Robot milling!!

  • Hi - I have a good heavy duty robot (Motoman UP130). I am interested in learning what it would take to set it up for Milling soft materials. I have a spindle and can mount it to the robot. I have some light experience with Fusion 360 CAD/CAM. Can anyone give me an idea of what I would need (guessing expensive software) and what it might cost? Thanks

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  • What kind of milling? 2D, 2.5D, fancy 5-axis-CNC equivalent?

    Yeah, the software for doing this is usually pretty pricey. SPRUTCAM, RobotMaster, Grasshopper&Rhino, are a few that come to mind. And Motoman might have their own G-Code translator -- that might be worth looking into.

    I don't know Motoman's programming language, but for simple 2D stuff, it might be possible to write a script on your computer that will convert simple "vanilla" G-Code into the robot's programming language. It would be pretty primitive, but might serve for very simple programs, or as a learning exercise. But for anything complex, you need a full-up spatial simulation that has accurate models for your robot and its tooling. And even then, given that robots are far less rigid and accurate than CNC machines, you will not get the same results you would expect from a CNC. There will always be some degree of tweaking involved.

  • Hi there,

    You should also consider RoboDK.
    It's an offline programming software that only cost 3000$ (believe me, it's nothing compared to the price of their competitor that can go up to 30 000$ or even more.)
    You can download a free version on their software. The only limitation is that you can't generate code of more than 50 lines (with the free version), but if you contact them, they should be able to give you a 30-day unlimited trial (it's what they did for me).

    They can natively accept some G-code (.gcode, .nc and .atp if I'm not wrong). They also have a few plugins for CAD/CAM software.
    Fusion is not officially supported yet, but last time I talk with the guys, they told me that they will roll it out in the next month or so.

    Have a great day.

  • Hi,

    im a newbie with robots and been trying to google things like hell during the past few days.. Im planning to buy a used Kuka robot for milling wood in 3d, but i still need to get some answers.

    The needed software setup is the most difficult part to figure out, so please help me out

    - Fusion 360 is a little familar from the past, its chepa and works fine so I planned to create my designs with that. I guess I can export the model and import it to RoboDK

    - For the robot simulating I planned to use RoboDK (is there any similar software in this pricerange..?). I guess I can import the model to RoboDK and create/simulate the routing paths with it quite easily..??

    - The next step is a mystery to me.. can I drive the Kuka straight from RoboDK by feeding the routing paths to it or how??? In G-code or what? Or do I need something like Kuka Sunrise etc.

    - If I by a used robot, I assume it includes the software for controller and other hardware that comes with the robot

    Thank you for the answers and tips!!!

  • Hi there,

    If you use Fusion 360 to create your machining path, you can use RoboDK's plugin to automatically transfer the part and the program from one software to the other. It will automatically create a machining project in RoboDK.

    If you use any other CAM software, you can simply drag and drop a GCode file (.gcode, .nc, .apt, etc.) in RoboDK to create a machining project.

    Once the Machining project is created with the machining program, you can adjust settings like tool orientation and spindle activation.

    You can drive the Kuka robot directly from RoboDK. If you choose that path, RoboDK will stream the movement command one by one to the robot controller.
    Considering the general size of a machining project, another option would be to simply generate the .src file (Kuka program) from RoboDK and copy it to your robot controller.

    Have a great day.


    RoboDK - Simulation and Offline programming software for industrial and collaborative robots.

    Visit us at
    Take a look at our tutorial videos on our YouTube channel.

  • Thanks Jeremy,

    your answer opens up a lot! Million questions in my head, but trying to figure out the main process here..

    Purchasing the right type of used Kuka robot + controller is problematic too, so if anyone has suggestions what to buy or not, I'm all ears : )


  • The question what is you budget?, what kind of quality are you expecting? what product sizes do you want to mill? do you have a preferred brand you like to work with?

    There is a great topic on what to watch out for when buying a used robot so i sugest you read that:

    Tips for buying used robots

    Also i would like to point out that a system like this is not really plug and play. Especially when starting with a used robot. so expect doing a lot of research in how robots work from installation to programming. This usually comes with some frustrations :wallbash:. Getting proper training can help a lot if you have the budget and time for it

    Every problem has a solution, that isn't the problem. The problem is the solution.

  • Thanks for the comment!

    The budget for the robot is something like 8-12k€ (can you get anything really at this price..?), because its about 20k€ for the whole workshop and it should include the robot. It´s hard to decide how to divide the budget when you don´t know the robot prices. Anyhow, I´m going to mill parts for the furnitures in 3D etc.

    I guess I´m going with Kuka brand, it feels right after small research. Information is available quite well

    And that´s a good point. I´ve been working as an electrican for over six years in substation environment and I don´t really feel too bad about the hardware installations, but the software is quite complicated. Still F360 and RoboDK feels like you can learn if you work for it.

    It´s difficult to inspect the robot before buying, because there are not too many sellers in my caountry Finland -> I guess I´ll have to order it abroad. I also asked for a quote from Kuka about the overhauled used robot

  • Well i got my first robot for i think it was €2.5K. but i have to say it was not in great condition. so before is was up and running i think we spend in total around €15k. This includes a spindle with toolchange capability, fences, safety gates and some foundation work. You would not want your robot falling over.

    So if you are interested in kuka at miminal buy a KRC2 ed05 and try to stay away from VKRC and other different models. KRC2 are still supported by kuka and there is the most information available

    Every problem has a solution, that isn't the problem. The problem is the solution.

  • That was pretty much the answer I was looking for. Ofcourse, I would like to have a brand new but you have to start somewhere.. Kuka also anwered me, the overhauled bots are in 10-12k€ category, but the accuracy is not too great because they are usually combined from different used robotparts. Still I could learn with these and wood allways need some finishing work anyway so..

    Now I have to think about the options :bur2:

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