Polishing is a finishing process in which an abrasive is applied to the surface of a workpiece in order to refine and smooth its surface. It is a subtype of material removal applications and is one of the last steps of a manufacturing process before a part is considered complete. Polishing applications can be laborious and tedious while requiring a great deal of consistency which can be hard to accomplish when done manually. This is why many manufacturers are turning to robotics as a cost-effective solution for automating their polishing processes. Polishing robots like the Motoman MH50 can be integrated with EOAT (end of arm tooling) to meet any polishing application requirements. Manufacturers that typically operate high volume productions such as those in industries including the automotive, medical, and marine rely on polishing robots to produce high quality finishes consistently.
Manufactures are realizing that by replacing manual polishing with a robot such as the ABB IRB 4400-45/2.05 their operation efficiency increases. Polishing robots are equipped with force sensor technology that allows them to be easily programmed to apply the correct amount of pressure to the workpieces every time. Force sensors allow the industrial robot to operate with precise movements, resulting in smooth, uniform finishes that are replicated over and over. With manual polishing there is always going to be deviation in appearance from part to part. This is because it is impossible for a worker to consistently apply the same amount of pressure. Manual polishing can also be prone to errors resulting in parts becoming damaged from too much material being removed. Production time is then increased to try to correct these mistakes or by having to restart the polishing process. Errors are reduced with robots resulting in decreased cycle time and higher quality products.
Polishing robots do more than just solve issues related to product quality, they also solve common manufacturing problems related to high turnover and workforce safety. Polishing jobs are undesirable to workers due to their labor-intensive and tedious nature. It can be hard for manufacturers to keep workers as they become burnt out by the strain of using harsh abrasives and chemicals for several hours over and over. Polishing jobs also put worker safety at risk with their hazardous environments of high dust, particles, and toxic fumes. The inhalation or contact with these substances can led to adverse and sometimes long-term health effects. Polishing robots like the FANUC M-710ic/50 are designed to handle these tough conditions without failure or fatiguing. Industrial robots can work long hours without breaks, so there is very little down time as opposed to their human counterparts. Polishing robots work seamlessly from one part to the next until the job is completed. Productivity is significantly increased with the elimination of turnover, worker injuries, and downtime.
Advances in robotic technology have made robots more affordable than ever before and companies can quickly realize their return on investment (ROI). In general polishing robots complete resurfacing in half the time as opposed to manual polishing. Increased productivity along with the repeatability of robots means more high-quality products are reaching consumers at faster rates. Manufacturing costs are decreased with the elimination of wasted materials, reduced cycle time, and lower labor costs with the integration of polishing robots.