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Robots rival large CNC machines

01 October, 2005

Robots rival large CNC machines

A US company has developed a robot-based machining technology which, it claims, it more efficient and cheaper to use than large five-axis CNC machine tools. Programming Plus Inc (PPI) says that its Robotic Machining Cell (RMC) will revolutionise large-format five-axis machining of soft materials such as composites and aluminium, to tolerances of around 0.1mm.

"The RMC system allows customers to program and machine products that were too cost-prohibitive, complex or time-consuming to machine in the past," says PPI president, Tom Bentley. "They can now easily program any three- or five-axis part, and switch from part to part in a matter of minutes, where previous technology required hours, or even days."

The cells are based on Kuka robots and Delcam`s UK-developed PowerMill software, which translates CAD/CAM files to program the robots. The robots provide a much larger working envelope than conventional CNC machines, and this can be extended further by mounting them on rails.

One robot can machine four or more parts stationed around it and can, in some applications, load its own parts.

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