November 28 – 29, 2018
3M Innovation Center
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!

For a preview of what you will learn


Questions? Contact Bob Doyle at

  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
  • 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
  • Learn how to optimize existing cells
  • Tour 3M’s exclusive Customer Innovation Center, a playground for engineers
  • Address your project questions in small group consultation in 3M’s robot lab
  • Discover the best tools and equipment at the tabletop exhibits
  • Network with experts in the industry

Interested in Becoming an Exhibitor?

Become an Exhibitor

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!

After the Innovation Center tour, attendees will also have the opportunity to visit 3M's CAM Center, home to 1 of the company's robotics labs to discuss project questions in an operational setting.

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


Wednesday, November 28, 2018
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM


1:00 PM – 1:20 PM

Welcome & Opening Remarks
Jim Bauman, 3M
Joe Gemma, KUKA and Chair of the Robotic Industries Association

Joe Gemma

Joe Gemma

KUKA Division Industries

Robotic Grinding & Finishing

1:20 PM – 1:50 PM

Panel Discussion: The Value of Automating Your Robotic Grinding & Finishing Applications
Bob Doyle, RIA (Moderator)
Andrew Cook, Applied Robotics
Charles Gales, Weldon Solutions

Andrew Cook

Andrew Cook

Applied Robotics

Using industrial robots for grinding, deburring, deflashing, and finishing parts is a fast-growing practice. Both robots and now - cobots offer clear advantages to doing these processes manually. Andrew Cook, Product Manager for Applied Robotics of Glenville NY, will discuss this growing trend and demystify how to determine the ROI of automating these processes. He will also show you what to look into when considering implementing robotic finishing, and how your specific application can benefit. Some of the additional topics he will address are when to automate, how to choose the right grinding tools, and whether it is better for the robot to manage the part or to manage the tool. Andrew will even inspire you by presenting video footage of various application examples to illustrate how robotic finishing is used in many sectors and how it could be substantially advantageous for your company.

1:50 PM – 2:20 PM

From Concept to Design: How to Optimally Design a Robot Cell
Thomas Koch, SHL Automation

Thomas Koch

Thomas Koch

SHL Automation Inc.

Process chain for processing Aluminium structural parts.

2:20 PM – 3:10 PM

Force Control & Compliance: An Intensive Tour
Mike McMillen, PushCorp
Dan Merritt, ATI Industrial Automation
Ronald Naderer, FerRobotics

Dan Merritt

Dan Merritt

ATI Industrial Automation

In addition to choosing the right equipment, a vital element of any successful robotic grinding, sanding, or finishing application is the control of the contact forces. Poorly-controlled process forces lead to inconsistent quality and frequent rework. Human operators instinctively use their own sense of touch to apply constant force while accounting for part variations. For robots, among many methods, forces can be controlled passively using pneumatic devices, or actively with feedback from multi-axis force and torque sensors. This session focuses on examples of passive force control as well as active force feedback implemented to monitor and control robot motion for successful grinding and finishing. Learn about the possibilities, review the components of a successful application, and discuss how complementary technologies give robots a sense of touch in grinding and finishing applications.

Ronald Naderer

Ronald Naderer

FerRobotics Inc.

Robotized processing is important for sanding, grinding, polishing, deburring, etc. since a consistent contact force is crucial for the final product quality. However, human workers are not able to perform such a consistent contact force over longer time. Furthermore, experts for these 3D jobs (dirty, dangerous and demining full) are increasingly hard to find. Consequently, all industries (automotive, aerospace and general industry) tend to automate their surface finishing sequences. Key criteria for a reproducible, uniform surface finish is to control the process and therefore the process force. Previous approaches have been either force control or physical compliance. The state of the art approach combines the benefits of both principles and results in an active compliant force control. An autonomous sensitive compliant force control not only allows to controlling the forces but also compensate a certain range of positioning tolerance. Through this physical compliance the contact force can be controlled very fast. It has a further impact on the usability. Within a self-adapting stroke, the robot paths may be programmed rather inaccurately. Robotics applications based on active compliant force control deliver a consistent high-quality production, high process security and a faster return on investment. Best practice cases are e.g. paint sanding, paint repair applications or in the automotive industry the roof ditch grinding on the BIW.

3:10 PM – 3:30 PM


3:30 PM – 4:00 PM

Material Removal - The Need for Robot Accuracy
Virgil Wilson, FANUC America

Virgil Wilson

Virgil Wilson

FANUC America

One of the leading technical barriers for mass acceptance of robots for material removal applications is creating the robot path in an accurate, efficient and timely manner. Over the years several methods have been developed for creating robot paths, such as offline programming, manual teach and lead through teach. Offline programing provides the most versatile and efficient solution available for robotic path creation on the market today. Offline programming provides advantages and benefits for both the integrator and the end user. Integrators are finding that hiring robotic technicians is becoming more and more of a challenge and are looking for ways to better utilize a robot technicians time. Simplifying path creation with offline path creation reduces the time a robot technician spends creating paths lowering the overall cost of integration. Offline programming allows the end user the flexibility to add new parts to the system or make modifications to existing parts without taking the robot offline to create the robot path. Creating robot paths offline is not new and has been available for several years. Which leads one to ask, why offline programming creation hasn’t been more widely accepted for material removal applications. There are still many material removal systems being taught using the very time consuming approach of manual teach which could have used offline programing. The single biggest challenge for offline programing is robot accuracy, the ability to create a path offline and simply download it to the robot and run the program without user intervention is not only the goal but is possible. Creating offline paths for robots presents unique challenges, but with the right tools and understanding these challenges can be mitigated. I will be discussing the root causes of robot and system inaccuracy, the solutions to resolve them, when to and when not to use them. My goals is to provide you with the knowledge and understanding that will allow you to confidently know when and how to use offline programing with great success.

4:00 PM – 4:30 PM

Robotic Sanding and Polishing Using a Collaborative Robot
Dominic Sinibaldi, York Exponential

4:30 PM – 5:15 PM

Panel Discussion: DIY Integration – Automating Your Abrasives Process In-House
Scott Barnett, 3M (Moderator)
Brandon Berth, Kohler
Matt Morrison, Marshalltown
Scott Harms, MetalQuest

Matthew C Morrison

Matthew C Morrison

Marshalltown Company

At Marshalltown Company, we believe that we know our process better than anyone else does. For this reason, and due to the unique and challenging conditions of some of our operations, we chose to automate many of our forging and heat treatment processes in-house. Once these automation projects were complete, we felt that we had the resources to take on a large robotic grinding and polishing system for one of our forged tool lines. This system defines the final dimensions of our forged parts and gives a cosmetic finish that sets our product apart from competitors. Within this panel discussion, I will go over some of the challenges that we encountered while automating our finishing process and how we overcame them.

Scott Harms

Scott Harms

MetalQuest Unlimited, Inc.

Embracing robotics can be an intimating concept, however it doesn't have to be. Within this presentation, I hope to provide an overview of our in-house automation department, discuss some of the ways we developed it, and provide a few issues we ran into along the way.

5:15 PM – 7:30 PM

Networking Reception with Heavy Appetizers and Drinks in the Tabletop Exhibits Area

Thursday, November 29, 2018
7:00 AM – 8:00 AM

Breakfast and Registration

8:00 AM – 8:30 AM

The First Step: Taking Grinding & Finishing Automation to SMEs
Simon Whitton and Pat Duda, KUKA

Simon WhittonPat Duda

Simon Whitton


Pat Duda


While the automation of grinding and finishing processes are nothing new, the benefits derived from them have largely been relegated to mass manufacturers. With larger volumes of parts to produce and fewer process change requirements, these organizations have the time and resources to develop procedures and incorporate the equipment they need to optimize production and quality once manufacturing ensues. Manufacturers with smaller volumes of work, however, require more frequent changes, limiting the amount of time they can devote to up front activities and the changeovers, themselves. While automation offers great potential to help these organizations realize efficiency and quality gains, few of them have the time and resources with programming skills needed to move quickly between batches of work. These challenges are augmented by the fact that there are a limited number of integrators on the market who possess both the equipment and process experience required to support the automation of grinding and finishing processes. This session will center on how grinding and finishing process experts can come together with robotic automation providers to make grinding and finishing automation accessible to small and mid-sized manufacturers. Starting with the merits of flexible, pre-configured solutions, the presenters will describe how this marriage of separate disciplines can be used to enable inexperienced integrators to provide additional support for end-users and help them realize improved efficiencies and ROI that is, now, only available to larger manufacturers. The presentation will include the different requirements of functional and cosmetic grinding and finishing, identifying the relationship between equipment and process. The speakers will share some of the challenges they have faced and lessons learned automating grinding and finishing processes, providing actional advice for attendees to take back to their companies.

8:30 AM – 8:50 AM

Advancements in Robotic Aerospace Deburring & Polishing Technology
Fritz Carlson, Acme Manufacturing Company

Fritz Carlson

Fritz Carlson

Acme Manufacturing Company

This presentation will share and provide current and future flexible robotic automation alternatives for several deburring, grinding and polishing applications for aerospace engine components. Some of the features will include adaptive polishing technology, feasibility of incorporating vision and in process part measurement instruments and utilization of compliance devices. These systems will demonstrate the usage of many new and different consumable media tools such as brushes, hard tools, engineered abrasive belts, cut-off wheels, nylon wheels and buffs.

8:50 AM – 9:10 AM

Automated Sanding and Scrubbing for Finishing
Steven Becroft and Gordon Arnold, Encore Automation

Steven Becroft

Steven Becroft

Encore Automation

This presentation will cover some of the automated processes for sanding and scrubbing, and their benefits for finish quality, including surface preparation, appearance improvement, and defect inspection and elimination. Finish Surface Preparation is achieved by sanding and washing the surfaces using robotically carried sanding/buffing tooling and chemical sprays. Appearance Improvement is achieved by sanding or buffing the finish substrate or prime or topcoat layers. Defect elimination is achieved by sensing the surface for defects, categorizing them, and providing detailed information for follow-on systems that achieve defect elimination by sanding and buffing the defects. Descriptions of the systems and processes to achieve these benefits are reviewed, and videos of each of the processes in lab and production settings are shown. Tooling and System Components such as compliant sanding and buffing tooling, inspection sensors, and sanding media changers are described in detail, and shown in photos and videos.

9:10 AM – 9:30 AM

Case Study: Post Weld Grinding & Buffing
Cody Larson, MESH Automation

9:30 AM – 9:50 AM


9:50 AM – 10:10 AM

Case Study: Robotic Bath Tub Sanding
Ron Potter, Factory Automation Systems

Ron Potter

Ron Potter

Factory Automation Systems

Factory Automation Systems, an Atlanta-based automation and robotics integrator, implemented a robotic bath tub sanding system for a manufacturer of engineered stone bath tubs. The existing process was labor intensive and required numerous operators sanding tubs for a number of hours per tub. Because of the intense manual labor in a tough environment, the company struggled with high turnover and a consistent challenge of filling the sanding positions. The FAS solution includes a pallet conveyor that can queue up to eleven tubs to run through the cell automatically. A FANUC M-710 robot is equipped with a random orbital sander and a FANUC Force Sensor, which maintains a constant force applied to the surface of the tub. The cell includes an automated sand paper changing station. Since the customer makes over (200) high end bath tubs, the FAS application allows the customer to import a 3-D model of a tub into the FANUC ROBOGUIDE software and convert it to the robot path. This cell benefits production and the HR team. The robot cell sands a tub with an increase in productivity of over 80% compared to manual labor. The customer can run the system “lights out” and process up to (11) tubs after hours. And finally, the customer is on a path to eliminate their most difficult labor positions to fill.

10:10 AM – 11:00 AM

Panel: New Innovations & Research in Robotic Grinding & Finishing
Jay Douglass, Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute (Moderator)
Kevin Barry, Lockheed
Matt Robinson, Southwest Research Institute
Prabhakar Pagilla, Texas A&M University

Jay Douglass

Jay Douglass

ARM - Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing

ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) is a federally-funded Manufacturing USA initiative. Structured as a public-private partnership, ARM accelerates the advancement of transformative robotic technologies and education to increase U.S. global manufacturing competitiveness. ARM is currently funding projects advancing the capabilities of robotic grinding, sanding and finishing technologies. ARM will present a briefing on some of these ongoing projects with Lockheed Martin, an ARM member, as a co-presenter. Kevin Barry is a Senior Engineer at Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories and the Principal Investigator on Lockheed Martin’s ARM Quick Start project: “Robotic Sanding and Finishing.” This project aims to develop a robotic sanding system that is easily reconfigurable and an order of magnitude lower in cost than currently available systems with critical advancements necessary in planning, control, and sensing to integrate such a system. Kevin will provide an overview of this project and discuss the broader needs for robotic sanding and finishing solutions in the Aerospace industry. Jay Douglass, ARM’s COO, will give an overview of ARM’s establishment; how Grinding, Sanding, and Finishing projects fit into ARM’s overall mission; other ongoing projects; and how to become involved with ARM and the more than 160 organizations already participating.

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Networking Lunch and 3M Innovation Center Tour
(Divided into two groups)

1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Tours of 3M Robot Lab: Capabilities and Consultations
(Tour bus will depart from the Innovation Center)



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
Open - Oct. 31, 2018 $495 $595
Oct. 31 - Event $595 $695




Hyatt Regency Santa ClaraThe Robotic Grinding and Finishing Conference will be held at the 3M Customer Innovation Center (2326 Minnehaha Ave E, St. Paul, MN 55119). The hotel is about 5 miles from the Innovation Center.

Sheraton Woodbury
676 Bielenberg Drive
Woodbury, MN 55125

Room Block Rate: $139/night + taxes
Room rate cut-off: Wednesday, November 14th

Booking Link:

Or call 651-209-3287 and ask for the Robotic Grinding and Finishing Conference special rate.

Close Speakers

Who's Speaking

Click on a name to learn more

Andrew Cook Andrew Cook
Product Manager - Grippers
Applied Robotics
Dan Merritt Dan Merritt
Material Removal Product Manager
ATI Industrial Automation
G. A. G. A. "Fritz" Carlson III
President & CEO
Acme Manufacturing Company
Jay Douglass Jay Douglass
ARM - Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing
Joe Gemma Joe Gemma
KUKA Division Industries
Matthew C Morrison Matthew C Morrison
Senior Design Engineer
Marshalltown Company
Pat Duda Pat Duda
Senior Sales Application Engineer
Ron Potter
Director of Robotics Technology
Factory Automation Systems
Ronald Naderer Ronald Naderer
FerRobotics Inc.
Scott Harms Scott Harms
MetalQuest Unlimited, Inc.
Simon Whitton Simon Whitton
Regional Division Manager, North America
Steven Becroft Steven Becroft
Encore Automation
Thomas Koch Thomas Koch
Executive Vice President Sales
SHL Automation Inc.
Virgil Wilson Virgil Wilson
Staff Engineer Material Removal
FANUC America