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Modular design of gantry-type production systems for precision manufacturing operations

In this project, we focus on the modular design of gantry-type production systems for high-precision features on large products, for companies that include laser machining, printing, welding, gluing, assembling, etc. in their operations. The ultimate goal is to achieve – in the most economical way – the precise position and speed of the actuator relative to the actual position of the large product. The concept design for a single gantry system involves a large number of design choices to be made – from the required high inertia forces of the gantry to guarantee a high production speed to the required accuracy of the process operation, which will be very high compared to the dimensions of the complete product. Other choices to be made include the number of actuation units, the component mass and stiffness, the motor speed vs. mass, the sensor types, the sensor positions, the motion control algorithms and the error budgeting.

To date, companies have been taken an ad-hoc approach to the mechatronic design of these gantry-type systems. Also, due to the very broad design space, designs have often been too conservative and/or resulted in an overly high design cost. Op top of that, the optimal design of a complete product family is even more complicated because the optimal design needs to be limited to several standard modules, which can be built together flexibly with a limited design effort to realise a whole range of applications with guaranteed precision capability.

Thanks to a modular approach, the cost of the development of such machines (incl. mechanic and control components, as well as sensors) can be reduced. We build on the Flanders Make expertise in terms of the virtual selection of an optimal design, taking into account the given topology of the sensors and engines, and a given frame structure. We focus now on the expansion to various gantry-type topologies ad the mechatronic design of the selected topology. The measurement instrument we are developing through this will be used to select the optimal, re-usable modules for an entire set of this type of machines.

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