CAD/CAM developer Delcam has linked with industrial robot manufacturer KUKA to develop a machining robot that was introduced at Euromold. The robot is intended to provide a low-cost alternative to machine tools for many large-scale manufacturing operations carried out on softer materials.
Until now, machining by robot has been limited to a small number of specialized production operations. Developments undertaken recently in Delcam's PowerMILL machining software and in KUKA's control system have made it far easier to program robots for a much wider range of applications.
"The cost of installing a robot is far less than the price of a large machine tool with a similar working envelope," says Brett Green, general sales manager for KUKA. "For example, a robot capable of machining a five-meter long component would cost around Euro 40,000, whereas a similar sized machine tool would be nearer Euro 400,000," says Green.
In addition, the flexibility of a robot means that complex operations can be carried out in a single setup, cutting production times and reducing the number of fixtures needed. The ability to program the robot effectively off-line from 3D CAD data offers a...