The Intacom programme is a series of projects based on the development of robotic inspection systems that is being led by TWI’s Advanced Non-destructive Testing Centre in Port Talbot, South Wales.
The latest phase of the project incorporates a robot cell containing much larger robots and additional axes such as 14m tracks and a 4m turntable. The combined axes allow the robots to inspect large components such as car chassis, wing spar sections and aircraft engine casings. Each robot can work independently for pulse-echo inspections or in cooperation for through-transmission inspections. To couple the ultrasound to the component, water jets are used which removes the need for the robots to make contact with the part under test. Advanced path planning software is used to generate scan paths and check for collisions, using CAD models to simulate the real environment.
The new robotic inspection facility offers a number of significant advantages over conventional ultrasonic testing:
• 6 degrees of freedom probe movement to inspect complex geometry parts
• Advanced ultrasonic imaging, visualised in a 3D environment and overlaid on CAD
• Fast inspection speeds
• Flexible and adaptable robot cell which can quickly be modified to inspect new parts
• Off-line path planning for visualisation and collision avoidance
• Repeatability of up to 0.1mm
• Ability to use a number of ultrasonic probes, depending on the application
This project is part of an initiative known as the Advanced Engineering Materials Research Institute (AEMRI), which is funded by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) using European Regional Development Funds (ERDF).