Table of Contents

cnc robotics meets cnc machining

CNC Robotics Meets CNC Machining: Maximize Production Efficiency

CNC robotics are fast becoming an indispensable part of modern manufacturing, transforming how CNC machine shops operate over the past years. Incorporating CNC robotics into the machining industry contributes significantly to its success. More so, CNC technology incorporation is one of the pivotal factors contributing to the success of the robotics industry today.

Even though these two technologies continue to overlap, their differences gradually become insignificant—the manufacturing sector benefits from this robotics integration. Also, robotics are the ideal option for automation in product manufacturing. CNC manufacturing robotics help industrial companies overcome manufacturing complications, maintain quality control, and reduce waste.

This guide explores the essence of CNC robotics, why CNC machining is ideal for producing robotic parts, and the symbiotic relationship between Robotics and CNC machines. You’ll also learn about the robotics used in CNC machining and compare the two technologies. Let’s get to it!

The Essence of CNC Robotics

cnc robots work
CNC Robots Work

CNC robotics includes any computer-controlled device used to execute different machining tasks. A CNC robot is any innovative equipment engineered specifically for increased efficiency in CNC machining operations like drilling, milling, and welding. Such robots follow programmed protocols (g-code) in handling different projects and do not require any input from personnel in most cases.

A typical robotic system is the Haas robot package in the Haas machine. The package includes necessary solenoids, plug-and-play capabilities, safety guarding, an electrical interface box, and a software interface for direct control through Haas machines.

Manufacturers benefit from increased automation due to CNC robotics because it ensures mass production of high-quality parts. Not only do CNC machines benefit from robotic implementation, but robot parts manufacturing is one of the typical applications of CNC machining.

Why CNC Machining is Ideal for Producing Robotic Parts

cnc machine
CNC Machine

There are various reasons why CNC machining is pivotal to robotic parts production aside from the economic advantages of the process. Below are some of these reasons:

The Speed Advantage: Rapid Production of Robotic Components

cnc machined robot component
CNC Machined Robot Component

CNC machining is famous for its ability to produce components within shorter lead times. CNC machines are relatively quicker than several other manufacturing techniques. As a result, automated machining offers rapid iterations and delivery of custom robotic parts for varying applications.

However, CNC machining can produce robotic components within 1-3 days, depending on the size and complexities involved.

Ensuring Dimensional Accuracy for High-Performing Robots

Manufacturing precision is a primary requirement in robotic parts production. This is because dimensional accuracy is critical in developing high-performing CNC robots. However, CNC machining is a versatile process that engineers use to manufacture robots and parts that meet specifications.

CNC precision machining offers robot parts with tight tolerances up to +/- 0.0002 inches. Therefore, it can machine components with accurate and repeatable movements.

Material Compatibility: Crafting Durable Robot Parts

The ability of any CNC machine to work with an extensive range of metals and plastics is another significant advantage. Robot parts must have seamless movement and can lift and transfer objects.

Consequently, these robot parts may require strong, stiff materials with outstanding strength-to-weight ratios. CNC machining is ideal for crafting durable parts for the robotics industry since CNC machines are compatible with the needed materials.

Achieving the Desired Surface Finish for Robotic Interactions

CNC machining is the ideal method for your robotic parts if you need to achieve a preferred surface finish for better robotic interactions. CNC machines are effective for crafting robotic parts with a surface roughness range of Ra 0.8 µm or lower for interacting robot parts with low friction requirements.

Additionally, CNC parts are compatible with post-processing surface finishing operations. It helps to improve the aesthetic appeal and functionality of CNC-machined robot parts.

The Symbiotic Relationship between CNC Machining and Robotics

CNC machining and robotics maintain a mutually beneficial relationship as both worlds overlap. CNC parts are well-suited for robotic applications, while the manufacturing processes benefit from robotic implementation. This section discusses these angles extensively:

Common Robotic Parts Produced Using CNC Machining

CNC machining remains the most cost-effective technology for crafting various robotic parts. Below are some of the common CNC robotic parts made with CNC machining processes:

CNC Robotic Arm: The Core of Many Industrial Robots

cnc robotic arm
CNC Robotic Arm

Robotic arms, like human arms, are vital parts that help execute different operations. Even though engineers first designed it to automate the die-casting process, the CNC robot arm is now a significant part of many devices used in various industries, including pick-and-place machines, CNC machines, material handling devices, etc.

Generally, their designs often involve high-strength materials like steel, aluminium, and certain plastics since their primary applications involve moving objects. Moreover, the material versatility of CNC machines renders them perfect for machining robot arms.

End Effectors: The Versatile Attachments for Robotic Arms

end effectors
End Effectors

These devices are flexible attachments joined to the end of robotic arms. They assist the robot in executing multiple tasks and interacting with different objects. End effectors are generally available with varying designs and functions. These include grabbers, vacuums, suction pumps, and grippers. Most especially, CNC machines are suitable for making these attachments irrespective of their design and functionality.

Product engineers and designers often machine end effectors with varying surface roughness considering the functional requirement. For instance, CNC machines can achieve surface roughness up to Ra 0.8µm in machined parts. As a result, CNC machining is a perfect production process for making end effectors with smooth surface finish.

Custom Jigs and Fixtures: Essential for Robot Operations

custom jigs and fixtures
custom jigs and fixtures

Custom jigs and fixtures are essential requirements in most robot operations. They are responsible for holding the workpiece in position as the robot executes tasks on them. Fixtures help to locate workpieces precisely during machining operations.

Since these custom parts are essential for robot operations, CNC machining technology is cost-effective and offers the required machining tolerances.

Sensors and Controllers: The Brain Behind Robotic Movements

sensors and controllers 1
Sensors and Controllers

Sensors and controllers are fundamental components of many robots and automation devices. These components comprise printed circuit boards (PCBs), which are pivotal for their operations.

Although chemical etching is the commonly used technique for making PCBs, the chemical substance used is harmful. It can cause complications such as skin irritation and increased iron build-up in the body.

Meanwhile, CNC machining prevents the challenges associated with the technique. CNC machines create components to size and shape without using the porous ferritic chloride as in chemical etching.

Types of Robots Utilized in CNC Machining

Below are some of the typical robotics used in CNC machining processes:

Articulated Robots: Flexibility in Motion

Articulated robots are the most widely used type of robot in industries. They comprise rotary joints, often called axes. Some articulated robots feature simple two-axis structures, while others possess complex structures with 10 or more axes. All robotic axes provide greater freedom, ensuring the independent motions of respective robots.

articulated robots
Articulated Robots

The improved motion and flexibility range of articulated robots make them perfect for handling different workpieces irrespective of their size. Typical applications of articulated robots include:

  • Assembly
  • Material handling
  • Machine loading
  • Part transfer and packaging
  • Arc welding
  • Machine loading

SCARA Robots: Speed and Precision Combined

scara robots
SCARA Robots

Selective Compliance Articulated Robot Arm robots are four-axis robots that handle high-speed and repeated operations. These robots function like human arms but deliver incredible speed and precision. Especially, SCARA robots provide compact footprints, allowing them to handle low payloads.

These robots possess excellent swiftness and efficiency that help reduce costs, improve productivity, and ensure worker safety. Some of the standard applications of SCARA include:

  • Pick and place
  • Machining
  • Assembly operations
  • Packaging
  • Inspections

Delta Robots: Unique Design for Specific Tasks

delta robots
Delta Robots

These types of robots are parallel-type industrial robots utilized in high-speed applications in the manufacturing field. Delta robots are usually attached to the top of work areas, which are conveyors that transfer products down the production lines. Their name originated from their distinct upside-down triangular shoes.

This unique configuration and mechanical design give Delta robots a significant edge over other robots. Below are typical uses applications that utilize the strength of delta robots:

  • Pick and place
  • Assembly
  • Disassembly
  • Packaging
  • Sorting

Gantry or Cartesian Robots: Precision in Linear Movements

gantry or cartesian robots
Gantry or Cartesian Robots

Gantry robots are linear industrial robots that work on three axes using the X, Y, and Z Cartesian Coordinate systems. These robots are widely utilized due to their highly flexible configurations. You can easily modify the robot’s speed, precision, stroke length, and size.

Gantry or Cartesian robots are usually larger and have higher range and payload. As a result, they are perfect for working workpieces heavier than average. Here are typical applications that use these robots:

  • Material Handling
  • Assembly
  • Loading and unloading
  • Fastening and screw driving
  • Pick and place systems
  • Cutting-Laser and Waterjet
  • Packaging

Comparing CNC Machines and CNC Robotics

cnc robot

The quality and performance of these technologies differ regardless of the operations they can perform. Here are some of the critical features of these CNC technologies:

Accuracy: How Precise Can They Get?

Machining accuracy or precision is a crucial quality used to gauge any machine’s performance. CNC robot accuracies have improved considerably over the years as industrial robots can achieve precision between 0.1 and 0.2 mm.

Meanwhile, cutting-edge CNC machines can achieve a 0.02 to 0.05 mm precision. Swiss lathe machines can reach a precision of up to +/- 0.0002 mm. The robotic industry specializes more in repeatability since the calibration of robots determines their accuracy.

Versatility: Adapting to Various Machining Needs

The increased versatility of robots is another top benefit. CNC robots facilitate a seamless transition from one task to another and perform multiple tasks concurrently. In comparison, CNC machines can efficiently execute specific operations like turning, milling, drilling, etc. CNC robotics can perform the same tasks simultaneously.

Robots can move along several complex paths. Conversely, CNC machines usually have three or four degrees of freedom, which is adequate for multiple machining operations. However, the CNC machine can be quite limiting in this area. Hence, industrial robots cater to machining needs since some have more than six degrees of freedom. Consequently, you can achieve any desired shape and size.

Rigidity: Ensuring Stability during Operations

The accuracy of a machine tool is usually dependent on its rigidity. Tools with low rigidity are likely to deflect when machining hard materials, resulting in inaccurate cuts. Robots have lesser rigidity than traditional CNC machine tools, with a stiffness level of less than 1 Newton per micrometer. Conversely, CNC machines possess a rigidity above 50 Newton per micrometer.

CNC robotic machining handles softer materials such as wood and plastics easily. However, it can handle materials such as aluminum and steel, but the motors may have backlash.

Workspace: Catering to Different Project Sizes

CNC robots offer larger workspaces even though there are specific CNC machines with remarkable workspace sizes. Medium-sized robots often possess a work envelope of about 7 cubic meters. Robots aid the easy addition of an external axis to extend their workspaces more.

Affordability: Getting Value for Money

Both CNC machines and robots can be costly. However, robotics offers outstanding benefits over these machine tools. These include their large workspace and versatility. CNC robots can execute multiple operations on any size, shape, and complexity of workpieces. Therefore, they offer more value for money.

The Future: Will CNC Robotics Replace CNC Machines?

cnc robot
CNC Robot

Regardless of the many advantages of CNC manufacturing robotics, the greater precision and speed of modern CNC machines supersede that of CNC robots. Robots are highly efficient and flexible enough to adapt to execute different functions. Nevertheless, CNC machines are specialized and ideal for creating any custom part.

Besides, CNC robotics are yet to match the accuracy and speed of Swiss Lathe machining systems and CNC milling machines. Their low rigidity attribute is a significant limitation because it reduces the accuracy they can achieve when working with hard materials.

Although CNC robotics continues gaining popularity across industries, it would be best to understand that it may never replace CNC machines entirely. However, various companies now integrate different machines and robots in manufacturing. Both function harmoniously to increase productivity and reduce production time. Hence, CNC robotics handle complex automation operations as CNC machines handle repetitive machining operations, ensuring increased efficiency.


CNC robotics is an ideal example of next-generation technology in manufacturing. Integrating CNC machines and robots helps maximize production efficiency in fabricating parts. While CNC machines drive the manufacturing of robots for various applications, combining these technologies offers more efficiency. These technologies have distinct benefits as they also have aspects where they are comparable. However, they provide outstanding results when merged. AT-Machining is the one-stop shop for CNC machining robotics and automation parts.

your one stop machine shop for quality cnc machining services
On-demand CNC Machining Services from China

AT-Machining is a top CNC machining services provider with solutions for your CNC robotics needs. We leverage our modern CNC machining technologies, highly skilled and certified engineers, and machinists to create your robotics and automation parts with high precision and cost-effectiveness. We are confident of our capabilities and ensure we deliver products that meet your requirements. Let’s discuss the details of your next project. Contact us today to get a free quotation!

photo 2

Hey there, I’m Sam!

From AT-Machining, I’m a CNC Machining Expert in this field for more than 20 years.  We offer cost-effective machining services from China. Ask for a quote for your ongoing or upcoming projects now!

Best Regards, Sam, Co-Founder

AT Machining

On-demand CNC Machining With Custom Finishes. You Design It, We'll Make It.