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Design and Fabrication of a Robotic arm

for Material Handling

Bureau of Research and Consultancy


UNIVSERSITI TEKNOLOGI MARA

40450 Shah Alam, Selangor


Malaysia

Dr. P. Nageswara Rao


Dr Anuar Ahmad
Dr Abdul Rahman Omar
En Muhammad Azmi Ayub
February 2001

Design and Fabrication of a Robotic arm


for Material Handling

Dr. P. Nageswara Rao


Dr Anuar Ahmad
Dr Abdul Rahman Omar
En Muhammad Azmi Ayub

February 2001

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Dr. P. N a g e s w a r a R a o
Faculty of Mechanical Engineering

UNIVERSITI TEKNOLOGI MARA


40450 Shah Alam, Selangor
Malaysia
Date: 13 December, 2000
Project file no.:
To
The Head
Bureau of Research and Consultancy
UiTM Shah Alam
Kind attention: Dr Zainon, Coordinator, Science and Technology
Madam
The above research project has been successfully completed within the stipulated
time. All the objectives as specified in the original proposal were achieved. The robot
was fabricated and is fully operational. We herewith enclose^ copies of the final
project report for your reference.
Thanking you

(Dr. P. N^gesjwara Rao)


Principal researcher

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Members of the research team

Dr. P. Nageswara Rao

2sv^-^j
(Stature)
Dr Anuar Ahmad

(Signature)

Dr Abdul Rahman Omar

M llU
>ienatu
(Signature)

En Muhammad Azmi Ayub

(Signature)

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Acknowledgements
The practical nature of this project requires that a large amount of help
is needed to successfully complete it. We would like to express our gratitude
and appreciation to the Bureau of Research & Consultancy (BRC) for the
readiness with which they have co-operated in the execution of every phase
of this project.
The students who have worked for the completion of this project as
part of their final project have contributed immensely for the successful
completion. They are Mr Muzafar Mansor and Mr Norashid Ramli @ Zainal
(Mechanical Engineering) and Mr. Izazuly B Yaakup (Electrical Engineering)
who have taken it as a challenge and were able to provided the necessary
hard work to complete the project in the specified time.
We would like to express our thanks to the staff of the Faculty of
Mechanical Engineering in particular to Mr. Abd. Halim (Technical
Assistance), Mr. Adam (Technician) and others, who have helped in the
fabrication of some of the components. Also generous help has been received
from the CADEM Centre staff, in particular Mr. Razip, Mr. Mohd. Shukor
and others.

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Abstract

The commercial robots are expensive for use in the educational


institutions. Further the operation of them will not leave room for
experimentation which is necessary in an educational institution. Further a
large number of components that can be used for building a robot are readily
available in the market. Hence this project has been taken u p to allow us to
build a working robot using as many of the off the shelf components to
provide he necessary flexibility. This would make it a low cost robot with
enough flexibility for the students to experiment the various functions of the
robot.
The mechanical component of the manipulator is built with three axes,
one rotary and two linear. This configuration is most common to be used as a
material handling device for machine tools. The rotary axis is achieved by
making use of a pneumatic rotary table and one linear axis is by means of a
pneumatic cylinder. The second linear axis in the Z-direction is achieved by
the use of an AC servomotor with a ball screw and linear motion elements to
provide for accurate positioning capability.
The gripper has been designed for cylindrical components, since this
robot is conceived as a material handling unit for a CNC turning centre. All
the necessary design calculations have been done and the finite element
analysis was carried out for the main structure.
The control of the robot is one of the crucial elements. A PC is used as
a controller. The motion control is carried with the help of a motion control
card DC2-PC100. This has the ability to control 2 servo and 2 stepper motors
in addition to other digital and analogue controls. The control program is
developed with the necessary functioning.

VI

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Table of contents

Acknowledgements
Abstract
Chapter 1
Introduction

Chapter 2
Robots an introduction

Chapter 3
Robot control concepts

14

Chapter 4
Robot manipulator design

18

Chapter 5
Robot controller design

26

Chapter 6
Robot assembly

51

Chapter 7
Conclusions & Suggestions for future work

60

Bibliography

62

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Chapter 1

Introduction

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Robot is an automatically controlled material handling unit that is widely used in the
manufacturing industry. It is generally used for high volume production and better
quality. Implementation of robot technology with integration of automatic system
can contribute to increasing of productivity of the company and enhances the
profitability of the company.
The word 'robot' first appeared in 1921 in the Czech playwright Karel Capek's
play "Rossum's Universal Robots'. The word is linked to Czech words Robota
(meaning work) and Robotnik (meaning slave). Computer Aided Manufactures
International of USA describes the meaning of robot as a device tlmt performs functions
ordinarily ascribed to human beings, or operates with wlwt appears to be almost human
intelligence. Another definition from Robot Institute of America is ...a programmable
multi function manipulator designed to move and manipulate material, parts, tools or
specialized devices through variable programmed motions for the performance of a variety of
specified tasks.
ISO defines a robot as: A robot is an automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose,
manipulative machine with several reprogrammable axes, which in either fixed in place or mobile for
use in industrial automation application.
Webster dictionary defines a robot as: An automatic apparatus or device tlmt performs functions
ordinarily ascribed to human or operates with xulmt appears to be almost human intelligence.
There are a number of successful examples of robot applications such as:

Robots perform more than 98% of the spot welding on Ford's Taurus and Sable
cars in U.S.A.
A robot drills 550 holes in the vertical tail fins of a F-16 fighter in 3 hours at
General Dynamics compared to 24 man hours when the job was done manually.
Robots insert disk drives into personal computers and snap keys onto electronic
typewriter keyboards.

Robot Applications
True to the above definitions of robot as an automatic machine, industrial
robots are observed to perform the following tasks (shown in the ascending order of
technological complexity) in manufacturing.
a)

Parts Handling: this may involve tasks like


Recognizing, sorting/ separating the parts
Picking and placing the parts at desired locations
Palletizing and Depalletizing
Loading and Unloading the parts on required machines

b)

Parts Processing: this may involve operations like


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Routing
Drilling
Riveting
Arc Welding
Grinding
Flame Cutting
Deburring
Spray Painting
Coating
Sandblasting
Dip Coating
Gluing
Polishing
Heat Treatment
c)

Product Building: this may involve assembly of typical products like


Electrical Motors
Car bodies
Solenoids
Circuit Boards
and operations like
Bolting
Riveting
Spot welding
Seam welding
Inserting
Nailing
Fitting
Adhesive Bonding
Inspection

The automation of the above tasks greatly facilitates computer controlled


manufacturing systems. Further, robots have often been used in undesirable and
hazardous environment like that of excessive heat, dust, noise, fumes etc. and for
dirty, dangerous dull and difficult tasks. Accordingly, industrial robot has become an
essential component of all flexible manufacturing systems, subsystems, cells and
modules. The robot application in U.S. are given in Table 1.
Robots are being applied in industries because

Hazardous or uncomfortable working conditions: In situations where there are


potential dangerous or health hazards (like heat, radiation, toxicity, etc.) robots
may be used. Some of the examples are hot forging, die casting, spray painting,
etc.

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Difficult handling: If the workpiece or tool involved in the operation is awkward


in shape or heavy, it is possible that robot can do this job much better.
Multi shift operation: For increasing production and reducing the costs, multi shift
operations may be desirable in which robots can work continuously.
Repetitive tasks: If the work cycle consists of sequence of elements which do not
vary from cycle to cycle, it is possible that robot can be programmed to do the
job.
Higher accuracy: In situations where the accuracy of operation required is very
high.
Table 1: U.S. Robot sales by application

Machine tending
Material transfer (Machine tending)
Spot welding
Arc welding
Spray painting/coating
Processing (Drilling, grinding, etc.)
Electronics assembly
Other assembly
Inspection
Other
Total

1985
16%
16
26
10
10
5
6
5
5
1
100

1990
15%
15
15
10
10
7
12
8
7
1
100

1995
15%
15
10
9
7
7
14
12
10
1
100

This report details the effort made in the development of a robotic material
handling system using personal computer and the motion control card to provide the
necessary controls. The robot is a 3 axis with one rotary and two linear axes. It is a
hybrid robot with one axis controlled by the servo motor while the other axes are
controlled by the pneumatic devices to reduce the total cost of the robot.
The second chapter details an introduction to the Robots in terms of the
various functional elements present in the system. The various options possible are
briefly detailed. The next chapter deals with the control concepts of the robot. This
gives the ideas of various controlling methods possible and that are actually used in
the commercial robots. The next chapter gives the actual design concepts of the
manipulator portion of the robot. This gives the rationale of the design process used
in the design of the manipulator, which was subsequently fabricated. The next
chapter gives the robot controller design using the motion controller card and its
interface with the various control elements. The chapter gives the details of the robot
assembly process. The next two chapters give the conclusions suggestions for future
work.

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Chapter 2

Robots an introduction

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2.1 Robot types


Robots can be classified by the type of motions provided.
Cartesian coordinates
Positioning may be done by linear motion along three principal axes: left and right,
in and out, and up and down. These axes known, respectively, as the cartesian axes
X, Y and Z. Fig. 1 shows a typical manipulator arm for a Cartesian co-ordinates robot.
The work area or work envelope serviced by the Cartesian-co-ordinates robot's arm
is a big box-shaped area. Programming motion for Cartesian-co-ordinates robot
consist of specifying to the controller the X, Y and Z values of a desired point to be
reached. The robot then moves along each axes to the desired point. This is one of the
simplest types of robots.
Spherical or Polar co-ordinates
In this type of robot are mostly rotational axes. The axes for the spherical coordinates are 9, the rotational axis; R, the reach axis; and p, the bend-up-and-down
axis. The work area serviced by a polar-co-ordinates robot is the space between two
concentric hemispheres. The reach of the arm defines the inner hemisphere when it is
fully retracted along the R axis. The reach of the arm defines the outer hemisphere
when it fully straightened along the R axis. Fig. 2 shows the typical robot.

Fig. 1 Typical motions of a cartesian or rectilinear robot.


Cylindrical co-ordinates
In this type of robot there is a rotary motion at the base followed by the two linear
motions. The axes for the cylindrical co-ordinates are 9, the base rotational axis; R
(reach) the in-and-out axis; and Z, the up-and down axis. The work area is the space
between two concentric cylinders of the same height. The inner cylinder represents
the reach of the arm with the arm fully retracted, and the outer cylinder represents
the reach of the arm with the arm fully extended. Fig. 3 shows the typical cylindrical
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robot. An example of a cylindrical robot linking the two CNC turning centre and a
conveyor for workpiece loading and unloading is shown in Fig. 4.

Fig. 2 Typical motions of a spherical robot.

Fig. 3 Typical motions of a cylindrical robot.


Jointed co-ordinates
If the arm can rotate about all three axes, the robot is called a revolute co-ordinates,
articulate or jointed-arm. Fig. 5 shows a typical manipulator arm for the articulated
robot.

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CNC Turni n
9
Centre
,'

> r-.y

/r
Conveyor

tb

-y

r -J\

Cylindrical
Robot

v5

\
NC Turning

c)entre
I

Fig. 4 A cylindrical robot serving two CNC turning centres.


/

Fig. 5 Typical motions of a articulated robot.


2.2 Basic Components of a Robot
The robot system used in manufacturing systems generally have the four basic
components: manipulator, controller, power source and the end effector. The base of
the manipulator is usually fixed to the floor of the work area. Sometimes, the base
may be moveable by attaching it to either a rail or track, allowing the manipulator to
be moved from one location to another. Some times it is also possible to have a
gantry system from which the robot will be hanging, thus conserving the floor space.
The manipulator, which does the physical work of the robotic system consists
of a number of links which can be either a straight, moveable arm of the robot as
explained earlier. The movement of the manipulator is controlled by the actuators.
The actuator, allows the various axes to move within the work cell. The drive
systems can use electric, hydraulic or pneumatic power.
The controller in the robotic system (Fig. 6) is the heart of the total operation.
The controller stores pre-programmed information for later recall, controls
peripheral devices, and communicates with computers. The controller is used to
control the robot manipulator's movements as well as to control peripheral
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components within the work cell. The controller stores all program data for the
robotic system. It can store several different programs, and any of these programs
can be edited.
I Recorder or f
I disk drive j

:{ Peripheral
interface
input-output

1
Axis 1
driver

Axis 2
driver

Axis n
driver

Printer

I Serial
I
j Input-Output f"

Keyboard

Central
I Processing
Unit

Axes feedback
signal
converters

Teach
Pendant

Sensor and

Memory

control
interface
Power
Supply

Fig. 6 Typical functions of a robot controller.


The controller is also required to communicate with peripheral equipment
within the work cell. Such peripherals that are commonly connected to the controller
are teach pendant, hard drive, keyboard, memory and floppy disk. The two-way
communication between the robot manipulator and the controller maintains a
constant update of the location and the operation of the system. The controller also
controls any tooling placed on the end of the robot's arm.
The power supply is the unit that supplies power to the controller and the
manipulator. Two types of power are delivered to the robotic system. One type of
power is the electric power for operation of the controller. The other type of power is
used for driving the various axes of the manipulator. This power can be developed
either from hydraulic, pneumatic or electric power source.
The sensors present in the robot at various locations communicate to the robot
controller about the status of the manipulator. For proper control of the manipulator
it is necessary to know the position, velocity and acceleration of each of the joint. In
addition to the sensors to track the motion, other sensors are used to provide further
feedback about the workpiece handling.
The purpose of the robot manipulator is to perform work. An end effector
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attached to the robot's arm must accomplish the work to be done by the robot. The
end effector can be a gripper for work handling or end-of-arm tooling if a particular
job is to be done such as welding or rivetting.
The manipulator moves the end effector to the programmed locations. These
moves of the end effector are controlled by a robot's program stored in the controller
memory. The type of end effector depends upon the type of work holding to be done.
These can be operated by mechanical means such as using a pneumatic or hydraulic
cylinder, or use vacuum to lift and transfer the part, or use an electromagnet to lift
and move the part. The robot's end effector may have sensors such as proximity
switches, light sensors, pressure switches, magnetic-field sensors, vibration detectors
or speed-of-motion sensors depending upon the application.
2.3 Robot Programming
The methods used for development of robot programs or more generally called as
teaching a robot is done as follows:

Lead by nose
Teach pendant
Off line programming

Lead by nose
An experienced operator holds the robot hand and completes the operation manually
by moving the robot hand to the various positions. The controller will be recording the
actual motions, which can then be used to replay later for actual work. This is suitable
for spray painting application, but not for material handling.
Teach pendant
In this case a teach pendant which has all the necessary functions to move the robot is
used by the operator to do the job. The operator will move the hand to the various
positions and records in the memory the various locations and paths taken to complete
the program. Later on the same program can be used for regular operation. This is the
most commonly used method for material handling application.
Off line programming
These are generally used with the simulation systems where more sophisticated
operations which involve a number of elements within a manufacturing cell could be
simulated. The simulation programs will have the facilities for defining the machine
tools, workpiece geometries, material handling equipment such as robots, conveyors,
etc. After the work cell arrangement is defined, then the movement of robot for work
handling can be defined using the simulation language. An actual simulation of the
operation can be seen on the workstation screen in wire frame modelling or realistic
shaded image to check the validity of the operation. Once approved the robot program
can be post processed for the particular robot to be used.
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2.4 Sensors
These elements communicate to the robot controller about the status of the
manipulator. For proper control of the manipulator it is necessary to know the state
of each joint, that is, its position, velocity and acceleration. To achieve this, a sensor is
to be incorporated into the joint-link pair. Sensors may monitor position, speed,
acceleration or torque. Typically, the sensor is connected to the actuator's shaft.
However, it could also be coupled to the output of the transmission (so that
monitoring of each joint's actual position with respect to the two surrounding links is
possible).
External sensor
External state sensors, is used to monitor the robot's geometric a n d / o r dynamic
relation to its task, environment, or the objects that it is handling. Such devices can be
of either the visual or non-visual variety. The following types are generally used:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Strain gauges
Pressure transducers
Proximity devices
Ultrasonic sensors
Electromagnetic sensors
Elastomeric materials

Proximity sensors
Proximity sensors are used to sense the nearness of an object or obstruction to the
robot. This can be done either by using a contact or a non-contact technique.
Contacting proximity sensors
The simplest type of proximity sensor is of the contacting variety. As the robotic
manipulator moves, the sensor will become active only when the rod comes in
contact with an object or an obstruction. When this occurs, the switch mounted inside
the sensor will close (or open, if that is more convenient). The change of state of the
switch, monitored through the robot's I / O interface, will cause an appropriate action
to take place. Examples include an immediate (or emergency) halt if the device is
used to sense obstacles or the branching to another part of the robot's program,
thereby causing a particular operation to be performed (e.g. closing of the gripper).
Such contact monitors can be placed anywhere on the robot's arm a n d / o r wrist, and
it is possible to utilise more one.
If the simple on-off switch is replaced by one of the linear position-sensing
devices, the "binary" contacting proximity sensor become one that can detect actual
position of the object.
Non-contact proximity sensors
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As the name implies, non-contact sensors measure work-cell conditions without


physically touching the part. In robot work cells the most frequently used noncontact sensors are proximity and photoelectric devices and vision systems. All three
types of sensors are available from many commercial vendors.
Proximity sensors detect the presence of a part when the part comes within
specified range of the sensor. Proximity sensors are available in cylindrical,
rectangular, through-head type, and grooved-head type.
2.5 Types of robotic gripper (end effectors)
Mechanical grippers are designed to grasp a part either on the inside diameter or on
the outside diameter of the part. Since the grippers must make contact with the
surface area, two concerns arise. First, enough frictional force must be applied to the
part to overcome the gravitational pull of the part. Second, the gripper must have
enough contact force with the part so that when the manipulator rotates, the part will
remain in the gripper.
Grippers or end-effectors can roughly be classifies into five categories.
1
Mechanical. Two or more fingers or jaws for external/internal grasping.
2
Vacuum. One or more vacuum cups for handling flat or nearly flat
workpieces that are reasonably smooth and clean.
3
Magnetic. One or more electromagnets (can be magnets), ferrous
materials only.
4
Expandable. Inflatable bag or cuff to handle odd shapes and fragile
materials, also inflatable prehensile fingers.
5
Adhesive. For materials that are lightweight and not suitable for vacuum
techniques.
Below are some types of grippers that can be found and use by the industrial
robots.

Standard hand

Fingers self-aligning

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Fingers for grasping different size parts


Cam-operated hand with inside and outside
Jaws

Special hand with modular gripper

Wide-opening hand

Special hand chuck type


Special hand with one moveable jaw

Special hand for cartons


Cam-operated hand

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Chapter 3

Robot control concepts

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3.1 Introduction
With the advent of low cost computers and rapid strides taken in microelectronics,
industrial automation has become an all pervading industry. In fact in the modern
realm of industries automation is perhaps the only mantra which provides for
progress. There are many methods to reach automation, utilising hydraulic,
pneumatic and electric drive elements being combined into a proper combination
with the help of a controller. The controller can be a hard wired one as in the earlier
days or utilising a programmable logic controller (PLC).
However, for very high speed applications developing a PLC programme is
almost impossible. Hence for applications involving a large amount of complex
sequence programming or those involving large computations, it becomes necessary
to use a dedicated computer. Typical examples are the computer numerical control
machine tools and robots. However, many other similar examples do exist in the
manufacturing industries which requires similar controlling with less demanding
input output requirements.
In such cases, a motion control card becomes a building block for many
control applications. Essentially, a motion control card is a special purpose set of
computer chips, or microprocessors, on an integrated circuit board designed to be
mounted in the PC slot or an enclosure that connects it with other electronic and
computer devices. With the developments in the VLSI designs many of the functions
required for automation are being shrunk into fit in smaller number of integrated
circuits thereby reducing the total cost of automation while increasing the reliability
of the operation.
3.2 Motion Control Card Tasks
The main job of the motion control card is to perform the time-intensive, high
frequency tasks needed to keep each axis of the machine tool moving along the
desired path (Fig. 3.1).
Position
Command
Host
Computer

Motion
Controller

Motion
. Command

Posit ion
Feed jack
Position
Sensor

Power
Amplifier

ajrrent

Pc>sition

Fig. 3.1 Motion control card function


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l.Plan each move. Take a block of coordinate information (G-code statement) from
the PC software and calculate the appropriate "equation of motion" to determine how
long and how fast to move each axis to arrive at that programmed destination along
the desired path.
2. Apply interpolation. Solve those equations of motion at small time intervals and
generate the appropriate intermediate positions for each axis.
3.Close the servo loop. Compare readings from the encoders, which indicate actual
axis position, with each of these intermediate positions, and issue new commands to
the servos to drive the difference to zero. Do so for each motor.
4.Regulate motor commutation (optional). Calculate the level of current applied to
each phase of the servo motor to produce desired torque. Do so for the motor at each
axis.
5.Maintain the current loop (optional). Compare desired current levels with actual
levels and modulate current by adjusting the power transistor on/off times to drive
the difference to zero. Do so for each servo motor.
A motion control card must perform all of its tasks at high speed and with extreme
reliability. Safety features allow a motion control card to bring a machine tool to a
safe condition in the event of an error, or if the PC "crashes" and stops functioning.
The software that has to reside in the personal control is shown in Fig. 3.2. The actual
components that can be developed depends on the final function anticipated for the
controller.
PROGRAM
EDITOR

SYNTAX
CHECKER

GCODE
INTERPRETER

GRAPHIC
SIMULATOR

|
-

TRANSLATOR

MOTION
DONTROL CARD
INTERFACE

MOTION
CONTROL
CARD

Fig. 3.2 The software that can be developed for a Motion control card function

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Program Editor: This helps the user to enter the robot control program by the user in
a standard language (English like) to be developed. This is more or less similar to a
text editor.
Syntax checker: This actually checks the syntax that should be used normally for
defining the robot movements.
G-code interpreter: If the graphic language used for robot movements is based on
the G-codes normally used for CNC machines, this component will be used. This
converts the G-codes into the low level code in robot programming language to be
used for control.
Graphic simulator: The graphic simulator provides a powerful way to simulate the
robot program before actually running the robot. This helps to removes any bugs
present in the program, before it is actually committed to running the robot.
Translator: This can be any translator to be developed depending upon any other
forms which might be used for programming the robot. Examples could be if a
program is developed in VAL, it can be translated top the native format of the robot.
The actual schematic of the robot controller as being planned is shown in Fig.
3.3.

User
Interface

Zaxis
Simulator

Xaxis

Personal
Computer

Rotary axis

Off-line
Programming

Gripper
1

Motion
controller

Digital I/O

Fig. 3.3 The complete architecture of a robot controller with the Motion control card

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