Robot Tackles Additive Work for Projects


Originally launched in 2017, the 4D Hybrid Autonomous Robot project, intended for use on metal surfaces in land and offshore projects, is now making its debut.

Developed by Prima Industrie (Italy) and funded by European Commission Horizon 2020, the project involved 12 other industrial players, operating as technology suppliers and end-users.

About the Technology

Created with aerospace, oil, gas and power generation industries in mind, the 4D Hybrid is designed to perform detection and reparation of metal vertical surfaces on land and offshore environments.

Geared with two rubber belts, the track-designed robotic vehicle is reportedly able to tackle slippery vertical surfaces, keeping contact with exteriors using a powerful vacuum-based adhesion system placed at its center. The tracks are then able to move the robot in a back-and-forth or rotating fashion, even on its main axis.

Additionally, the 4D Hybrid can work in the presence of dirt, water, on various conditions of metal surfaces and in environmental temperatures varying between 3 C and 35 C.

3D Printing Media Network reports that through the use of an integrated 3D scanner (Artec Space Spider commercial scanner), the 4D Hybrid can reconstruct the surface and individuate various corrosion and defects on a metal surface. After locating these issues, a cold spray gun also integrated into the hybrid system, designed during the project by SUPSI, will deposit a new metal coating onto the affected surfaces. It is also noted that the coating used can be on both stainless steel and aluminum alloys.

Regarding possible dispersion, the hybrid is also equipped with a power recovery system that sucks up powders and carries them back to the top of the maintained structure.

What’s Happening Next

The main goal of the project is the creation of a new concept of hybrid additive manufacturing that supports the Maintenance Repairing Operation value chain, says 3D Printing Media. However, the technology has a particular focus on medium-to-large-sized high added-value components.

The project’s exploitation strategy will rely heavily on major industrial stakeholders of the project consortium that are active in the MRO industry. While Prima Industrie will include the deposition modules for direct energy depositions in the company’s product portfolio, Comau plans to launch a new generation of robots for additive manufacturing and milling operations. SUPSI and ARM Lab will also be working with supporting National and European industries to enable the adoption of the technology.

In the meantime, it is reported that 4D demonstrators are running in ARM physical laboratories to support side activities, equipment commissioning and industrial mandates to potential industrial customers. The demonstrations are intended to boost the comprehension of advantages and weaknesses during the products integration into production and value within the infrastructure industry.

More Robots in Industry

Earlier this month, the Department of Energy’s Blade Reliability Collaborative and Sandia National Laboratory announced that they had been researching how to noninvasively inspect wind turbine blades for visible and hidden damage in a faster, more detailed way then traditional human inspections with cameras.

Once properly developed, flying and crawling robots or drones will be outfitted with special scanners that will aid in lowering the cost of wind energy at a time when blades are being more produced, larger in size, harder to transport and, not to mention, pricier.

Last month, researchers from the University of Waterloo were reported to be developing a more reliable robotic inspection technology that can reduce the cost of bridge inspections. A paper on the research, "Automating Data Collection for Robotic Bridge Inspections," has since been published in the Journal of Bridge Engineering.

By June of this year, it was also reported that Japan-based ready-mix and precast producer Aizawa Concrete Corporation partnered with aerospace company Top Flight Technologies Inc. (Boston) in an effort to utilize its robotic technology for inspections needed to maintain various concrete roads, bridges and infrastructure.

In 2017, PaintSquare Daily News reported that coatings manufacturer AkzoNobel had announced a partnership with an oil and gas tanker operator and drone developer, Barrier Group and DroneOps, to create a drone that would allow for remote inspections of enclosed spaces and ballast water tanks.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Coating inspection; Corrosion; Drones; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Inspection; Inspection equipment; Latin America; North America; Research and development; Robotics; Technology; Tools & Equipment; Z-Continents

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.