Defects such as dead knots and resin pockets can cause cracking and warping in laminated wooden panels unless they are repaired. Such defects are usually found manually, after which skilled machinists drill out the defects and patch them with a dowel or with putty.
Now, researchers led by wood-inspection system developer Microtec (www.microtec.eu) are involved in a €4 million European 7th Framework project to develop a totally automated robotic system for the task.
The Hol-i-Wood system will capture images of the laminated wooden panels as they pass down a conveyor using a scanning system from Microtec. The system will then analyze the images to segment and classify the attributes of any imperfections. These data will then guide a line of robots to perform the appropriate repairs to the laminated wood panels by drilling out the defects and fitting them with wooden dowels.
When completed in 2014, Microtec believes that the Hol-i-Wood wood-patching robot will repair up to 450 wood panels/hr, the equivalent of a 50-person workforce.
Aside from Microtec, the project itself involves a number of other partners including TTTech (www.tttech.com), the Luleå University of Technology (www.ltu.se), and the Vienna University of Technology (www.tuwien.ac.at).
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