Robotmaster (Hypertherm Inc.)
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- Member Since 2007
- Robotic Supplier
Robotmaster is the leading CAD/CAM-based offline robot programming software, which provides quick and easy programming tools for multiple applications, saving time and money while maximizing return on investment.
Robotmaster delivers an unmatched off-line programming capability for robots - easy programming of precise robot motion and quick generation of trajectories of any size, with minimal programmer intervention. Our strong background in CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) software has enabled us to bring a revolutionary approach to programming industrial robots.
Robotmaster software is ideally suited to program robots from simple to complex applications such as:
While supporting most industrial robot brands.
Montreal, CANADA – Promens a.s., Berry Bramlage, is a global plastic fabrication company with a very large product portfolio. One of their European divisions needed a robot programming solution that could handle part variety, complexity and process variability, especially with different robot brands for sanding, spraying and trimming processes. Only after an exhaustive study of the major offline programming software packages on the market, did one solution prove its staying power. One software stood out for its error-free robot path generation, intuitive user interface, and flexibility for multiple processes and easy-to-complex parts. When put to the test, Hypertherm’s Robotmaster offline programming software excels above the rest. The Clear Choice Located in the Czech Republic, Promens’ Zlin facility specializes in reaction injection molding (RIM) and vacuum forming of plastic components for agricultural and construction machinery, mass transit and passenger vehicles. With over 25 years of experience, Promens is the preferred supplier to many OEMs, including Iveco, Rostselmash, Snoeks and Volvo. After the molding process, large plastic body panels for harvesters, buses and vans are sanded to prepare the surface for painting. Traditionally, the sanding process was manual. But sanding plastic parts is a dusty, arduous and potentially hazardous task. Promens wanted to improve the safety and health of their operators by deploying a robot for sanding. “Sanding is hard work and not very good for your health,” says Tomas Jurcak, robotics and automation engineer at the Promens Zlin facility. “With very low unemployment in the Czech Republic, it’s also difficult to find enough people to do this kind of job.” Promens also wanted to ensure consistent high quality, which is difficult with the inherent variability of manual labor. With automation, a robot performs the task the same way every time. The plastic fabricator also uses robots for polyurethane spraying and trimming processes on molds. The spraying process requires very fast movements at high pressures, which is only possible with robotic automation. Subsequent robotic trimming removes excess material. In production for several years, the programming for this special robotic spraying and trimming process had previously been done by a system integrator using Robotmaster offline programming software. In 2017, Promens determined it would be more cost-effective to bring robot programming functions in house and they hired Jurcak to lead the charge. Simple-to-Use Features, Complex Paths Jurcak had previously worked for an integrator where he built and programmed robotic cells. Now he was responsible for Promens’ in-house robotics efforts and wanted to make sure he was using the right tool for the job. He tested six major offline programming software packages. He spent a week with each one, personally testing the intuitiveness of the user interfaces, and how effectively and efficiently they generated robot paths while detecting errors such as singularities and collisions. Each software was ranked against dozens of parameters, including price. “Robotmaster excelled in the detection and avoidance of singularities, errors and collisions,” says Jurcak. “The simplicity of path generation is really good. It has simple features for doing complex paths.” With part complexity, often comes errors. Robotmaster software automatically checks for singularities, reach issues, joint limits and collisions. Then it generates an error-free robot path. Catching and correcting for errors offline maximizes the productivity and profitability of the robot. “You can generate almost a perfect program for very complex parts,” says Jurcak. “The more complex the part is, the better Robotmaster is. Of the other softwares I tested, only two were almost as powerful as Robotmaster.” After thoroughly testing the six different software packages and ranking their performance, Jurcak was able to narrow the field to Robotmaster and two other options. He says of those two other software packages, although powerful, one had a poor user interface and stability was subpar. The other was very expensive and demanded excessive amounts of computing power. Only one software stood out from the rest. The clear choice was Robotmaster. External Axes, No Sweat Since licensing the software in 2017, Promens says Robotmaster has surpassed expectations. Jurcak looks forward to using the software’s intuitive user interface and optimization tools to program additional parts. Robotmaster also easily manages external axes, including rotaries and rails, to optimize processing of large and complex workpieces. The components Promens fabricates for their customers can run quite large, up to 2.5 meters long, such as this large body panel. A rotary table positions parts for full access during sanding. Jurcak says correct axis configuration and optimization was easy with Robotmaster, and the software controls both indexed and coordinated motion of external axes. Multiple Processes, One Platform, Any Robot Promens uses ABB six-axis robots for the sanding and spraying processes, and a KUKA six-axis robot for the trimming process. As a single software solution, Robotmaster software manages simulation and programming for any of the major robot brands. From machining and welding, to trimming and deburring, Robotmaster provides intuitive task-based programming for a wide variety of manufacturing processes. “I need to know only one user interface, one software for every process, so it’s much easier than using one software for spraying, another for trimming and another for sanding,” says Jurcak. “I have one software for all the processes, and it’s amazing.” Having one programming platform for multiple processes allows the user to move a task to any robotic cell. Promens recently launched a new robotic workcell combining sanding and trimming in one cell. Jurcak is programming the new robot with his trusted software partner. Once again, the clear choice is Robotmaster.
Groupe Gravel, a Quebec-based machining and metalwork fabricator is a family business with 40 years experience, offering one stop service for custom production and repair services. In the last 5 years, it has been growing, delivering President, Laurent Gravel’s vision of an integrated turn-key service offering from parts optimization by in-house design engineering and reverse engineering through production by welding, cutting, machining with full testing and quality control and finally to offsite installation and repair services. It has grown from a 1000 ft² to a 20,000 ft² shop and to employ 30 people. Groupe Gravel’s customers are most often in need of a single unit, a custom part for a single project, the replacement, improvement, or repair of an existing part. A production run is most often one unit, rarely more than ten. In 2013, Laurent Gravel, decided that he needed to make his cutting and welding operation as precise and efficient as his CNC machining shop. Gravel had experience working in CNC but was looking to capitalize on capabilities related to cutting and welding for small batch production. Both precision and quality were crucial to the shop and getting it right the first time with a minimum number of operation and handling was extremely important. That meant that speed, accuracy, and programming as well as production, were factors which needed to be carefully taken into consideration. Groupe Gravel gave themselves 2 years to install a robot work cell that could perform plasma cutting and welding on large work pieces. With no prior robot experience, Gravel was convinced the robot work cell would provide a faster response time with greater precision and quality in meeting production requirements. To accommodate arc welding on large work pieces, Groupe Gravel selected a FANUC M-710 ic 20L long-arm robot offering a 10-foot reach. The robot was integrated with an ESAB SP-150 PLASMARC plasma cutting system and a Lincoln Electric Power Wave 455M robotic arc welding package. Although the robot was equipped with a long reach, rotary positioners were required to enable cutting and welding for large tubular parts handled by Groupe Gravel. Six months after the initial robot installation, a 2-axis positioner with a half ton payload capacity was added. Robotmaster’s personalized professional training program had Laurent and his team programming their robot with the Robotmaster cutting & welding package after only 5 days of training. The Robotmaster tools enabled quick path creation from the CAD model and automatically set optimal tool orientations for cutting or welding. Robotmaster’s interactive simulation environment permitted Gravel’s plasma cutting experts to have the human touch, supplementing the automation with their technical knowhow and acquired expertise. Their natural and efficient manual intervention using easy graphical interfaces allowed for optimized control of the path, gun side tilt, push pull angles, and other path and point specific settings. The rotary axis management tools enable the robot to perform simultaneous 7- and 8-axis motion for optimized reach. For Groupe Gravel, the automated creation of cutting and welding paths and control of gun orientations, improved part quality and drastically reduced programming time. The Robotmaster applications team, the robot integrator, Avant-Garde Technologies (AGT), and Groupe Gravel worked together to create process streams customized specifically for the programming of complex arc welding parameters. Screens were provided, for control of the weld start and end commands, for selection of the welding schedule number, and for controlling weaving and seam tracking. When Gravel added a 2-axis rotary positioner, coordinating the rotary axis to the robot motion added a new level of complexity to programming. Robotmaster’s rotary axis management tools enabled Groupe Gravel to program in either fixed indexing mode or as simultaneous 7 and 8 axis motion and to integrate the robot and rotary axis control for optimized resolution of reach, singularity, collisions, and joint limitations. Confirmed Results: Since adopting Robotmaster, Groupe Gravel has significantly increased programming capability threefold; Robotmaster rapidly reduced Gravel’s programming time from 4-6 hours to 90 minutes; With Robotmaster, Groupe Gravel drastically improved the quality of their parts (enhanced precision and better control over cutting parameters); Improved safety and cleanliness of the workplace; Groupe Gravel have increased their profitability (were outsourcing 75% of their cutting production and are now down to only 10%). To remain competitive, manufacturing environments are rapidly adopting robots to run their production lines. With a fully integrated programming software such as Robotmaster, manufacturers can easily incorporate the technology into a robotic application.
The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing lent a hand to 35 students designing and manufacturing a single seat-racing car capable of accelerating from 0-60 mph in under five seconds. The students from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Mechanical Engineering make up the Sheffield Formula Racing (SFR) team, who are entering this year’s car – the SFR6, into the annual Institute of Mechanical Engineers’ (IMechE) Formula Student competition. The annual motorsport competition is backed by industry and aims to inspire and develop young engineers from around the world. SFR6 was launched at the AMRC’s Design Prototyping and Testing Centre after members of the AMRC’s Integrated Manufacturing Group (IMG) volunteered their time outside of normal working hours to help advise SFR on new methods of design and manufacture. Team Principal, Thomas Bloomfield told delegates at the launch he felt the car had come on in leaps and bounds during his four years with the team. Thomas said: “Entering Formula Student is the opportunity to develop our real-world skills and employability, gaining hands on experience so we can prove we are industry-ready students.” “This year we wanted to reduce the weight and bulk of the car whilst increasing its strength. It was an ideal opportunity to showcase the new technologies being developed by the AMRC. ” “We have printed 17 components in titanium and polymers using additive manufacturing and for the first time we used robotic machining to mill down tooling blocks to create body panel moulds for composite materials to be laid up in.” IMG Project Manager, Chris Greaves said: “We were able to assist the team by using robotic machining techniques we have developed to produce five body panel moulds for the car. Three were produced using our ABB robotic machining cell, which was programed using Robotmaster and Mastercam, and two on our Mazak VTC800/30SR machining centre.” “It also gave our apprentices based at the AMRC Training Centre the opportunity to carry out some basic machining tasks for the team, giving them hands on experience with producing real components.” The launch at the AMRC was an opportunity for the students strengthen links between industry and academia; showcasing what they had achieved together with the University, the AMRC and their team sponsors, high profile engineering companies such as Meggitt and Unipart. The four-day Formula Student competition will take place at Silverstone Circuit between 9-12 July and 100 teams of students from all over the world will compete. The team are hoping for a top 20 finish which would see them rank amongst the UK top five teams. About the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing is a world-class centre for advanced machining and materials research for aerospace and other high-value manufacturing sectors. It is a partnership between industry and academia, which has become a model for research centres worldwide. Researchers work with individual companies on specific projects, and collaborate on generic projects for the benefit of all members. Over 70 companies have signed up as members of the AMRC with Boeing, and the centre has worked with many hundreds of other companies on specific projects. The AMRC with Boeing is part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a consortium of seven manufacturing and process research centres backed by UK government. Founded in 2001, the AMRC with Boeing is now just part of the University of Sheffield AMRC, a cluster of industry-focused manufacturing R&D centres and supporting facilities including the Nuclear AMRC and new AMRC Training Centre. The AMRC is supported by the European Regional Development Fund. About Robotmaster Robotmaster seamlessly integrates CAD/CAM based robot programming, simulation and program generation. Common robot programming challenges typically require intricate user intervention or costly manual editing for producing error-free programs. Robotmaster provides innovative tools to effortlessly optimize robot programs producing error-free robot paths, avoiding singularity zones and collisions, working around joint and reach limitations, and optimizing tool orientations along the entire trajectory. Furthermore, Robotmaster is ideally suited to program robots for such tasks as trimming, de-burring, polishing, welding, dispensing, grinding, spraying, painting and 3D machining, while supporting most industrial robot brands. About Jabez Technologies Jabez Technologies provides robot programming technologies that enable versatile and profitable robotic solutions for industrial manufacturing applications. Robotmaster is the flagship product of Jabez Technologies, specializing in robot programming technologies for robotics automation and manufacturing since 1996.
Robots are proving to be flexible tools for aircraft manufacturing and assembly. Their full poten-tial however can be limited by the challenges of programming a robot in a CAD/CAM environ-ment. Software that integrates offline programming, simulation, code generation, and path opti-mization makes the process seamless and error-free. Robots are poised to transform the aerospace industry the way they revolutionized automotive assembly in the late 1970s and ‘80s. Increased productivity and cost savings are fueling the move toward flexible robotic automation. Unlike their land-bound cousins, aircraft have key differences that defy the automation para-digm. Aerospace manufacturing tolerances are much tighter, while the subassemblies tend to be significantly larger and heavier. Compared to automotive, aircraft production volumes are much lower, while the life expectancy of commercial aircraft is measured in decades, not years. Global demand for aircraft is rising, straining current manufacturing resources. The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing (AMRC) is on the frontlines of this industry trend. “Sales of commercial aircraft are increasing,” says Ben Morgan, head of the Integrated Manufac-turing Group at AMRC. “The majority of manufacturers have pushed their production capacity to the absolute limit and further capital investments are needed to reach the targeted rate. For some platforms we’re working on, this might be up to 60 aircraft a month, which is an incredible amount. So a step change in manufacturing is needed.” That step change is coming in the form of flexible robotic automation. Ushering the robots’ foray was the advent of composites in aircraft component manufacturing. Rise of Aerospace Composites According to a study by market research firm Lucintel, the global aerospace composites market is expected to reach $112 billion annually by 2017, with a compound annual growth rate of 5.3 percent over the next five years (source: CompositesWorld). Composites typically weigh 20 percent less than aluminum and have a longer life span than tra-ditional metallic materials. Credited for higher strength-to-weight ratios, better fuel efficiency and longer service intervals, composite aircraft materials are vital to the aerospace industry. The composites revolution helped extend the jet way to robots. Robotic machining and material removal is increasingly being used in nonmetallic and metallic applications, including milling, drilling, surfacing, riveting, and waterjet cutting and trimming of composite skins and compo-nents for large commercial aircraft. Prime for Robotic Machining For years robots were peering over the shoulders of their computer numerically controlled coun-terparts. Now the focus has shifted. “With advances in robotics over the last 10 years, serial-arm devices are becoming a more feasible option,” says Morgan. “There’s been a boom in interest in robotic trimming, routing and ma-chining. By developing concept robotic trimming systems and the facility we have at the AMRC, we’re starting to prove to high-end automotive and aerospace manufacturers that flexible cells are an alternative to some of the traditional, expensive CNC machine tools.” The AMRC was established in 2001 as a collaboration between the University of Sheffield and Boeing. Located in a sprawling high-tech industrial park in Sheffield, England, it employs more than 400 researchers and engineers focused on modernizing manufacturing by testing and proving different technologies, and has more than 100 member companies ranging from global aerospace giants to local small businesses. “We’re talking maybe $15 million for some of the big CNC machines that are being used to manufacture these aerospace parts,” says Morgan. “For a robotic cell we would probably be looking at a couple of hundred thousand dollars.” The cost of deploying robots continues to decline, while their rigidity and accuracy is improving. Robotic technology can now compete for a broad range of aerospace applications previously lim-ited to custom machinery, including one-up assembly, drilling and filling, automated tape lay-up (ATL), and automated fiber placement (AFP). Robot Programming the Hard Way Most top-tier aerospace suppliers recognize the advantages of deploying robots for their subas-sembly operations and have even earmarked annual budgets for robotization. But for some, robot programming is the quagmire. Singularity, calibration, collisions, reach limitations, and motion granularity are uniquely complex to robotic systems and can make programming robots for machining operations particularly cumbersome. Navigating around the errors can be time-consuming. Companies accustomed to using CNC machine tools get stuck when they try to deploy a robot for the first time. They often try to use the robot manufacturer’s software for programming. However, this software is typically intended for simulation purposes, not programming. In a simulation environment you can see the error, but the difficulty lies in identifying the cause and how to fix it. A different approach is to try to use CAD/CAM point converters, which create robot trajectories for different types of applications. The point converters tend to do a quick and inexpensive con-version to a robotic system, but there is no way to validate kinematics and check for errors. The main problem with these methods is the lack of a path optimization tool. Once the program is applied to the robot, there may be a lengthy prove-out period. “When we decided to buy a new solution to tool composite parts with a robot, we could not have imagined how different the robotics world was from our traditional CNC machine world,” says Eddy Coubard, CAD & CAM production engineering manager at SOGERMA COMPOSITES AQUITAINE. “New vocabulary, a new working method and new problems, it was a challenge.” Celebrating its 30th anniversary, SOGERMA COMPOSITES AQUITAINE is a wholly owned subsidiary of SOGERMA Group, and is based in France with 475 production and R&D personnel supporting more than 100 major suppliers in Europe and around the world with high-performance composite material products. “We tool aeronautic composite parts in small quantities, which means we have to get the robot programming right the first time,” says Coubard. “Otherwise, our costs increase dramatically.” “The first robotic software we tried was not efficient at all,” he says. “It required making the tool path in CAD/CAM software and writing a kind of G-code with a post-processor, then reading this G-code on a simulator, only to realize that most of the time there were errors. Then we had to go back to the CAD/CAM software and write the robot code through another post-processor.” This is the typical scenario. A company acquires a robot, tries to deploy it for a machining opera-tion, only to realize that they don’t have the proper software for the job. First Step, Software A better strategy: Consider the robot programming software up front. This should be done either at the time of robot system acquisition, or even prior to the purchase. CAD/CAM software specifically designed for programming robots addresses issues with singu-larity, collisions, joint limits, reach issues and wrist flips. The right software should automatically calculate and optimize robot trajectories, seamlessly integrate external axes, and provide instant visual feedback. It should be easy to use, even for operators new to robotics. The software should also support offline programming, without interrupting production on the shop floor other than for the final test and fine-tuning. Changeovers then become a parallel, ra-ther than a sequential, operation. Recently named one of the 10 Most Promising Engineering Design Solution Providers by CIO Review magazine, Jabez Technologies Inc. of Montreal, Canada, released the first CAD/CAM-based offline robot programming software in 2002. The latest version of Robotmaster® software streamlines programming, simulation, code generation and path optimization into one integrated solution. All major robot models are supported. “A robot can be a difficult device to manage,” says Chahe Bakmazjian, president of Jabez Tech-nologies. “It consists of six rotary joints stacked one on top of the other, so it’s very difficult to anticipate errors. Usually you encounter the error when it happens. There’s no warning.” “Aircraft manufacturers often put large robotic systems in place, but they’re only exploiting them to a limited area where they know they can avoid errors,” says Bakmazjian. “Any time they want to go outside those areas, it becomes very restrictive.” COMPOSITES AQUITAINE’s Coubard says that by replacing their old software their pro-gramming time was reduced by two to three times. “Robotmaster allows us to work in the same way we used our CNC machines to tool parts,” he says. “Since Robotmaster also interfaces with Mastercam® software, we were able to quickly and easily perform full 7-axis milling and drilling.” Coubard says they are using Robotmaster to program a rail-mounted 6-axis robot. Applications include tooling thermal protection parts made of glass fiber for the Airbus A330 airliner and honeycomb for the Airbus Super-Puma MK II helicopter. “With Robotmaster we’re able to embrace the world of robotics. Now we can tool our composite parts in the same easy way we used to tool them with the CNC machine,” says Coubard. “In fact, the new simulation feature is so powerful that we have yet to exploit all of its capabilities.” Without Robotmaster, Coubard says they would have most likely abandoned robotics and gone back to old CNC machining methods. Error-Free Programming At the AMRC, Morgan’s group uses robotics and metrology to develop new methods for assem-bling complex products for aerospace and other high-value industries. “We’ve been working with Robotmaster for the last three years,” says Morgan. “The software has allowed our operators and engineers to quickly and effectively reprogram the cell, as well as optimize the machine path. It has great flexibility and control.” “Using this software lends itself to the research environment in particular, because our range of work and part variability,” says Morgan. “We don’t manufacture anything here, so often we end up doing one, two, or three parts and then we’ll move on to another part. But the aerospace sec-tor itself is demanding reconfigurability as well, so we’re meeting that requirement with Robot-master.” Operators report that the software works 100 percent of the time – the first time – without the need for manual teaching intervention or touch-up. It’s error-free robot programming without the complexity. So easy, even a newbie can use it. Couple a flexible robot with an advanced software solution. Now you’re free to exploit the entire robot workspace. What first appeared as a liability of an overdetermined system with various ways to reach the same point has now become an opportunity given sophisticated path optimiza-tion tools. Robots have proven their airworthiness. They just need the right software to realize their full po-tential.
In 2008, ORTHOPEDIE BONTOUX, a company that has specialised in the manufacture and adaptation of orthopedic and prosthetic apparatus (orthoses and prostheses) since 1982, created its subsidiary OSIC-CARBONE. “We decided to transform our organisation to address the challenges we perceived to be facing our profession. We were widely recognised for the superior performance of our apparatus, manufactured of composite materials, but our business vision had identified revolutionary changes we considered necessary to the entire delivery process, from the precise measurements made of the patient through the rapid production of molds and apparatus. In the traditional process, a cast of plaster strips was taken of the patient’s body part to permit the creation of a plaster model. The model was then refined using files and other specialised tools. Modelling and milling of molds for orthoses on computer numerical control (CNC) machines, was not new to the industry. Our innovation was to extend this process to a full range of 3D forms by developing a custom computer-aided design (CAD) modelling solution that offered unprecedented design freedom and was able to process input data from a wide variety of sources: scans, measurements, photographs, X-ray images, etc. As a result, today we can create models of parts with dimensions ranging from just centimetres up to two metres to create even the largest posture-correcting orthoses. This logically led us to consider a robotic solution for our milling needs. With increased degrees of freedom and reduced physical constraints, the range of movement of the milling robot was an excellent match to the wide variety of size of parts on which we needed to work. Finally, we had to find a rapid and efficient robot programming solution, a high-performance computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) tool that would provide the necessary versatility and ease-of-use. The criteria and constraints of our application were challenging: Production lot size of one: Each product was unique, customized to a unique patient, hence requiring a unique milling program for every unit produced Wide range of part dimensions: Ranging from a few centimetres to two metres Materials to be milled: Both rigid and flexible polyurethane foam Output requirements: Production of up to ten parts in eight hours at a material removal speed of 300 mm/sec, in three-dimensions Product delivery cycle: Maximum of 12 hours, from design through delivery, and a maximum of 20 minutes from modelling to program transfer to the robot Stability and reliability: Accurate robot trajectory control in all positions – the robot program and its milled product must be right on the first try! After extensive research and trial of potential solutions, we settled on ROBOTMASTER® as the solution best suited to our stringent requirements. Using ROBOTMASTER, we developed a systematic approach to address our “made-to-measure” production requirements. Our simplified working procedure imports the unique patient 3D model into a preprogrammed production design strategy that takes account of all the pertinent milling and robot articulation data. This methodology has reduced our programming time to less than one minute for the complete range of our parts portfolio. ROBOTMASTER manages all the robot parameters and trajectories with ultimate precision. The mastery we developed of ROBOTMASTER’s capabilities, combined with our expertise in orthoses and prostheses, permitted us to develop proprietary, patented milling strategies, conceived specifically for, and ideally suited to, our highly specialised business. Our continued optimisation research has now taken us to even greater material removal speeds, reaching 800 mm/sec – three times faster than conventional milling methods. In less than two years, we have delivered over 3000 unique products using this high performance solution. Our know-how has been widely recognised in the orthopedic sector, and, since the beginning of 2012, we have been offering our turnkey robotic orthopedics milling solution to others in the industry.” About Robotmaster Robotmaster seamlessly integrates CAD/CAM based robot programming, simulation and program generation. Common robot programming challenges typically require intricate user intervention or costly manual editing for producing error free programs. Robotmaster provides innovative new tools to effortlessly optimize robot programs producing error-free robot paths avoiding singularity zones and collisions, working around joint and reach limitations and optimizing tool orientations along the entire trajectory. Robotmaster is ideally suited to program robots for such tasks as trimming, 3D machining, de-burring, polishing, welding, dispensing, grinding and painting, and supports most industrial robot models. About Jabez Technologies Robotmaster is a product of Jabez Technologies, specialized in dedicated software solutions for industrial automation, manufacturing and robotics since 1996.
Client Profile: Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a global research university with campuses located in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley. The Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture in Pittsburgh has consistently ranked in the top ten professional architecture degree programs, with a reputation for being “THE” architecture school and for constantly experimenting with different technological applications and techniques. In 2007, CMU Associate Professor Jeremy Ficca founded the School’s Digital Fabrication Lab (dFAB) to provide a venue through which students and faculty could gain experience with the new reality of advanced digital design and manufacturing processes in architecture. Context: The Lab acquired a 6-axis ABB IRB4400 and added a rotary table as an integrated 7th axis. The team wanted to use the robot to transform complex 3D designs from concept to physical reality in machine foam and other soft materials. With the robot cell in place, it quickly became clear that the challenge of its programming would be the limiting factor - the creative projects inspired by the Lab required programming that would take too long to generate or was simply impossible to program manually. dFAB began to search for the best tools and methodologies to quickly and accurately deliver their projects with the robot. Solution: The Lab was already using Mastercam’s computer-aided manufacturing system to run their 3-axis CNC router – could the CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing) methods with which they were already familiar serve them on the robot cell? They discovered that with ROBOTMASTER, the answer was “yes”. As a robot programming package integrated into the Mastercam CAD/CAM environment, Robotmaster would be able to create 6-axis robot program code off-line, directly from CAD design files, with the same speed and efficiency usually associated with CNC machine programming. Robotmaster’s familiar interface and featureswould enable staff and students to quickly learn to create milling programs for the robot cell. With telephone and internet support by Robotmaster’s technical team, dFAB staff were quickly able to set up the software and configure it for their system. After only two days of on-site training, they were fully comfortable designing with the software on their own and cutting their own parts. The Robotmaster team rated their performance as undoubtedly “better than average” - the dFAB group had “done their homework” ahead of time to focus on the mission critical aspects of their integration with the trainers. dFAB has never looked back - Robotmaster has been delivering consistently since its installation, enabling the Lab to leverage its creativity by machining designs in soft materials quickly, accurately, and effectively. Confirmed Results: Robotmaster has quickly become an essential and integral component of the Digital Fabrication Lab’s robot cell and has enabled the Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture to progressively exploit its robot manufacturing system on a wide variety of projects. Jeremy Ficca, Director of dFAB says: “Robotmaster provides a critical link to the robot and does do much more than simply converting g-code to robot code. One of its greatest strengths is that it presents robot controls in a logical and clear manner, allowing the operator to understand robot control without extensive programming knowledge.” The original robot and rotary table installation has been expanded to include an automatic tool changing system with a tool holder, a vacuum table and a quick changing robot flange to change from spindle to gripper, all supported by the versatile programming provided by Robotmaster. The CMU School of Architecture staff are unusually innovative and technologically advanced users of Robotmaster and have developed a special relationship with the Robotmaster team. Robotmaster’s Tyler Robertson notes: “They fully understand not just the path results generated through Robotmaster, but how it is performing calculations. The fabrication and manufacturing knowledge displayed by the faculty has been superb: they are among our unofficial Robotmaster super-users.” dFAB’s successes in using the robot for milling architectural part prototypes and in paving the way for new and innovative manufacturing technologies have been inspirational to both parties. Jeremy Ficca praised Robotmaster for the positive effect it has had on the Digital Fabrication program: “We have been happy with the product and found it critical to our workflow. It has allowed us to work at a level of part complexity that would otherwise be extremely difficult.” About Robotmaster Robotmaster® seamlessly integrates robot programming, simulation and program generation inside Mastercam®’s industry proven CAD/CAM platform. Common robot programming challenges typically require intricate user intervention or costly manual editing for producing error free programs. Robotmaster V6 provides innovative new tools to effortlessly optimize robot programs producing error-free robot paths avoiding singularity zones and collisions, working around joint and reach limitations and optimizing tool orientations along the entire trajectory. Robotmaster is ideally suited to program robots for such tasks as trimming, 3D machining, de-burring, polishing, welding, dispensing, grinding and painting, and supports most industrial robot models. About Jabez Technologies Inc Robotmaster® is a product of Jabez Technologies, specialized in dedicated software solutions for industrial automation, manufacturing and robotics since 1996. For more information please visit our web page www.robotmaster.com or email us at email@example.com. “Robotmaster” is a trade mark of Jabez Technologies, Inc.
Client Profile: Weber Aircraft LP, a subsidiary of The Zodiac Group of France, is one of the leading manufacturers of commercial aircraft seats for airlines and major aircraft manufacturers worldwide. The Company manufactures a wide variety of commercial aircraft seats, ranging from ultra-luxurious first-class “lie-flat” seating systems to innovative, spaceefficient coach class seats with patented design features and has produced more than 800,000 passenger seats for all types of aircraft. Weber recently opened its new multi-million dollar, 160,000 square-foot seat manufacturing facility, bringing the Weber campus in Gainesville, Texas, to more than 500,000 sq. ft. in total. Context: In recent years, aircraft component and system suppliers have faced tremendous downward pressure on price. Weber set objectives to drastically reduce costs while maintaining their excellent and hard-earned reputation for product quality and customer satisfaction. For the new facility, they were seeking the most effective, flexible and efficient solutions, consistent with their lean manufacturing philosophy. One immediate problem facing Weber was the need for increased production capacity for plastic food trays for commercial aircraft seats. The existing 5-axis routing machine was running at its full capacity. Buying a second identical machine was not an attractive solution – it was oversized and overpriced for their application. After a fruitless search for an off-the-shelf routing machine better suited to the particularities of their product and after encountering the resistance of commercial vendors to customization of a machine tailored to their needs, Weber solicited the help of the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center (TMAC) and the Automation & Robotics Research Institute (ARRI), at the University of Texas at Arlington, for guidance on finding the right manufacturing solution. Solution: ARRI began looking at alternate, novel methods for routing the trays and suggested a robotic-based routing cell as a promising approach. Weber was open to the idea but required that the proposed solution be able to convert CAD data directly into a robot-ready program file, so that the new work cell could be seamlessly integrated into the existing manufacturing engineering processes accustomed to programming CNC machine tools. They were concerned that robot programming was typically performed on-line, a manual process that consumed valuable production time, which could undermine their cost-reduction objectives. ARRI selected a Staubli Rx90 robot for the high level of accuracy that is inherent in Staubli’s motion control, a necessity for the trimming application. They brought in Robotmaster to solve the programming issue. No other software that ARRI had evaluated could meet the criteria of: Programming based on CAD/CAM principles; Quick programming, simulation and code generation, all integrated inside one software solution; Simple robot program revision and adjustment; Staubli Robotics Manager, Mike Ouren, commented: “This is fantastic! Over the past couple of years, it seems more and more clients that are familiar with machine tools are becoming aware of and showing interest in the low cost and high flexibility/speed of 6 DOF manipulators for certain applications that currently use large machine tools; especially with trimming, machining and deburring of soft materials. Offline seems to be the future of many process applications. Robotmaster provides us with an excellent tool to which we can refer customers that need this type of interface. Within five months, ARRI designed and delivered a fully operational robotic routing cell to the Weber Aircraft facility. Robotmaster provided Weber with the ability to: Program their robots in the same manner as their CNC machines; Program all six axes of the robot and take full advantage of the robot architecture; Check the programmed trim trajectories for robot joint limits and singularities and offered tools to avoid and correct for any of these issues; Decrease programming time. According to Raul Fernandez, Program Manager at ARRI, “The trimming paths generated by Robotmaster were good basically on the first try – congratulations!” The performance of the new system surpassed the existing traditional routing machine in terms of cycle time, cutting quality, footprint, and operating costs. Confirmed Results: The robotic routing cell, supported by Robotmaster’s CAD/CAM for robots, quickly proved itself in Weber’s operations: improved the quality of the tray components (higher cut quality and higher precision); Reduced the routing cell footprint by more than 65 percent; Reduced cycle time by 23 percent; Simplified part load/unload procedure for the operators; Improved safety and cleanliness of the workplace; Streamlined work procedures. Weber programmed hundreds of parts to the cell, generating off-line code, loading it to the robot and running the parts without any editing or additional intervention. A second robot work cell and additional seats of Robotmaster were added to leverage the benefits across their product line. “The robotic routing system has really streamlined the process. In every instance, it has exceeded our expectations,” says Jeff Robinson, Weber’s Manager of Engineering Services. At the official opening of the new seat manufacturing facility, Weber Aircraft’s president, Michel Labarre, remarked: “This factory is our showcase, and it is a competitive weapon. We will put it to good use for our customers, for our employees, for our community and for our shareholders.”
The latest robotic technology, state of the art processing equipment and an environmentally friendly, healthy and safe business approach are not what might be readily associated with the stone quarrying industry, but at JWQ (Johnson Wellfield Quarries) in Huddersfield investment in new facilities and a desire to produce sustainable engineered, natural stone, has significantly extended capabilities for this 150 year old quarry. JWQ are part of the family owned and managed Myers Group of companies, a Group started in the 1950’s and focused on supplying building materials to the construction sector. The Johnson Wellfield quarry is located just outside Huddersfield and has a long history right back to the Industrial Revolution. It was acquired by the Myers Group in 1978 and has been the subject of significant and ongoing investment that continues right up to the present day. Their most recent investment is a robotic machining facility using Stäubli 6 axis robots and the latest Robotmaster CAD/CAM software; all integrated into JWQ’s production system by Rochdale based, CR Solutions. Over the years JWQ has been the source of top quality sandstone used in many high profile applications such as paving and seating in Paternoster Square, London and the highly praised St George’s Square restoration in Huddersfield.. A recent opportunity to provide artistically sculptured sandstone planters and seating units for the Sheffield City Council redevelopment of Tudor Square in association with the Crucible Theatre renovation in Sheffield City Centre convinced John Myers that a radical approach to machining natural stone was needed. To identify the processing equipment that would meet their need to machine stone to a wide range of shapes, JWQ conducted research into alternative production techniques and concluded that if possible, a bespoke 6 axis robotic solution would be the preferred solution. Consultation with CR Solutions provided additional expertise and guidance. Initial contact with Stäubli Robotics in Telford quickly lead onto a demonstration of the capability of their 6 axis robots to machine stone to the shapes and precision required. A visit to their state-of-the-art factory in Haut Savoie, France convinced JWQ that Stäubli was a robot supplier with a keen interest not only to provide a 6-axis machine of suitable size but also to work with a project team who were determined to achieve a successful outcome to such a challenging project. Whilst there are other proprietary solutions available to the masonry sector, the contractual obligations of the Sheffield Project demanded extraordinary levels of commitment from all the parties involved and JWQ opted for a bespoke solution from a team of dedicated suppliers. Converting CAD drawings into instructions that can be used to operate a robot arm is a specialized field and Robotmaster are recognized as the leading supplier of the software to make this transposition. The individual stones for the planters were works of art, with no geometric shape and the files necessary for the machining process were of such a size as to stress the software to new boundaries. Machining robots are the latest introduction to the broad Stäubli robot range. They are capable of high speed machining; a spindle can be directly integrated into the robot forearm. The drive to the spindle and all associated services such as cooling and lubrication can be placed inside the robot arm, and connected to the various supplies via the robot foot. This design ensures a protection class of IP65 for the complete arm and IP67 for the wrist. The option of pressurization can be specified where required. Stäubli’s VAL HSM software controls the robot arm and manages all required functions; Robotmaster/Mastercam software is used to import and translate CAD/CAM data, apply and optimize 6-axis robotic tool paths into Stäubli’s VAL3 language, which can then be used to control the robot. The sophisticated Robotmaster software provides the ability to program the robot arm as simply as a CNC machine tool and automatically generates the toolpaths, optimizes them for the specific robot model, detecting and avoiding any potential collisions with full visual simulation of the robot machining process. Tests performed on various materials from alloy and stainless steels to Inconel 600 and aluminum have proved the accuracy and repeatability of Stäubli’s machining robots. Machining of the Crosland Hill stone is no different to any other material in so far as the choice of tooling is critical to the accuracy achieved. The stone machining demonstration at Stäubli convinced JWQ that robots were capable of machining and sculpting of stone. Three RX270 6-axis robots were ordered complete with Robotmaster software. The design and construction of the multiple robot production facility, machining stations, spindle design and tooling were all carried out by the Myers Group In House teams, with electronic integration provided by C R solutions. Robotic machining has additionally introduced new possibilities for surface texturing on the stone surface, significantly adding to the aesthetics, presenting an innovative and pleasing artistic appearance. The textures would be difficult if not impossible to achieve by any other production process. Interestingly, Shaun Berry, Unit Manager of JWQ, adds another benefit that the machining robots have brought to his company, “One of my main objectives is to improve the workplace for our employees, traditionally stone masons have worked in dusty, hazardous conditions and when using pneumatic chisels can suffer from vibration injuries; the new robotic system removes these dangers completely”. Machining robots are opening up new markets for Stäubli, but already the benefits of adaptability and lower cost over traditional CNC machine tools is being appreciated by customers seeking to ‘future proof’ their machining capabilities. Stäubli’s range of robots is continually being developed, traditional high speed, high precision robot applications in the pharmaceutical, electronics and plastics sectors are being extended into markets new to robotics. The range now comprises both 4 and 6 axis robots with handling capability from 1kg up to 250kg and to a maximum reach of 3210mm. New applications are continually being developed as users realize the benefits that flow from a comprehensive understanding and appreciation of the wide ranging capabilities of these advanced, user friendly, robots.
Client Profile: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) is a leading manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and tactical reconnaissance radar, including the Predator UAS series and the Lynx SAR/GMTI sensor systems. The company is dedicated to providing long-endurance, mission-capable aircraft with the integrated sensor and datalink systems required to deliver persistent situational awareness and rapid strike capabilities. Simple, cost-effective and lethal -- General Atomics’ Predator has gained that reputation after strategic combat successes in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq. Designed for both high-altitude reconnaissance and air strikes, satellite-controlled Predators are flown remotely by US Air Force pilots at Nellis AFB in Nevada. Context: The Predator is an all-composite aircraft, hand layed up at the GA-ASI's 160,000-ft square(15,000 m square) fabrication facility south of Rancho Bernardo, Calif., using primarily carbon/epoxy prepregs, and cured in an autoclave. The prepreg materials are cut on a computerized cutting and kitting machine and core cutting is done on a 5-axis CNC cutting machine. Laser projection equipment helps ensure repeatable and accurate fabrication. Cured laminates are trimmed with a waterjet - waterjets eliminate cutting problems associated with advanced aerospace composites, because they cut by erosive action rather than by friction and shearing. To cut carbon composites, a thin stream of water moving at three times the speed of sound is emitted from a tiny, jewelled orifice in the tool head. The one gallon-per-minute water flow draws in a separate stream of fine garnet particles that slice into the surface being cut. They produce exceptional edge quality, free of frayed or delaminated areas, which minimizes costly secondary finishing. The Challenge: General Atomics seized an opportunity on the equipment resale market to acquire an impressive waterjet robotic work cell having capabilities to handle very large work pieces - an ideal solution for trimming their 30-foot (9 m) long wing assemblies. The waterjet is mounted on a Motoman robotic arm that moves along a 40-ft (12.2 m) overhead gantry. The work cell would be the Aeronautical Systems group’s first foray into the use of robots in manufacturing. The machine was installed and readied for work. However, when it came time to upload cutting patterns from their CAD .dxf files, the company’s engineers came to the disconcerting realisation that available software was not up to the job. Developing tool trajectories for a 7-axis robot work cell directly from CAD design files appeared to be uncharted territory, but was critical to getting value out of the sophisticated equipment General Atomics had acquired, and, ultimately, to meeting their production commitments to satisfy increasing Air Force demand for the Predator. The Solution: Discussing the problem with his local Mastercam® reseller, the project engineer learned of Robotmaster™, a software product developed specifically to bring CAD/CAM programming capability to 6-axis robots. Within a week of explaining the problem to Jabez Technology’s project leader, Robotmaster had been adapted to add control of the 7th axis, the gantry position, to its standard 6-axis robot algorithms. After one day of on-site training General Atomics’ engineers were operational on the system. Cutting wing flap hinges to a precision of .005” (0.13 mm) over their 30-foot (9 m) length presented significant challenges in robot calibration and programming accuracy. With Robotmaster, fine adjustments were made to the CAD model and tool paths were regenerated with mathematical precision, literally by a couple of clicks of a mouse within the fully integrated power of CAD/CAM. Within weeks, GA-ASI engineers were uploading the final robot programs generated from their CAD files, the feat that all their industry contacts had told them was impossible, and were able to set their new waterjet robot cell to work. Confirmed Results: Even though GA-ASI realize that they are using but a fraction of the technical capabilities of their robot work cell and of Robotmaster’s programming power in their application, the installation has justified the Company’s expenditures many times over. It is fully meeting its quality and precision objectives and has increased the facility’s product output. Jabez Technologies has made the capability to control translation of a robot along a 7th axis rail and/or an 8th axis rotary positioner a standard feature of Robotmaster as part of their ongoing commitment to provide fast and flexible off-line programming capability for material removal robotics.
When robots first came on the manufacturing scene in the late 1950s and early 1960s, skeptics accused them of stealing jobs and dehumanizing the workplace. Others thought robots could solve the industrial world’s woes. Today’s truth: We’ve only just begun to realize the robot’s true potential. Contrary to popular fictional images of robots as human-looking machines able to perform almost any task, most robotic systems are anchored to fixed positions in factories where they perform a flexible but restricted number of operations in computer-aided manufacturing. Manufacturers are now using robots to trim and assemble everything from jet skis to juice jugs, from headliners to hot tubs. But despite all that it offers to manufacturers, the robot is still held back by its “master.” The programming of the machine itself is time-consuming and labor-intensive, requiring multiple setups and extensive teach-time for most industrial applications. While robots have saved production time and cut labor costs, they still require a substantial amount of labor and time to teach. But that is about to change. In Burlington, Ontario, Flow Applications Group (a division of Flow International) is forging new ground with off-line programming for six-axis robots. Using Robotmaster software, the company is aiming to cut production time by 50 per cent and improve the efficiency of its robots. Flow Applications Group’s core business is ultra high pressure water jet cutting systems, mainly for Tier 1 automotive manufacturers. The company manufactures and integrates six-axis robot systems into automotive interior trim applications such as floor carpeting, door panels and instrument panels. The company is now broadening its market into equipment and materials from two-dimensional X-Y 2.5-axis shape-cutting systems to three dimensional, six-axis shape cutting systems. Off-line programming is helping them make the transition, giving life to a whole new product and marketplace. Time is Money Duane Snider, a sales and applications engineer with Flow Applications Group, wanted to eliminate costly downtime associated with programming robots. “We’ve built systems with four robots working on one part,” says Snider. “The pain point is when you have to stop production of work cells, using four employees to re-program four robots, or one employee to juggle four robots. This is high production capital equipment that should be up and running, making money for the company.” Before it could proceed to the marketplace with its new shape cutting systems, Flow Applications Group needed a solution for its robot downtime. With offline programming, Snider says his operators can start a new program in literally seconds. By changing the tools or fixtures (if required) and downloading a pre-set program from the main computer system, operators and machines can remain in production. Path-Sensitive Programming Robotmaster has a trajectory path-rich environment, which gives all of the necessary information to the machine, allowing the robot to make quick changes in motion. Unlike standard teach based robotic software, which can be cumbersome to program and adapt, this CAD\CAM-based programming software allows the operator to modify the trajectory based on the path the robot needs to follow. For Flow Application Group, what may have taken half a day to program in the past can now take as little as 15 minutes with minimal touch up time at the robot cell. Overcoming Accuracy Limitations The key to the success of an off-line robot program is convincing manufacturers of the program’s accuracy. For products whose quality standards rely on precision within the thousandths of an inch, the dynamic accuracy simply has not been there to date with six-axis robots. Off-line programming now opens the door to high-precision manufacturing. With the ability to track the robot’s path and motion, manufacturers can enhance accuracy. “This approach gives the house painter the ability to paint like an artist,” says Snider. Off-line programming also offers versatility, allowing CNC machines and other automated tools to go where they have never gone before. In benchmark tests, Robotmaster proved itself useful in multiple applications, including welding, trimming, dispensing and routing. “We’re seeing an explosion of flexibility here,” says Snider. “We’ll have one robot doing the material handling, interfaced with another doing the cutting and finishing, sharing a series of preprogrammed coordinated movements. We can go from raw material to processing with a smooth, fluid exchange from the off-line computer to the online robot work cells.”
Client Profile: AV&R Vision & Robotics is a leader in industrial automation, offering intelligent automation solutions to optimize manufacturing processes and to control quality. The Company has developed a broad range of expertise in enabling robots to perform complex tasks that traditionally could be performed only by humans, achieving high repeatability, increased speed and enhanced precision in such machining operations as de-burring, polishing, profiling, grinding, buffing, trimming and cutting. The Company differentiates itself by providing highly engineered solutions that integrate in depth knowledge of the machining process for optimized tool and abrasive selection and of sophisticated robot control. Thus, it delivers not only a workcell, but an integrated manufacturing process from the simplest to the most complex of machined parts. In the aerospace industry, AV&R’s expertise has been applied to projects in the manufacturing and assembly of motionless engine structure parts, such as combustion chambers, as well as of turbine blades and other moving parts. Context: The de-burring of combustion chambers for aircraft engines is about as complex as it gets, requiring tracing detailed trajectories over more than 600 features, using 3 or 4 different tools on each. In 2006, AV&R designed the workcell and process for one such chamber. The robot was programmed manually using a teach pendant, a painstaking job for a team of 5 engineers that required about 900 man-hours to complete. AV&R’s aerospace customers demand the utmost in repeatable high-precision machining but are also under extreme pressure to reduce new product introduction times. “We needed to shorten the path teaching cycle; there had to be a better way”, says François Arrien, Director, Robotic Material Removal, at AV&R. Solution: When his customer came back for a second workcell for a new product, Mr. Arrien invited Jabez Technologies to bring Robotmaster® into his shop. Robotmaster is a computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software that creates 6-axis robot program code off-line, directly from CAD design files. Not only did Robotmaster promise considerable time savings, it was also compatible with robots from most of the major manufacturers, an important consideration to support AV&R’s strategy of remaining free to offer the optimal hardware solution for the application, regardless of supplier. Confirmed Results: AV&R’s first application of Robotmaster was a double challenge, the team needed to integrate the use of Robotmaster into their operation on the fly, and still improve development time to meet their customer’s stringent timeline. Nonetheless, even on this first use, the programming was completed in half the time, and by a team of two people instead of five, compared to the previous project. “We expect to be able to halve the time again, for a total 75% saving, on future jobs, now that we’ve fully integrated Robotmaster into our development process.” Says Mr. Arrien. AV&R identified other benefits of using Robotmaster, beyond the time-savings: High precision and repeatability: Using conventional methods AV&R’s engineers calculated the desired angle of approach or other trajectory parameters, but then depended on their manual dexterity to reproduce it on the robot using the teach pendant. Robotmaster gave the desired trajectory and positioning accurately every time; Simple adjustment and change: With manual programming, deciding that a 30 degree angle of attack would be better than the 25 degree already programmed, meant redoing the teach process to make the change. With Robotmaster, the engineer just re-entered the desired angle and the job was done, for all the features; Off-line programming: With Robotmaster, AV&R could start programming a new product for the workcell off-line, without interrupting ongoing production on the customer’s shop floor, other than for final test and fine-tuning. New product introduction has become a parallel rather than a sequential operation; Better utilization of skill sets: AV&R’s mechanical design technicians could take on robot path programming responsibilities, using the CAD/CAM tools with which they are skilled. Ultimately, AV&R expects that its customers will be able to take control of reprogramming new products on their installed workcells on their own. Antoine Lizotte, AV&R’s Robot Programming Engineer, adds: “Before, programming meant crawling around the workcell on all fours to guide and observe the robot motion. Now the trajectory is controlled exactly the way I planned it, working on the computer screen. Only the final tune-up of tool positioning for optimum finishing quality is done on the floor” .“What makes Robotmaster different from other off-line solutions is that Jabez Technologies really understands machining. They’ve come at it from the CNC programming world and have translated their numerical machine control experience into a robot programming tool that truly addresses the problems of complex material removal applications”, concludes François Arrien.
Precise, reliable cutting and machining centers; words not often used to describe industrial robot arms. Robots are often disvalued in manufacturing circles as being inaccurate. Citing tolerances of +/- 0.100 (or more), robots are often dismissed as only suitable for welding or pick and place applications.With better initial accuracy from the plant, and calibration methods allowing robots to provide tolerances of 0.005in (or less), robots are no longer uncommon in machining type applications. As the level of robot technology is increasing, new applications for robots in manufacturing are constantly being created. Robots are now being addressed for tasks once thought to only be capable by CNC machines. For new mechanical challenges being addressed, software follows suit to support the need for increased control and efficiency in automation solutions. CNC operations have a wealth of established software suites to provide programming, however, robot operators have often relied on manual teaching of robot movement through the use of teach pendants. Manual teach methods are often time consuming and inaccurate. Off-line programming (OLP) is a faster way of producing robot trajectories. Robot path programming can occur on a computer, while the robot can continue to operate with a current program. Off-line programming is of course, not a new concept; robot simulation and OLP suites have been available for decades. What is just now becoming available is OLP software with features that can take advantage of better robot tolerances: Features such as producing robot trajectories from CAD/CAM data. Not a G-code Converter Robotmaster is an OLP/simulation module built on Mastercam for the creation of accurate 6-axis robot trajectories from tool path information. Already being an established software tool in a majority of North American manufacturing facilities, Mastercam provides a familiar CAD/CAM environment for Robotmaster users. Robotmaster removes the dependency on teaching or point creation via pendant by using CAD geometry to create tool paths. Tool path data is processed off-line, as native robot instructions in a file, ready to download onto a robot controller. With a Motoman robot for instance, the post-processing creates a JBI file. The file can then be transferred to memory card, or however data is transferred to a robot, and the operations in the JBI file can be run through the robot. Robotmaster is not a g-code converter; rather, it processes (in one step) the tool path data to accurately create robot trajectories while offering an interface that allows users to intelligently program their robots. The interface grants the ability to change parameters which govern the operation of the robot. Movement operations, robot positioning, and tooling control can all be modified while having the ability to control robot axis orientation to most efficiently process parts. Furthermore, Robotmaster offers complete robot cell simulation and a variety of error checking features to ensure confident OLP before implementation. Robot simulation is offered with a number of useful features, along with general zoom, rotate, and play control, for complete observation of simulated processes. Simulated robot joint motion can be dynamically controlled or modified by the user to view the effects of individual manual joint movement. For presentation, or data sharing purposes, the entire simulation routine can be exported and run on systems without Robotmaster installed, while maintaining the core display interface. Collision detection is employed in simulation, with cell specific collisions indicated on operation move, and graphical indication of any colliding components. Collisions with part geometry, work fixtures, or tooling can be rectified through safe retract moves and simulated to ensure corrective action is successful. Further error checking is included; singularity, out of reach and joint extension errors are calculated from specific robot kinematics, suspending any robot movement in these cases. Often orders may consist of components that are very similar in design, or modifications/updates are made to a part. Configuration profiles can be saved in order to maintain any set parameters and eliminate redundant definition for similar tool operations or setups. Robotmaster supports 6-axis robots from Fanuc, ABB, KUKA, Motoman, and Staubli, with development continuing on further robot brands. Current applications that Robotmaster is suitable for, but not limited to are: Trimming, Welding, Mold Machining, Spray Coating, Painting, Polishing, Grinding, De-burring/De-flashing, and Dispensing. “I could not do my job without this Software” Jacob Featherstone is a CNC Programmer for Armatec Survivability Corporation in London Ontario, and uses Robotmaster on a daily basis: “It would take twice as long to program the robot that we use for production without it. When getting programs ready for production or programming a prototype part I can use it upwards of 4 hours a day, or the same amount of time that I’m using Mastercam”. After establishing the CAD/CAM geometry, Featherstone uses Robotmaster to configure and examine robot cutting paths, for which he says simulation is a key benefit: “The most useful feature is the simulation. Once you have your simulator setup correctly, you can save hours of time getting a program ready for the machine.” Offline programming with Robotmaster saves Armatec hours a day spent on robot programming. Along with service updates, steady technical support is always available to users: “I could not do my job without this software and a lot has to be said about the support that we receive from Robotmaster… They are a very helpful and quick to respond.” Robotmaster can also aid users in achieving greater accuracy in their part development, “Being able to create toolpaths directly from our designer’s solid CAD models has significantly improved the accuracy of our carbon fiber components. Prior to investing in Mastercam/Robotmaster, we were programming our six-axis robot by the typical manual teaching method. Basically, we would tape a drawing to the work piece and trace it. This would produce parts that were approximations of what we really wanted and would require several iterations to refine the program to get closer to a nominal part.” states Rick Drulard, Process Engineer with Ottobock HealthCare. Drulard uses OLP to run production and develop new production or R&D programs simultaneously. Off-line programming through Robotmaster allows Ottobock to reduce the time spent on the induced errors of manual teach programming: “Robotmaster specifically, enables the optimization of arm dynamics. In the past, there was a certain amount of trial and error to minimize joint rotation during the transition of one nozzle orientation to another (i.e. cutting on one side of a part, then the other side). Now if I have a problem with excessive joint rotation, I can view it in the simulation and then fix it, offline.” Problems such as joint rotation boundary limits can be avoiding using a number of options in Robotmaster: pre-setting joint home values, reposition points, or axis configurations. The time savings obtained by OLP software provides new economically feasible robotic solutions. Barriers such as programming and familiarity time are significantly reduced through the use of Robotmaster, and thus companies can confidently integrate robotic solutions into their processes, where these time factors were issue. Employees already experienced with programming CNC machines through CAD/CAM software can be trained to operate a robot in similar fashion, especially with familiarity of the Mastercam interface. Employees with no CAD/CAM experience can benefit from generic CAD/CAM training with marginal time spent on Robotmaster specific learning.While expert level robot operation requires years of experience, Robotmaster offers an immediate increase in cell productivity where an operator would have been defaulting to programming the robot manually. As more applications for robots are created in the manufacturing industry, flexible, supported OLP software such as Robotmaster will continue to be a necessary tool. Robotmaster’s power stems from the ability to not only have a CAD/CAM system compile to robot instructions, but to give the user control over how the instructions are derived using a parameter based interface and simulated environment. Robotmaster allows industry businesses to more productively use robotic resources and set the bar for competition. Manufacturing giants or modest shops should feel confident in considering and operating robots in their workflow. Robotmaster is a new way to provide automation confidence.