Case Study

From Teach Pendant to Offline Programming

Last year, at Conestoga College, a group of students from the Manufacturing Engineering Welding and Robotics Program worked on a research project focused on determining whether it was possible to do Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing.

One year later, Ian Baxter & Tristan Danzinger, Conestoga College students from the same program, had an interest in a fairly new technology that has been revolutionizing manufacturing and welding processes around the globe: Offline Robotic Programming (OLP)

Ian and Tristan took the previous welding process and parameter research on additive manufacturing and changed how the robot was programmed. The tech project was extended to determine how much easier it would be to use offline programming software to perform Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing using OCTOPUZ Offline Robotic Programming and Simulation Software.

“Through the addition of the offline programming simulation software, OCTOPUZ, we were able to develop a more complicated part, with a greater range of shape possibilities. We were also able to obtain a lot more hands-on experience with offline programming software, especially OCTOPUZ, which is getting popular in the industry these days.”
– Ian Baxter & Tristan Danzinger

This project utilized a FANUC ARC Mate 100iC with a Lincoln Electric power supply and welding equipment. As it pertains to software, Ian and Tristan used Solidworks to create the part, Slic3r to slice the part and create the G-Code, and OCTOPUZ to interpret the code generated by Slic3r and post the code to the robot.

“The robust way in which OCTOPUZ accepts a variety of code was the most useful feature for us. OCTOPUZ interpreted the code generated by Slic3r, which is meant to export to 3D printers, and turned that code into a 6-axis robot code. I don’t know if other software can do anything like that. The ability to make changes, put in tool on and offs, adjust rotation angles, all those types of adjustments was done through OCTOPUZ. Slic3r was the start, the robot was the finish, OCTOPUZ is everything in between.”
– Ian Baxter & Tristan Danzinger

When asked about their final findings, Ian and Tristan explained their shortfalls and their successes.

“We established the foothold, but to develop it further I think you would need to be more of a software programmer rather than a welding programmer. A lot of the issues that we ran into particularly with slic3r could have been overcome through more knowledge of programming, something that we didn’t have a lot of.  We were able to fix a lot of our welding problems with our knowledge base.”
– Ian Baxter & Tristan Danzinger

Both students expressed the value of the inclusion of this project in their program’s curriculum. Not only did they employ their project management, time management, and teamwork skills but they were exposed to what it is like to work with a sponsor and an external party.  This research project allowed the students the opportunity to explore their interests and work on something independent from other groups in the program.

“It is good to have something where students can branch out and manage your own time and be more independent, and that is a very useful skill to have in the real world.”
– Ian Baxter & Tristan Danzinger

In addition, we asked Tristan and Ian about their post-graduate plans to which they both expressed an interest in working in the robotics field and are both avidly looking for the perfect fit for their future.

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