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IndustryArena Forum > MetalWorking Machines > Uncategorised MetalWorking Machines > Using 6 axis robot arm for Plasma cutting?!
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  1. #1
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    Using 6 axis robot arm for Plasma cutting?!

    Im looking at turning my ABB 6 axis robotic arm, into a plasma cutter. Can anyone give me advice?
    How would i go about it and whats a good setup to have?
    thanks, Adam
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_0249.jpg  

  2. #2
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    I haven't see such an arm in action.
    So what area can the arm cover, if you imagined a plasma cutter attached to the arm? You will need to know the range of movement of each joint.
    The arm axis co-ordinates are angular from what I can see. Most CAD drawings assume X, Y and Z for 3D axes. Hence some software has to translate the XYZ to the arm co-ordinate system.

    If you want to move the arm 6 inches along X-axis only, how will you tell it? It looks like it has an hydraulic piston. If so how does it respond to a computer control?

  3. #3
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    There's a company in Nevada that builds commercial deep fat fryers (for restaurants...think french fries) that uses a 6 axis robot coordinated with a multi-axis rotary table for welding the parts together.

    When I saw it working over 20 years ago it was amazing to watch the smooth precision of the robot and the rotary table moving in unison to weld the complete jigged assembly... in one clamping. It was mesmerizing.

    It's all in the programming.

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    This is a video from a company near me, I do not work at that place but I do gig and fixture for them.

    It's a laser cutter but I think a plasma cutter could be use instead.


    Jeff

    http://www.inovaweld.com/resources/C...3D%20Video.wmv

  5. #5
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    There are many industrial applications using six axis robot arms for plasma cutting. I have worked with robotics for trimming excess stamping flash, for pipe coping/beveling, for automotive and truck frame applications, for heavy equipment cutting and bevelling applications.

    Typically robots are used for parts that are 3 dimensional....or have difficult locations that could not be reached with a conventional 2 dimensional cutting machine.

    The difficulties to overcome:

    - Many industrial plasma systems, as well as some older technology air plasma systems....use a high voltage high frequency start technology. This can create electrical noise which can easily enter the low voltage motor/encoder cables on a robot....disrupting motion and operation. Most robot manufacturers offer upgrade kits to "harden" their electronics for noisy electrical interfaces (such as plasma cutting and tig welding)
    -Torch to work distance is very critical with plasma cutting. You can teach a robot to follow a 3 dimensional part......but variation from part to part (if more than about plus or minus .005") will affect cut quality and consumable life. In many applications a welding "seam tracker" board is modified to operate as an arc voltage feedback circuit to adust the robot based on torch to work distance. A few robot manufacturer integration engineers have worked with this technology succesfully.
    -Plasma also requires accurate and consistent feedrate when cutting. Some robots have a hard time maintaining feedrate on small features and cutting round holes. Most newer technology robots have better control of this.

    Jim Colt Hypertherm





    Quote Originally Posted by adambanks4838 View Post
    Im looking at turning my ABB 6 axis robotic arm, into a plasma cutter. Can anyone give me advice?
    How would i go about it and whats a good setup to have?
    thanks, Adam

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by KOC62 View Post
    I haven't see such an arm in action.
    So what area can the arm cover, if you imagined a plasma cutter attached to the arm? You will need to know the range of movement of each joint.
    The arm axis co-ordinates are angular from what I can see. Most CAD drawings assume X, Y and Z for 3D axes. Hence some software has to translate the XYZ to the arm co-ordinate system.

    If you want to move the arm 6 inches along X-axis only, how will you tell it? It looks like it has an hydraulic piston. If so how does it respond to a computer control?
    i have had it up and running before with a spindle on the end cutting 3d foam objects using various cutters.

    It has a 1.5m maximum reach, i only want it for plasma cutting 2d items and i am using mastercam x5 software.

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    heres some more photo's.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_0278.jpg   IMG_0413.jpg   IMG_0410.jpg  

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    i can get the robot running, using master cam i will create tool paths for the plasma cutter to follow, what I'm searching for in terms of answers is, what is the setup to get a plasma cutter on a robot arm? Do i wire in a relay so when the robot starts up the plasma starts too? what about beds for the work piece to sit on? extraction?

    i work in the film industry, SFX department and we bought this with productions money on a film two years back to cut foam shapes to take moulds off of. Have not used it since, and so are trying to make use of it. If i can get it working we will make money by charging the production company for the bits we cut, rather than source from outside companies.

    I wrote this fast so i hope it all makes sense.

    thanks, Adam

  9. #9
    Here is some inspiration (Panasonic robots)


  10. #10
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    Re: Using 6 axis robot arm for Plasma cutting?!

    Quote Originally Posted by adambanks4838 View Post
    Im looking at turning my ABB 6 axis robotic arm, into a plasma cutter. Can anyone give me advice?
    How would i go about it and whats a good setup to have?
    thanks, Adam
    we provide the robot plasma cutting machine

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMrrR3QX8tU&t=2s

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by adambanks4838 View Post
    Im looking at turning my ABB 6 axis robotic arm, into a plasma cutter. Can anyone give me advice?
    How would i go about it and whats a good setup to have?
    thanks, Adam
    we provide the robot plasma cutting machine

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMrrR3QX8tU&t=2s

  11. #11
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    Re: Using 6 axis robot arm for Plasma cutting?!

    You might like to look at Linuxcnc. It has some included simulations of robots and a good plasma config. Ive not tried it but you can build a kinematics model of your machine and then Linuxcnc coordinates the movements
    Rod Webster
    www.vehiclemods.net.au

  12. #12
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    Re: Using 6 axis robot arm for Plasma cutting?!

    Quote Originally Posted by adambanks4838 View Post
    ....what is the setup to get a plasma cutter on a robot arm? Do i wire in a relay so when the robot starts up the plasma starts too? what about beds for the work piece to sit on? extraction?
    These would be things not much unlike attaching one to a traditional gantry except for limiting axis travel where the torch head could get mangled by an arms over rotation of any specific axis.

    If it is just 2d cutting, you should easily be able to make a mount that can hold the torch head pretty much out front of the arm. I'd offset it out the front a few inches for clearance, then you would need to create a "Tool Frame" that would tell the robot exactly where the perfect cutting position or "tool tip" location really is. This way the arm running in a world environment can routinely maintain perfection of that cutting spot.

    You would also need to create a "User Frame". This would indicate to the robot the maximum X, Y (and Z) work area you will cut in.

    You will need a table that has slats and containment similar to every other marketed plasma cutter you can see images of. In the case of a robot however, it does not maybe need the level and parallel requirements that most need because you can set a user frame that is off base... though, I'd certainly opt for something as real, straight and true as possible as a table just because it makes sense.

    You fire you torch with any one of the usually many outputs a robot offers, which would really be no different than any traditional CNC machine. Obviously you need to have pierce heights and delays, but that comes in the actual program you will run... and THIS is where it gets hairy.

    You can TEACH your robot what and where to cut, but this is quite manual and would not exactly be fun when most of what you will cut keeps changing. You really need a way to convert traditional CAD/CAM G-Code into robot code.

    I've only trained a few days with FANUC robots. To my understanding, you have to buy a crazy priced program from them that will allow you to convert your traditional G&M code into robot code. I am not sure what ABB offers.

    Too, there is on the interwebs, someone who has claimed to make an open source 2.5D basic "conversion program" from G&M to Robot, but that may have been solely for FANUC.

    Also, there IS a CAD/CAM company that claims to be able to post Robot code from their CAM program. I'm sure we are looking at substantial amounts of money here too.

    Then Finally, as suggested by others.... you could pull the ABB control out of that rascal and wire in LinuxCNC. It has the ability to do what you desire, but it will take some time to dial all of that in. While it has to be painful to yank a control from a perfectly working robot in the way robot developers think, the great news might be that the bits and pieces of the ABB control probably command some pretty decent used market prices, so you while you feel bad for eliminating ABB, you could get a cash injection to help with the conversion.

    I too have access to a FANUC we keep as a spare and would LOVE to put it into some plasma use while just standing here. You would think FANUC Robot and FANUC traditional CNC would have had some commonality, but alas, it looks as if the two think centurys apart, with Robotics actually being 30 years behind the capabilities we take for granted after being around CNC machines in the last 20 years.
    Chris L

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