Finishing of CFRP components – Industrial robots make it possible
Until today, the finishing of CFRP components has been a little-noticed area in the CFRP process chain; but it is here that final contours and design parameters resulting from the component design, such as accuracy of fit and surface quality, are generated.
One procedure for finishing CFRP components is known as machining, which can be implemented by milling, drilling and grinding the material, for example. So far this has mainly been carried out by conventional machine tools, with industrial robots only rarely used. This is due to the limited absolute accuracy of the industrial robots, which is significantly lower than the requirements of classic mechanical engineering. As a result, the positive properties of industrial robots, such as high flexibility and economic efficiency, have remained unused until now.
This is where the research project starts. The aim of the MAI ZPR project is to develop a robot test cell for flexible machining of complex CFRP components on an industrial scale. The robot test cell is intended to be implemented in such a way that a machining accuracy of +/- 0.4 mm can be achieved using standard components when machining a CFRP reference component. This includes the development of a system for CFRP machining as well as for precise robot machining, consisting of precise calibration of the machining path, force compensation during the process to reduce deflection from the course and integrated process monitoring to improve process reliability and quality. Another focus is the development of a continuous CAD/CAM process chain which takes the CFRP and robot-specific requirements for programming, simulation and optimization into account.
Figure: CFRP machining via accurate robot processing
In case of success, the targeted developments are to contribute to a higher market penetration of CFRP due to improved economic efficiency in the production of CFRP components. They will strengthen the scientific and technological expertise of the partners involved and of the MAI Carbon cluster, thus ensuring the competitiveness of the MAI region and Germany in the long term.