Robotic cutting is a superb way to use your robot. But, which cutting applications are suitable for robotic automation?
You might have a few cutting tasks in mind that you’d like to automate. There are various benefits to automated cutting including improved quality and material use, reduced labor costs, and higher flexibility.
Here’s a list of 11 robotic cutting applications that you might like to try.
1. Robotic Plasma Cutting
Plasma cutting involves using a jet of ionized gas at temperatures above 20,000°C. Manufacturers use it in many situations including metal fabrication, agricultural maintenance, and car repair. They fit the robot with a plasma cutting tool and draw it slowly along the cut line. The ionized jet melts the material and simultaneously blows waste material out of the cut.
Compared to other cutting methods, robotic plasma cutting has a relatively high power consumption.
2. Robotic Laser Cutting
A very common robotic application, laser cutting involves fitting a high-powered laser tool onto the wrist of the robot. Robotic laser cutting is used in industries such as automotive, jewelry, and medical device manufacturing.
Laser cutting robots are a highly efficient way to cut materials and consume a low amount of energy. But, the production rate you can achieve with laser cutting differs depending on the type and thickness of the material you are cutting.
3. Robotic Wood Cutting
Perhaps a less common application than the previous two, “robotic wood cutting” refers to the material being cut rather than the method of cutting, as with the previous examples. Various tools can be used to cut wood, including lasers and circular saws.
Robotic wood cutting is suitable if you are looking to improve the accuracy and efficiency of your cutting operations. Robots also excel at cutting intricate designs, which you can achieve easily with the right robot programming software
4. Robotic Pipe Cutting
Pipe cutting involves cutting a hollow tube or pipe with a robot. Common materials include metal and plastic.
Various cutting methods are suitable for robotic pipe cutting including abrasives, sawing, and laser cutting. Each may need a slightly different approach when programming the robot. For example, with laser cutting, the laser can be mounted on the robot itself. Whereas with band saw cutting, the robot would hold and move the workpiece.
You can see an example of a robot being used to cut plastic tubes in our case study about Sunrob Robotics
5. Robotic Hot Wire Cutting
Hot wire cutting utilizes a heated metal wire to cut polystyrene foam. As a result, it is often used to make props for movies and by architects. One great benefit is that it reduces workers’ risk of exposure to the harmful fumes produced by the burning foam.
There are two approaches to achieving hot wire cutting with a robot. One is to fix the hot wire onto the end of the robot. The other is to have the robot hold the polystyrene workpiece and move it through a fixed heated wire.
6. Robotic Beam Cutting
Robotic beam cutting involves using a robot to cut beams made of metal, wood, or other material. For example, using automation for the coping of structural I-beams creates better quality cuts with fewer mistakes than manual cutting.
Depending on the material you are using, you might choose laser cutting, sawing, flame cutting, plasma cutting, or another cutting method.
7. Robotic Metal Cutting
Many metals can be cut with a robot, including steel, aluminum, and iron. You can also use a variety of cutting methods to cut the metal, including some we’ve already mentioned.
Moreover, machine tool researchers note that a key factor to consider when cutting metal with a robot is the stiffness of the material. You need to choose a robot with adequate stiffness so it can apply the necessary force to the material while cutting.
8. Robotic Flame Cutting
Flame cutting involves using oxygen and a fuel source like gas to create a high-energy flame. This tool is attached to the end of the robot, which uses it to melt the material and cut it. Robotic flame cutting can be used with materials like metal carbon steel, low-alloy steels, and cast irons.
An advantage of flame cutting is that it doesn’t require extra power supplies as other methods do. Thus, you only need cylinders for oxygen and gas, and the flame cutting tool.
9. Robotic Plastic Cutting
Plastic can be cut with many of the aforementioned methods of robotic cutting. However, one method that we haven’t mentioned yet is ultrasonic cutting. This method of robotic cutting involves using ultrasonic energy to slice through the plastic.
A benefit of ultrasonic cutting of plastic is that it produces neat cuts thanks to the fusion effect along the cut line. Finally,it also emits less heat than other cutting methods.
10. Robotic Stone Cutting
Computer numerical control (CNC) saws have been used in the stone fabrication industry for several years now. However, robotic stone cutting is growing in popularity for stone cutting applications.
Compared to conventional methods of cutting, stone fabricators are finding that robots require less maintenance and have a smaller footprint. They also help to improve efficiency and increase the performance of the production process.
11. Robotic Water Jet Cutting
Finally, robotic water jet cutting is a popular method of cutting across industries. For example, in the medical industry water jet cutting is used to blank out surgical instruments and cut artificial limbs. In glass manufacturing, it is used to create stained glass and kitchen splashbacks.
Water jet cutting involves using a high-powered jet of water to cut through the material. As a result, it is a very sustainable form of cutting. However, cutting using this method can take extra time compared to other methods.
However, whatever form of robotic cutting you choose, you will want to make it as easy as possible to integrate your cutting tool with your robot for programming. For tips on how to do this, check out our 5 Minute Guide to Use Any End Effector with RoboDK.