Intelligent Robot Plasma Cutting
Industrial cutting applications are typically programmed using one of
Today’s robots, with improved accuracy and calibration methods,
permit exceptional off-line programming of cutting paths. Six-axis robots
provide the flexibility and precision required for cutting applications.
To date, this might have been considered a niche market when compared to 2D
sheet cutters, however robots provide unique capabilities for part recognition
through vision, six degrees of freedom for bevel control, and for part load
and unload. Direct or point-to-point teaching is an effective programming
method when fine tuning or adjustments are required.
Benefits of a 6–Axis Robot Over a Flat Bed Cutter
|Highly efficient nesting done
on a PC
||Software control for height, start, and
||Additional hardware for height, start, and locating
||Bevel capabilities requires
|No wait time for load and unload
||Wait time for load and unload
|Multi Process Capable
Robotic Software — Pierce Control
The robot detects surface parallelism and adjusts pierce height based
on the calculated plane. This allows for consistent stand off and pierce control
with improved process quality.
Robot Software - Pierce Control
Robotic Software — Height Control
This feature is integrated through robot motion planning. It includes
a simple interface to plasma voltage which is user-settable and dynamic. Software-based
control is easy to use with no additional mechanisms. Part variances such
as wavy plates or bent material are handled as part of the solution as well
as mill tolerances, controlled dross, and edge quality.
Robotic Software — Hole Cutting Examples
Plate cutting can be performed to cut precise predefined holes such
as a circle, keyhole, or hexagon.
Robotic Nesting Using a PC
Historically, plate cutting has been done on a traditional X-Y table
NC type machine. (See Using a Robot to Go From CAD
to Path) Recently, robot companies have worked with PC nesting software
providers to develop a post-processor that generates robotic teach pendant
programs instead of NC programs. This is a cost effective measure due in part
to increasing steel costs reported by the Financial Times (1). Since a robot
is more cost effective and flexible for thick plate cutting, bevel control,
remnant usage and unloading, companies are looking to robots to assist in
Robots using efficient nesting software minimize waste and keep costs
down. They are advantageous since they articulate orientation and rotation
easily. Material cut on an angle deflects expulsions away from the finished
product improving product quality. Optional robot software, developed for
precise orientation control, is a key advantage in this process. In this case
the robot searches for and locates the start position and provides precise
orientation control maximizing travel speed and improving cut quality.
Off-line program creation offers maximum cell up-time. For this to be
effective, mathematical cell models must be similar to the actual cell. However,
no teach pendant operation is needed. Just be sure to use good setup principals
during robot system definition. Off-line programming allows you to perform
robot and workcell layout using robot TCP (Cutting Torch), Tooling fixtures,
and Plasma or laser Power supply. The same principals apply to cell cloning
and part program transfer. The post processor (PC) must have ‘the basic
robot cell’ configuration of the tool center point (TCP), motion range,
installation, etc., and use process tables for cutting, and system configuration
Robotic Nesting Examples
Robot cutting path and parts are automatically nested within the steel
Robotic Nesting Application
Straight or contour bevel cutting, typically performed using a guide
to cut on an edge instead of straight up and down, has improved dramatically
with robotics. Whether you are performing laser, plasma, oxy-fuel, or water-jet
cutting, the bevel is obtained using highly accurate, height sensing robotics.
(1)Financial Times website, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/758d30da-2720-11e0-80d7-00144feab49a.html#, accessed 4/18/2011.
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