Delcam explains that robots programmed with PowerMILL are already used extensively in the marine, aerospace, rail and wind energy sectors of the composites industry for the manufacture of models, patterns, moulds and fixtures for component manufacture, and for the finish machining of composite parts.
According to Declam, robots can be extremely cost-effective for the production of larger items of tooling, and for the trimming and drilling of composite panels. The working area can be extended with linear tracks and rotary tables for even greater flexibility over the size and types of parts that can be manufactured. It says that PowerMILL makes it as easy to program a robot for machining as it is to program a five-axis machine tool. Furthermore, it claims that with PowerMILL Robot, users have access to the comprehensive range of multi-axis machining strategies within PowerMILL and can use all the system’s project management options to manage, store and retrieve data quickly and easily.
The core functionality of PowerMILL Robot consists of three main steps: programming, simulation (including analysis) and creation of the robot programs. Manual and CNC programming is combined in a single program, providing the maximum flexibility. For both types of programming, it says that PowerMILL Robot can be used to simulate the complete machining operation and to control the robot’s movements through different variables, such as axis limits, axis priorities and workplane constraints. Various aspects within the configuration of the robot cell, such as axis limits, tool constraints and home position, can be defined, and the simulation of the robot completed within those constraints.
The robot’s working envelope can be displayed to optimise the position of the part or initial stock, and so give maximum access to the material. The maximum range of movements required of each axis can be viewed to analyse the robot’s behaviour and movements throughout the operation. Declam explains that any issues that may prevent the toolpaths from being completed successfully are highlighted, with notifications of the robot potentially reaching axis limits, singularities and collisions. Graphs display the axis limits, wrist singularity and axis reversals, to give a better understanding of how the robot will move. Similarly, the acceleration and deceleration of the robot’s axes are shown on time-based graphs.
Once the results of the simulation have been reviewed, and modified if necessary, the program can be output in the appropriate robot native language, for example for KUKA, ABB, Fanuc, Yaskawa Motoman Stäubli, Hyundai, Comau, Kawasaki Robot, Nachi or Universal Robots equipment, eliminating any need for third-party translation software. Acceleration, smoothing values and other robot-specific parameters can be defined as part of the output. Full support for external axes, such as rotary tables and linear tracks, can be included, as well as dedicated tools for spindle calibration.
Overall, Declam claims that PowerMILL Robot helps users to get the most out of any robot type in the shortest possible time. The simplified workflow makes it easy to program, simulate, review and refine toolpaths, whilst also enabling the robots to achieve levels of accuracy similar to many CNC milling machines when cutting softer materials.
Photo provided by Delcam.