Robots challenge traditional machines

Robots challenge traditional machines

A Robotic Machining Cell does large-scale five-axis machining.

A new robot technology could revolutionize large-format five-axis machining, according to Wisconsin-based Programming Plus Inc. (PPI) (

PPI worked with Kuka Robotics Corp. ( and Delcam ( to develop the Robot Machining Cell (RMC) that combines the speed, accuracy and flexibility of Kuka robots with the extensive programming and simulation capabilities of Delcam’s PowerMill software.

This machining system allows shops to program and machine products more efficiently and more cost effectively than current large CNC machines. Users can program any three-axis or five-axis part, and can switch from part to part, in a matter of minutes. Previous technology required hours or even days to do the same work, Tom Bentley, president of PPI, said.

The RMC system offers all the functionality of a traditional CNC machining center. It incorporates a tool changing high-speed spindle, laser tool probe and laser part probing, and routines developed within the Delcam software quickly produce programs for the robots to smoothly machine large components.

RMC systems can use multiple robots and can be configured to handle a 24-ft work diameter. For additional travel, robots can be mounted on linear rails. One system could mill two, three, four or even more parts stationed around it from a single position. And in many instances, it can load and unload its own parts.

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