Haptics Brought to PTC Users
The fascinating world of haptics, or virtual touch, is something that Virtalis has successfully integrated into its advanced visualisation systems over the last decade. Haption is a leading haptics company, all of whose products provide force feedback on all six degrees of freedom (6 dof). This enables the life like simulation of interaction between two 3D virtual objects, giving the users realistic, real-time force feedback akin to the sensation of touch.
Haption’s entire Virtuose range of haptic devices has traditionally operated in virtual environments such as Dassault Systèmes’ CATIA or DELMIA. Now, Virtalis has used its expert knowledge of haptics and PTC’s CAD software portfolio to create a driver to allow
Gary Ireland, the Virtalis Development Engineer in charge of the new Haption driver, explained: “6 DOF gives complete emulation of the joints in a person’s arm. This means Haption is ideal for reachability studies or for training, as Haption devices not only demonstrate whether something can be done, but also how it can be done too. Haption’s software calculates all potential collisions allowing manufacturing engineers to visually review the processing path. Haption’s customers, many of whom are automotive manufacturers, use their devices to trial the most awkward tasks and identify potential design flaws before costly tooling. Once the ergonomics are fine tuned, the same equipment can be used to train staff off-line too.”
The Haption range encompasses a small, desktop device with a translational workspace within a sphere of diameter of 120 mm and rotational workspace of 35O in three directions. Top of the range is the Virtuose 6D35-45, which was designed for the 1:1 scale manipulation of virtual objects and has a massive transational workspace up to a sphere of diameter of 450 mm and can exert forces up to 35 N. All Haption products can be easily integrated into Virtalis StereoWorks installations, so that the Haption device is linked to 3D stereo projection in a fully tracked virtual environment.
Aside from engineering applications, Haption is finding new customers in the kinehaptic field where patients overcome their injuries by practising their fine motor skills. Surgeons who need to stay within a tightly controlled operating envelope represent another important market for haptics. So do nuclear engineers, whose complex operations when dealing with several robots carrying out specialised dismantling and decommissioning work, have found themselves benefiting greatly from virtual force feedback. In hazardous environments, being able to create the physics of an object, practice manipulating it, optimise the movement path and then record that path, has proved to be invaluable.