Path Finding Using Force Sensing

Posted on June 8, 2023 by Andrew

Path finding is the key that allows an automatic offline program in Verbotics to be run in the real world without the need for touchup. Our customers typically use either touch sensing - where the welding power source detects electrical continuity with the part; or a laser sensor (1D or 2D) mounted alongside the welding torch.

We’ve added support for a new sensing approach in our Universal Robot code generator - force sensing (or contact sensing). This uses the advanced capabilities of the UR cobot and its inbuilt contact detection to drive the welding torch into the workpice, and use the cobot’s inbuilt force sensors to detect the contact (don’t worry, this doesn’t damage the torch!).

Force sensing using a UR10e at the University of Wollongong's Industry 4.0 Hub

You may ask why you would want to do this instead of detecting electrical continuity? One key benefit is that touch sensing typically requires the welding wire to be at a known length - meaning you need a wire cutter and ideally a wire brake. This increases the complexity of the workcell and can increase cycle time. You can also use force sensing where electrical contact detection isn’t possible - for example painted surfaces. A final benefit is ease of integration - if it’s not possible or to integrate touch sensing between the power source and robot controller, force sensing is a good alternative.

If you’d like to learn more about using force sensing with your robot and automated offline programming, please get in contact with us.