Thanks to robotic milling, manufacturers now have flexibility in a market that has historically been dominated by heavy capital equipment. Modern production has new alternatives thanks to this technology. The possibilities of robotic milling allow the creation of sophisticated moulds for the plastics sector, as well as impressive works of art, opening up new avenues for producers.
Although milling has been practised for many years, the use of industrial robots to perform this work is a more recent development. The widespread use of 3D cutting software has drastically reduced the input requirements for robots. For the milling process, CAD/CAM software for robots introduced simulation, verification and synchronisation of tool paths.
Robotic milling applications are often performed using six-axis variations. Thanks to their fluid, articulated motion, a complex shape or pattern can be organically incorporated into the part. Similar results from other devices require complicated support equipment or manual modifications by the user. For handling large machine tool equipment, these robots offer a balance of reach and strength.
The SCARA robot is not as common as the six-axis robot for milling. These small units are great for small, simple, low-cost robotic milling applications. Such as: woodworking, automotive metal joints, simple plastic components. However, they will not be a good choice for your larger, more complex applications.
Milling robots are becoming increasingly popular due to their ease of use and low cost compared to traditional capital equipment. The most common sectors for robotic milling are: manufacturing, construction, engineering, healthcare, Aerospace, wood, plastics and carbon fibre manufacturing, Marine Manufacturing, Art, Architecture, Automotive and many others. These robots are useful for most milling tasks, but can also be used for other tasks such as cleaning.
The automation of milling operations offers numerous advantages. Throughput is increased, parts are of higher quality and production is more reliable thanks to automation. In milling operations, milling robots compete with CNC machines. Let’s talk about the differences between the two.
A CNC machine can cost 30% to 70% more than a milling robot. After integration, an average-sized milling robot can cost between $60,000 and $120,000, conservatively. Conclusion: When finances are tight and profit margins are slim, a robot can offer a more affordable alternative.
For most applications, the innate adaptability of robots is a crucial component. CNC machines are often built specifically for a few limited uses. If necessary, robots can quickly switch from a small to a large milling activity. If necessary, they can also be completely reassigned to new tasks.
Thanks to their robust design, CNC machines offer best-in-class precision. CNC machines can easily achieve sub-micron performance levels, while milling robots provide sub-millimetre accuracy. Tighter manufacturing tolerances are often required for the milling of premium aircraft components. In some cases, it is impossible to choose between CNC and robotics.
The productivity of your application can be significantly affected if the wrong type of robot is chosen. Making mistakes during integration causes problems throughout the life of the machine. Integrating a milling robot can be difficult if the requirements are unknown. When integrating your robot, there are a number of crucial steps to consider.
The cost and ease of integration of your project can be influenced by the choice of the right supplier.
For industrial robots to be able to perform difficult operations such as milling, additional software is required. This allows you to provide your robot with milling instructions using 3D models. Don’t forget that the software must be compatible with the brand of robot you have.
To ensure that your process works correctly, you may need to purchase additional products. Depending on your project needs, there are numerous hardware solutions available, but we have identified a few essential items for you to consider. For example: tool cabinet for part change, cooling systems for harder materials during milling, automated transfer units for large milling operations.
Some suppliers have all-inclusive packages, which are ready-made work cells for standard milling tasks. Purchasing such a package can considerably reduce the work required to obtain the necessary components. Milling robots offer immense added value to your machining process.