EAGER: Cybermanufacturing - Design and Analysis of a Cyberphysical Systems Approach for Custom Manufacturing Kiosks
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Recent advances in computing, communication and manufacturing technologies promise the possibility of cost-effective production of custom, high quality components especially in medical, energy, aerospace and consumer appliance industry. Custom manufacturing machines operating standalone in kiosks, possibly within home supply stores, operated by a non-technical workforce may enable broad retail customer use. A major challenge to this vision is the high cost of quality loss in the current 3-D printing processes. Breakthrough approaches for quality assurance, similar to what the photocopying sector has achieved, are necessary to deploy custom manufacturing technologies as service kiosks. Unlike in high volume manufacturing, real-time control is essential for deploying custom manufacturing systems as a service. It is unrealistic to design and plan a production process to realize arbitrary geometric features from a wide variety of materials. This EArly-concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) project explores real-time control issues at the core of a novel machine tool system for creating custom components from sheet precursors using a sequence of cut-bend-fold (kirigami) operations. A kirigami machine consists of a laser cutter, a robotic arm with a forming tool, and an indexer. It offers significant advantages over the current 3-D printing paradigms for custom manufacturing, as sheet precursors are cheaper and easier to handle, and it takes just minutes versus hours to create complex parts including large lightweight functional components. The project''s approach combines recent advances in CPS, passive wireless sensing, low latency communications and digital image correlation for real-time quality assurance. The sheet precursors will be embedded with thermochromics particles so that as the sheet is being shaped, the particles serve as a swarm of mobile passive sensors whose instantaneous location and distortion are discerned using cameras to estimate the process state (mainly temperature and deformation fields) at unprecedented granularity, and control laws synthesized to tune process parameters and actuator motion to mitigate quality issues. This is a departure from the currently held thoughts on Cybermanufacturing using powder rather than sheet based process, and leverages dynamic CPS based coordination employing novel swarm based sensors instead of static open-loop planning. The novel passive swarm sensing is potentially a huge advancement in disaggregating process variables. The principal investigators will address the challenges associated with placement of cameras to capture information from dynamic sensors, addressing issues such as occlusions, fast prognostication of impending faults, and optimization of control actions using uncertain image data. They are working with a local sheet forming firm to develop a proof of concept machine. Their experiences in Morse theoretic exact kirigami construction of complex geometries, and sheet folding mechanics will be employed to plan kirigami operations and delineate attainable geometries.