Robotic path planning for non-destructive testing of complex shaped surfaces

Mineo, Carmelo and Pierce, Stephen Gareth and Nicholson, Pascual Ian and Cooper, Ian; (2014) Robotic path planning for non-destructive testing of complex shaped surfaces. In: E-Book of Abstracts, 41st Annual Review of Progress in Quantitative Nondestructive Evaluation Conference. Center for Nondestructive Evaluation, USA.

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The requirement to increase inspection speeds for non-destructive testing (NDT) of composite aerospace parts is common to many manufacturers. The prevalence of complex curved surfaces in the industry provides significant motivation for the use of 6 axis robots for deployment of NDT probes in these inspections. A new system for robot deployed ultrasonic inspection of composite aerospace components is presented. The key novelty of the approach is through the accommodation of flexible robotic trajectory planning, coordinated with the NDT data acquisition. Using a flexible approach in MATLAB, the authors have developed a high level custom toolbox that utilizes external control of an industrial 6 axis manipulator to achieve complex path planning and provide synchronization of the employed ultrasonic phase array inspection system. The developed software maintains a high level approach to the robot programming, in order to ease the programming complexity for an NDT inspection operator. Crucially the approach provides a pathway for a conditional programming approach and the capability for multiple robot control (a significant limitation in many current off-line programming applications). Ultrasonic and experimental data has been collected for the validation of the inspection technique. The path trajectory generation for a large, curved carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) aerofoil component has been proven and is presented. The path error relative to a raster-scan tool-path, suitable for ultrasonic phased array inspection, has been measured to be within ± 2mm over the 1.6 m2 area of the component surface.