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Can Robot milling replace a traditional CNC machine?

Robot Milling

Robotic milling involves adding the flexibility to replace a traditional CNC machine

Robot milling can now replace a machine tool in certain applications, bringing a high level of flexibility to use different tools in the 3D space. Robots are capable of producing the highest quality complex and unusual geometries parts. For example, robotic milling systems can have flexible tooling for specific material removal.

Robot Milling can process a variety of different materials from alloys to plastics and from foams to timber. A robot is capable of milling any object of any size or shape by just adjusting the robot programming and end-of-arm-tooling.

We can find Industrial robots in a great variety of applications such as handling, welding, assembling and robot milling operations. Especially for machining operations, industrial robots represent a cost-saving and flexible alternative compared to standard machine tools. With the knowledge of interaction along the milling path, a general model-based path correction strategy is presented to significantly improve accuracy in robot milling operations.

Why working with an industrial robot?

Automotive Industry is using Robotics, where the robot usually execute a single routine following a set of 3d-Curves (circular or linear interpolations or PTP (Point to Point) movements). You just need to program the robot once to do the same operation for the whole lifecycle.

milling automation is a fairly new application for robots and not widely used. Programming is still a big challenge because the robot’s programming software does not support automatically programming of multiple tasks and spline-geometry.

With using CAM or robot simulation software, we have the advantage that we can use the CAM-strategy of contour milling, the end mill can follow the splines according to the surface normal.

 Robotic milling is advantageous in several aspects:

  • Increase Flexibility – Robotic milling greatly increases the flexibility of milling.
  • Lower Cost – Robot milling can be cheaper than CNC.
  • Through the flexibility in a workspace, the robot supports undercuts and can work from all directions.
  • A further advantage is the (non-cubic) workspace. In contrary to portal milling machines, a robot does not operate within a fixed frame.
  • Calibration and self-reference of the robot: the robot can reference its own position to the model.
  • Industrial robots can work in diverse areas as 3-D-printing as well as for milling or drafting.

CNC Disadvantages:

  • CNC machines require substantial space in the floor plant.
  • They are very expensive machines and the initial investment is greater than industrial robots
  • No skilful CNC machine operators and it is hard to find them
  • Technology is moving to smart factories instead of manual operations.

Robotic Technology

For a lot of people, numerically controlled CNC machines are what tend to come to mind when they think of automated milling machines. However, it does not mean that this is the only option or that robotic milling is less competitive than the traditional CNC machine. Technology has moved forward at a pace, and robots are now very popular for milling applications particularly when requires a large envelope.

CNC machine supplier intends to sell the idea that the specific, fixed position tasks are the solutions to the manufacturer. In this article, we are not talking about competing between them. CNC machines are very reliable in repetitive tasks once they had been programmed as well as robots are.

The traditional CNC machine very much has its place where high tolerances are required or for machining particularly hard materials. Nevertheless, in our role as an integrator, we need to look at the project being planned and guide our customer. Whether it be robotic or a traditional CNC we will recommend the solution most adapted to their needs. As mentioned earlier a milling robotic cell is nearly always a more economical solution where milling large work pieces.

At Phoenix Control, we design, implement, test and install complete robot cell systems. For example, milling cell, welding, palletising, assembly, painting just to mention some. Check also Welding tomorrow

Application of Robots in Manufacturing

Application of Robots in Manufacturing has changed the way businesses operate around the world in 2020

Application of Robots in Manufacturing

The industry has had to re-think and optimise their operations by considering some new factors.

Application of Robots in Manufacturing has changed the way businesses operate around the world in 2020. Manufacturing is always looking for the most affordable way to continue doing business and keep production running.  While some organisations can work remotely, others require workers to be on-site to continue with production. For example, integrating robots or updating a control system.

Spanish flu, Black fewer, or Ebola had caused devasting results in humankind.  Today, we have the Covid-19, a new challenge that is changing the way businesses operate around the world.

There are new factors that manufacturing needs to consider. This article will discuss these new factors.

Healthy and Safety in the Workplace

Health and safety in the workplace is the focus that is driving organisations in order to match the new requirements generated from the government’s latest guidelines.

Some businesses were reluctant to optimise their operations, but they are reconsidering this stance and looking at the possibility to adopt new technology. For example, video meetings or using digital technology to help the staff to work from home and keep safe.

Likewise, manufacturers are optimising their plant operations by integrating robots or including industrial automation in their processes. In this way, they are protecting their employees.

Risk Assessments Analysis

The COVID-19 pandemic forces us to keep a distance from one another in the workplace, whether on the shop floor or office. Thereby, the best way to ensure worker wellbeing is to provide them with new tools and devices to perform their tasks.

Companies may need more sophisticated cloud-based management systems or web-integrated approaches. Thereby, log data will record incidents in real-time. Also, it will allow to effectively organise, structure and run the business for maximum efficiency and performance all in one place.

New technology means new challenges. For example, risk assessments are essential and improved data security could be a factor to consider when a business empowers staffs with modern technology.

Even though it is not straightforward, companies will have more productive employees able to connect and collaborate from around the world.

 Manufacturing Automation

Manufacturing optimisation processes, rather than being merely a way to automate jobs, can enhance the way we look after each other. Depending on the industry, the optimisation, and customisation that is carried out can vary.

For example, car manufacturers are optimising their processes by using robotic systems, and they are automating their entire operation with new or updated control automation systems.

New automation systems used to be a synonym for job losses or extra expenses but not anymore. Industries across the world have responded to the unprecedented events of 2020 with innovation, taking health and safety as the focus. Small and medium businesses in the UK are adopting robot automation to protect employee wellbeing.

Robotics Industry

Robot manufacturers are introducing more than ever collaborative robots that ensure the distance between their staff.  Thereby, this particular type of industrial robot can work alongside humans. At the same time, they can keep working after working hours to meet a production deadline.

Robotics not only protects employees, but it helps to keep production running while employees are furloughed. Thus, welding robots, milling robots, painting robots and assembly automation systems are some of the most common manufacturing applications today.

As a systems integrator, we recommend considering robotic systems as part of the health and safety measures for your staff.  In this way, manufacturing enhances and continue with your production.

Thereby, to respond to the unprecedented events of 2020, manufacturers need to innovate or look for new methods. Likewise, engaging with customers and providing continuous support to their needs.

At Phoenix Control Systems, we will continue fully serving our clients consistent with reasonable safety measures. The well-being of our clients and our people is our priority. Our goal is to support both through the challenging days to come. Likewise, as robotic and control system integrator, we always look for modern technologies to provide the best options to our customers.  Our industrial automation and robotics services are providing globally.