Robotiq 2-Finger Gripper Handles Radiated Parts at Los Alamos National Laboratory
From shop floors to space robotics, Robotiq Grippers handle all kind of parts in various environments, but to be honest, we weren’t expecting them to handle radiated parts. Indeed, that’s what Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of the largest and most prestigious scientific institutions in the world, is doing with Robotiq’s Gripper. More precisely, they handle parts for x-ray imaging and testing in support of LANL’s nuclear weapons stockpile. Let’s take a closer look at the application.
AUTOMATING RADIOGRAPHY APPLICATIONS
Digital radiography and computed tomography are time-consuming processes, making them ideal candidates for robotic solutions. This is why Los Alamos National Laboratory decided to take a look at automation opportunities and chose Robotiq’s 2-Finger Gripper to automate their radiography applications.
Radiography applications often require several images to be acquired from different angles and a lot of the time they have to be very precise so that the feature of interest is identifiable and the resulting image meets the client's requirements.
After taking an image, a human has to turn the x-ray source off, go into the x-ray bay, scan for radiation, and readjust or change out the part. They then turn the x-ray machine back on and prepare to take another image –a process that could take up to 10 minutes each time. That's before human error is factored in, such as readjustements. With a robot, it's easy to readjust the part while the source is still on and without having to go back into the room. It saves a tremendous amount of time and optimizes high-precision tasks.
For the project, Motoman Robotics' SIA5D robot and Robotiq's 2-Finger Gripper were used to make sure that the system could handle high-precision tasks from opening the door to the x-ray machine to picking parts and precisely placing them directly in the x-ray beam path or on a stage inside the cabinet for imaging.
The Robotiq 2-Finger Gripper provides precise control of speed, force and finger position and a variety of gripping modes, allowing it to adapt to many different objects shapes, sizes and textures. Compatible with all major industrial robots, integration with the SIA5D --a versatile, lightweight industrial robot-- can be executed smoothly.
X-rays are typically very damaging to electronics so the robot controller and also the gripper controller were outside of the x-ray beam. This is another reason why the 2-Finger Robotiq Gripper was chosen since most of the electronics are housed in a separate controller, instead of in the actual gripper, which receives the most radiation.
- Several hours saved so scientists and technicians can focus more on value-added tasks.
- Reduced health risks for staff at the lab.
- Additional flexibility in the type and nature of the images that the lab can produce.
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