A non-contact end effector for robotic handling of non-rigid materials

Erzincanli, F 1995, A non-contact end effector for robotic handling of non-rigid materials , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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The handling and packaging of food products are generally very labour intensive processes where the risk of product contamination is high. Cost-effective automatic handling of such products is becoming an increasingly important issue, particularly for ready-meals, in order to eliminate the risk of contamination via human contact and to reduce the unit cost of the final product. A major handicap associated with using automation in the food sector is a lack of suitable robot end effectors. The majority of end effectors used for electromechanical parts are not applicable, because, non-rigid food products have somewhat unpredictable and unstable behaviour characteristics which arises from their natural physical properties. The main aim of this project was to develop a novel non-contact end effector that can handle non-rigid products. A range of novel end effectors have been designed, developed and tested. These end effectors use compressed air and take advantage of the radial air outflow phenomena. These end effectors have advantages over the conventional end effectors of lifting flat, thin, porous materials with viscous or slippery surfaces without mechanical contact. This thesis discusses hygiene, mechanical properties and delicacy of food products from the handling point of view. A literature survey on the radial air outflow and the application fields of the radial air outflow is discussed in detail. The end effectors (grippers) which have been developed and used in the assembly of electro-mechanical parts are discussed with regards to their usage in handling non-rigid food products. The theoretical analysis of the radial air outflow phenomena and lifting equilibrium of a flat object, by using lifting forces created by the radial air outflow, is given in detail. The design considerations for the radial air outflow nozzles and the number and configuration of these nozzles are described regarding the shape, compliance and weight of the materials to be lifted. The experimental program and procedures carried out during this research are also presented. The results of the experimentation, using rigid and non-rigid materials, are comprehensively discussed from an applications point of view in terms of a practical handling environment. During experimentation materials such as aluminium (as a rigid material) and jelly, sliced meat and fabric (as non-rigid and porous materials) have been used. The mechanical properties of rigid and non-rigid materials to be lifted are also discussed for handling purposes. For the first time, the design considerations of a novel radial outflow nozzle for porous and delicate materials are introduced. The advantages and disadvantages of the noncontact end effector over conventional end effectors are discussed from the non-rigid material handling point of view. An operational sequence and a conceptual application of such a novel non-contact end effector in a practical handling environment are introduced. In the final part of this thesis, conclusions are made and recommendations given, both theoretically and practically, to further extend the research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Sharp, JM (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Computing, Science and Engineering
Depositing User: Institutional Repository
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2021 14:47
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 21:55
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/61284

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