SMB is one of two beamlines at the Materials Solutions Network at CHESS (MSN-C) providing critical infrastructure in support of materials research for the U.S. Department of Defense. SMB is optimized for the study of structural materials – materials that can sustain a load or withstand an impact such as engineering alloys and composites. Among the many ways to investigate materials at a beamline, it is increasingly popular for researchers to bring production parts to the beamline to characterize their internal structure, especially residual stress. The internal structure is mapped by manipulating, rotating, and rastering the part through the X-ray beam. With conventional motorized stages it is difficult and sometimes impossible to achieve these manipulations since parts can be relatively heavy, bulky, and complex in shape such as turbine fan blades. According to Kuka, the KR 70 R2100 model is a top performer in its class due to its high flexibility and long reach with optimal payload capacity. With six independent axes, it offers flexibility in positioning objects in any arbitrary locations within a defined boundary. With the new robotic arm inside the experimental station, researchers using SMB will be able to perform experiments which were not previously possible.
There are still many steps needed to bring the robotic arm into full production mode. One of the steps is training. In October, 2022, Drs. Nygren and Ko traveled to Kuka’s North American headquarters, located just north of Detroit, Michigan, to attend a five-day Kuka programming course. During this course, they gained critical knowledge, which they can now share with rest of the team. In addition to training, safety protocols need to be established. Both Drs. Nygren and Ko are working with CHESS and CLASSE safety committees to produce standard operating procedures and safety documents.
The hope is that the robotic arm will be fully commissioned and ready to be utilized in experiments in 2023.
Drs. Nygren and Ko thank the Air Force Research Laboratory, PulseRay and the entire CLASSE technical and administrative staff in making this project possible.