What’s Robotic Orbital Drilling?

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New technology may enable robotic drilling to be more commonplace in machine shops by overcoming the issue of limited robot rigidity.

Because end-effectors using Orbital Drilling technology produce lower thrust forces than conventional drilling, robots can drill accurate holes in tough materials such as titanium.
Until a few weeks ago, I had no idea. The hole-making technology is offered by Novator in Sweden. It’s similar to helical interpolation routines that enable machine tools to create holes of varying sizes using a single cutter. What the company offers are programmable, eccentric spindle heads that rotate a spinning tool to the offset required to produce the desired hole diameter. These spindle heads can be added to custom machines or be used as end-effectors for robots. In fact, because orbital drilling produces lower thrust forces than conventional drilling, robots can effectively drill burr-free holes in materials ranging from carbon fiber reinforced plastic to titanium. So robotic drilling may become more commonplace because the issue of limited robot rigidity can be overcome.

Learn more in this article

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