The best alternatives to purchasing a FANUC CNC machine

January 7, 2024
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Why look beyond FANUC?

You’ve probably heard the name FANUC a million times. And, truth be told the FANUC CNC machine is pretty much revered industry-wide for its dependability and cutting-edge technology. 

However, the machining scene is changing, and alternatives of all kinds are becoming viable choices. Now, there’s plenty to gain by steering clear of a traditional brand like FANUC. 

Firstly, we know it’s all about keeping costs in check. While FANUC machines boast top-of-the-line features, they have a cost to match - from $20,000 to over $200,000.

So, especially for medium and small businesses venturing into robotics, a FANUC CNC machine is synonymous with “no-go.” 

But, more budget-friendly solutions that still deliver on your CNC machining requirements are absolutely a possibility. 

Every CNC operation has its own idiosyncrasies.; one-size-fits-all solutions rarely exist. Industrial robots offer a wide swath of capabilities, ranging from payload capacity and reach to precision levels. 

This means an alternative to a FANUC CNC machine might work better for what you need, especially with emerging competitors constantly breaking new ground in the tech sphere. 

Best bang-for-your-buck FANUC CNC machine alternatives

When it comes to budget-friendly alternatives to the FANUC robot, three names tend to take the top spots: ABB, KUKA, and RO1 by Standard Bots.

Each one has its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to affordability, flexibility, and features. 

1. ABB

ABB is a Swedish-Swiss name that should need no introduction for robotics enthusiasts. They offer a tremendous range of CNC robots to suit diverse needs. 

For instance, their IRB 2400 line is known for its speed and accuracy, a no-brainer for high-volume production runs. 

Additionally, ABB robots are known for their reliability and ease of integration into existing systems.


A German powerhouse KUKA offers CNC robots well-known for their accuracy and flexibility. 

Their KR10 R1100 sixx robot, for instance, has an impressive payload capacity and reach, just perfect for handling large and heavy workpieces. 

Many KUKA robots also have user-friendly programming interfaces and advanced safety features - though some require extensive technical know-how. 

3. RO1 by Standard Bots:

Now, this is where we get to the real deal: RO1 by Standard Bots. This robot isn't just about upfront cost savings; it's about long-term value and game-changing customization options.

RO1 has on-site installation, and tailored setup options so it can integrate with your shop floor without massive modifications or overhauls. 

Its ongoing software updates keep it future-proof, while remote access diagnostics and Standard Bots' commitment to replacing worn-down parts at no extra cost makes downtime almost a non-issue. 

Which FANUC alternatives are easier to set up?

Not all FANUC CNC machines are easy to set up. We’ve found other options that provide much smoother setup experiences:

Although KUKA's traditional programming requires some technical know-how, their user interface (UI) has seen significant improvements. 

Their KUKA.WorkVisual configure software offers a drag-and-drop interface similar to FANUC's TP, which makes programming more beginner-friendly. KUKA also offers optional on-site installation and setup services, minimizing integration hassles.

Similar to FANUC and KUKA, ABB's Wizard Easy Programming tool uses drag-and-drop blocks and buttons, making it incredibly user-friendly for both newbies and dyed-in-the-wool operators. 

Also, ABB robots excel at seamless integration into existing workflows, cutting down setup time and potential challenges.

RO1 by Standard Bots truly shines when it comes to setup ease. Standard Bots provides on-site installation and setup tailored to your specific workflow, minimizing potential issues and downtime. 

Also, RO1 is a Collaborative robot, or Cobot, meaning it can operate safely hand-in-hand with human workers due to its top-of-the-line sensors.

This hands-on approach is ideal for those seeking pain-free integration without compromising on quality, and it’s the ideal choice for enterprising SMEs.

But, in the end, you run the show, so it’s up to you to choose the setup approach that best aligns with your comfort and expertise.

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What FANUC alternatives are best for productivity?

In CNC machining, you won’t get far if you don’t streamline operations. 

Let's see how the three FANUC CNC machine alternatives stack up:

While FANUC is almost unparalleled in accuracy and speed, KUKA puts a heavy focus on flexibility and adaptability. As a result, their robots typically require less programming due to their pre-configured machining routines and intuitive motion planning software. 

This leads to a significant increase in productivity for repetitive tasks or complex jobs with ongoing material or product changes.

Conversely, ABB robots are great at streamlining processes, jumping right into existing workflows, and minimizing downtime. 

Their convenient UI allows for on-the-fly program adjustments, so there’s a very low chance of unintended downtime while making changes. As a bonus, ABB offers advanced features like real-time process monitoring and optimization.

Finally, there’s RO1 by Standard Bots. As we touched on before, on-site setup virtually guarantees that everything aligns perfectly, saving you time and effort compared to standard setup processes. 

Additionally, continuous software updates keep your RO1 system at the forefront of efficiency, evolving alongside your business. The result? Minimizing the need for constant adjustments. 

Another worthy factor to note is that RO1 uses a no-code framework, meaning that even newcomers can easily perform intuitive operational changes. 

Beyond the robot: gearing up for success

When you bring a FANUC CNC machine alternative into your workshop, there's more to the story than just making a purchase and forgetting about it. 

To unlock your robot’s full potential, keep these few ideas in mind: 

  • Safety is not a buzzword: Emergency stop buttons and security fences aren't just smart investments, they're legal requirements, especially if you decide not to invest in a Collaborative robot. 
  • Humans and robots can get along: On that note, if you need a collaborative working relationship, Cobots like Standard Bots’ RO1 are built for safe side-by-side action, adding a layer of flexibility to your operation.
  • End-effectors, or the tools of the trade: From grippers to tool changers, your robot's "hands" allow them to perform specific tasks. Whether it's ABB, KUKA, or Standard Bots, matching end-effectors to your parts means being prepared for the job. 
  • Brains matter: The CNC controller lets you have the best robot performance; it's the robot's maestro, directing every movement. Invest in quality for smooth operations and accurate cuts, regardless of your robot's brand.
  • Let experts help you out: Going it alone is not the idea here, especially for such a sizable investment. Standard Bots or similar tech specialists can be your CNC confidantes. They'll help you choose the perfect puzzle pieces to maximize your robot's potential.
  • Mind your existing CNC equipment: Remember, it's all about a seamless flow. Ensure that your robot plays nice with your CNC machine tools, whether it's a Haas, Mazak, or any other brand. Compatibility means a well-oiled workflow.

Summing up

Once you unlock the full spectrum of FANUC CNC machine alternatives, the possibilities stretch far beyond the obvious.

While there’s a reason for FANUC’s high regard as one of the top dogs, this doesn’t mean that they’re your perfect CNC milling match. 

Cost-conscious contenders like ABB, streamlined setup wizards like KUKA, and agile innovators like Standard Bots' RO1 all would love a moment of your time before you make a purchase. 

As the CNC landscape evolves almost too fast to keep up, adaptability becomes synonymous with thriving. 

So, don’t be afraid to go deeper, explore the alternatives, and make your own informed decision to increase productivity, scale your operations, and bring your shop floor into a whole new era.

Next steps

Interested in bringing the best FANUC CNC machine alternative to your business? RO1 by Standard Bots is the best choice for any shop floor.

  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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