The project develops intelligent fixture technology for the manufacturing of components made of thin sheets with 3D geometry. The new concept of self adaptable swarm fixture is proposed.
The targeted applications are manufacturing of aircraft and automotive body components.
The swarm fixture comprises a bench, few fixed supports constraining the rigid body motions of the workpiece, a swarm of mobile support agents moving on the bench and repositioning below the workpiece in the workpiece region where manufacturing is currently carried out.
Body panels can be very large and manufacturing operations are generally distributed on their whole surface. Common fixtures in use (moulds, pin-beds) support the entire workpiece surface. At every stage in the manufacturing process, only a small portion of the worked surface needs the stiff support that in-use systems provided simultaneously to the entire workpiece. In the swarm solution this inherent redundancy is eliminated while still ensuring that the machining is performed in one set-up.
The use of swarm intelligence yields a solution that is intrinsically agile and cost effective.