Delcam to show robot machining developments at JEC
Delcam will demonstrate the latest developments in its PowerMILL software for the programming of machining by robot at the JEC exhibition to be held in Paris from 12th to 14th March.
The latest developments in Delcam’s PowerSHAPE design software and PowerMILL’s five-axis machining system will also be demonstrated. Both programs are already used extensively in the marine, aerospace, rail and wind energy sectors of the composites industry for the design and manufacture of models, patterns, moulds and fixtures for component manufacture, and for the finish machining of parts.
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 Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM software 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 composite 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 composite tooling and parts for marine, aerospace, autosport and rail applications.
31 January 2013