To provide its students with the latest technology available, the Aachen University of Applied Sciences is building an Industry 4.0 model factory to demonstrate Industry 4.0 work and process flow. Currently, several stations are designed and constructed to produce E-Longboards. The idea is that the customer will place his/her order in the Aachen University of Applied Sciences web shop, and it will be processed directly in the plant. One of the stations is the laser engraving station, where the E-Longboard will be engraved with a QR code to provide each E-Longboard with a unique ID that will be stored in the database. Moreover, the customer also has the opportunity to request a certain picture, word, or design to be engraved on the E-Longboard, making it customisable for each customer.
Since the surface of the E-Longboard is not even, the distance between the laser module and the surface has to be maintained to ensure a sharp image and a consistent result. This is achieved with a three-axis linear robot system in which the laser module is attached to the Z-axis and moves with respect to its distance to the E-Longboard surface.
A prototype system consisting of a simple two-axis linear robot system and a separate Z-axis controlled by a micro controller has been built. The prototype works well and is able to engrave some pictures on a wooden plate. However, the working area is not big enough to fit in even one E-Longboard, and the linear robot system is not robust or stable enough because there is a great deal of play or backlash which reduces system efficiency.
A cloud service will be used to monitor overall process and order flow. This will ensure that all data from the plant is stored in the database and documented properly. To optimise manufacturing time, the final machine design has been constructed to accommodate and process two E-Longboards in one run. This requires a larger working area – a bigger linear robot system. The igus linear robot system has been of great help here, since the working area size can be customised to the size of the overall machine and need not be excessively large. drylin polymer bearings ensure less friction and smooth linear system movement. Parts assembly is also quite straight forward and problem-free.