Robotic Paint Repair System Wins Innovation Award
Global adhesives and auto products manufacturer 3M recently announced that its Finesse-It Robotic Paint Repair System has been named a 2022 RBR50 Robotic Innovation Award Honoree by Robotics Business Review.
According to the press release, Finesse-It uses data from an advanced vision system to repair paint defects on automobiles coming off the assembly line. The paint repair system was awarded in the “Product Introduction” category, which recognizes new commercial solutions that have the potential to positively impact markets or the robotics sector.
The RBR50 Robotics Innovation Awards are widely recognized as a leading indicator of robotics innovation leadership and as a critical measure of robotics sector growth. The awards celebrate robotics innovation in business and management innovation; technology, products and services innovation; and application and market innovation.
“The Finesse-It Robotic Paint Repair System fills a unique hole in the robotic marketplace,” said RBR Editor Briana Wessling. “There are not many robots like it, and none that are as precise as 3M's system, despite the fact that nearly every car that comes off the assembly line needs some sanding and polishing.
“This is one of the most intensive manual operations on the assembly line, and 3M's system completely automates the process.”
After years of research and testing, 3M reports, the system was commercialized in 2021 in an effort to achieve a better method for perfecting car finishes. According to the company, it is centered on proprietary software that fixes defects, identified by a qualified vision system, by providing robots the right repair process to enable them to sand and polish the vehicles using 3M abrasive products.
“You need to make sure your vehicles don’t ship with paint defects, and fixing them has to be done efficiently and effectively to ensure you’re not slowing the manufacturing process down,” writes the company.
“A robotic system featuring the 3M Finesse-it Robotic Paint Repair System will allow you to automate this important step in your manufacturing process. The 3M Finesse-it Robotic Paint Repair System is a critical part of a complete automated solution that enables robots to efficiently and reliably sand and buff.”
Defect repairs can introduce challenges such as the need for a large shop floor or factor footprint, high energy consumption and reliance on multiple operators. 3M adds that this manual labor can provide a variance in inspection, repair techniques and data entry.
Using the automated paint repair system, the robot offers consistency in quality and long-term cost savings by reducing cycle times and increase part quality. The system itself is comprised of various tools, abrasives and process expertise that all work together with a range of robots.
Defects in the topcoat that can be repaired include paint flaws like dirt, fiber, pops and scratches. Cycle times for these repairs are dependent on the number of robots and tools, the type of defects and location of defects.
In October last year, the Finesse-It system was awarded the Award for Technique at the 2021 SURCAR Detroit Conference for a presentation made jointly by 3M and Ford Motor Co. The presentation, which detailed the development of the robotic paint repair system, reportedly bested 23 other presentations.
The award was accepted by the team that made the presentation, including Scott Barnett, Director Application Engineering, Robotics and Automation, 3M; and Marc Tornero, AI Vision and Robotics Lead Engineer (Global Paint), Ford Motor Company.
“For decades, paint imperfections on vehicles coming off the assembly line have been detected and repaired manually, a labor-intensive process that produces inconsistent results,” said Carl Doeksen, Director, Robotics and Automation, 3M, at the time.
“Our new 3M Finesse-it Robotic Paint Repair System, developed in collaboration with our integrator partners, automates the process, delivering repairs consistently, efficiently and of the highest quality. The SURCAR Award is a fantastic recognition of the value and impact of this robotic system, and the trailblazing work of our 3M Abrasive Systems Division.”
According to the release, the SURCAR award was the second earned by the system, being previously presented with the 2020 3M Circle of Technical Excellence and Innovation (CTEI) corporate level award. CTEI reportedly honors exceptional individuals and teams for their outstanding contributions to 3M and for setting the standard for 3M technical excellence and innovation worldwide.