This paper describes the design and evaluation of a pneumatic gantry robot that is used to grind the edges of steel blanks as part of a finishing operation prior to being stamped. The objective of this research project is to automate the grinding process in order to reduce the frequency of cracking. The required force and degree of precision needed were thought to be within the capabilities of a pneumatically actuated robot. This would keep the cost of the apparatus down, which was important given the low capital cost of the manual operation. Furthermore, given that manipulation of the air pressure is the mechanism used to move a pneumatic actuator, the combined control of force and position is inherent to the system. A number of different pneumatic circuit configurations were examined before adopting a design that uses a combination of directional solenoid and flow control valves controlled by a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). Pressure transducers and analog linear potentiometers are used for data acquisition. Laboratory test results are presented as well as a discussion of additional work that must be completed with the pneumatic gantry robot before field tests are conducted.

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