Investigation of robotic face grinding process
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The production of bearing rings involves face grinding of ring faces on highly specialized and dedicated precision grinding machine tools. While such machines are ideal for high volume production of precision bearings, the associated capital cost and setup times are high, and the machines cannot be easily reconfigured for other applications. In contrast, articulated arm robots (6-axis) are less expensive, have high reliability and reduced work space requirement compared to bulky grinding machines, and they can be readily reconfigured for a variety of production tasks. Although robots are widely used in industry for operations such as welding, painting, and deburring, their use in high precision material removal processes is comparatively limited. The compliance of such robots poses a challenge in high precision operations. This thesis addresses the feasibility of robotic face grinding of hardened steel rings through experiments designed to understand the effects of robot compliance on face grinding process cycle time and part accuracy. The thesis also investigates improvement of part accuracy through novel flexible gripper designed to compensate for robot alignment errors and vibration.