The research has been completed since mid-2021 - what are the next steps in this project?
Eitzinger: At the end of the project, there was a laboratory demonstrator on which the essential functions could be proven. Together with our project partner ACS Solutions GmbH from Saarbrücken, who contributed expertise in the field of ultrasound, Profactor is currently further developing the robot-based testing technology to increase its level of maturity and bring it to industrial implementation.
To what extent are you taking a step towards the future of the plastics industry with this technology?
Eitzinger: Modern production methods, especially also for carbon and glass-fibre composite components, open up completely new possibilities for designers to design components. Additive manufacturing has also significantly increased the range of economically producible components. In areas with high safety and quality requirements, however, testing technologies are also needed so that such components can be manufactured in series production with quality assurance. The SonicScan project has made a significant contribution to this.
In your opinion, what is the general potential of robotics in the plastics industry?
Eitzinger: The potential of robotics is far from exhausted. Starting with simple "pick & place" tasks, for example in the loading and unloading of injection moulding machines, a number of other applications are in development or at the transition to industrialisation. These include, for example, the automatic draping of fibre composite components, the polishing of surfaces or the application of adhesive and sealing traces. In the medium term, human-robot collaboration will also gain in importance because it combines "the best of both worlds" for a number of tasks.