Metal melting and solidification is a physical process which is described by a class of differential equations which have no closed form solution – it is known in Classical Mathematics as the “Stephan Problem”. The iterative methods used by numerical analyses techniques, such as Finite Element Analysis, are far too slow to be effective for process optimization and control. A DARPA Program a decade ago concentrated on flexible manufacturing – basically, robots that program themselves, depend heavily on sensors to be “smart” about their actions and decisions, and perform quality control with little, if any, human involvement. In the DARPA Flexible Automation program, a group of Ph.D. Scientists and Engineers, began applying a new Artificial Neural Network technology, called P/NA3. Today, Neural Networks produced using the P/NA3 technology are accurate and fast so that they can be run in real-time during welding or, embedded into specialized algorithms, to optimize the welding process. This technology enables the “off-line” planning of robotic welds, and real-time quality monitoring and control.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.