The work discussed in this paper is a part of the project to build an automated robotic cell for removing two tabs from a Jet Engine Turbine Blade using a 3-axis CNC milling machine and for laser marking several lines of part information onto the blade body. The two tabs are extensions of the Turbine Blade, in which the necessary part information is ingrained. The part information is used as the identification of the Turbine Blade throughout its entire manufacturing process. The two tabs also serve as anchors during the milling of the body of the Turbine Blade in a 5-axis CNC machine. Once the milling of the blade body is done, the two tabs will be removed from the blade body. Removing tabs is currently being done in the same 5-axis CNC milling machine. It is expensive and wastes 5-axis machine time. Therefore, using a 3-axis CNC milling machine to remove tabs is proposed with a robot to tend machines to be cost-effective. Due to the complexity of the Turbine Blade having 3-D wavy geometry, it adds challenges in undertaking any operations on the blade with automation.
As automation is becoming relevant in many industries including the Aerospace, the method discussed in this paper can be used as a general guideline for carrying out material handling tasks with a thin part of wavy geometry by using a collaborative robot.