April 27-28, 2020
InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront
St. Paul, Minnesota

About the Conference

The RIA Robotic Grinding and Finishing Conference, presented by 3M, is the premier event in North America for learning best practices, key parameters for success, implementation techniques, tooling, and more for your robotic grinding and finishing processes. Join us in St. Paul for exciting sessions that will help you successfully implement or improve your robotic grinding and finishing system!


Questions? Contact Bob Doyle at bdoyle@a3automate.org.

  RIA Robotic Grinding and Finishing Conference

Why Attend

Attending the Robotic Grinding and Finishing Conference will equip you with the knowledge you need to successfully implement your next robotic grinding or finishing system:

  • Get a comprehensive look at the factors, technologies and processes that yield success in robotic grinding and finishing
  • See live demos of real-world applications
  • Meet a range of robotic grinding & finishing experts in one place, covering abrasives, system integration, and equipment
  • Discover real-world implementation stories
  • Attend in-depth sessions on key technologies, best practices and example processes
  • Address your project questions with experts in 3M’s robot lab
  • Discover the best tools and equipment at the tabletop exhibits
  • Network with experts in the industry

See Who's Speaking

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Who Should Attend

  • Engineering Managers and Directors
  • Advanced Manufacturing Personnel
  • Process engineers
  • Robot Application Engineers/Techs
  • Designers
  • And other manufacturing automation professionals

Exclusive Opportunity to Tour 3M's Customer Innovation Center and Robot Lab

All attendees will be able to tour 3M's Innovation Center, a playground for engineers!

Attendees will also have the opportunity to visit 3M's CAM Center, home to one of the company's robotics labs to see real-world demos and to discuss project questions in an operational setting.

Attendees choosing the Monday tour/demo option will have the opportunity to visit 3M's CAM Center to view multiple material removal robot demos AND have the option of touring 3M’s Innovation Center.

Due to the sensitive nature of innovation discussions at the 3M CAM Center, 3M reserves the right to restrict participation in this portion of the tour of abrasive manufacturer representatives who attend the conference.

3M's Customer Innovation Center and Robot Lab



Monday, April 27, 2020
7:30 AM – 8:30 AM

Registration Open

8:30 AM – 12:45 PM

3M Robot Lab and Innovation Center Tours

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Registration Open

1:00 PM – 1:15 PM

Welcome and Opening Remarks

1:15 PM – 1:45 PM

Robotic End of Arm Deburring - Application examples

1:45 PM – 2:15 PM

Material Finishing Equipment: Choosing the Right Components to Win Business and Ensure Success
Maximiliano Falcone, Business Development Manager, PushCorp Inc.

Maximiliano Falcone

Maximiliano Falcone

Business Development Manager, PushCorp Inc.

Material Finishing Equipment: Choosing the Right Components to Win Business and Ensure Success

One of the items that has become very apparent over the last several years, is that when it comes to choosing the equipment that goes into a material removal cell, there are more options than ever before.  From manipulators to compliance devices to spindles to back stands, there are so many options that it can be overwhelming and the reality is that it is now easier than every to make the wrong decision.


This discussion will cover the different forms of compliance, spindles, back stands and finish stands and when to use them.  From the most basic of sanding applications to complex polishing applications, we will take a look at several successful user cases and discuss the parts and pieces that made these applications successful.  


By examining successful cases I hope to be able to equip the audience with the tools that will better equip them to go out and find their own success stories that we can showcase in the next material removal conference.

2:15 PM – 2:45 PM

Choosing the Right Abrasive Technology
JD Haas, Application Specialist – Robotic Abrasive Solutions, 3M

JD Haas

JD Haas

Application Specialist

Choosing the Right Abrasive Technology

With hundreds of abrasives available, how do you find the right abrasive to use in your robotic cell?  JD will identify the key technologies and key factors to consider in abrasive selection, sharing examples and knowledge gained from the hundreds of robot installations that 3M has supported.  Abrasive choice can dramatically improve (or worsen) performance and productivity in both existing and newly designed cells - this session will help you get the most out of your robot.  

2:45 PM – 3:15 PM

Realtime Abrasive Process Data Collection: The “Why” and the “How”
Alec Burgess, Senior Project Engineer, Marshalltown Company

Alec Burgess

Alec Burgess

Senior Project Engineer

Marshalltown Company

With data collection from industrial automation being easier than ever, are companies taking full advantage of the data that is available?  Within the world of robotic grinding and finishing, data points ranging from basic media life to spark time per piece can easily be collected and aggregated in real time.  With this data, true costs from process modifications can be quantified, different medias can be trialed in production, and operator interactions with the cell can be documented.  All of this being accomplished with minimal engineering labor.  That is, if data collection is considered a crucial aspect of system integration or commissioning.  

This session aims to discuss an end user’s (who also does their own integration) experience obtaining meaningful data from robotic grinding cells, both new and old, beyond simple cycle counters.  Meaningful data that can and will benefit businesses of any size.  With solutions ranging from full-fledged SCADA system integration, to more economical solutions utilizing Raspberry Pi and similar technologies, there is no excuse not to have all the data about a given process easily accessible.   

3:15 PM – 3:30 PM


3:30 PM – 4:00 PM

Robotizing Material Removal – ROI Success Stories
Dan Merritt, Material Removal Product Manager, ATI Industrial Automation

Dan Merritt

Dan Merritt

Material Removal Product Manager

ATI Industrial Automation

Hear success stories from end-users who have invested in robotic material removal.  Learn how these companies integrated successful robotic processes to replace manual operations and have achieved return on investment (ROI).  Understand the real motivations for these companies to robotize and the challenges encountered while transitioning to automated solutions.  Discover how far-reaching the benefits of automation can be, from improved operator safety and employee retention to reduced scrap and higher throughput.  

4:00 PM – 4:30 PM

Combining Force Control and Measurement for Accurate and Adaptive Grinding
Steven Somes, President, Force Robots

Steven Somes

Steven Somes

Force Robots

Combining Force Control and Measurement for Accurate and Adaptive Grinding

Achieving accurate blending and removal of excess material over complex, variable, and imprecisely located surfaces is a challenge, particular if there is a low allowance for reducing the dimension of the finished part. This is addressed by a system that combines accurately controlled contact force with measurement feedback from the tool. The result is precise and adaptive robotic grinding. The system uses an integrated robotic arm and part positioner from Force Robots equipped with an ATI tool changer to perform the work in stages. 3M Trizact 237AA belts are used for consistent material removal. The application presented is removing “pin blips” from nickel-alloy turbine blades. These positives on the airfoil surface are artifacts of a casting process that produces hollow cores in the airfoil with intricate cooling passageways. The challenge is to perfectly blend the blips with the adjacent airfoil surface without reducing the blade’s wall thickness. Since the blips are created by a manual insertion process, there is variability in their location and size.

The system works by the robot first loading a staged part into a fixture on the part positioner using a gripper. The robot then switches to a Dynafile II grinder equipped with a 60 grit belt. It’s job is coarse removal. A smooth final finish is required, but a fine grit belt would not have the required life if tasked with removing the roughly .100” height of the blip. The robot makes a series of contact measurements with the tip of the belt to locate the part in the fixture. The robot activates the grinder and takes down each blip to .005” to .010”. This is a height that is “safe” for the part and leaves some material for the next step. For this step, the robot switches to a grinder with a 3M Trizact 237AA A100 belt. At each nominal blip location, the robot makes two sweeping contact measurement passes over the surface with the belt turned off. The surface profile from the part’s CAD model is matched to the sweep measurements, and by differencing the two profiles the bounds of the remaining material and its height is determined. The robot then activates the grinder and begins working within the measured bounds. Since the measurement is performed in the frame of reference as the grinder, accurate calibration of the robot's grinding trajectory to the physical part and area of work is possible even with significant initial error, uncertainty, and variation. If this were an application with hard tooling, the robot could use in-process measurements of the tool path to determine material height and process termination. However with the belt grinder, compliance in the tool and robot, plus tool vibration, make it too difficult for the robot to discern the material height at the high level of accuracy required. The robot is capable of accurately and repeatably controlling its applied force, however, and the Trizact belts have consistent material removal rates. So using a predetermined relationship between passes and material removal, the robot calculates and executes the  number of passes at the required force needed to remove only the blip material. These steps are then repeated at each blip on the blade. This technique can be applied to other applications with variable features or imprecisely located surfaces. Weld bead grinding, for instance, is an application for this approach and an example will be shown.

4:30 PM – 5:00 PM

Flexible Robotic Systems: 3 Case Studies

5:00 PM – 5:30 PM

Today's Success Stories in Robotic Application Material Subtractive

5:30 PM – 7:00 PM

Networking Reception in the Tabletop Exhibits Area


Tuesday, April 28, 2020
7:00 AM – 8:00 AM

Breakfast and Registration

8:00 AM – 8:10AM


8:10 AM – 8:40 AM

Matching Your Grinding and Finishing Application to the Right State of Human-Robot Collaboration

8:40 AM – 9:10 AM

Design Finishing Applications for Cobots
Michel Beauchemin, Product owner, robot control applications, Robotiq

Michel Beauchemin

Michel Beauchemin

Product owner, robot control applications

Automating finishing processes with standard industrial robots is nothing new, but thanks to collaborative robots and their simple plug-and-play sanding solutions, the barrier is now being lowered for SMEs to join in as well.


A cost-effective collaborative robot solution for sanding, polishing, or buffing that’s easy for any user to program is an opportunity small businesses have awaited for years. Now that this solution is available, where do they start? 


Finishing applications for collaborative robots require extensive design. It can be challenging to get all the hardware to work together in order to achieve great product quality. But by choosing the right robot, orbital tool, mounting bracket for the task at hand, and operating software to facilitate programming, SMEs can save days of integration time once the design is completed. 


In this keynote, participants will learn to map the manual process—whether it is a process-to-part finishing process, or a part-to-process task. Learn from real-life examples of  SMEs who overcame problems like recruiting for sanding operations, dealing with staff injuries, and having a collaborative robot available but not being able to achieve the desired results. 


Join us to see how they solved these issues with effective design choices.

9:10 AM – 9:40 AM

Challenges for "Collaborative" Robots on grinding and finishing applications

9:40 AM – 10:00 AM


10:00 AM – 10:30 AM

Melonee Wise, Fetch Robotics

10:30 AM – 11:00 AM

Insight on Robotics Grinding Projects and Research Funded by ARM
Annette Vickers,  Sr. Strategy & Market Analyst, ARM

Annette Vickers

Annette Vickers

Sr. Strategy & Market Analyst

Insight on Robotics Grinding Projects and Research Funded by ARM

Over the past two years, national consortium Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) has funded several projects for robotic grinding and polishing, as well as conducted research on global trends. During this session, ARM’s Senior Strategy and Market Analyst, Annette Vickers, will answer these questions:

1.    What are the global trends in robotics grinding and finishing? 
2.    What organizations have focused on innovations in grinding?
3.    What challenges have the ARM-funded projects addressed?
4.    How are companies addressing the workforce needs? 
5.    What are the best applications to consider today? 

11:00 AM – 11:50 AM

Manufacturers' Panel: Scoping, Justifying & Implementing a Robotic Cell

12:00 PM – 3:00 PM

3M Robot Lab Tour



Join us at the Robotic Grinding and Finishing Conference and learn how to best implement your robotic grinding or finishing project. You don’t want to miss this chance to hear experts explain successful tips, tricks, and techniques!

How to Save Even More

Become an RIA Member:

Discounts are available to RIA members. Become an RIA member today and take advantage of the benefits right away!

Robotic Grinding and Finishing Conference
Dates RIA Members Non-Members
Reg. Open - March 26 $595 $695
March 27 - Event $695 $795
Additional Exhibitor Pass $50 $50


Cancellation Policy
Paid registrants can cancel until Tuesday, March 17, 2020 without charge. After that date, a $100 cancellation fee applies. No refunds will be given for cancellations received after Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Attendance substitutions are permitted without penalty at any time.




InterContinental Saint Paul RiverfrontThe Robotic Grinding and Finishing Conference will be held at the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront in St. Paul, MN.

InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront
11 E Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55101

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Who's Speaking

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Alec Burgess Alec Burgess
Senior Project Engineer
Marshalltown Company
Andrea Bertolaccini Andrea Bertolaccini
Sales Manager
ROBOTICOM - Fabrica Machinale
Annette Vickers Annette Vickers
Sr. Strategy & Market Analyst
Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM)
Dan Merritt Dan Merritt
Material Removal Product Manager
ATI Industrial Automation
JD Haas JD Haas
Application Specialist – Robotic Abrasive Solutions
Maximiliano Falcone Maximiliano Falcone
Business Development Manager
PushCorp Inc.
Michel Beauchemin Michel Beauchemin
Product owner, robot control applications
Simon Whitton Simon Whitton
Regional Division Manager, North America
Steven Somes Steven Somes
Force Robots