Snake-arm robots are highly flexible robots ideal for working in confined and hazardous spaces.
Driven by wire ropes, and controlled by OC Robotics’ proprietary software, snake-arm robots are able to traverse cluttered environments and conduct activities such as inspection, fastening and cleaning when integrated with off-the-shelf or custom-designed tools.
Snake-arm robots are ideally suited for confined and hazardous applications, as the motors, electronics and control systems are situated outside of the environment, with only the arm itself being deployed into the work space.
Snake-arm robots are designed with a hollow core, allowing cabling, hoses and other equipment associated with the tool to be routed through the centre of the arm.
More information on snake-arm robots can be found here.
Laser cutting is a flexible, non-contact process which is effective on a wide range of materials.
High laser powers can be delivered through small diameter optical fibres. This means that laser cutting is highly suitable for remote deployment via different kinds of robotic manipulators. It also means that for decommissioning work, the high value laser source can be positioned well away from any active area and because it is relatively small in size, can be used in different locations.
Laser cutting is effected by using highly focussed laser light, which melts the material being cut and a coaxial stream of high pressure air, which is used to blow the melted material from the cut kerf.
A benefit of the technique, for decommissioning, where cut quality is not important, is that the laser cutting process has a high tolerance to the stand-off distance between the end of the cutting head and the material being cut, which significantly aids remote programming of cutting paths.
More information on laser cutting can be found at TWI.
Diffractive Optical Elements
Diffractive Optical Elements (DOE) are single lens elements capable of transforming a simple laser spot into more complex energy patterns. The ability to manage the energy distribution on a work piece allows process improvements to be developed benefiting throughput, materials properties and energy efficiency. Careful optic design can extend the useful focal depth of a laser, as well as helping to manage the energy density beyond the focus region.
DOEs have a micro-structured surface which is computer designed. The computer generated pattern is a mathematically designed hologram known as a kinoform. Laser energy radiates from each point on the surface of the DOE and this is mathematically modelled before manufacture to optimise the performance of the lens.
Use of a single lens DOE for beam shaping applications allows complex patterns to be generated while maintaining simplicity and maintainability of an optical system. This maximises system use while allowing the beam pattern to be changed by exchanging one lens element.
More information on DOEs can be found at Laser Optical Engineering.