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FANUC brings automated CNC milling to education market

27 January 2022

SCHOOLS, COLLEGES, universities, independent training centres and OEM training facilities can all benefit from a new FANUC educational package that combines the company’s machine tool and collaborative robot technologies.

Developed in tandem with a number of leading industry partners, the ROBODRILL Educational Cell brings automated CNC milling to the training marketplace at competitive price point.

FANUC has long believed that investing in the next generation will be key to increasing uptake of automation in the UK. Most recently, the company sponsored the Industrial Robotics Final of WorldSkills UK, allowing aspiring engineers to work hands-on with real FANUC industrial robots. In an effort to continue this level of support for young apprentices, FANUC is launching its latest educational package, combining a ROBODRILL vertical machining centre with a CRX-10iA collaborative robot.

Hands-on experience

Designed with students in mind, the ROBODRILL Educational Cell enables trainees to gain hands-on experience in programming and operating CNC machine tools, as well as cutting-edge robots. The package content is highly relevant for modern factory applications and contains everything instructors require for teaching purposes.

Previous FANUC educational packages have been based on stand-alone industrial robot and collaborative robot technologies. The addition of a CNC vertical machining centre in the new package allows trainees to experience automated component manufacture, from the arrival of raw billets to the unloading of a completed workpiece, all driven by ISO-based programming via FANUC’s high-end 31i-B5 CNC system. In fact, the package is a state-of-the-art Industry 4.0 production cell, complete with Ethernet ports and Ethernet software support as standard.

Five-axis machining

FANUC’s proven ROBODRILL offers five-axis simultaneous milling across travel distances of 500 x 400 x 330 mm in the three linear axes (X, Y and Z). A Lehmann five-axis table provides the tilt and rotate axes (A and C), while an automatic tool changer ready-loaded with 21 tools serves a BBT30, 10,000 rpm spindle. Advanced machine functions include Tilted Working Plane (TWP) for 3+2 machining, High Speed Smooth (TCP) for machining a plane with the side of a tool using centre-point control, and AICC-2 200 Blocks Look Ahead for enhanced contour control.

To provide a complete learning experience, the ROBODRILL comes with a Renishaw OMP40-2 optical transmission probe and Renishaw OTS table-mounted optical tool setter. The machine also includes Renishaw’s AxiSet Check-Up, which offers an easy and reliable way of analysing the performance of rotary axes and for identifying problems caused by incorrect machine set-up, collisions or wear.

To help with training, the all-inclusive package comes complete with an NC program for a defined workpiece, a vice to suit the component, five dedicated cutting tools and five tool holder, with raw aluminium provided by FANUC. The package also features a GoPro Hero 9 waterproof action camera for internal visibility (via Wi-Fi connection), ensuring this plug-and-play solution is ready to use straight from the box. A further inclusion is FANUC’s CNC Guide Academic Package - intelligent PC simulator software that is ideal for both individual and group training.

As a point of note, those investing in the new package (premium or basic) will receive a  60-month ROBODRILL warranty.

Collaborative working

Complementing the ROBODRILL machining centre is the CRX-10iA collaborative robot, which offers a reach of 1249 mm and a 10 kg maximum payload. As the name suggests, collaborative robots can work safely alongside humans, coming to a safe and immediate stop in event of a contact.

A single cable provides a communications link between the CRX robot and the ROBODRILL vertical machining centre. Among the many advantages of selecting FANUC technology to deliver educational solutions is that the company manufactures machine tools, robots and CNC units, thus facilitating seamless system integration.

Rich package content

The creation of FANUC’s new ROBODRILL Educational Cell has received extensive support from a number of selected industry partners that also recognise the need to help prepare young people for a career in modern, automated industrial workplaces. Aside from the aforementioned Lehmann, Renishaw and GoPro, these partners include Big Daishowa (tool holders), Schunk (vices) and Mitsubishi (DIAEDGE cutting tools). The world of component machining needs an ongoing source of new talent, which is why so many industry leaders have pooled their expertise in making this innovative educational tool available at a highly attractive price point.