We’ve reached a point where its actually pretty easy to build special purpose robots for various manufacturing tasks. For example, here is a robot that cuts off blocks of resistors from the rolls that feed pick and place machines. It’s used to put together parts packages for electronics kits (hat tip to MAKE Magazine for this video):


Some of my other long-time favorites are this little CNC punch press:

It’s hand powered and just uses the CNC to position the material. I’d love to have a positioner like that with some sort of universal clamping system so I could move it around the workshop and use it where needed for various tasks.

Or how about this cool little CNC-automated bandsaw for cutting off small pieces of stock:


It would be very cool to create a clamp-on attachment like that for my big Delta Rockwell vertical bandsaw. Give it a big bar of material and have it cut it to whatever dimensions I please while I’m doing something else in the shop.

I was recently talking with a machinist friend about the idea of creating a bar feeder for a CNC mill using technology similar to the little bandsaw. If you have a “gripper” on the spindle that is actuated by an air cylinder, and a second one on the end of the table, you can use the machine’s axis movements to do the work. Likely a hydraulic machining vise would help too.


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