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6-Axis Robot

Taubman College has six 6-axis Kuka robots making up three separate robotic work cells. The work cells vary in size and application and are primarily used for coursework and research applications.

The 6-axis robots are industrial machines capable of highly flexible production applications and tool integration. Some work cells are supplemented with additional rotary and linear external axes which give the robots more flexible, reconfigurable, motion control platforms. The tools available to the robotic fabrication processes include grippers, filament and pellet based extruders, hot wire cutters, welding torches, a steel rod bender, and other custom tooling.

Use and Scheduling

The use of each robotic work cell varies from semester to semester as coursework and research projects change in scope and application. Students and faculty planning to use the work cells need to coordinate with the lab staff for scheduling and/or integration of potential tooling. All approved courses and research projects are required to use the following calendars to schedule time on the robots:

KR120 schedule (North & South)
KR60 schedule (East & West)
KR6 schedule (Mitey & Titey)

Dimensional Limitations

All three robotic work cells vary in workspace limitations and tooling capacity.

KUKA KR120 - Primarily used for research and/or advanced coursework, with high payloads up to 120Kg and a 2.5m maximum reach. The robots are mounted on linear axes with up to 10m of lateral travel range.

KUKA KR60 - Primarily used for research and some coursework with medium payloads up to 60Kg and a 2m maximum reach. The robots are floor mounted with no external axes.

KUKA KR6 - Primarily used for teaching introductory coursework with light payloads up to 6Kg and a 1m maximum reach. The custom built work cell consists of a table and gantry with one inverted robot and one that is table mounted.

Due to the complexity of the kinematics and specialization of tooling, there is no simple answer for how large a workpiece can be; in general it must fall within the maximum reach limits of the industrial arms and the space around the work cell.


Robotic programming requires toolpathing capacity that is not found in typical CNC programming operations. For programming and simulating robotic toolpaths, the FABLab primarily uses a Rhino plug-in called SuperMatterTools (SMT), developed in house by the FABLab Director Wes Mcgee et al. Automation and control parameters are specific to each tooling process and are under constant research and development with every tooling prototype.


Applications of the robots are typically material driven for which a variety of specialized tools have been developed. Currently, fabrication processes involve carbon fiber, EPS foam, sheet metal, steel rod and glass.


In general, use of the robots is limited to specific dedicated coursework taught in the FABLab. This coursework provides orientation on the operation of the robots. Any research that requires use of the robots should coordinated through the FABLab staff and/or Director via email to taubmancollegefablab@umich.edu.

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