Cost of a large envelope CNC machine typically runs well into six or even seven figures

Skipton-based Thistle Rose Holdings Ltd has adopted an emerging technology -robotic arm machining – to create a machining cell that can machine 6m x 1.8m x 1.8m for a total investment. It includes specialist software for around the cost of an entry level 2m 2.5 axis table.

The hardware involved in the cell was relatively straightforward to select and configure, but choosing the right software was more challenging.

Peter Occardi, Managing Director, Thistle Rose Holdings says, “There are several CAM software available in the market primarily written for gantry machine X, Y, Z, A, B, C movements. The problem with a robotic arm is that to move say in X+ requires all 6-axis to work in harmony – this is a tough call for most CAM software.”

Thistle Rose Holdings evaluated and tested eight different software packages before selecting SprutCAM.

Why SprutCAM?  Peter has very sound reasons.

“As we looked at using a robotic arm, it became clear that simulation was an absolute necessity to ensure that the robot didn’t collide with itself or produce singularities.  Only three pieces of software evaluated this phenomenon.”

There are better-known names in Robotic Software, but after evaluation, SprutCAM came out on top.

“With very large parts to machine, our toolpaths can run into kilometers rather than metres,” says Peter. “We found that SprutCAM calculated the toolpaths and robot axis up to 10 times faster than the competition.”

Thistle Rose started getting results within hours of SprutCAM installation.  SprutCAM was the clear leader based on functionality and cost-effectiveness.

“We all receive ‘demo software’ then find out that to actually attain that level of function requires several pricey bolt-ons,” says Peter, “The delight with SprutCAM was that the 5-axis, complex blank, cell simulation, toolpath optimization, postprocessor coding etc were all in the basic robotic package. Comparing like-for-like, SprutCAM was the best economic choice as well as the best for functionality and performance.”

“Throughout evaluation, commissioning, post install, training etc support from Sprut Technology UK has been superb, for once I don’t grudge paying an optional maintenance fee,” says Peter.

Thistle Rose is extremely happy with their SprutCAM purchase and the tools and efficiency within the Software.  As an expansion path there is even the possibility to utilise the licence with other machines, which all bodes well for the future use of the software by Thistle Rose Holdings Ltd.