Robotic polishing applications involve the use of coated abrasive tools along with a compliant backing pad. The compliance helps in conforming to curved surfaces and also in blending with unpolished areas. This compliance and its effect are currently controlled only by empirical choice of various backing pad designs and materials. A better understanding of this important characteristic of these tools will lead to better process control. One of the effects of the compliance or stiffness of the backing pad under a certain applied load (robotic force control) is on the contact area and pressure distribution applied on the abrasive grains in that area. This pressure distribution in turn dictates how material is removed in the area of contact. Here, we report preliminary results of the pressure distribution exerted by an abrasive tool mounted on a robot using pressure film sensors and compare results with a simple finite element model.

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