Milling Robots Vs. CNC Machines In Machining And Material Removal

Many manufacturing industries have used CNC machines as their main workhorses in machining and material removal for many years. Machining includes processes such as grinding, milling, and reaming, boring, routing, lathing, broaching, sawing, and turning, among others.

While CNC machines are also automated and highly efficient, some industries choose to work with more advanced and flexible collaborative robots with robotic arms. Robotic arms are more fashionable and modern as compared to CNC machines.  They integrate advanced technical and mechanical abilities that offer fast production rates and the highest level of machine intelligence.

CNC machines are also extremely intelligent and high-performing, explaining why some industries will not switch to robotic arms. However, many other industries choose to integrate CNC machining and milling machine robot into their material handling and removal processes for more efficiency. The following is a comparison between a CNC machine and a milling robot.

CNC Machines

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) dates back to the 1950s. The machines gained popularity with many industries because of their reliability, incredible speed, and accuracy, especially in material handling and removal, which encompasses several challenging applications.

Just like many other automated machines, CNC machines have preprogrammed features controlled by software or file for all the processes. CNC machines are smaller than the traditional industrial robots and occupy a small workspace.

The accuracy of CNC machines goes down to a fraction of a micron, making it even more accurate than a traditional industrial robot, whose accuracy goes to 100s of microns. However, calibration can improve a robot’s accuracy to match a CNC machine.

A CNC machine exhibits a high level of stiffness in all its axes making it less flexible. On the other hand, robotic arms depending on the type, have lower levels of stiffness on their axes that provide them with easy flexibility and mobility around the floor of the workplace.

Milling robots can produce parts with complex designs of the highest quality with CNC-type production techniques for the elaboration of large-scale sculptures.

Milling Machine Robot

Robot milling is one of the newest robot applications on the market, and many industries are yet to start using them. They require spline geometry and multiple tasks programming, which is still a challenge for many manufacturers of robotic arms. However, you will still find some of the best robot manufacturers with milling machine robot systems preprogrammed for multiple applications.

Robotic milling uses cutting systems and tools with high flexibility for different material removal applications that include wire cutting, sanding, milling, grinding, and knife cutting, among many others.

Moreover, you can execute the processes on different materials such as stone, marble, concrete plastic, fiber, wood, and foam by adjusting the programs and choosing the correct end-of-arm tool for the application.

A milling robot has a 6 to 7 axis that provides more flexibility and larger volumes of work. It does more work than a CNC machine for a fraction of the total cost of the application, thus offering the production line immense benefits. It also generates a rapid return on investment (ROI). Robotic milling is common in the following industries-

  • Robotic sculpture and models
  • Robotic prototypes
  • Robotic carpentry
  • Robotic architecture and civil works
  • Furniture creation
  • Fashion
  • Automotive
  • Aerospace

A typical milling machine robot has the following elements

  • Safety protection features
  • Robot controlled variable speed drivers
  • Cables and brackets for mounting the robot
  • A milling spindle with high sped abilities

Wrapping it up

Milling robots have highly flexible and advanced features that enable them to work better than the typical CNC machines. Unlike a CNC machine with three to four motion degrees, a milling robot has 6 to 7 degrees of motion that provide it with more flexibility.

Moreover, they are versatile and can work on a wide range of applications on various materials. They are cost-efficient and have safety features that enable them to work alongside humans without a fuss. They also work well with CNC machines.