A system for automated assembly and mounting of targets at high throughput rates has been developed at General Atomics. Major components of the system include two, six-axis industrial robot arms; a high-precision glue-dispensing system; a vision system; and a piezoelectric translation stage for precise positioning of parts. All operations are controlled by computer, with feedback from the vision system to the piezoelectric stage and robots.

Assembly and mounting of cone-in-shell targets is described. A key requirement for these targets is that the virtual cone tip (the projection of the cone sides to a single point in space) must be aligned to the shell center to within ±10 m. Major steps in the process include (a) gluing capsules to zirconia handling posts with water-soluble glue; (b) cutting holes in the tops of the capsules to accept cones; (c) assembling the cones to the capsules, forming a target; (d) gluing carbon fiber "stalks" to carriers on which the targets are mounted; and (e) removing targets from the handling posts and gluing them to stalks on carriers.

The system has been demonstrated to be capable of assembling and mounting on the order of 500 targets per week. With further optimization, throughput rates of 1000 per week appear achievable.