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Physical connection and disconnection control has practical meanings for robot applications. Compared to conventional connection mechanisms, bonding involving a thermal process could provide high connection strength, high repeatability, and power-free connection maintenance, etc. In terms of disconnection, an established bond can be easily weakened with a temperature rise of the material used to form the bond. Hot melt adhesives (HMAs) are such material that can form adhesive bonds with any solid surfaces through a thermally induced solidification process. This paper proposes a novel control method for automatic connection and disconnection based on HMAs. More specifically, mathematical models are first established to describe the flowing behavior of HMAs at higher temperatures, as well as the temperature-dependent strength of an established HMA bond. These models are then validated with a specific type of HMA in a minimalistic robot setup equipped with two mechatronic devices for automated material handling. The validated models are eventually used for determining open parameters in a feedback controller for the robot to perform a pick-and-place task. Through a series of trials with different wooden and aluminum parts, we evaluate the performance of the automatic connection and disconnection methods in terms of speed, energy consumption, and robustness.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2013