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Adaptable Fixturing Heads for Swarm Fixtures: Discussion of Two Designs

[+] Author Affiliations
Serena Gagliardi, Xiong Li, Matteo Zoppi, Luis de Leonardo, Rezia Molfino

University of Genova, Genova, Italy

Paper No. ESDA2012-82562, pp. 99-106; 8 pages
  • ASME 2012 11th Biennial Conference on Engineering Systems Design and Analysis
  • Volume 4: Advanced Manufacturing Processes; Biomedical Engineering; Multiscale Mechanics of Biological Tissues; Sciences, Engineering and Education; Multiphysics; Emerging Technologies for Inspection and Reverse Engineering; Advanced Materials and Tribology
  • Nantes, France, July 2–4, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: International
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4487-8
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


Driven by the trend of life-cycle design and sustainable production, an innovative project called self-reconfigurable intelligent swarm fixtures (SwarmItFIX) funded by the European Commission is being developed. The project investigates the application of robotic multi agent fixtures for the support of automotive and airplane body panels during their manufacturing and assembly processes. This paper addresses the exploration and development of the adaptable heads, which are the end-effector of the intelligent fixture. The head is able to adapt to the shape of the workpiece and freeze its shape after adaptation to provide stable support. Two kinds of head designs are discussed. The first design uses the pseudo-phase-change properties of a volume of bulk grains (metal sand) which can be clustered using a hydrostatic pressure to conform to a given workpiece shape. The second design investigated uses phase-change magneto-rheological (MR) fluid in a network of channels to allow and block the motion of a crown of miniature pistons. The initial experiments are carried out and their results show the effectiveness of the design.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME



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