Robotic machining technology has advanced to where it poses a serious alternative to metalcutting applications on more traditional machining centers. With the latest robotics equipment and related software, automation suppliers and robotic system integrators are gaining some traction using robots in many material-removal applications previously done only with machine tools.
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One of the most cost-effective ways to obtain the benefits of automation is by adding a bar feeder to a CNC lathe or other bar machine. Costing anywhere from about $10,000 to $40,000 depending on configuration, the devices can add hours of untended operating time for part volumes of a few hundred to tens of thousands.
Shop efficiencies start with the machine tool controller, as today’s CNC equipment offers machine operators myriad tools for improving part surface finishes, allocating machine time, and cutting job cycle times.
For years, the manufacturing industry has debated the pros and cons of opening up manufacturing networks, but concerns over virus vulnerabilities and the stability of PCs on the network largely limited open-architecture PC controls’ progress and kept entrenched proprietary systems in place.
Workholding techniques using a magnetic field, a vacuum, or an adhesive can be effective alternatives to clamps. When these techniques are used, more part area is available for the cutting tools, thin parts can be held, and initial setup can be fast and simple. Plus, there is a potential for smoother surfaces and a shorter overall production cycle.
To compete in the fast-paced world of manufacturing, machinists look for no-compromise machine controls offering fast, precision programming of machine tools. The latest CNC systems from machine control developers include a new dual-function milling and turning control and several updated controls with embedded software routines that can significantly speed up CNC programming.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution has begun, and there is wide agreement this revolution will involve cyber-physical systems with human-machine interaction and lots of data. But many still wonder what the revolution is about and what to expect as consumers and manufacturers.
Manufacturing competitiveness depends on working faster, smarter, and better, with the convergence of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices and smart sensors, software and data analytics.
Automation in manufacturing is more important than ever, reducing costs and improving quality. While it is important in assembling cars, machining engines, or drilling holes in airframes, is it important to metrology operations as well? “Absolutely,” explained Michael Kleemann, engineering manager VRSI (Plymouth, MI).
New automation solutions have aerospace production humming, with automated-guided vehicles (AGVs) and mobile robotics solutions helping aerospace and defense builders meet demanding production schedules for delivery of new commercial and military aircraft.