diverse as the application areas are, so are the process parameters that define the result of the machining. This presentation shows the selection of the right consumable-deburring tool combination based on common examples from real applications. Manual material removal is characterized by flexibility and sensitivity but also by long processing times, unsteady quality, and poor ergonomics. Machining in a CNC machine, on the other hand, is precise, fast, and provides consistent quality. However, this can be very time-consuming and expensive due to the high hourly rate of the machine. Robotic material removal is a cheaper alternative that is fast, highly flexible, and most importantly, delivers consistent quality. There are many factors that influence the outcome of Robotic Material Removal processes. The selection of the right spindle is just as important as the choice of consumables. These two things go hand in hand and define each other. Which consumable and spindle are used depends, for example, on the material and shape of the burr. Whether hard tool or brush, grinding wheel or polishing wheel, these parameters have an influence on the shape, size, and surface quality:

  • Spindle power
  • Speed of rotation
  • Air direction of the tool
  • Contact pressure
  • Feed rate
  • Deburring strategy

This presentation will show how to choose the right consumable based on the application. How the consumables define the spindle type and which parameter adjustments affect the result. Based on a study in which the parameters are adjusted individually, the exact effects of the individual parameters on the results, such as chamfer width or surface quality, are shown, and how the best results can be achieved. Insights and procedures of this study are shown and compared with real use cases.

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How Can Data Improve Manufacturing Processes

How Can Data Improve Manufacturing Processes

Michael Muldoon - Sales and Business Development Director, AV&R

In today's fast-paced and highly competitive manufacturing industry, the importance of using data for production monitoring and improvement cannot be overstated. With the vast amounts of data available from various sensors, machines, and robotic systems, manufacturers have a unique opportunity to gain insights into their production processes and make data-driven decisions. This data can be used for fine-tuning process recipes, optimizing machine settings, predicting maintenance needs, and identifying and addressing inefficiencies in other production processes that cause variations. By treating the production process as an information system, manufacturers can gain a deeper understanding of their operations and make informed decisions to improve their efficiencies in many areas of their manufacturing. Ultimately, this can lead to higher quality products, reduced costs, and increased production throughput, all of which are critical for success in today's competitive marketplace. We will demonstrate the significant impact of data on surface finishing production through real-life examples from the manufacturing industry

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Successful Automation Strategies

Successful Automation Strategies

Jerry Perez - Executive Director – Global Accounts / Manager Business Development, FANUC America Corporation

Many automation plans and roadmaps either lose steam, focus, fail to return on investments, or all of the above. Whether you already have an automation roadmap or you know you need to create one, this session will give you in-depth insights into what has a strategy succeed and what are pitfalls you need to avoid. 

Strategy topics will include:

  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • CapEx Planning
  • Standard Specifications and Data Organization
  • Integrator Selection
  • Workforce Development
  • Importance of an Automation Opportunity Matrix
  • And more!

Do you have a roadmap?  Are you as far along on your automation plan as planned?  Are you getting the return that you promised?  Which integrators do you work with? Where do you start? Start your automation journey with a clear path forward to the fastest plant or companywide implementation possible.

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Keys to Automating Material Removal with a Robot

Keys to Automating Material Removal with a Robot

Max Falcone - VP Sales Engineering, PushCorp, Inc.

While visiting factories in today’s competitive post-pandemic environment who are working hard to continue to onshore projects, there is a common theme among them all; a large sign outside proudly professing “Now Hiring.” In discussions with plant and production managers, it is often explained that there is a limited supply of people available for these jobs or in the case of many rural locations nonexistent. This leads many small to medium-sized manufacturers to seek out their first automation projects to fill these rolls across several applications. When this automation involves material removal (MR) or polishing, it isn’t as simple as mounting the tools used in the current manual operations onto an industrial robot.  It is further complicated by the fact that there is a limited talent pool of system integrators who have successfully executed these types of projects before.  Know where to start or what questions to ask is often a daunting and intimidating task. Throughout my talk, we will layout a road map of how to successfully plan, de-risk, select components, and execute material removal projects based on 20-plus years hands-on education in the robot automation business.  The focus will be to arm system integrators and end users who are actively looking to employ automation with the knowledge they need to expertly execute MR projects using the best tools and resources available in the industry today.

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Optimizing ROI for Robotic Abrasive Processing

Optimizing ROI for Robotic Abrasive Processing

Tyler Naatz - Senior Application Engineer, 3M

Join us for a thought-provoking discussion focused on how to generate a quality return-on-investment calculation when reviewing robotic opportunities for abrasive processing. Generating an ROI plan is challenging – often incorrect or incomplete ROI calculations can lead to improper equipment choices, improper abrasive selections, or even prevent a company from investing in an automated solution. With increased demands for production, quality, and labor shortages, the need for automation is at an all-time high. This discussion will cover key factors to include when calculating ROI and optimizing a robotic abrasive process.

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Multiple Tools May Be Needed for One Application

Multiple Tools May Be Needed for One Application

Matthew Dockstader - Product Manager – Material Removal Line, ATI Industrial Automation

Multiple tools and end effectors are often necessary to successfully adapt a manual process in an automated cell. Flexible end effector solutions allow one robot arm to replicate the versatility of a manual operator with a pegboard full of tooling. Successful applications can adapt to the needs of the workpiece.

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The State of Science and Need for STEM Advocacy

The State of Science and Need for STEM Advocacy

Jayshree Seth - Chief Science Advocate & Corporate Scientist, 3M

The future success of businesses, economies, and humanity hinges on the continued advancement of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) to develop sustainable innovations. This, in turn, is dependent on the inclusion of diverse perspectives inside our organizations and in our communities to bring creative thinking, innovative mindset, and scientific prowess together with lived experience, to solve real-world problems. Jayshree will provide an overview of the 3M State of Science Index, a global research initiative to uncover what people think of science. Many of the findings highlight the importance of a healthy pipeline of diverse scientists, technologists, and engineers to solve complex and global humanitarian challenges. The presentation will include the impact of the pandemic on public perception and the ever-increasing need for a human context and societal perspective for science. 

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Jayshree Seth, 3M

Jayshree Seth, 3M

OPENING KEYNOTE: The State of Science and the Need for STEM Advocacy

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Matthew Dockstader, ATI Industrial Automation

Matthew Dockstader, ATI Industrial Automation

There is No Silver Bullet: Multiple Tools May Be Needed for One Application

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Tyler Naatz, Senior Application Engineer, 3M

Tyler Naatz, Senior Application Engineer, 3M

Optimizing ROI for Robotic Abrasive Processing

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Max Falcone, VP Sales Engineering, PushCorp, Inc.

Max Falcone, VP Sales Engineering, PushCorp, Inc.

Keys to Automating Material Removal with a Robot in 2023 and Beyond

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Jerry Perez, FANUC America Corporation

Jerry Perez, FANUC America Corporation

Successful Automation Strategies: Fast, Wide Scale Implementation for Small or Global Organizations

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Michael Muldoon, AV&R

Michael Muldoon, AV&R

How Can Data Improve Manufacturing Processes Such as Surface Finishing?

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Henry Kistenmacher, Team Lead CoLab, SCHUNK

Henry Kistenmacher, Team Lead CoLab, SCHUNK

Optimizing Automated Material Removal – Safe, Effective, Repeatable

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Ran Xu, Manager, Robotics, Flexiv Robotics Inc.

Ran Xu, Manager, Robotics, Flexiv Robotics Inc.

Benefits Of Using Torque-Controlled Robots For Grinding

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Ariyan Kabir, CEO, GrayMatter Robotics Inc.

Ariyan Kabir, CEO, GrayMatter Robotics Inc.

Physics-Informed Artificial Intelligence for Finishing in High-Mix Manufacturing

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Dan Yokes, John Newman, Pat Murphy

Dan Yokes, John Newman, Pat Murphy

Why We Automate – End User Success Stories

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Charles Gales, Weldon Solutions

Charles Gales, Weldon Solutions

Using Cobot Programming to Simplify Automated Material Removal

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John Schmidt, Technical Manager, 3M

John Schmidt, Technical Manager, 3M

Developing Leading Robotic Technology for Manufacturing and Customer-Facing Abrasive Solutions

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Kimo Johnson, Chief Science Officer, GelSight, Inc

Kimo Johnson, Chief Science Officer, GelSight, Inc

Abrasive Identification Using Elastomeric Sensing and AI

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