Microfactory: Microbot-Based Desktop Manufacturing System

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  • Topic: Robot, Swarm robotics, Robotics
  • Pages : 16 (5151 words )
  • Download(s) : 75
  • Published : November 13, 2011
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Microbot based Desktop Manufacturing System
Ajil Philip Mammen
Enterprise Systems Center, 200 Mohler Lab,
Bethlehem, PA-18015, USA
Tel: 610-803-5093| Email: apm210@lehigh.edu

A microfactory is a concept that has been around for many years. Microfactories generally refer to small factories able to produce small products. Traditional microfactories conserve space and energy and reduce operational costs and investment. However this system is limited in its ability to be reconfigured and not very mobile or agile. In this report we discuss a heterogeneous swarm micro-robot based microfactory, the components that make up the robots and most importantly the control systems that need to be implemented for satisfactory coordinated working of the system. This system will be highly mobile and very easy to reconfigure thus overcoming some of the difficulties facing traditional micromanufacturing. It also discusses a case study of a robot based micromachining factory and future tasks and challenges for the system. * Introduction & Overview

In the fields of high precision & nano-manufacturing there is a need for discretization of manufacturing facilities i.e. moving away from large scale flow line production of generic products to small batch or one-off products. This has given birth to the term “micro-factory”. The Mechanical Engineering Laboratory (MEL) of Japan defines a micro-factory as “A small-size production system suitable for fabricating small size-products”. A micro-factory provides high customizability and allows us to move production closer to areas of consumption reducing requirements of transportation and inventory. Conventional methods cannot accomplish these functions especially if the product variety is high. Okazaki et. al [ (1) ] defined the basic advantages of using a micro-factory based manufacturing system: 1. General Environmental Aspects:

i. Saving energy and material resources
ii. Reduced vibration and noise for workers and the factories’ neighbors iii. Easier control of waste and pollution

2) Economic Aspects
i. Reduced need for capital investment in the machinery itself and facilities such as land space, buildings, power sources, environmental conditioning, etc. ii. Reduced running costs such as energy consumption, facility maintenance, air conditioning, clean-room operation, etc. iii. Efficient utilization of space: More machinery can fit in less space iv. Improved portability and agile reconfigurability: Easier replacement of machinery and dynamic reconfigurability of the shop floor in response to the changing demands of variable-product/variable-quantity manufacturing. v. Ubiquitous manufacturing: The manufacturing site can move off the conventional factory floor

3) Technical and Engineering Aspects
i. Precision: Freedom of configuration and proportion in machine design will increase. ii. Productivity: Productivity can be increased by the dense and highly parallel allocation of machinery. iii. User-oriented machine design: Modular design of machines can easily be realized, and the machines can be reconfigured with ease However in a micro-factory the issues are material handling and the inability for the machines to work on objects larger than the machines themselves. For this purpose using miniature robots with the practical characteristics of micro functions is a good solution. They have the potential to perform accurate and fine operations with great cost saving benefits at the multiple scales down to the nanometric level. [ (2) ] Conventional Desktop Factory (courtesy Sankyo Seikei)

The issues with small robots are the low mobility and inability to perform complex tasks since they have poor capacity of loading space and driving force. Thus the solution for this issue is usage of multiple micro robots with specific tasks working according to a collaborative behavior scheme i.e. working serial, parallel or mixed depending on...
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