Cold Spray

Virtual Reality Tools for Workforce Training in Robot-Enabled Manufacturing Techniques

demo video as of July, 2022

New technologies, such as robotic-, additive-, and AI-enabled process tools are unfamiliar to manufacturing and maintenance workers and traditional educational methods will not quickly and effectively close this gap. This project aims to develop Virtual- and Augmented Reality tools to rapidly, consistently, effectively, and quantitatively train maintenance and sustainment workers in the use and mastery of these techniques as they are applied to robotic-assisted cold spray metallization and robotic spray painting.

The training follows a model of teaching each step of the cold spray process by first showing the user the instruction as text, and reading that text aloud to them. The user then must simulate actually performing the maintenance task. When they have correctly simulated the maintenance task, an animation demonstrates the correct way to do the maintenance task.

My role in this project, supervised by Professor Casper Harteveld at Northeastern University, has been programming and interaction design for the VR version of Cold Spray Manufacturing Processes via Simulation. I'm responsible for much of the integration of written instructions and animated demonstrations into a coherrent VR-based training, and the design and implementation of simulations of maintenance tasks.

These tasks require users to do things like actually turn the correct bolts in the correct direction with the correct wrench.

In steps where multiple components must be interacted with, components which have already been correctly interacted with are shaded green, to mark them as complete.

The process of cleaning the coldspray system requires cleaning a number of parts with ethanol. I simulated this process by requiring the user to first touch the ethanol bottle to the cleaning towel. Because ethanol is volatile, the towel changes from green to red every 10 seconds and stops working, requiring the user to re-apply more ethanol.