The Lego-Like RMT:


What is a Lego-Like RMT?

RMT stands for Reconfigurable Machine Tools and defines a machine tools that can be easily modified, by changing its configuration in order to provide different processing technologies or modify the dimension of the working volume with possibly few simple and quick steps.

The Lego-Like RMTs are made by combining modular units: bed units (frame structures) and cross-tables that can host workpiece-holders or processing devices (e.g. electro-spindles or other operating apparatuses); these units can be organized to perform different types of operations even on the same beds line.

Modular elements of the Lego-Like RMT

How does a Lego-Like RMT work?

The units of the Lego-Like RMT are standardized, autonomous and modular: it is therefore possible to configure the machining system according to specific needs. For example, it is possible to:

  • change the working volume, by varying the number of installed bed units
  • increase or reduce the number of parallel operations by varying the number of cross-tables
  • change the type of processing, using standard or custom cross-tables hosting different processing technologies.

The Lego-Like RMT is a multi-technology production system

What can be done with a Lego-Like RMT?

  • Serial processing, using the Lego-Like RMT as a serial manufacturing line performing a sequence of different operations on the workpiece conveyed along the line by one cross-table (several processing cross-tables operating sequentially on the workpiece);
  • Parallel processing, performing simultaneous identical operations on several workpieces carried by cross-tables on the same Lego-Like RMT line in order to decrease production times (several processing cross-tables operating in parallel on several workpieces);
  • Machining very large parts, by exploiting the modularity of the structural frames (beds) to augment the main axis length of the machine, supporting the parts with many workpiece holding cross-tables.

A revolutionary actuation system

  • The invention at the origin of the Lego-Like RMT, claimed in the patent application WO2017/137938, relates to an innovative linear actuation axis. Precisely, the roles assigned to the screw and nut in the driving mechanisms used in current machine tools have been reversed. In this way, it is possible to have a translation axis with "unlimited" length, which can be modularly extended according to the work requirements.
  • The system is suitable for high precision movements and for the transmission of high forces; it guarantees excellent stiffness in the case of metal cutting processes while also providing high translation speeds for those technologies characterized by low reaction forces (additive manufacturing, thermal cutting, laser scanning, handling, etc.) while requiring fast and accurate positioning.

Control System

The RMT Lego-Like manufacturing system will be controlled by open source software running on low cost hardware boards. Currently the control system architecture is under development. The preliminary control system project includes:

  • for each line consisting of several modular beds units, one Raspberry PI 3+ (system monitor), to interface the user in the job shop, or users remotely connected, and the Lego-Like RMT system; the monitor connects the user with the processing and workpiece holding cross-tables in the line;
  • on each processing or workpiece holding cross-table, a Raspberry PI 3+ board (table controller) is wirelessly interfaced with the monitor and via cable with the Arduino Mega and its shield and drives to control the cross-tables motors.

The control system software is open source in order to allow users’ customization. In particular, it is based on:

  • A multi-agents control, to coordinate resources in the Lego-Like RMT system (cross-tables and beds units)increase or reduce the number of parallel operations by varying the number of cross-tables
  • An RGBL firmware on each Arduino Mega board to interpret the G-code blocks of the part programs received via cable from the Raspberry PI 3+ table controller
  • An HTML web server for each line; the server runs on the Raspberry PI 3+ monitor card.

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