The manufacturing industry keeps updating with the advent of new and improved technology. The same is the case with CNC machining.
Now, robotics is widely used in machining to produce premium quality and complex objects. Whether it’s the hardness, surface finish, or physical tolerance, robot technology can perform multiple functions in one hand.
Research has shown that most of the milling and grinding work is currently done with the help of robotics. Besides mechanical ability, let’s look at what else this robot technology holds for CNC machining.
What are CNC Machining Robots?
Before we get down to the usability of robot technology, you should know what CNC machining robots are. It is no news that robots gradually lead the workspaces and are a vital part of the metalworking industries.
Hence, CNC machining robots are advanced program-driven tools that work without any input for machining purposes. The robotics list is comprehensive, as different robots perform different functions in milling or grinding machines.
Yet, the type and specifications of a robot do not matter in the automated machining industry unless it is efficiently performing its function. For instance, Cartesian robots primarily load the material, handle it, and pack the workpiece. Similarly, SCARA robots have different configurations and perform the main task of machining, packaging, and inspection with high precision.
What are the Common Types of Robotics Used in CNC Machining?
Here are some popular Robots used in CNC machining to perform different operations:
1. Articulated Robots
Most commonly, industries use articulated robots for manufacturing their products. These robots contain rotary joints named axes that allow robots to move independently by offering additional degrees of freedom. Some articulated robots feature two axes, whereas others may have complex structures with 10 or even more axes.
Typically, articulated robots stand up for their enhanced flexibility and wide range of motion to handle objects perfectly, independent of size. However, if you require extreme levels of precision, you can make articulated arms outperform with the addition of cartesian robots. Further, below are some significant applications of robots:
- Object Handling
- Packaging and dispersal of parts
- Machine loading
- Arc welding
- Assembly of components
Besides this, the automotive, electronics, metals, and packaging industries use these robots excessively.
2. Delta Robots
Delta robots will be the best choice if you want a CNC robot for high-speed applications in manufacturing companies. These are mainly parallel-type CNC industrial robots named after their upside-down triangular structure. Their mechanical design and distinctive configuration make them unique from other robots. Plus, they possess large sweeping arms for improved working.
Moreover, these robots are usually adjusted on top of the workplaces. This is because the work area acts as a conveyor to move objects down production lines. The following are some popular applications of delta robots:
- Sorting the materials
- Assembly and disassembly
- Packaging of final products
- Pick and place
Apart from that, pharmaceuticals, medical, additive, cosmetics, food, and beverage industries use these robots to meet high production rates.
3. SCARA Robots
Selective Compliance Articulated Robot Arms (SCARA) operate similarly to human arms but perform with incredible speed and precision. These are generally four-axis robots that help perform repetitive operations efficiently. Additionally, their swiftness helps improve productivity at a lower cost and ensures a safe environment for workers.
Other than that, SCARA is designed only to move its arms in specific dimensions. It might seem to be a drawback of this robot, but actually, it’s ideal for certain applications. Mainly, this rigidity is responsible for the high level of precision that other robot types don’t offer.
Regarding the applications of SCARA, they are used for:
- Packaging operations
- Assembly and disassembly
- Picking and placing of products
Furthermore, you can find the use of SCARA in automotive, electronics, retail manufacturing, telecommunications, and pharmaceutical companies. Yet, they are considered perfect for assembling PCBs and soldering tasks because flat-shaped PCBs don’t demand much flexibility from the robots.
4. Gantry Robots
While dealing with workpieces heavier than average, you may need to add the gantry robots in your CNC machining operation. Regarding its construction, these robots typically use three axes and consist of a manipulator fixed over their head to offer horizontal plane movements.
As gantry robots use X, Y, and Z coordinate systems, they are way easier to program according to motion. Moreover, you can prefer their high position accuracy to place the components appropriately in the industries. Plus, they offer simple configurations aiding you in the easy adjustment of the size, speed, precision, and stroke length of the robot.
Primarily, gantry robots provide the following services to their users:
- Loading and unloading of industrial materials
- Cutting and welding applications
- Pick and place heavy items
- Fastens and screw drive objects
How Robot Technology Benefits CNC Machining?
Implementing robot technology in CNC machining is the key to increasing the efficiency of different CNC operations, including turning, milling, and plasma cutting. Here are further advantages discussed about the application of robot technology:
● Improved Safety
Most robots possess features for a high level of safety when performing operations. Luckily, some self-contained CNC robot tenders in the market are affordable, convenient to install, and can be run without any human supervision. Thus, reducing the probability of safety risks for the workers.
● Ease of Usage
Robotic tender units are pretty easy to deal with, especially when it comes to installing them. Minimal experience of workers would be enough to install them. All you need is to follow the three installation steps:
- First, place the tender in front of the CNC machine.
- Then, fix it to the ground with fasteners.
- Lastly, connect the power and Ethernet.
The only role of an operator is to program the robot to do different operations like loading, picking, placing, assembly, or packaging.
● High Productivity and Precision
You can perform different CNC operations at greater speed with the addition of robots in your machining processes. Comparatively, it offers you to produce 47% more products per hour than other traditional machinings.
As you know, CNC robots usually take part in picking the material, loading it into a particular machine, unloading it on the table, etc. A robotic arm commonly performs operations with an accuracy of almost +/- 1mm.
● Reduced Expenditures
The robotic CNC machine tenders enable you to reduce your expenditures. This is because the initial cost of these tenders is relatively low. Also, they require no additional labor for the installation and operation, which tends to save labor costs.
● Offers Smooth Surface Finish
It is a pretty challenging task to aim for the ideal surface roughness. Yet, the interaction of robots and CNC machines results in a perfect surface finish.
● Multiple Tasks
Another remarkable benefit of CNC robots is the ability to perform multiple tasks. As discussed earlier, robots can simultaneously perform CNC machining processes (milling, lathing, drilling, cutting) and other operations. These operations might be loading the machine, picking or placing the parts, checking the quality of components, or packing the final products.
What are the Drawbacks of the Application of Robotic Technology in Machining?
Although robotics is a driving force and speeds up the manufacturing process, it cannot replace CNC machining technology. There are some risk factors involved in using robot technology in automated milling machines. Let’s have a look at them!
1. Core Components of Industrial Robots
Robot technology can undoubtedly improve the work environment, but sometimes, they become difficult to handle. The reason lies in the functionality of the core components of these robots. Normally, these components consist of controllers, servo motors, high-precision reducers, and drives.
Each component of the robot plays a significant role in the operation. However, most companies import these components that are not up to the mark. Furthermore, the lack of innovation ability and systematic development of these parts are responsible for the restriction in the growth of industrial robots.
2. Poor Information Exchange
CNC robots require particular computer software and hardware to perform different operational tasks. Therefore, there must be a good relationship between the processing system of robots and the management system. Unfortunately, industrial robots have poor robot-to-human information exchange, which leads to various issues.
In order to resolve these communication barriers, robot manufacturers must learn the standardized language of computers.
3. Accuracy and Stiffness Issues
Besides poor information exchange and handling, accuracy is the top challenge of robotic technology in the machining industry. Especially when it comes to dealing with complex parts, there are issues with robot accuracies compared to high-end automated CNC machines.
The leading cause of the lack of accuracy and stiffness is the rigidity of the robots. Usually, the cantilever beam structure and slender robot arms reduce the robot’s rigidity. This acts as a hurdle for robots to carry the items perpendicular to their arms. Also, the lack of stiffness prevents them from processing the hard material workpieces.
The introduction of robots in CNC technology has significantly benefited the CNC machinist to get their tasks done efficiently. To conclude, the combo of robots and CNC machines is doing miracles in manufacturing by increasing their productivity with high accuracy. You only need to choose a suitable CNC robot according to the requirements of your industry and products.