CNC robot arm: The 3 best robot arms to tend any CNC machine

September 6, 2023
Standard Bots robot visualizer

What is robot arm CNC tending?

CNC machine tending has taken a huge leap thanks to the introduction of CNC robot arms. But what exactly is robot arm CNC tending?

At its core, it's the use of a CNC robotic arm to automate the loading and unloading of parts in a CNC machine. Before automation, this task was manual, often requiring human operators to be present throughout the machining operations.

However, with advancements in the robotics industry, the integration of CNC robot arms into the machine tending process has become more common. These robotic arms are designed with precision and flexibility in mind. They can easily pick up raw materials, place them into the CNC machine and activate a predetermined CNC program. Once the machining process is complete, they can remove the finished part and place it in a designated area.

This automation provides a tremendous boost to efficiency, reduces the risk of human error, and enhances safety.

The beauty of this integration lies in what is a seamless fusion of robotics and machining. By utilizing the effectiveness of the robotics industry, CNC machine tending has become a much more efficient, accurate, and safer process.

What to consider when choosing a CNC Tending arm

When it comes to CNC machine tending, selecting the right CNC tending arm is vital. Here's a breakdown of the top factors to consider:

Robot price

Your budget plays a big role in this decision. While investing in a high-end robotic arm might promise longevity and precision, there are space-saving CNC robot options that are cost-effective and more efficient for smaller setups. Remember, bigger isn't always better.


The end-effector is pretty much the robotic arm's hand. It's responsible for gripping and manipulating objects. Depending on your CNC machining tasks, you might need specialized grippers, like suction cups, or even magnetic tools. Make sure that the end-effector is a good fit for the materials you're handling.

Payload capacity

This refers to the maximum weight the robot can handle. It's essential to choose an arm with a payload capacity that aligns with the weight of the materials you'll be processing. Remember that the weight of the end-effector attached to the robot arm also counts towards this capacity.

Integration with CNC machines

Not all robotic arms can easily integrate with every CNC machine. Ensure the robotic arm you choose can seamlessly communicate by relay or, preferably, by direct interaction with your CNC machine for smooth operations.

Flexibility and reach

A robotic arm's range and flexibility can impact how efficient it will be. Go for arms that can easily access the entire workspace of your CNC machining operations and load/unload parts wherever your production line requires.

Standard Bots routine editor

Our top 3

1. RO1 by Standard Bots

If you're looking for a robot to tend CNC machines in your operations, RO1 by Standard Bots is the best choice. Despite being the most affordable option on the market, starting from just $5/hour, it boasts the highest payload and is the fastest and most accurate robot in its category.

What's more, RO1 comes with no-code-required programming software, meaning your operators can easily program the robot with new sequences - perfect for high-mix machine shops. 

Bonus: It even integrates seamlessly with Haas CNC mills. Not many robot arms can tend to CNC machines and measure up to the simplicity of this CNC robotic arm.

2. UR10e by Universal Robots

You know how to use your CNC machines, but have you ever considered how to get the most out of them? Enter the UR10e by Universal Robots. Universal Robots aims to maximize efficiency in your operations with this CNC robot. This Collaborative robot combines a decently long reach and a high payload, which is why it's one of the top medium-duty Industrial robots on the market.

Additionally, the UR10e's patented technology limits the forces at contact. This makes it a great choice for handling delicate parts since you won’t need to purchase an additional force sensor. 

Universal Robots don't just manufacture robots, they are also masters of CNC robotics who are doing their best to redefine the game.

3. FANUC's CRX-10iA/L

Stepping into the world of robotics can elevate your manufacturing process, and the FANUC CRX-10iA/L is here to guide you. 

The FANUC robot is lightweight, fairly easy to program, sturdy, and comes in a sleek white design. Another huge highlight of this CNC robotic arm is that its sensors are highly sensitive and immediately trigger a safety stop at the touch of a human hand. This CNC robot is also incredibly easy to connect via relays and can learn from you through its built-in teaching function, which makes it simple and swift to set up and begin tending operations.

Integration and programming considerations

Integration and programming can't be overlooked when introducing CNC robotics into your CNC operations. For such robots to function smoothly, they have to be integrated with existing systems, allowing the robot to start, stop and otherwise control the CNC equipment.

This integration often requires directly wiring relays between both machines, but some robots have direct “plug and play” integrations with specific CNC machine models. 

Robot programming is another crucial consideration. Modern robots are designed to handle almost any manual task, but to achieve this, their programming must be precise.

Luckily, with CNC robotics nowadays, there's a shift towards user-friendly interfaces, allowing operators to program tasks without needing deep coding knowledge. Some robots even offer no-code-required programming, simplifying the process further.

It's important to understand that while these robots can automate most manual tasks, their efficiency and accuracy still depend heavily on the quality of their programming. Proper training and understanding of the robot's capabilities are key for optimal performance.

Safety considerations

In the machining environment, "safety first" is more than just an expression, it's a necessity. With the rise of robots in CNC operations, understanding their safety features is very important. Collaborative robots, or "Cobots", are designed to work alongside humans without posing risks. Here are some key safety considerations:

  • Nature of Cobots: Unlike traditional Industrial robots, which often need barriers or cages, Cobots are designed to safely share a workspace with human operators.
  • Built-in safety sensors: A Cobot sensors can detect a nearby person. If a human gets too close during machining operations, the robot will either slow down or stop entirely, preventing potential accidents.
  • Reduced force and speed: Collaborative robots are usually made to operate at reduced force and speed, which ensures that the risk of injury is low in the event of contact.
  • Safety in dangerous tasks: For tasks which are generally too risky for humans, like handling sharp parts or heavy blanks, Cobot arms can take over safely.
  • Training: Although Cobots are designed for safety, appropriate training for human operators or employees working around the robot is still required to ensure they understand the robot's functions and limits.

Next steps

Interested in stepping into the Collaborative robot arm world? RO1 by Standard Bots is the #1 for small-scale startups and established industrial giants

  • Cost-effective: RO1 is the leading robotic arm in its class, delivering even more value at half the price of the competition. 
  • Fast & strong: RO1 beats out the competition in speed and accuracy despite having the highest payload capacity in its class at 18 kg.
  • Truly collaborative: RO1 has built-in safety sensors and collision detection for safe, reliable operation on your shop floor.

Talk to our solutions team now to set up a free, 30-day onsite trial and receive specialized advice on everything you need to deploy RO1.


Are Articulated robots the best?

When it comes to robotics, the "best" choice depends on the specific applications. Articulated robots have multiple axes, providing great flexibility and reach. While they excel in complex tasks, for some tasks, simpler robots like a SCARA or Cartesian (gantry) robot might be enough.

How much does a robotic arm CNC cost?

Like most tools in CNC machining, robotic arm prices vary based on capabilities, brand, and features. While high-end models can be pricey, there are cost-effective options suitable for various applications.

Why is a CNC machine not considered a robot?

A CNC machine follows precise paths for machining operations, whereas a robot arm offers greater flexibility and movement. CNC machines specialize in material removal; robots can handle a variety of tasks beyond just machining, from picking to welding to painting.

Final thoughts

There's a lot to consider when it comes to CNC machining and CNC robotics but the choice of the right tool can completely transform operations.

While many CNC robots offer impressive features, RO1 by Standard Bots stands out. While Universal Robots maximizes efficiency well and FANUC's CRX-10iA/L gives you very advanced CNC robotic automation, they simply don't offer the same deal as the RO1.

With its unbeatable price point, superior payload, intuitive no-code programming, and seamless integration abilities, it's clear that RO1 isn't just a contender — it's the future of efficient CNC machine tending.

Want to find out if RO1 is the right choice for you? 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.

Speak to our solutions team to get started.

Standard Bots equipment manager
Standard Bots camera vision
Press contacts