The combination of a 6-axis robot and a linear track is not unusual in today’s fast moving automation environment. However, when this combination is used to perform machining operations, a whole new series of applications are available to manufacturers.
Güdel linear track technology has become a key element in the innovative robotic machining systems designed and manufactured by Liverpool based CNC Robotics, and exported to a Middle Eastern luxury boat manufacturer.
Industrial robots can be used for many machining processes, including milling, trimming, drilling, de-burring, polishing and grinding. The flexibility of the 6-axis robot, and its ability to operate freely in three dimensions makes it a viable alternative to traditional CNC machining technology. Just like their CNC counterparts, Industrial robots can be used to machine a variety of materials including metal, wood, plastics, foam and aluminium.
Robot accuracy has also improved tremendously over the last few years. For example, the KUKA KR210 robots used by CNC Robotics offer a repeatability of 100 μm, and they can be calibrated to an accuracy of up to 200 μm, making them ideal for a wide range of applications. Gudel linear tracks offer a repeatability of 20 μm which complements this level of accuracy nicely.
Many of the robotic machining systems designed and manufactured by CNC Robotics are used to manufacture large components and require the robot to be mounted to a linear track. These tracks however must be robust in their construction, designed to be able to operate in harsh environments, modular in their length and capable of matching the performance of the robot to be mounted to the track.
CNC Robotics Founder and CTO Jason Barker explains the reasoning behind their choice of robot and linear track: “ When we first started, we performed exhaustive trials on all of the major 6-axis robot variants before settling on KUKA, as their range offered the characteristics best suited to the machining applications we wished to perform for our customers.
“To extend the reach of the robot, we naturally needed to integrate a linear track, and once again we looked very closely at the options available to us. Güdel effectively ticked all of the boxes in terms of quality, functionality, performance and lead-time. In addition, the fact that Güdel provide just the mechanical components allowed us to integrate a KUKA servo-motor to achieve a fully coordinated 7-axis system.”
The ongoing relationship between the two companies means that Güdel linear tracks have found their way into a wide range of systems which CNC Robotics have delivered to International customers, performing machining operations on components as diverse as pleasure boat hull’s and architectural mouldings. Suprema Marine, based in the Kingdom of Bahrain, manufacture a range of pedigree offshore speedboats, and rely on CNC Robotics technology to manufacture the moulds needed to lay up the fiberglass hulls.
The track-mounted robot is programmed to produce the contours of the mould from PU foam (polyurethane), creating an accurate replica of the shape required. The flexibility of the robot, combined with the reach attainable when using the 15 metre linear track, allows Suprema Marine to manufacture the large and complex three dimensional profiles needed for their high quality range of luxury boats.