There is a growing need for providing a flexible mechatronic environment to enhance productivity in industrial processes. Specifically, in the area of sheet metal forming, where stamping quality and part consistency are still achieved by traditional iterative process of trial and error, there is a clear urgency to enhance productivity and quality through automation. The traditional feedback control schemes used in many industrial processes cannot be applied to sheet metal forming, mainly due to the complexity of the stamping process and associated difficulty of using COTS (off-the-shelf) controllers for such applications. In this paper we demonstrate a hardware-in-the-loop flexible mechatronic design environment that will allow batch production of stamped parts with varying geometry and material properties, with minimal defects and greater consistency, using Simulink/RTW/xpcTarget framework which affords the feature of open architecture controller and the NIST Real-time Control System (RCS) architecture that allows structured, hierarchical implementation of industrial controllers. In conjunction with the Neutral Message Language (NML) RCS also allows for distributed hardware-in-the-loop control design with multiple processors. The merits of this approach over conventional approaches are also highlighted.

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