Robotic Systems in Carpet Manufacture
Engineering, IT, Mathematics and Statistics
- This internship is able to cover project costs for domestic students only.
- Due to remote arrangements, this internship is now accepting applications from eligible PhD students nationwide.
- The Industry Partner has implemented appropriate preparations to comply with Federal and State Government requirements regarding COVID-19 safety.
- This research internship is funded in partnership with Innovative Manufacturing CRC.
ABOUT THE INDUSTRY PARTNER
Tufting Technology Pty Ltd (TT) is a fully funded Technology Start-Up company registered under the Commonwealth Government’s R&D Tax Incentive scheme. The company’s objective is to develop a new generation of Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0) Robotic Tufting machines capable of producing zero manufacturing waste carpet in a distributed network of renewably powered mini carpet mills. Academic research questions the sustainability of the carpet industry’s traditional centralised, mass production, broadloom carpet manufacture. The industry is a significant source of GHG emissions and, due to its subtractive manufacturing processes, a generator of large amounts of unrecyclable, non-biodegradable carpet waste.
Building on 25 years of industry experience and IR4.0 evolution, TT has re-conceptualised the original patented robot tufting systems with 3 new patent applications, whose successful development has the potential to disruptively influence on the carpet industry. TT aims to use the new robot tufting concept as an additive manufacturing process as part of an IR4.0 system to eliminate carpet waste in distributed mini carpet mills operating with renewable energy can reduce GHG emissions.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU?
- The intern will work directly with the CEO who has extensive experience in R&D of textile CAD/CAM and robot tufting equipment and its international commercialisation
- Integration of multiple engineering research areas in mechatronics and motion control, CAD/CAM design of precision mechanisms, compressible gas dynamics
- Application of scientific method for prototype manufacture, testing and data collection
- Involvement with multidisciplinary team for project development and commercialisation
RESEARCH TO BE CONDUCTED
Existing robot tufting technology has a number of technical issues that restrict its commercial opportunities for carpet manufacturing. The tufting mechanism at the core of the technology, which is deployed in a 6 axis motion control system to tuft woven backing material, is complex and heavy. A typical tufting head weighs up to 45kg, tufts at an average rate of 500-800 tufts per minute and is part of a tufting robot that costs $100-$150K. Its performance is limited by the rotational speed of the heavy tufting mechanism. Innovations in the new patent applications that address the rotational speed have the potential to reduce tufting head weight by up to 80% with 50% increasing average tufting rate by 50% and reducing total cost of an IR4.0 tufting robot by 50-75%.
Another issue is that current robot tufting machines require human intervention for colour changes and so cannot operate without an operator in attendance. One of the patent innovations provides potential for automatic colour changes and autonomous operation of the IR4.0 tufting robots.
The research involves the design, prototyping and testing of an innovative range of tufting mechanisms, covered by a set of patent applications for CIM of carpets and rugs. The core tufting mechanism, a 4 axis device, uses precision mechanicals coupled to computer controlled electromechanical linear and rotary actuators with position and velocity feedback.
Sonic air jet tuft injection will utilise compressible gas dynamics for fourfold increase in tufting force and requiring an electromechanical solution to actuation.
SKILLS WISH LIST
If you’re a PhD student and meet some or all the below we want to hear from you. We strongly encourage women, indigenous and disadvantaged candidates to apply:
- CAD/CAM software
- Working prototypes for three different sizes of computer controlled single needle air jet tufting mechanisms
- A small scale 4 axis robot tufting system, including control software, for mounting and testing single needle tufting mechanisms
The intern will receive $3,000 per month of the internship, usually in the form of scholarship payments.
It is expected that the intern will primarily undertake this research project during regular business hours and maintain contact with their academic mentor throughout the internship either through face-to-face or phone meetings as appropriate.
The intern and their academic mentor will have the opportunity to negotiate the project’s scope, milestones and timeline during the project planning stage.
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