Delcam will demonstrate the latest developments in its PowerMILL CAM software for the programming of robot machining at the Automatica exhibition to be held in Munich from 22nd to 25th May.
The robot machining demonstration will use a KUKA robot, the combination that has proved successful for Delcam customers such as marine manufacturer Southern Spars. This is one of many applications where a robot has provided a lower-cost alternative to machine tools for the manufacture of larger composite components.
The new robot machining interface in PowerMILL has made it far easier to program robots for a much wider range of applications. The ability to program the robot offline from 3D CAD data is both faster and more efficient than the "teach and learn” approach that is often used to create instructions for the equipment.
This easier programming method is allowing manufacturers to take advantage of the many potential benefits of using robots. Firstly, the cost of installing a robot is far less than the price of a large machine tool with a similar working envelope. In addition, the flexibility of the robot means that complex operations can be carried out in a single set-up, so cutting production times and reducing the number of fixtures needed.
Robots do have their disadvantages since they struggle to machine harder materials and cannot match the tolerances possible with modern machine tools. However, they can be used successfully in any area where softer materials need to be machined to accuracies of tenths of a millimetre. This can be more than adequate for components that might be several metres in length, as is often the case for tooling and parts for marine and rail applications. These tolerances are also acceptable for artistic applications, such as props and scenery for theatre and films, or large-scale sculptures.
Of course, the use of PowerMILL for robot machining gives all the advantages of the software when programming machine tools, including support for 64-bit computing and multi-processor operation to give faster calculation times, fully-integrated simulation to prevent collisions and powerful editing options for program optimisation.