Sanding robots: An easy guide for your factory floor

August 10, 2023
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Types of industrial Sanding robots 

So you’re in the market for an industrial Sanding robot. There are a few types of Sanding robots to consider based on your needs.

  • Cartesian robots: Cartesian robots move along three linear axes (X, Y, Z) and are simple but versatile. They’re often used for large, flat surface pieces where the Sanding robot needs to cover a wide area. Cartesian robots can utilize a range of end-effectors like buffing pads, sanding disks, and polishing wheels. 
  • SCARA robots: With their articulated arm motion, SCARA (“Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm”) robots are ideal for fast, repetitive polishing tasks. They provide more flexibility than Cartesian robots but typically have a smaller range of motion and are thus appropriate only for small parts. SCARA robots are a popular choice for polishing curved or irregular surfaces and are a good choice for abrasive belt sanding.
  • Articulated robots: With multiple rotary joints, Articulated robots can handle the most complex polishing applications. They offer a wide range of motion for difficult-to-reach areas and are great for precise random orbital sanding. However, Articulated robots typically require more advanced programming and often have a higher cost. They are well-suited to handle various end-effectors for grinding, sanding, buffing and polishing.

When evaluating Sanding robots, consider the types of surfaces and materials you want to sand, the size and shape of the parts, production volume, required finish quality, and available floor space. 

End-effectors for sanding

To get started, you’ll need to determine which type of end-effector, or “sanding tool”, will work best for your needs. The term ‘end-effector’ refers to the tool attached to a robot. The two most common options are abrasive belts/disks and sanding pads.

  • Abrasive belts and disks are best for sanding large, flat surfaces. They come in a range of grits so you can achieve different surface finishes and are very effective for high-volume sanding. Some sanding end-effectors can be equipped with a grit changer to reduce the need for your team to change the robot’s abrasives.
  • Sanding pads, on the other hand, are better for contoured and irregular surfaces. They’re made of a flexible, abrasive material that can conform to different shapes and work best with an Articulated robot. You’ll also want to equip your robot with a force sensor to make sure it can apply an even pressure when sanding.

Other considerations when choosing an end-effector include:

  • Actuation: Electrically-actuated sanding end-effectors exude precise control over a robot’s movements and actions, and are ideal for most operations. For hazardous environments or the roughest sanding tasks where heavy force is required, consider an end-effector with pneumatic actuation. This will require a source of compressed air attached to the end-effector.
  • Durability: More durable end-effectors mean less downtime for changes and less waste.
  • Ease of changeover: Quick-change mechanisms minimize downtime when switching abrasives.

With the right end-effector for your needs, Sanding robots can help streamline your production and reduce costs. The key is finding a solution tailored to your specific operation and materials.

Key considerations when evaluating Sanding robots

When evaluating Sanding robots for your factory floor, there are a few key things to consider.

Types of sanding

Look at what kinds of sanding tasks the robots can perform. Some can do broad sanding over large, flat surfaces. Others are designed for edge sanding, contour sanding, or detail sanding in tight spaces. Think about all of the sanding needs in your production process and whether one robot could handle multiple types or if you need dedicated robots for each task.


The selection of the appropriate end-effector depends on the specific application and task the robot is intended to perform. Typically, end-effectors are purchased separately from the robot, which allows you to find the right end-effector from a variety of compatible third-party manufacturers. If in doubt, your robot arm supplier will be able to point you in the right direction.


Consider how much programming is required to get the robot sanding accurately and efficiently. Look at the available control and programming options for the Sanding robots you’re considering. You can often get started with simple, no-code programming software and basic training, but for more complex jobs, you may need an experienced robot programmer. 


Since sanding produces fine dust particles, look for robots with vacuum systems, and other features that minimize debris in the environment. Proper grounding, emergency stops, and other safety mechanisms are also important, especially if workers will be in close proximity to the operating robot. A Collaborative robot is often the safest option when working around humans since these robots have built-in sensors that can detect collisions. 

Maintenance and support

Assess the robot’s maintenance requirements and the availability of technical support from the manufacturer. Regular maintenance is essential for long-term reliability and performance. Robots need regular inspections, lubrication, and component replacements. Motors, joints, and end-effectors typically require the most maintenance.

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Leading manufacturers of industrial Sanding robots

When evaluating Sanding robots, you’ll want to consider the major manufacturers currently producing industrial solutions. These companies offer a range of options to suit different needs and budgets.


FANUC is a large Japanese robotics company that produces several models of Sanding robots, including the ARC Mate 100iC and LR Mate 200iD. These are Articulated robots suitable for sanding curved and uneven surfaces. FANUC uses force control sensors and 3D vision systems to guide the robots.


KUKA is a German robotics company and another major player, with their KR C4 and KR AGILUS robot models which are utilized for sanding applications. Like FANUC, KUKA offers Articulated arm robots with force sensors and vision guidance. KUKA also produces linear robots that move along tracks, suitable for sanding large flat surfaces.


ABB is a leading Swiss robotics company and provides IRB series Articulated robots and linear models for industrial sanding. Their RobotStudio software allows you to program sanding paths and visualize the process. ABBs Sanding robots can handle materials like wood, metal, plastic, and glass.

Standard Bots

Standard Bots are a US-based robotics manufacturer. Their RO1 Six-Axis robot is compatible with most sanding applications while the company is well-known for its competitive pricing, advanced programming, and precision which is great for sanding. 

FAQs about implementing Sanding robots

Once you've decided to implement Sanding robots in your factory, you likely have some questions about what's involved. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and what you need to know.

What types of sanding can robots perform?

Robots can handle most basic sanding tasks like belt sanding, orbital sanding, and random orbital sanding. Some robots can also do polishing and buffing. The specific end-effectors and sanding pads required will depend on your needs. Types of Sanding robots include Cartesian, SCARA, and Articulated.

What are the end-effectors?

The end-effector is the "hand" at the end of the robot arm that holds the sanding tool. Common options for sanding include pneumatic grippers to grasp sanding pads, and spindle mounts to attach power sanders. The end-effector you choose depends on the sander and how much control you need. 

What should I consider when buying a Sanding robot?

Key factors include:

  • Sanding area and stock sizes: Choose a robot with the appropriate reach and stroke length for your workpieces.
  • Speed and power: For high-volume production, select a fast robot with a powerful sanding end-effector. 
  • Accuracy and repeatability: Robots that can precisely sand contours and edges may require a more advanced model.
  • Programming: Easier programming interfaces are better if you lack robotics experience but some robots can be programmed by demonstration.
  • Cost: Initial investment depends on the robot model and tooling. But you can expect to pay $30,000 to $500,000 or more for a typical Six-Axis robot.

Next steps

So now that you know all about Sanding robots and the options out there, it’s time to start optimizing your factory floor. These automated sanders can transform your production process, improve quality, increase throughput, and reduce costs. 

Whether you need a simple sander to smooth edges or a fully Articulated robot to handle complex curved surfaces, there’s a solution for your needs. Do your research, understand how these robots can integrate into your existing operations, and find a trusted partner to help implement the right Sanding robot technology. 

Interested in bringing a Sanding robot to your own business? RO1 by Standard Bots is a great choice for machine shops large and small:

  1. Affordable: RO1 is the most affordable robotic arm in its class, starting at almost half the price of incumbent competitors. 
  2. Powerful: RO1 is faster and more precise than competitors, despite having the highest payload capacity in its class at 18 kg.
  3. Integrated: RO1 comes equipped with built-in relays to control almost any machine on the market, including plug-and-play support for Haas CNC milling machines.

Speak to our solutions team today to organize a free, 30-day onsite trial and get expert advice on everything you need to deploy your first robot.

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