M.S. Thesis Presentation by Bradley W. Snow
Wednesday, May 24, 2000

(Dr. Bert Bras, advisor)

"Prototyping a Robotic Disassembly Testbed"

Abstract

In recent years, environmental issues have become increasingly important in the engineering community. Designers are being forced to consider the environmental impact of their designs – not only during the product’s lifetime, but also after the useful life of the product has been expended. Dramatic reductions in environmental impact may be possible through product service, reuse, and recycling. A requisite step in the realization of each of these activities is product disassembly. These considerations must be integrated into the product design. If they are not, performing the tasks might not be cost-effective, thus reducing the motivation for both consumers and industry to do so.

The main objective in this research is to develop a robotic disassembly workcell, comprising an industrial, 6-degree-of-freedom robot and various tool attachments, that will be used in the development and verification of design-for-disassembly strategies. At this stage, most of the focus is on the synthesis of the mechanical, electrical, and pneumatic workcell elements, as well as the software driving them. While constructing an actual disassembly workcell, a virtual disassembly workcell is also being developed. Using IGRIP (Interactive Graphics Robotics Instruction Program – Deneb Robotics), an interactive graphic simulation tool for designing robotic workcells, a virtual representation of a product disassembly process can be designed and evaluated. Due to the expected deviation of actual products from their representative CAD models, the use of a machine vision system is being investigated. Current work is on detecting presence and location of target assembly components such as screws or batteries.
Outcomes of this research include demonstrations of virtual and actual (partial) robotic disassembly of a cordless drill battery pack. Results of experimentation and economic analysis show that in some cases, robotic disassembly of take-back products may be an economically justifiable solution.