Autogen: Automatic Generation of Control Programs for Robotic Welding (2000-115)
- Ingalls Shipbuilding
- Sandia National Laboratory
September 1999 - December 2003
NSRP ASE Investment: $770K
Industry Investment: $765K
Develop breakthrough concepts for automating the generation of robotic welding control programs directly from CAD data, weld process parameter tables and production planning information.
Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Ingalls Operations teamed with Sandia National Laboratories to develop breakthrough concepts for offline programming of robots. Other organizations subsequently joined the development team. The Automatic Generation of Control Programs (AUTOGEN) software interprets work piece component geometries and relationships, creating appropriate associations with the manufacturing space and parametric specification of welding processes. The software automatically generates robotic welding control programs directly from computer-aided design representations, weld process parameter tables and production planning information. AUTOGEN requires manual intervention only to add missing data, correct known data errors and resolve ambiguous representations in the original documents. The shipyard is interested in improving the productivity and uniform quality of welding ship structures with robots. By eliminating the costs of manually generating and editing control programs, AUTOGEN makes implementation of robots more economically attractive in shipbuilding. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems implemented AUTOGEN for robot welding of small to medium sized assemblages that are representative of ship foundations used for mounting distributed systems equipment. The demonstrated porting of AUTOGEN to both the PAWS Staubli and an ISU – Motoman robot. Facilities damage from Hurricane Katrina and redirected funding delayed the demonstration of robotically welding a large work-piece with geometry resembling a ship inner bottom built on curved shell plate originally planned for Fall 2005. AUTOGEN is an enabling technology for realizing the full economic potential of implementing flexible automation and robotics in shipbuilding. The independence of AUTOGEN from specific process, data source, process equipment and tool manipulation hardware reinforces the notion of a general solution able to address a large domain of applications in many industries. This further supports the expectation of commercialization and market support of code maintenance.
While the NSRP project completed in 2003, efforts have continued under different funding streams. Current effort focuses on industrially hardening the developmental code and populating the necessary data infrastructure toward production use by a particular U.S. shipbuilder. The team is also adding an Operator Graphical User Interface (GUI) and documenting the individual use cases in support of intended commercial release of the software.
Request Final Report from NSRP – Limited Distribution authorized to U.S. shipyards and NSRP ASE Program representatives
Point of Contact:
John Sizemore, Ingalls Shipbuilding