April 9, 2024

Human Touch in Guitar Hardware Automation

Robotics Make a Debut for a Small Manufacturer

In the realm of guitar manufacturing, where precision meets passion, instruments are crafted to resonate with musicians worldwide. Recently, we had the opportunity to delve into this world further by automating a polishing process for American guitar and bass hardware manufacturer, Hipshot. As we reflect on this project, we’re reminded of the significance of human collaboration with robotic automation.

Hipshot sought to automate a dirty and dangerous process by leveraging robotics as an advanced tool, transitioning from a manual process to smarter technology they could easily work with. Their goal was to fully understand the robot’s capabilities, allowing seamless collaboration with employees and real-time adjustments during production. Hipshot partnered with Adaptec to turn this vision into a reality for their first-ever robot.

Making the Magic Happen 

To achieve the desired level of flexibility in the final solution, we took a collaborative approach. Our robot team visited Hipshot’s facility to observe and learn the intricacies of the polishing process. By closely studying human techniques, we were able to program the robot with the flexibility to adapt and refine its actions. The resulting program offers operators a multitude of adjustment options, from regulating wheel pressure to controlling overall robot speed, empowering them to tailor the process to their exact specifications.

Nitty-Gritty Robot Details for All the Nerds Out There

The program is set up to teach roughly five or six points per face and per edge. These points are stored in position registers to be reused multiple times with an offset applied to rotate the gripper and handle the backside of the part. The program creates looping patterns based on the predetermined “recipe.” Additionally, a tool offset is applied on J6 to polish the opposite face with the same program and points, eliminating the need for extra teaching. The robot automatically adjusts itself using a user frame and a sensor, measuring wheel wear, and compensating automatically.

Robots Compliment Human Labor

It’s important to acknowledge that robots, while incredibly advanced, cannot replicate human thought processes. Projects like this serve as a testament to their ability to complement human labor, particularly, in tasks deemed “dull, dirty, and dangerous.” By integrating advanced technology, Hipshot and other companies can enhance their processes, freeing up human resources for more creative and complex initiatives.

The collaboration between humans and robots represents the future of manufacturing—a harmonious blend of craftsmanship and innovation. As we continue to push the boundaries of automation, let’s remember the invaluable role of human ingenuity in shaping our technological landscape.

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