Applications of industrial robots for additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is a process by which three-dimensional objects are built up layer by layer. With conventional manufacturing methods, material is removed or moulded. By adding material, shapes can be produced that are not possible with other methods. The CNC robots from MABI Robotic AG are the optimum tool for large objects.

One of the best-known additive manufacturing processes is 3D printing. A layered model is created from a digital model using a slicer. Material, such as plastic or metal, is then applied layer by layer and joined together. The connection is created by melting the added material. In the case of plastic, a filament is often melted with a heating element or, in the case of a resin printer, the liquid is cured with a UV laser. The additive processes are similar for metal components and the most common method is a metal 3D printer, in which the component is built up with a laser and the metal powder added layer by layer. The use of laser deposition welding heads is used for larger objects. The metal powder is shot directly onto the component and melted with the laser. In this way, individual areas can be processed on an existing plate.

Additive manufacturing with CNC robots has enormous potential in large-scale production or for complicated components. As the object is built up layer by layer, individual adjustments can be made easily and cost-effectively. As a simple example, we could use a steel ring as shown in the illustrations. The raw material for the ring should have an outer diameter of approximately 1205 mm and a thickness of 90 mm. The amount of material to be processed is therefore enormous, one solution is to use our CNC robot. As noted in the drawing, we can produce items 1, 2 and 3 (raw material ring) by means of build-up welding and thus achieve high savings in raw material costs. The raw material still has an outside diameter of 1205 mm, but the height of the material has been reduced from 90 mm to 60 mm. That would be a 33% reduction in material costs. In combination with an exchangeable milling spindle, the workpiece can be machined directly after application.

This brief insight into the applications of CNC robots in additive manufacturing only covers a small part of the many possibilities. If you have any questions about the use of our CNC robots, we will be happy to provide you with information and support you in your project idea with our extensive knowledge. Contact us.

Application example

Component drawing for additive manufacturing | MABI Robotic AG Pre- and post-processing of the workpiece | MABI Robotic AG Milling and welding with the MAX100 CNC robot | MABI Robotic AG

Frequently asked questions

What advantages do industrial robots from MABI Robotic offer for the additive manufacturing of components?

With additive manufacturing processes such as 3D printing in machines developed for this purpose, you are very limited in terms of size. With our robot, you have a larger working area and can also weld thickenings or extensions on large components. The process itself can also be carried out with different variants, such as with the Laser Metal Deposit (LMD) process, Wire-based Laser Metal Deposit (LMD-w) or with a MIG/MAG welding machine. As our robot can be equipped with a milling spindle, we have the advantage of being able to carry out the post-processing part of additive manufacturing at the same time. By switching between the deposition welding head and the milling spindle, complicated manufacturing processes can be carried out in a single cell. Further advantages are the CNC control, the high repeat accuracy and the kinematics optimized for milling processes.


How do CNC robots support the additive manufacturing of metal components and what role does the CNC control system play in this?

The CNC robots can build up workpieces completely layer by layer or only extend sections. For example, a surface could be welded onto a large pipe and then directly milled and drilled cleanly with the milling spindle. This eliminates the need for additional parts that would otherwise have to be produced. The CNC control contributes greatly to a smooth workflow. With standard robots, you would have to teach the program, which leads to longer set-up times. A CNC robot can be programmed like a CNC machine on a PC and then carries out the specified machining operations. There is less downtime and the combination of milling spindle and application head can handle two processes in one machine.


Can cost optimization be achieved with additive manufacturing using CNC robots?

Cost optimization can certainly be achieved with robots, but you have to work out how high the cost reduction will be for each product or project. For workpieces such as a propeller or turbine blades, for example, it can be advantageous to weld the blades and then machine everything with a milling tool. This can save material and machining time. The ability to use different tools and processes means that some jobs can be processed in a single cell. Workpieces that were previously transported to a milling machine after welding are now milled in the cell. The milling machine therefore has capacity for other jobs.