WICHITA — American Control & Engineering Services Inc. recently executed a patent license agreement with Wichita State University for technology surrounding an automated sanding cell.

The cell combines scanning technology and a Cobot, or collaborative robot, to automatically sand surfaces of aircraft components to achieve high-definition finishes, according to a news release. The agreement gives ACES exclusive rights in North America to build and sell the sanding cells within the aviation industry.

Currently, aircraft components are manually sanded by individual operators. The sanding process can be labor-intensive and have undesirable health consequences – including carpal tunnel syndrome. Automating the sanding process results in ergonomic benefits because it allows for decreased repetitive and awkward movements that can lead to operator injury.

Developed by the Emerging Technologies Lab at Wichita State’s National Institute for Aviation Research, the automated sanding cells have the potential to simplify the aircraft component finishing process. This in turn provides the opportunity for increased quality and consistency. With the new system, operators can focus their attention on doing what the Cobot can’t do: quality control and fine details. The result is beautiful finishes with exacting control.

"The agreement provides ACES access to an innovative technology that we believe has opportunity for expanding applications in the aviation industry and beyond," said Ross Lumbert, CEO of ACES.

"Wichita State is proud to partner with local companies to help transfer our innovative technologies to industry," said John Tomblin, senior vice president for Industry and Defense Programs at Wichita State. "This is yet another example of our dedication to supporting our local economy through innovation."