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Project 1.4: Robotic Surface Finishing for Custom Manufacturing

PhD Researcher

Project based at

Lead Partner Organisation

Robotic Surface Finishing for Custom Manufacturing

Unlike mass manufacturing, in which goods are produced in high volumes with relatively non-changing manufacturing processes, custom manufacturing needs to overcome frequent process changes to deliver different products. These changes create multiple challenges such as cell design and reprogramming for implementing robotics into custom manufacturing scenarios. This project addresses the challenges of using industrial robots in the surface finishing processes of custom-manufactured goods.

Surface finishing for custom-manufactured products currently relies on high-skilled human operators to achieve the required level of position and force accuracy for the desired outcome. We aim to create tools for easing the integration of industrial robots into custom surface finishing operations while combining the knowledge of the human operator and the physical capabilities of the industrial robots.

Project Outcomes

  • A method for placing custom workpieces with respect to the industrial robots to optimize robot joint configurations, which have an effect on the quality of surface finishing processes.
  • A force controller that ensures the entire surface of a workpiece is covered with the right amount of force by taking tool and workpiece geometries into account.
  • A Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) interface which will enable a human operator and a robotic system to complete a surface finishing task collaboratively.


B. Balci, J. Donovan, J. Roberts, and P. Corke, “Optimal Workpiece Placement Based on Robot Reach, Manipulability and Joint Torques,” 2023 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). IEEE, May 29, 2023.
Image: icra_setup.png

B. Balci, J. Roberts, J. Donovan, and P. Corke, “Force Controlled Robotic Surface Finishing with Variable Tool Centre Point (TCP),” 2023 IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering (CASE). Accepted, May 25, 2023.
Document: Will be available soon!

This project is funded by the IMCRC through Design Robotics.

Associated Researchers

Jonathan Roberts

Centre Director
Queensland University of Technology
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Jared Donovan

Research Program Co-lead (Human-Robot Interaction program)
Queensland University of Technology
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Baris Balci

PhD Researcher
Queensland University of Technology
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