The Advantages of Robotic Milling Systems in Cutting and Forming

Robotic arms are becoming increasingly prevalent in various industries due to their precision, strength, and versatility. In recent years, robotic milling systems have gained popularity and offer several advantages over traditional machine tools for specific applications.

One such application that is well-suited for robot arms is using a deburring tool as a cutting instrument when working with relatively soft materials like plastics and composites. Industries such as boat builders, automotive manufacturers, home appliance producers, and others require precise cutouts and complex shapes in materials such as fiberglass and plastic.

With the use of a six-axis, articulated robot arm, complex contours can be followed accurately. By employing a high-speed, rotating deburring bit, this system proves to be highly effective at cutting plastics and composite materials even after they have been molded into intricate surfaces.

While the process involves cutting through molded plastic or fiberglass, it can still be considered a milling application because the main forces applied to the spindle are perpendicular to the tool’s shaft. However, the process is not as simple as it seems.

One common mistake made by robotic integrators is choosing a small, lightweight spindle when working with thin materials. This decision is often made to reduce costs by specifying a less powerful robot arm. However, smaller spindles lack the lateral stiffness and bearing durability required to withstand repeated radial forces.

The result is that smaller spindles often fail within a few months of operation, leading to costly repairs and downtime for the system. This issue may only become evident after multiple installations, frustrating customers and forcing integrators to purchase spare spindles to minimize disruptions.

To overcome these challenges, a better choice is to opt for a larger spindle with stronger bearings. This may require selecting a more powerful robot arm, increasing the initial system cost. However, the overall cost of ownership will be lower, and customer satisfaction, uptime, and productivity will be significantly improved.

Robotic integrators can benefit from the expertise of spindle specialists like Precision Drive Systems. By making the right spindle selection, integrators can ensure optimal performance, higher customer satisfaction, and a more successful system implementation.

In conclusion, robotic milling systems offer numerous advantages in cutting and forming applications with soft materials. By selecting the appropriate spindle and considering long-term costs, integrators can maximize uptime, throughput, and customer satisfaction.

– Precision Drive Systems (PDS)
– Mark Fairchild, “The Advantages of Robotic Milling Systems in Cutting and Forming,” Available at: [insert URL]