What Are the Typical Polishing Issues That Robots Can Eliminate?

Executing polishing and sanding tasks with power tools can be accompanied by problems. Even highly skilled professionals aren’t immune to errors. But when robots take up these roles, these pesky problems become a thing of the past.

Most of the time, when operators are using power tools to execute finishing tasks, they think their work will be flawless and have consistency with regard to quality, but as time passes, their wrists might start to ache due to strain.

Hence why it’s impossible for companies to maintain consistency in finishing tasks which are done by manual operators. This could be because of an injury or even a loss of concentration by the operator which can cause the quality of the polishing task to be below par.

Using robots is a great way to boost the quality of polishing and sanding tasks. Even better, robot polishing eliminates some of the most common errors that arise when companies attempt to execute polishing and sanding tasks using manual operators.

The Typical Polishing and Sanding Issues That Robots Can Eliminate Include:

The Sanding Syndrome

The most dreaded polishing problem is sanding syndrome. This is a psychological disorder caused by elaborate attention to detail combined with nerve-racking boredom. Symptoms include drooling during work hours, hearing voices, etc.

Boredom is the root cause of most polishing and sanding issues. Therefore, when an operator is bored, it can start to take its toll, especially when they’re around noisy and vibrating polishing tools. On the other hand, robots do not get bored; they just keep performing the same actions over and over again without getting tired.

Edge Rounding

When an operator starts to run a polishing tool along the edge of a workpiece, in a split second, the polishing tool could slant from the surface of the workpiece onto the edge, and the operator might have accidentally rounded the edge of the workpiece. 

Accidental edge rounding is very common when polishing workpieces made from soft materials such as plastic or wood using a rough grit. However, it can also happen to a workpiece made from any material. 

The solution is to maintain the polishing tool precisely square with the workpiece at all times. For us humans, it can be daunting, but for a robot, it comes naturally. 

Sanding Bias

It’s easy for an operator to get drawn to polishing the surface right in front of them. This can cause a “sanding bias,” whereby more attention is paid to one surface of the workpiece because it’s most noticeable. Robots don’t encounter such bias; instead, they stick to the programmed path and follow it until the entire workpiece is complete.

Corner Errors

As illustrated above, it’s easy to round the edges of a workpiece accidentally. But it’s even easier to accidentally round or mess up the corners. Corner errors are especially tricky because they happen very quickly.

When you run a polishing tool around the corner of a workpiece, only a portion of the polishing media is in contact with the workpiece. This means that a massive amount of force is focused on a small area. As a result, material is ejected from that area very quickly. 

Tilting Edge

Titling the edge of the polishing tool is a common mistake operators make. It’s a shortcut because when the edge is tilted, flaws on the surface of a workpiece are eliminated faster.

Tilting wears down the edge of the polishing media, and more importantly, it causes the workpiece to have an inconsistent finish. Robots don’t suffer from the same issue, and they always apply a consistent force on the surface of a workpiece without tilting the tool.

Flaw Fixation

It’s common for us humans to fixate on flaws and ignore our triumphs. This is the case as well with polishing and sanding tasks. Operators tend to focus on the parts of the workpiece with scratches and other pronounced blemishes.

This can be disastrous because if an operator fixates on the flaws too much, they will neglect other parts of the workpiece, which will cause the finished piece to be uneven. Robots eliminate this problem because they offer a consistent finish across the entire workpiece.

Speeding Up

As operators progress with the polishing tasks, it’s explicable that they’ll start to speed up. Once they get tired, they just want to complete the job. This compromises the quality of the workpiece because most manual polishing tools are designed to work slowly.

Therefore, speeding up isn’t a good strategy because the task won’t be completed sooner, and the finished workpiece could have uneven surfaces. Robots don’t have the same problem; they work consistently according to the programmed speeds.

Varying Speeds

This is an extension to speeding up. Varying speed is a problem common when polishing is being done by hand. There are a couple of reasons as to why the speed of an operator could vary, for instance, exhaustion, having to stretch to reach some parts of the workpiece, etc.

On the other hand, robots don’t get tired, and they are flexible enough to reach all surfaces of the workpiece without reducing their speed.

Force Control

When polishing or sanding using a hand tool, an operator doesn’t need to apply more force than the tool’s weight. However, they are unable to limit the force they apply when working on a piece as they attempt to keep the machine steady or speed up the task.

At best, the surface of the workpiece will be uneven; at worst, the motor of the polishing tool will be damaged. Robots have a force control feature which means that they will always use consistent force on all workpieces.

Final Thought

To sum it all up, the root cause of all the problems illustrated above is that manual operators are human. Polishing and sanding tasks are strenuous tasks that require the operator to use consistent force like a robot. But this is not possible because operators are subject to boredom and getting tired. As a result, polishing and sanding tasks should be allocated to robots because they can apply consistent force on all workpieces and ensure the tasks are done on time.