Robot forming: Automated English wheel as an avenue for flexibility and repeatability

Dean Huang, Derick Suarez, Putong Kang, Kornel Ehmann, Jian Cao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The English wheel is a highly flexible traditional metalworking tool. Currently, English wheeling is a manual manufacturing process that allows skilled craftsmen/smiths to form compound curves. The geometric accuracy and repeatability of the forming pieces are heavily influenced by human factors. Consequently, its applications in modern production industries are limited due to its mechanism. This paper presents the application of a single-robot automation system in the English wheeling process (i.e., robot forming). The automation system reads simulation-based toolpaths or camera-tracked trajectories, autonomously computes the end-effector trajectory and ensures efficient robotic end-effector motion planning by avoiding workspace constraints in operation setup. The automation system hardware (UR5e robotic arm) setup and software program structures developed are demonstrated. Experiments are conducted to compare the automation system performance against human performance when following the same toolpath data. It is found that the automation system is compatible with various types of trajectory data and the system effectively enhances the accuracy and repeatability of toolpath executions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-349
Number of pages8
JournalManufacturing Letters
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • Automation
  • Digital manufacturing
  • English wheel
  • Flexible metal forming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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