Robotic trimming, also referred to as robotic cutting, involves automating the process of removing material from workpieces with industrial robots. Robot manipulators are integrated with a cutting tool and programmed to follow a specific path in order to shape parts, divide parts, or a combination of both. Trimming is a common process that is used to prep workpieces for other stages of a manufacturing operation. Automating trimming with the FANUC M-20ia and other factory robots optimizes the process by increasing precision, providing consistency, and eliminating human error.
Robotic Trimming Application TypesRobotic trimming can be divided into several different types. These include:
- • Mechanical - Mechanical trimming is the traditional method of cutting workpieces. It involves integrating robots with standard cutting tools to trim parts.
- • Laser Cutting - Laser cutting is a non-contact trimming method that uses a laser beam to cut parts. It is ideal for delicate or sensitive materials. Laser welding robots can double as laser trimming robots. The FANUC Arcmate 120ic is ideal for automating both processes.
- • Plasma Cutting - Just like laser cutting, plasma cutting processes can be automated by welding robots, specifically plasma welding robots. During plasma cutting, plasma is accelerated at a faster speed than what is required for welding in order to trim parts. Only electrically conducive metals can be trimmed with plasma cutting.
- • Waterjet Cutting - Waterjet cutting uses a high-pressured stream of water to wear away and trim parts. This method produces even and smooth cuts. It also keeps the work environment clean as it does not produce dust or fumes. Waterjet cutting robots can handle a variety of materials including both soft and hard.
- • Oxyfuel Cutting - Oxyfuel cutting is mainly used to cut through thick metal workpieces. A combination of heat and oxygen allow for thick metals to be divided. During the process fuel is used to generate a flame that when applied to metals, melts them. Slag forms that is then pushed way with oxygen, leaving a divided workpiece behind.
- • Ultrasonic Cutting - Ultrasonic cutting involves trimming workpieces through microscopic vibrations. Robots are integrated with an ultrasonic cutter that generates vibrations through ultrasonic energy, allowing the blade to cleanly and easily trim materials. Ultrasonic cutting robots are ideal for softer materials. The ABB IRB 2600 is capable of automating this cutting method.
Types of Trimming RobotsThe type of robot selected for trimming automation will depend upon the exact process being automated, the workpieces, and the environment. The most common types of robots used for trimming applications include:
- • Six-Axis
- • Collaborative
- • Gantry
- • SCARA
Reasons to Automate Trimming with Industrial Robots
- • Increase Productivity - The speed and accuracy of trimming robots will increase productivity, allowing companies to keep up with high demand.
- • Improve Safety - Automating trimming removes workers from the safety risks associated with the process.
- • Reduce Waste - The mitigation of errors lowers scrap and material waste.
- • Improve Quality - Cuts will be cleaner and smoother with trimming robots.
- • Lower Costs - Labor, material, and utility costs will decrease with robotic trimming.