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Optical CMM Equips Robots for Machining

A robot could make a great machine tool if it didn't have accuracy limitations. Here is what Comet is doing to develop a solution.

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A robot could make a great machine tool. An industrial robot is capable of intricate motion that is as complex as that of any five-axis machining center. Allow the robot to hold a spindle, or let it present the part to a stationary spindle, and the result should be a highly flexible system for drilling, deburring or light milling. 
 
However, robots do have accuracy limitations. On its own, a robot arm cannot hold a tool tip or workpiece feature in 3D space with the precision that a well-made machine tool can achieve—particularly when machining forces are involved. Until now, this has served to limit the potential machining applications for robots.
 
Comet, the European consortium devoted to “components” and “methods” for control of industrial robots, has been developing a solution. An independent control system using an optical CMM from Nikon Metrology tracks the robot’s motion in real-time, applying algorithms to adjust that motion and keep it on track with the programmed path. Read this article to learn more. 
 
For more on Comet and machining with robots, see this video produced by Delcam.

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