3D Software

New ABB Robotics software enables 3D printing without manual programming

ABB Robotics, the robotics division of Swiss-Swedish multinational electrical equipment firm ABB, has introduced 3D printing software to its robotics simulation program. 

With this new feature, the company states that users will be able to program ABB robots to begin additive manufacturing production in 30 minutes. Available as an add-on in its RobotStudio software, ABB aims to eliminate manual programming for its customers with the new 3D printing software, in order to enable faster prototype production. 

“With our new 3D Printing software, we are offering customers a faster and more streamlined 3D printing process,” states Steven Wyatt, Head of Portfolio and Digital at ABB Robotics and Discrete Automation.

“Coupled with the high performance of our robots, this means manufacturers can now produce high-quality 3D printed objects for a variety of industrial applications more efficiently.”

The usage of ABB robotic arms in the 3D printing industry

Headquartered in Zurich, ABB is a major technology corporation operating mainly in robotics, power, heavy electrical equipment, and automation technology areas, carried out through its various divisions. A global Fortune 500 company, ABB operates in more than 100 countries with about 147,000 employees.

ABB Robotics a division of the company that manufactures robots, and supplies robot software, peripheral equipment, process equipment, modular manufacturing cells and services. Its robots are used for tasks such as welding, material handling, small parts assembly, painting & finishing and more. Key markets for the robots include automotive, plastics, metal fabrication, foundry, solar and consumer electronics. 

ABB’s robotic equipment has seen various applications within the 3D printing sphere. Robotic Additive Manufacturing (RAM) technology developer MX3D, known for its various large-scale additive manufacturing projects, constructed its 12 meter long 3D printed steel bridge using WAAM 3D printing technology attached to ABB robotic arms. Additionally, ABB also provided UK-based infrastructural support service provider Amey with concept drawings for applying 3D printing to train-track renewal services using its robotic arms. 

ABB collaborative robot. Photo via ABB Robotics.
ABB collaborative robot. Photo via ABB Robotics.

Simplifying the robotic digital manufacturing process

ABB’s RobotStudio is a simulation and offline programming software that allows users to program robots on a remote PC without shutting down production. It therefore allows users to perform tasks such as training, programming, and optimization without disturbing production.

The company has now integrated its new 3D printing software into RobotStudio through its PowerPac portfolio of add-ons, which also includes ArcWelding and Machining PowerPacs. The 3D printing PowerPac is designed to overcome the time consumption associated with standard 3D printing methods using machines and robots, which requires the printing paths to be programmed through plotting many points and trajectories. 

Instead, the 3D printing PowerPac is capable of converting standard slicer software design for ABB’s simulation environment and robot code. This helps to simplify the process for operators progressing from the CAD design stage to final modeling of a product, reducing the time it can take. 

ABB's new software for robotics 3D printing. Photo via ABB.
ABB’s new software for programming robots in 3D printing. Photo via ABB.

With the launch of its 3D printing software, ABB has provided background on the introduction of the new feature, pointing to the growth of the 3D printing industry overall: “The 3D printing industry is poised for a period of strong growth, with valuation expected to hit USD 34.8 billion by 2024, owing in part to the development of new industrial-grade 3D printing materials.”

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Featured image shows ABB’s new software for robotics 3D printing. Photo via ABB.