In recent years microsystems design and manufacturing have become one of the most prominent research areas all over the world. It has accelerated the drive towards the creation of small size products with dimensions in the range of cubic millimeters (catheters, implants, miniaturized intelligent sub-systems, etc.) combining micro-parts machining and assemblies. The area of micro parts machining and assembly involves a vast set of technical disciplines and engineering solutions including but not limited to: mechatronics design, high precision mechanics, motion control, vision based control; mechatronics man machine interfaces, teleportation, optimization of assembly tasks, etc.
In this project we addressed several issues related to design of laboratory microfactory workstations aimed to laser assisted micromachining, micro parts handling and visual inspection. The workstation consists of four stations (i) laser assisted manufacturing station, (ii) visual inspection station and (ii,iv) two manipulation stations interconnected by a rotational infestation transportation mechanism. The problems we addressed within this project are numerous and very diverse. They include mechatronics design of high accuracy systems, high precision motion control systems, PZT based drive control, the visual inspection, the development of the software environment for control system design in mechatronics systemms, integration of sensors and energy sources. All this allowed us to design and manufacture a prototype of microfactory workstation capable of laser-assisted manufacturing, inspection and mnipulation of milimeter size parts.
The layered modular design of mechatronics systems resulted in the simple designs and better performances. Extensive work on motion control allowed us to reach accuracies of the positioning systems in range of nanometers (for PZT based actuation). The developed parallel miniature delta robot with works pace 4x4x4 cm and positioning accuracy 10 micrometers, the PZT based xy planar positioning stage with workspace 4x4 cm and accuracy 50 nanometers (limited by available linear encoder), the control of galvanometric positioner for laser together with versatile laser power and beam focusing control, the inter-station rotational transportation system with accuracy of 0.1 miliradian and the vision inspection station with automatic zoom and magnification control are main hardware elements of microfactory workstation capable of manipulation of sub-millimeter size parts and machining parts with features of a few hundred micrometers (within the power range of the laser used in project). All stations have modular design and allow easy interchange of the layout.
Being computer controlled devices developed sub-stations and workstations as a whole (with 11 mechanical dof, complex laser control and vision based inspection station) are to great extend dependent in their operation on the control software. In this project we have extended the environment developed in our laboratory to design modular, highly portable control software for all stations and microfactory as a complex mechatronics workstations. The structural similarities of the control software for very diverse sub-stations are result of the strict following of the layering method adopted in the structural development of teh microfactory workstations.