Swinburne University researchers have utilized a robotic arm to 3D print a replacement lug on an automotive headlamp assembly.
A world’s first, the Repairbot integrates additive manufacturing, 3D scanning and robotics for in-situ automotive part repair systems.
The Repairbot project is an industry collaboration between Swinburne and Tradiebot, and is supported by the AMA Group and Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Center (IMCRC).
Swinburne materials scientist Dr Mostafa Nikza made use of an in-house formulated polypropylene composite material for the process.
According to Nikza, the new material is compatible with automotive grade injection molded plastic, and possesses the strength and toughness necessary for meeting automotive quality standards.
The composite has enabled Dr Mats Isaksson’s robotics team to engineer the 3D print of a replacement lug directly on a headlight housing.
Using a robotic arm to precisely manipulate the headlight under a stationary 3D print head, allows for complex geometries to be printed sans any support material.
According to the scientists, the robotic arm should add more value to an industry already being plagued by skills shortages and a lack of newly skilled personnel.
It also opens the door to a new way of developing skills in the automotive repair industry as technicians can work alongside robotics systems to fast-track their on-the-job training.
Congratulating the Repairbot team on reaching this significant project milestone, IMCRC CEO and Managing Director David Chuter said: “The Repairbot project is a great example of industry and research collaboration.”
“The researchers at Swinburne have wholeheartedly embraced Tradiebot’s idea of developing a technology-driven solution that will automate the repair service for automotive plastic parts.”
“Reaching this major milestone demonstrates how committed they are to pushing materials and technology boundaries to help solve an industry specific problem that has the potential to not only transform Tradiebot’s business but the whole automotive repair industry.”
Image and content: Swinburne University of Technology