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Need /diy/‘s help on personal project

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This is all copy pasted from /g/, they were the ones I originally went to but they told me to come here. A /diy/ anon gave me a lot of good advice over on /g/ but I still want to see what others think.

Let me start off by saying I don’t really know shit about electronics or programming, so sorry if I sound like a retard.

I’m trying to make a machine/device that I can place a sheet of metal (possibly other shapes at other times) that has a random assortment of holes in it and have any material caught in these holes get pressed out by a punch. I’ve considered using pressurized water but I’ve determined it would be too messy and the pressure needed will be too high and may damage the metal sheets.

Anyway, pic related is my first attempt at a solution. It would involve some sort of sensor scanning over the metal sheet, detecting where the holes are, and then relaying this information in some way to whatever is driving the movement of the punch in the XY plane. The punch would then move from hole to hole after actuating along the Z plane in each location. The problem is, I don’t really know if such a sensor exists. I was considering using a photoelectric sensor, I could tell where the holes are based on how long it takes the light to return to the sensor (although I know the difference between a hole and a non hole position would be such a small amount of time that it may be within the margin of error you can expect from a cheap sensor). Would such a thing be feasible?

Secondly, is there a programming language that I should use to take the data the sensor collects to relay to whatever I’m going to use to move the punch along the XY plane (my tiny amount of research tells me I should use a servo motor to get precise control of the punch’s position). How do I get the sensor to communicate with the servo motor?

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