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How Painting Robots Are Changing the Face of Industrial Coating

How Painting Robots Are Changing the Face of Industrial Coating

Industry insights

9 Jul 2024

What Are Industrial Coatings?

Industrial coatings are specialized paints and varnishes designed to protect and enhance the durability of materials, particularly those used in industrial applications. Unlike regular paints used in residential or commercial settings, industrial coatings offer advanced protection. 

These coatings fight environmental factors such as corrosion, abrasion, and chemical exposure while preventing damage from factors like moisture, UV radiation, and industrial chemicals. Additionally, these coatings are essential in maintaining structural integrity and extending the lifespan of various machinery, equipment, and infrastructure components.

Common types of industrial coatings include epoxy, polyurethane, and alkyd coatings. Each type offers unique properties tailored to specific applications, such as high resistance to wear and tear, flexibility, or chemical stability.

What Are Painting Robots and How Are They Used?

Painting robots are advanced systems designed to automate the above-discussed process. These robots have precision coating mechanisms, articulated arms, and sophisticated control systems.

They ensure high accuracy and consistency in painting tasks and are widely used in automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing industries where quality finishing, and efficiency are crucial. Industrial painting robots are programmed with specific parameters, including paint type, coating thickness, and application patterns. Using sensors and machine vision, they adjust movements in real time for optimal coverage and minimal waste. 

Painting robots can operate in hazardous environments, reducing health risks for workers and maintaining continuous, fatigue-free operation. This increased productivity and consistent quality makes painting robots a transformative technology in industrial coatings.

Types of Painting Robots

The demands in industries are extensive. Different applications require different types of painting methods for optimal results. Robotic technology has advanced so much that painting robots have evolved to perform a variety of painting types. Here are the most common types of painting robots:

1. Spray Painting Robots: Spray painting robots are designed to apply paint or coatings uniformly across various surfaces. These robots are equipped with advanced sensors and software that enable precise movements. This ensures an even application and minimizes overspray. As a result, you can see a significant reduction in paint waste and a more consistent finish.

Robotic paint sprayers can handle complex geometries and various surface types. They are one of the most versatile robots and are used for different industrial applications. They are widely used in automotive, aerospace, and consumer goods manufacturing. 

These robots are a good bid where precision and quality are paramount. The robots' ability to maintain the highest standards of quality for each product makes them reliable.

2. Powder Coating Robotst: Powder coating robots specialize in applying powdered paint to surfaces. These robots are ideal for achieving durable and high-quality finishes on various materials, including metals and plastics. The powder coating process is known for its efficiency and environmental benefits because it produces less waste and does not require solvents.

In this type, you get consistent thickness and coverage, which is critical for protective and decorative coatings. They are particularly beneficial in industries such as automotive and heavy machinery manufacturing. That is because these industries need durability and corrosion resistance. And powder-coating robots provide that.

How Painting Robots Work

There are many ways a painting robot can work based on how they are programmed. But for now, we will talk about vision-guided painting robots. These painting robots operate through programmed instructions. The process typically involves several steps:

1. 3D Scanning:
The workpiece is scanned using 3D scanning technology, regardless of its position or movement on the conveyor. It creates a detailed map of the area to be painted.

2. Path Planning with Conveyor Tracking:

The painting path is planned using software that optimizes the route for maximum efficiency and coverage. Conveyor tracking lets the robot synchronize its movement with the speed and trajectory of the moving conveyor. 

3. Simulation:
The planned path and conveyor are simulated in a virtual environment. Any timing mismatches or path deviations are identified and rectified in this step.

4. Execution:
The program is fed into the robot and executes the painting task, following the pre-planned path with high precision. It also adjusts its speed and position to the moving workpiece on the conveyor.

This workflow ensures that every surface is painted uniformly, reducing the need for rework and improving overall quality.This makes the painting consistent in all areas.

One of the key components of a painting robot is the end-effector. This comes at the end of the robot arm. It could be a spray atomizer (also called the spray gun), fluid dispenser, or other equipment based on the process undertaken. This is the part that does the actual painting.

The robotic arm then moves according to the programmed path. Sensors on the robot monitor have various parameters, such as paint flow rate. The cost of painting robots varies depending on their complexity and capabilities. Basic models may start at around $50,000. In addition to basic features, advanced systems can cost as much as $200,000.

Despite the initial investment, the long-term benefits of increased efficiency, reduced waste, and improved safety make painting robots a worthwhile investment for many industries.

Benefits of Using Painting Robots

There are several benefits of automating painting operations via robots:


1. Efficiency:
Painting robots can operate continuously without fatigue. They are capable of working around the clock, ensuring that deadlines are met without compromising quality. The consistent performance of painting robots reduces downtime and increases overall productivity.

2. Precision and cost-saving:
These robots can apply paint with remarkable accuracy. This precision reduces the amount of paint used and minimizes waste, leading to cost savings. By maintaining a consistent thickness and coverage, painting robots help ensure that products meet stringent quality standards.

3. Safety
By automating the painting process, robots reduce the exposure of human workers to hazardous environments. This leads to a safer workplace and fewer health risks associated with paint fumes and chemicals. Painting robots are equipped with safety features such as collision detection and emergency stop functions. This further enhances workplace safety.

4. Flexibility
Painting robots can be programmed to handle a wide variety of tasks, from simple to complex surfaces. They can easily adapt to different shapes, sizes, and types of surfaces, making them versatile tools in any manufacturing environment. Some painting robots have color change valves that allow automated color change during painting. This flexibility allows manufacturers to use the same robot for multiple applications, reducing the need for major changes.

Applications of Painting Robots in Different Industries

Painting robots have found application across various industries, each domain benefiting uniquely from their capabilities:

1. Automotive
In the automotive industry, painting robots are essential for achieving high-quality finishes on car bodies. These robots ensure a uniform coat of paint, which enhances both the aesthetic appeal and durability of vehicles.

By automating the painting process, manufacturers can achieve consistent results while reducing waste and process time. The robots are capable of reaching intricate areas and applying paint evenly, which is crucial for preventing corrosion and extending the vehicle's lifespan. 

2. General Manufacturing
In general manufacturing, painting robots are used to coat a variety of products, from consumer goods to industrial machinery. Just like in the automotive industry, these robots can handle complex geometries and ensure even coverage, which is often challenging with manual painting methods.

The flexibility of painting robots allows them to be easily reprogrammed for different tasks, making them a valuable asset in a dynamic manufacturing environment where product designs and requirements frequently change.

3. Aerospace
The aerospace industry benefits greatly from the precision and efficiency of painting robots. These robots apply protective coatings to aircraft components, safeguarding them against extreme environmental conditions such as high altitudes and varying temperatures. 

The consistent application of coatings ensures that aircraft parts are adequately protected from corrosion and wear. This is critical for maintaining safety and performance. Painting robots also enhance productivity by significantly reducing the time required for coating applications, allowing aerospace manufacturers to meet strict production schedules. 

4. Electronics
In the electronics industry, painting robots are used to apply protective and decorative coatings to various components, including circuit boards and casings. These coatings are crucial for shielding sensitive electronic parts from environmental factors like moisture, dust, and electromagnetic interference.

Painting robots help maintain the functionality and longevity of electronic devices. The precision of these robots allows for coating even the smallest and most intricate components accurately. Automation in this sector not only improves the quality of the coatings but also increases efficiency and reduces the likelihood of defects.

5. Construction
The construction industry utilizes painting robots to coat large surfaces such as walls, ceilings, and structural elements. These robots can handle extensive and repetitive tasks without compromising on consistent and high-quality finishes. 

They are particularly useful in projects requiring large-scale applications, such as commercial buildings and infrastructure projects. By automating the painting process, construction companies can save time and achieve superior results. 

Top 5 Painting Robots for Enhanced Efficiency

Let’s see the best five painting robots in the market along with some of their advanced technological features.

KUKA KR Agilus EX
The KUKA KR Agilus is renowned for its precision and versatility in industrial painting. Its advanced software capabilities enable seamless integration into automated systems. The KR Agilus EX is the fireproof variant which is ideal for potentially explosive atmospheres. 

Kawasaki KJ264
The Kawasaki KJ264 is a painting robot that comes under the explosion-proof painting robot category. It achieves high precision and even coating applications through powerful programming flexibility. The robot provides real-time status and access to important production information such as errors, paint consumption, modification, etc.

ABB IRB 5400
ABB's IRB 5400 is an EX-classified (resistant to explosions) robot series that offers high acceleration and can handle heavy loads. This robot is equipped with ABB's Integrated Process System (IPS). This optimizes the spray pattern and reduces overspray for a quality finish.

Yaskawa MPX3500
The Yaskawa MPX3500 delivers superior path performance in high-volume painting applications. It offers a high-speed, 6-axis motion ideal for contoured surfaces. The robot's streamlined arm design minimizes interference and allows for better access to hard-to-reach areas. Yaskawa's advanced Dx-200-FM controller ensures precise motion control and optimal paint application. 

Fanuc CRX-10iA/L Paint
This one is designed specifically for adherence to stringent explosion-proof safety standards. The CRX-10iA/L Paint can handle both powder and liquid coating and is equipped with advanced safety features. It offers drag-and-drop programming and maintenance-free operation for up to 8 years.

Autonomous Painting Robots: The Future of Industrial Coating

Autonomous painting robots powered by AI and machine learning are set to revolutionize the coating industry. These robots will become even more adaptive, learning from their environments to optimize painting processes with minimal human intervention. 

Future robots will feature heavy-duty applications with enhanced sensors and feedback systems. This is expected to allow them to adapt instantly to changes for superior precision and consistency. As technology continues to advance, these robots will become even more sophisticated, offering greater capabilities and further transforming the manufacturing landscape. The future of industrial coating lies in adopting autonomous painting robots.

How to Program A Painting Robot

Programming a painting robot has become increasingly streamlined with advancements in software and technology. Different programming software uses different methods. Augmentus’ offline robot programming software simplifies the process into four key steps:

1. Scan:

Using 3D scanners to create a detailed map of the surface geometrics to be painted. It can scan up to 0.1mm accuracy resulting in a highly accurate representation of the area for better finish.

2. Plan:

Operators can select the painting surface and develop an optimized painting path to reach the surface using advanced software tools. This step involves setting process parameters such as step distance, density, offset, speed, and wait to ensure optimal coverage. The Augmentus software allows fine-tuning of robot motion through waypoints and adjustments.

3. Simulate:

Testing the planned path in a virtual environment to identify and rectify any potential issues like singularity, collisions, and reachability. Simulation allows cycle time calculation and adjustments before the actual painting process begins. This reduces the risk of errors and rework.

4. Deploy
Implementing the program on the robot to execute the painting task with high precision. This step includes fine-tuning the robot’s movements and settings to achieve consistent results. This fine-tuned program can be easily transferred to the controller via FTP or USB.

5. Autonomous Adaptation:
This master program is used in the production and works precisely. It covers all the painting areas without any flaws. And even in the case of disparities, the system instantly identifies and adapts the robot’s motion.

This approach ensures that the robot can handle complex geometries and variability in the painting process, reducing the need for manual intervention. By leveraging 3D scanning and simulation, manufacturers can achieve precise and uniform coatings, improving product quality and reducing waste. And do all this 30 times faster.

Choosing the Right Robotic Painting System for Your Needs

Selecting the right robotic painting system involves several key considerations:

Task Complexity: Opt for robots with advanced motion control for intricate work.

Precision Requirements: Choose high-resolution sensors for uniform coatings.

Integration Capabilities: Ensure compatibility with existing process lines and software.

Flexibility and Scalability: Look for adaptable systems for various tasks and growth.

Cost vs. ROI: Weigh system cost against efficiency, waste reduction, and quality improvements.

Ease of Programming: Prefer systems with user-friendly and flexible programming options.

Surface Compatibility: Ensure the robot can handle different surface types effectively.

Durability: Select robust robots suitable for harsh industrial environments.

Support and Maintenance: Consider availability of technical support and ease of maintenance.

By choosing a system tailored to your needs, you can enhance productivity, reduce costs, and maintain high-quality standards in your painting processes.

Conclusion

Painting robots reduce human error, minimize waste (by up to 30%), and ensure consistent quality. This makes them invaluable assets across various industries, including automotive, aerospace, and general manufacturing.


The programming of painting robots has been simplified through innovative software solutions like Augmentus’ offline robot programming. Augmentus streamlines the process from scanning to deployment. By carefully selecting the right robotic painting systems tailored to your specific needs, you can achieve significant improvements in productivity and quality.

Discover how our technology can help your coating processes on the official Augmentus website.

FAQs

What are the key components of a painting robot?
Key components include a robotic arm, end-effector (spray gun or dispenser), sensors, control system, and software for programming and path planning.

How much does a painting robot cost?
Costs range from $50,000 to over $200,000, depending on complexity and features.

What are the safety measures implemented in painting robots?

Safety measures include collision detection, emergency stop functions, enclosed workspaces, and sensors to minimize human exposure to hazardous environments.


How do painting robots improve efficiency?
They operate continuously without fatigue, ensure consistent application, reduce waste, and minimize rework, leading to higher productivity and cost savings.


Can painting robots be used for small-scale projects?
Yes, they can be adapted for small-scale projects. This can offer precision and consistency in various applications.

What industries benefit most from painting robots?
Automotive, aerospace, general manufacturing, electronics, and construction industries benefit significantly from the use of painting robots.