Automatic Generation of Five-Axis Continuous Inspection Paths for Free-Form Surfaces
Continuous five-axis sweep scanning is an emerging technology for free-form surface inspection, which, unlike the traditional three-axis inspection that works in a point-by-point manner, keeps the stylus tip in constant contact with the surface during the scanning, and thus could tremendously improve the inspection efficiency. However, at present, it mostly depends on humans to plan a five-axis inspection path, which severely affects the potential use of this new technology. In this paper, we report a practical algorithm, which is able to automatically generate a five-axis inspection path for an arbitrary free-form surface. The crux of this algorithm is that the unique kinematic characteristics of the five-axis inspection machine are fully considered and utilized when a path is planned. As a direct result of this consideration and utilization, the inspection efficiency is tremendously increased, often 20–30 times better than an inspection path obtained by any traditional path planning algorithm that disregards the inspection machine itself. The experiments performed by us have fully validated this point.