Why Automate Machining Applications with Robots

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Machining is a category of manufacturing processes that involve cutting raw materials into specific shapes and sizes. Trimming, drilling, milling, and reaming are some of the processes that fall under the machining application category. Given the repetitive and hazardous nature of these applications, machining processes have been prime candidates for automation. In the past, CNC machines have been the primary source of automation. However, given the limitations of CNC machines and the expansion of robotics automation, more manufacturers are automating their machining applications with the FANUC M-710ic/50 and other industrial robots.

Reasons to Automate Machining Applications with Robots

  • • Reduces Human Involvement - Automating machining with the ABB IRB 4600-40 will significantly reduce the amount of human involvement needed. Factory robots can retrieve parts, perform machining tasks, and then send the newly processed part onto the next phase of manufacturing. CNC machines merely automate the actual machining task. They still require human intervention to load, position, operate, and unload parts.

  • • Can Automate Multiple Machining Tasks - Articulated robots are capable of automating multiple machining applications. The Motoman MH50 can perform trimming, milling, and reaming. CNC machines can only automate one specific process. With CNC machines multiple machines are needed if manufacturers are automating more than one machining application. Whereas with robotic automation a single industrial robot arm can automate several machining tasks.

  • • Allows for More Complex Parts - Automating machining applications with the six-axis KUKA KR30-3 provides the range of motion needed when working with complex parts. CNC machines are not capable of automating the machining of parts with complex geometries given their limited axis configurations. Six-axis robots feature a range of motion that is similar to a human, allowing them to handle most workpieces.

  • • Can Handle a Variety of Materials - Those with a mix of part types can benefit from automating machining with industrial robots. Robot manipulators can work with parts of all material types including both firm and soft materials. Industrial robotic arms are ideal for machining materials such as foam, wood, and plastic. CNC machines can only automate machining processes involving hard materials.

  • • Lower Operational Costs - Operational costs will be reduced by automating machining with manufacturing robot arms. The reduction in worker involvement of machining reduces labor costs. With fewer workers the less manufacturers have to pay for salary and benefits. The ability of robotic manipulators to perform all aspects of machining eliminates errors, resulting in less waste and material costs. Robots can even help companies reduce their utility bills with their energy efficient operation.

  • • Streamlines Equipment - Since the FANUC M-20ia/35M can perform multiple machine applications, the amount of manufacturing equipment needed is reduced. With fewer machines, production floors are freed up to be utilized in more productive ways. Instead of rows of machinery, just a few handling robots may be all that is needed, streamlining factory floors.

  • • Cover a Greater Work Area - Most industrial robots feature a larger work envelope than CNC machines. This allows them to cover a greater workspace to handle larger parts. CNC machines are limited to machining only small workpieces. Robots with track systems can also be used for the machining of oversized workpieces.

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