Cybernetics

Force Feedback Polishing


Kansas City, MO
Zahner Research & Development

Research Supervisor: James Coleman



When can automation augment skilled labor rather than take jobs?


Certain specialties within the metalworking industry are so harsh and unsuitable to human labor standards that even unions are looking to automated alternatives. The promise of robotic fabrication in these instances is that by relieving the burden on humans, a facility can maintain jobs by winning and fulfilling bids that would have otherwise been lost.

Force-Feedback Robotic Polishing Setup
Prototype: Robotically Polished Mirror Finish


Robotic Mirror Polishing Process

The World of Mirror Finishes
Polishing is one of the most notorious operations in the metalworking industry.
Achieving a mirror finish is especially time intensive. For the workers, this job leads to long-term respiratory issues and nerve damage.

Projects like Cloud Gate have popularized the mirror finish, increasing demand for such labor. As bidding for these projects becomes more competitive, fabricators are increasingly likely to take shortcuts at the expense of worker longevity and health.

Force Feedback for Expanded ToleranceAdding an aditional linear axis to the robot’s end effector provides an additional inch of tolerance, essentially eliminating discrepencies between physical and digital models.

Prototype: Buffing Wheel Drawing on Curved Surface Precise patterning presents further opportunity for surface expression. In this prototype, the buffing wheel is used to cut into the mirror surface, embracing the artifacts of the polishing process.
Force Feedback Systems Integration

End Effector Assemblies for Pneumatic Finishing
Detail: Robotically Cut Mirror Surface

Reflected Patterns from Mirror Drawing
Danny Griffin Selected Works 2014-2021