The manufacturing industry has seen a significant shift toward automation in recent years. From precision machining to assembly line production, robots have transformed manufacturing and continue to do so.
One area that has seen significant innovation is the use of CNC robotics and automated production. These technologies are redefining what’s possible by taking precision, productivity, and quality to new extremes.
Robotic Machining Explained
Robotic machining, as its name suggests, is the process of utilizing robots and automation to perform various machining operations. For instance, milling, drilling, turning, cutting, and much more. Generally, these robots have tools such as end mills, drills, or grinders, and move along a pre-determined path to perform the machining operation.
Robots offer several advantages over traditional machining methods. One of the primary benefits is increased precision and accuracy. Robots can perform the same machining operations with consistent accuracy and repeatability, which results in higher-quality parts and reduced waste.
Today, the use of CNC robotics is common across various industries such as aerospace, automotive, and medical, where precision, speed, and consistency are crucial. With advancements in robotics and automation technology, CNC robots are becoming increasingly popular and are expected to play a significant role in the future of industrial automation.
Why Use CNC Robotics Over Traditional Manufacturing Methods?
Shifting to robotics requires significant investment. Updating legacy equipment, reprogramming current machinery, getting the right skilled operators, and all other associated tasks take time and resources. Is it all worth it? What is it that CNC robots bring to the table?
Here are some of the most important benefits of robotic machining over traditional methods.
CNC robotics is a fully automated manufacturing method, which means that robots can work 24/7 without requiring any breaks or rest. This leads to increased productivity and reduced lead times compared to traditional manufacturing methods that rely on human labor.
2. Enhanced Accuracy & Precision
CNC robotics offers high precision and accuracy in manufacturing. Unlike traditional manual methods, CNC machines and robots are programmed to perform specific tasks with consistent accuracy and repeatability. This results in high-quality products with fewer defects.
Consider the example of medical parts, surgical equipment, medical devices, and other items that need to be as accurate as possible and only automation can consistently deliver such precision.
3. More Flexibility
Machining robotics allows for greater flexibility in manufacturing. Robots can be reprogrammed to perform different tasks, making it easy to switch between products, parts, or even materials.
For example, machining aluminum requires a much different approach in terms of cutting speed and depth than titanium. The right robot can handle both easily. This is especially useful in small-batch or custom production runs where the production needs can change frequently.
CNC robotics may require a larger initial investment than conventional manufacturing techniques. Over time, the advantages like increased productivity, decreased waste, and higher-quality products may result in greater benefits and lower running costs.
5. Greater Complexity
CNC robots can handle manufacturing tasks that would be challenging or impossible for traditional machines or humans to complete. Robots, for instance, can handle hazardous materials, work in confined spaces, make intricate cuts or welds, and handle multiple operations simultaneously while maintaining their productivity.
CNC robotics eliminates the need of endangering human lives by handling tasks that may pose a safety risk. This lowers the possibility of accidents occurring and enhances the manufacturing process’s overall safety.
CNC Machines and Robots: What are the Differences?
CNC machines and CNC robots may sound similar and rightly so. They essentially are two sides of the same coin and have many similarities but a few fundamental differences as well.
1. CNC Machines Have Limited Operations
The biggest difference between CNC machines and robots is their limitation. Robots are flexible and can perform many tasks from picking the workpiece to placing it, and then processing (machining, welding, cutting) it according to the program.
Usually, CNC can’t do that. Their operations are limited to machining. Most common CNC machines can’t perform more than a few functions. For example, a CNC drilling machine won’t perform milling and turning operations or anything else. Doing so would need different CNC machine types.
2. CNC Machines Require Human Input
Similarly, CNC machines require human input throughout the process. Robots instead are capable of working alongside humans. Thereby making them an ideal choice for a collaborative manufacturing environment.
3. Robots Perform Multiple Tasks More Efficiently
Furthermore, Robots are quite versatile and can be programmed to perform different tasks with much efficiency. CNC machines, on the other hand, perform best while producing a large volume of identical parts. The consistency and repeatability they offer are truly unmatched.
Therefore, both robots and CNC machines are a little different. While CNC machines are specialized machines designed for precise machining operations, robots are versatile machines that can be programmed to perform a wide range of tasks in manufacturing environments.
Types of CNC Robots Available in the Different Industries
Robots are generally designed to do a specific task. The manufacturing sector commonly uses the following types of robots for machining applications.
Also known as gantry robots, these robots operate in the Cartesian plane (x,y, and z) and can pick and place tasks. They are also great for simple machining operations that require movement in a straight line.
These robots have multiple rotary axes that allow them to move in a range of motion similar to a human arm. Most CNC robot arms are articulated robots and are commonly used for welding, painting, and other tasks that require complex movements.
Short for Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm, these robots have a horizontal arm and are commonly used for assembly and material handling tasks that require high speed and accuracy.
Robots are good at repetitive tasks and ensuring precision but they can’t match the creativity of a human. Collaborative robots, better known as cobots, are designed for such jobs where both human creativity and robotic precision are needed. They are built for small spaces and have various built-in features to ensure safety.
When choosing a robot, manufacturers must take into account the unique requirements of their application. Each type of machining robot has advantages and disadvantages of its own. The right decision depends on the intricacies of the project and the requirement of the machining facility.
Rise of Robotics in Automation: The Past and the Future of CNC Robots
Although they may seem new, CNC systems and manufacturing robots have been around since the 50s. The concept was there but it wasn’t viable because of the lack of programming capabilities and exuberant associated costs.
All of this was only possible because of the huge strides in the field of programming and automation. Setting up new robotic technologies, connecting novel and legacy equipment, consistently improving operations, and doing many things that existed as a concept before became possible which resulted in this paradigm shift.
What Does the Future Hold?
In the shortest words, the future of robots in manufacturing is very exciting. Experts anticipate further developments in the field of automation resulting in better flexibility and performance. Robots are becoming more and more affordable in general, and that’s helping manufacturers rely on them even more.
Another area with a lot of potential is the integration of IoT, AI, machine learning, and industrial automation for better manufacturing. This integration is anticipated to take manufacturing to the next level by simplifying all associated processes from design to assembly.
Get Custom Robot Parts: Experience the Best at WayKen
Robot parts require precision machining for the right purpose. Getting it wrong can negatively impact the quality and waste material, time, and resources. The best way to avoid it is by using the right professionals for the job.
WayKen is your reliable manufacturer. With an experienced team and advanced machines, we offer a wide range of machining services for your robot project, such as precision machining, 5-axis CNC machining, prototype machining, custom machining, etc. Be it a custom robot part or any other complex machined parts, Feel free to contact WayKen and get them done!
Robotics is drastically changing modern manufacturing. The advancements in industrial automation offer a number of advantages that previously existed in theory only. Moreover, the capability of automating repetitive tasks and programming complex movements has allowed manufacturers to enjoy better productivity, cost-effectiveness, and competitiveness like never before.
What’s more, CNC robotics continue to become even more intelligent and intuitive thanks to the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning in the process.
What is a robotic arm?
A robotic arm can perform a multitude of tasks including welding, placing, packing, assembling, etc.
What is the most common type of robot in manufacturing?
Articulated robots are perhaps the most common robots in any industrial environment because of their versatility and flexibility. They are found in both CNC machining and 3D printing applications along with many other areas across various industries.