We use PowerMILL (made by Delcam, now owned by Autodesk) to program our 5-axis CNC machines. Naturally we looked into using PMill to program the robot and learned that this requires that the controller have a hardware (ring buffer -style memory expansion) and software (changes the way code is interpreted) extension called CamROB. My understanding is this lets you program the robot using typical XYZ + ABC style G-code. I’m reading:

“KUKA.CAMRob is a technology software package which enables a KUKA robot to be implemented quickly and easily for machining workpieces, on the basis of path and process data from a CAM system. KUKA.CAMRob automatically transforms the CNC data generated with a CAM system into a robot program, enabling an industrial robot to be used as a machining robot for complex components.”

There are a few problems with this for us:

  1. These used robots don’t have CamROB installed.
  2. It’s questionable whether or not CamROB will even work with these controllers
  3. If we did manage to prove that CamROB would work, and did manage to find it was affordable (no idea what it costs), once you switch to using CamROB, you can’t switch back without uninstalling and reconfiguring everything the way it was.

It seems that CamROB was developed so that it’s easier to program a robot to do typical CNC machining operations. Since we already have two good, big 5-axis CNC machines that are probably far more accurate, I don’t see any point in using CamROB/PowerMILL.

Maybe I eat my words later.