Grinding robot buyer's guide: How to choose the right one

August 10, 2023
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Types of Grinding robots: Cartesian, SCARA, Articulated

When choosing a Grinding robot, you’ll need to consider the type of surface area and grinding required. The major types of Grinding robots include:

  • Cartesian robots: Simple but versatile, Cartesian robots — also known as Gantry robots — move along three linear axes (X, Y, Z). They’re often used for flat surface polishing over 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.
  • Articulated robots: With multiple rotary joints, articulated robots can handle the most complex grinding applications. They offer a wide range of motion to grind hard-to-reach areas. However, Articulated robots typically require more advanced programming and often have a higher cost. They are well-suited to handle various end-effectors for sanding, buffing, and polishing.

When choosing a Grinding robot, consider the types of materials and part geometries, production volume, available floor space, precision, and finish requirements. You’ll also need the proper end-effectors, abrasives, and tooling.

Key considerations when choosing a Grinding robot

After deciding to invest in an automated grinding solution it’s time to choose a robot that suits your needs. Here are some key things to consider:

What type of grinding will it perform? 

Surface, cylindrical, centerless, or tool grinding? Robots designed for high-precision surface finishing will differ from those handling heavy stock removal. Look for a machine with high repeatability, force and speed, or a high payload to help you identify your primary grinding application.

What end-effectors will you need? 

Grinding disks, belts, wheels, and other abrasive tooling allow robots to handle different parts and materials. Consider the shapes, sizes, and hardness of the parts you want to grind to choose appropriate end-effectors. Some robots offer tool changers for quick swaps between different abrasives.

Is payload capacity important? 

Heavier parts may require a robot with a higher payload to support their weight during grinding — this also includes the weight of the end-effector. Larger parts may need a robot with greater reach. Think about the dimensions and weights of your target parts. 

How easy will integration be? 

Look for a robot that can easily integrate with your existing equipment and software. Some are designed to seamlessly connect with popular machine tools, while others may require manual relay connections. For your first Grinding robot, simpler is better.

Comparing specs and getting recommendations from others in your industry can help determine the best brand and model for your needs. With the right robot chosen, you'll be well on your way to faster, automated grinding and all the benefits that come with it. 

End-effectors for Grinding robots

When it comes to Grinding robots, the end-effector or tooling is key to getting the job done. The term ‘end-effector’ refers to the tool attached to a robot. There are a few options to consider based on your needs.

Abrasive tooling, such as grinding wheels and sanding disks, are used to physically grind, sand, buff, and polish materials. They come in a variety of grits from coarse to ultra-fine. Abrasive tooling attaches to the robot using a spindle or sanding pad. It provides a lot of control over the grinding process but requires precision to avoid damaging the workpiece.

Vacuum tooling can be attached to your end-effector to help catch debris. If you’re attaching a vacuum or other suction device, this tool and the associated cabling will also add up towards your robot’s payload capacity.

With the right end-effector, a Grinding robot can handle virtually any material removal task. By understanding the pros and cons of different options, you can choose tooling tailored to your needs and ensure the best results for your application.

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Major Grinding robot manufacturers

When choosing a Grinding robot, you’ll want to consider which major manufacturers produce machines suitable for your needs. Some of the top brands are:


ABB is a leading Swiss robotics company for a wide range of Grinding robots for industrial use. Their IRB series includes compact robots ideal for small parts grinding and polishing. For large-scale grinding, their bigger IRB 6700 and YuMi models are good options. ABB robots are known for precision, speed, and reliability.


FANUC is a large Japanese robotics company with some of the most advanced industrial robots, including their R-2000iC series suitable for grinding applications. These are fast, accurate robots available in a range of sizes for any workload. FANUC also produces the M-20iA collaborative robot that can work alongside humans for small parts grinding. 


KUKA is a German robotics company that specializes in heavy-duty industrial robots, including several models well-suited to grinding. Their KR AGILUS series includes compact, high-speed robots for the precision grinding of small parts. For large castings and heavy workloads, their KR 1000 Titan and KR 3000 Titan models are ideal. KUKA robots are powerful, durable, and provide high performance for demanding grinding tasks.

Standard Bots

Standard Bots is a US-based robotics manufacturer. Their RO1 Six-Axis robot is well-suited to most deburring applications and the company is well-known for its competitive pricing, advanced no-code programming, and vision systems. All of their robots are manufactured in the US and come with plug-and-play compatibility with OnRobot end-of-arm-tooling. Standard Bots are a great choice for high-mix shops and affordable deployments.

FAQs about industrial Grinding robots

Once you’ve decided to purchase an industrial Grinding robot, you’ll likely have some questions about what’s involved. Here’s what you need to know:

What types of grinding can robots perform?

Grinding robots can handle a variety of tasks like surface grinding, die grinding, polishing, chamfering, and deburring. The specific abilities depend on the robot model and end-effector tooling. Many can do high-precision work on complex parts and keep your current employees out of dangerous situations involving sharp objects and limited space.

What is the primary function of a Grinding robot?

The main purpose of a Grinding robot is to automate the grinding and finishing processes to increase productivity, improve quality, and reduce costs. They excel at repetitive tasks and can work continuously without breaks. Robots also increase workplace safety by handling hazardous grinding duties.

What end-effectors will I need?

End-effectors, or end-of-arm tooling, determine what types of grinding a robot can perform. Common options include rotary grinders, belt sanders, die grinders, and polishing pads. Multiple end-effectors may be required for different applications.

What should I consider when choosing a Grinding robot?

Consider the types of grinding tasks, workpiece materials, production volume, available floor space, integration with existing systems, and budget. Compare robot reach, accuracy, payload capacity, programming requirements, and safety features. Think about future needs and if the robot can adapt to new tasks.

How do I integrate my first Grinding robot?

Work with the robot manufacturer and system integrator to properly install your new Grinding robot. They can help with programming the robot, outfitting it with the necessary end-effectors and safety equipment, and ensuring it integrates with any related machinery. Provide drawings, workpiece specifications, production goals, and safety guidelines to assist in the installation and start-up process. With the right preparation and support, integrating an industrial robot can go smoothly.

Next steps

And there you have it, a complete guide to help you find the perfect Grinding robot for your needs. Whether you're looking for an all-purpose robot to handle various grinding and finishing applications or a specialized machine optimized for a specific task, the options are out there. 

By assessing what types of materials and precision levels you need to work with, the required end-effectors, work envelopes, and your budget, you'll be well on your way to boosting your production throughput and quality. If you do your research, you'll find an automated grinding solution that will serve your manufacturing operation well for years to come. 

Interested in bringing a Grinding 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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