Alignment of Microparts Using Force Controlled Pushing


Zesch Wolfgang and Prof. Ron Fearing


to be presented at the SPIE Conf. on Microrobotics and Micromanipulation, Nov. 2-5 1998, Boston, MA, USA.


pushing, micromanipulation, micropositioning, alignment operation, micropart, force control, tactile sensing, microtaction, adhesion, AFM cantilever


In today's and tomorrow’s development of new products, precise positioning and assembly of small parts is of fundamental importance. Often, such tasks require the alignment of objects with features such as edges or surface structures. In this work, we explore force controlled pushing of microparts on a planar substrate with a micromanipulator. The pushing tool is an AFM cantilever equipped with piezoresistive force sensors. Its rough position as well as the global manipulation strategy, is specified by the human operator. First, we present force measurements during typical pushing operations and specify characteristic values for these procedures. Relying on these characterizations, a sensor guided controller is implemented to maneuver the robot locally by detecting events such as the hitting of an obstacle or the changing of contact condition. Using force/position macros, we are able to push the objects precisely to a desired location without exceeding a certain limit force. Experimental results demonstrate the ability of aligning microparts on a horizontal plane with micrometer accuracy relative to each other. For automated assembly applications there are two possibilities: the local controller presented in this paper can be integrated either in a passive global positioning system if the geometry of the problem is well defined. Conversely, a feedback system, e.g., with quantitative computer vision can be used to cover a larger spectrum of object sizes and shapes.

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Zesch Wolfgang, last updated Aug. 6, 1998