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Fine-Tuned Feedback from ATI’s Force/Torque Sensors
As robots and robotic technology become more affordable, there has been a corresponding increase in the number of repetitive processes being outsourced to machines. Automating these grueling jobs helps move people out of harm’s way and into roles involving judgment and reasoning, which no machine or program can replicate. Products like ATI’s Force/Torque (F/T) Sensors bring a sense of touch or “haptics” to automated systems by allowing the robot arm to actually feel what is happening in the process. Flexible Automation, Inc. (FAI) has developed a system that utilizes ATI’s F/T Sensors to provide haptic feedback in quality testing of vehicle climate control modules.

When we get behind the wheel, the very last thing we should have to worry about is how much force we need to exert to turn the knobs and dials on the dashboard. Simply pressing a button turns the system on or off; with the slightest flick of the wrist, we can adjust the climate controls to our liking. Have you ever taken a minute to think about how this is accomplished?

At FAI, haptic feedback makes automated quality testing of systems like this possible. A robot outfitted with grippers operates the dials and buttons of the climate control module while ATI's Mini40 F/T sensor, mounted between the robot flange and gripper tool, captures feedback from the forces exerted. The feedback indicates the effort required for operation of the different components and confirms that they fall within a specified range. The application captures the outputs of the testing on the climate control system’s display and verifies they are accurate by using vision technology. This closed-loop system validates multiple specifications for the climate control system simultaneously. Without automation, the same job would likely involve more people and equipment, and require additional time.

Integrating the ATI F/T sensor with the end-of-arm tooling allows quick sampling of data as a process occurs. The sensitivity of the ATI F/T sensor is ideal for this type of application, as it captures minuscule changes in force. Silicon strain gages used in ATI’s proprietary design enable transducers to deliver low noise, high accuracy, and a high factor-of-safety. FAI President Andrew Osterholzer says, “ATI has been great to work with and we feel offers the best value when you need high quality with precision accuracy. It has better accuracy in feedback resolution of newtons, which was another reason we selected ATI.”

The F/T sensor’s stiffness ensures the sensor will not flex under load impact and skew the feedback data. The robust sensor also provides overload protection to safeguard against unintentional and/or excessive moment loads. Depending on the model and calibration, this can be five to twenty times the sensing range. When working with automated machines and robotics, there is always a chance that something could go wrong and this feature ensures that the sensor will withstand a crash.

Osterholzer explains, “This type of system could benefit any industrial setting that requires the testing and verification of components that give feedback.” The F/T sensor brings sensitivity and responsiveness to a wide variety of automated systems by enabling them to both monitor and control the amount of force applied in a process.

About Flexible Automation, Inc.: Flexible Automation, Inc. is a group of automation, engineering, and design specialists that creatively solve assembly problems. Based in Michigan, FAI has strong Midwestern ethics with a tenacity to do everything it takes to find a solution. They feel this, along with their staff of over 60 automation experts, is what allows them to be successful.

Visit ATI's Force/Torque Sensor Product Page

Click here to learn more about Flexible Automation, Inc.


ATI's Mini40 in Flexible Automation's Climate Control Testing Application

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1031 Goodworth Dr. | Apex, NC 27539 USA
Phone:+1 919-772-0115 | Fax:+1 919-772-8259
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