Robotics Case Studies
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Robotmaster Software is Used to Create an Automated Way of Producing Orthotics Using Milling Robots
by Yann PAITEL, Director, OSIC CARBONE
Robotmaster (Hypertherm Inc.) Posted 09/23/2014
In 2008, ORTHOPEDIE BONTOUX, a company that has specialised in the manufacture and adaptation of orthopedic and prosthetic apparatus (orthoses and prostheses) since 1982, created its subsidiary OSIC-CARBONE.
“We decided to transform our organisation to address the challenges we perceived to be facing our profession. We were widely recognised for the superior performance of our apparatus, manufactured of composite materials, but our business vision had identified revolutionary changes we considered necessary to the entire delivery process, from the precise measurements made of the patient through the rapid production of molds and apparatus.
In the traditional process, a cast of plaster strips was taken of the patient’s body part to permit the creation of a plaster model. The model was then refined using files and other specialised tools. Modelling and milling of molds for orthoses on computer numerical control (CNC) machines, was not new to the industry. Our innovation was to extend this process to a full range of 3D forms by developing a custom computer-aided design (CAD) modelling solution that offered unprecedented design freedom and was able to process input data from a wide variety of sources: scans, measurements, photographs, X-ray images, etc. As a result, today we can create models of parts with dimensions ranging from just centimetres up to two metres to create even the largest posture-correcting orthoses.
This logically led us to consider a robotic solution for our milling needs. With increased degrees of freedom and reduced physical constraints, the range of movement of the milling robot was an excellent match to the wide variety of size of parts on which we needed to work.
Finally, we had to find a rapid and efficient robot programming solution, a high-performance computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) tool that would provide the necessary versatility and ease-of-use. The criteria and constraints of our application were challenging:
Production lot size of one:
Each product was unique, customized to a unique patient, hence requiring a unique milling program for every unit produced
Wide range of part dimensions:
Ranging from a few centimetres to two metres
Materials to be milled:
Both rigid and flexible polyurethane foam
Production of up to ten parts in eight hours at a material removal speed of 300 mm/sec, in three-dimensions
Product delivery cycle:
Maximum of 12 hours, from design through delivery, and a maximum of 20 minutes from modelling to program transfer to the robot
Stability and reliability:
Accurate robot trajectory control in all positions – the robot program and its milled product must be right on the first try!
After extensive research and trial of potential solutions, we settled on ROBOTMASTER® as the solution best suited to our stringent requirements.
Using ROBOTMASTER, we developed a systematic approach to address our “made-to-measure” production requirements. Our simplified working procedure imports the unique patient 3D model into a preprogrammed production design strategy that takes account of all the pertinent milling and robot articulation data. This methodology has reduced our programming time to less than one minute for the complete range of our parts portfolio. ROBOTMASTER manages all the robot parameters and trajectories with ultimate precision. The mastery we developed of ROBOTMASTER’s capabilities, combined with our expertise in orthoses and prostheses, permitted us to develop proprietary, patented milling strategies, conceived specifically for, and ideally suited to, our highly specialised business. Our continued optimisation research has now taken us to even greater material removal speeds, reaching 800 mm/sec – three times faster than conventional milling methods.
In less than two years, we have delivered over 3000 unique products using this high performance solution. Our know-how has been widely recognised in the orthopedic sector, and, since the beginning of 2012, we have been offering our turnkey robotic orthopedics milling solution to others in the industry.”
Robotmaster seamlessly integrates CAD/CAM based robot programming, simulation and program generation. Common robot programming challenges typically require intricate user intervention or costly manual editing for producing error free programs. Robotmaster provides innovative new tools to effortlessly optimize robot programs producing error-free robot paths avoiding singularity zones and collisions, working around joint and reach limitations and optimizing tool orientations along the entire trajectory. Robotmaster is ideally suited to program robots for such tasks as trimming, 3D machining, de-burring, polishing, welding, dispensing, grinding and painting, and supports most industrial robot models.
About Jabez Technologies
Robotmaster is a product of Jabez Technologies, specialized in dedicated software solutions for industrial automation, manufacturing and robotics since 1996.