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How DIY are cobots today?

Coby CNC

Author

Annemie Vermeulen

Published on

May 7, 2024

The collaborative robot, or cobot, is a rising star in the robotics industry. Massive developments in both technology and software make cobots easier to implement than ever. No longer the exclusive field of engineers and technicians, small-to-medium sized businesses can now get their own CNC automation up and running in a matter of hours. Has the DIY revolution in CNC arrived?

Can I really do it all by myself?

The big difference between collaborative robots and industrial robots is the fact that cobots share their work environment with human workers. They bridge the gap between full manual assembly and automated manufacturing lines. Cobots do not require any safety infrastructure or complex integration and can be handled with relative ease.

But we are still talking about a complex interplay between hardware and software. Can a beginner without any technical background get his or her CNC automation started from scratch?

The answer is a resounding "yes."

Though the technology behind cobots has improved rapidly, up until recently you would still need an external installer to set up your automation. Moreover, operating a cobot required prior experience in CNC automation - an operator with a technical background was recommended.

Together with the price tag, these factors made it challenging for small-to-medium sized companies to invest in robotics solutions.

But those limits have become a thing of the past. The new generation of cobots is designed and developed with the user in mind. Every kind of user.

Installation

Convenience starts with the installation process. Today’s cobots require little more than plug-and-play. Thanks to their compact size, they arrive in a single crate, ready to go, no assembly needed. Just position the cobot next to your CNC machine, calibrate, and start programming your first tasks.

Programming

The days of hiring a professional robotic programmer to set up your operation are over. How-to guides, interactive tutorials and online tools aid users in setting up their CNC automation themselves.

Operation

The power of a cobot lies in its software which has become far more accessible and user-friendly. Because cobots are self-learning through continuous feedback, it takes little effort to get them up to speed. Operators can physically guide their movement and the cobot will automatically remember what it has to do to complete the task at hand.

Flexibility, affordability and effective high-mix/low volume production have always been the main selling points of collaborative robots. Thanks to breakthroughs in AI and software, you can now add convenience and user-friendliness to the mix.

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