Joint effort brings robotics to wood finishing

The continuing labor shortage is creating a growing need to bring automation into the wood industry, including finishing.

Attendees at the recent AWFS Fair in Las Vegas got a chance to see an automated system that has seen wide use in Europe but is new for North America.

CMA Spray Robotics was supported by Robotic Solutions, LLC at AWFS. Earlier, Robotic Solutions signed an exclusive U.S. distribution agreement with CMA Robotics based in Udine, Italy.

CMA designs and installs technology for spraying robots and painting, including full turnkey spray systems for the wood industry. CMA provides different programming systems such as self-learning, point-to-point, offline, and auto-generation from sophisticated vision systems. 

Robotic Solutions was formed in 2017 with a plan to bring robotics to the wood industry. As a system partner for Kuka Robotics in Germany, they offer products for various production processes with stationary, autonomous mobile, and collaborative robots. Applications include machine tending, palletizing, part-flipping, sanding, transporting parts, and assembly.

The system shown at AWFS Fair can spray paint or any finish materials on cabinet doors or components that are less than six inches tall. It can also spray adhesive on MDF doors to prepare them for a membrane press. CMA offers a different configuration to spray larger pre-assembled items.

This CMA line is reported to be the first of its kind in North America, and has been sold to a company in Iowa. Similar systems have been used in Europe for the past 26 years.

Parts travel under a 3D vision scanner connected to the PLC controller, which sends the geometry of the part to the robot located inside a spray booth, where a person would normally be.

The dual shuttle table reduces the load and unload time, and locates parts in front of the robot continually. Robotic Solutions mounts two spray guns on the end of the robot arm to double the coverage of what one person could do.

Anyone can load and unload the line as no programming skills are needed to operate the system. No one is inside the spray area breathing potentially volatile fumes. 

A shuttle table for parts up to 52 inches wide and 10 feet long carries parts under the 3D vision scanner, which communicates directly with the robot controls. Almost no programming is necessary.

Kuka is not involved in any spray applications. They provide machine tending and material handling applications. The robotic spray system is made by CMA Robotics, while customers can continue to use their preferred guns, hoses and pump.

“We have been discussing the possibility with CMA for the last five years and making sure the safety regulations were in place for the North American market,” said Rick Braun, president of Robotic Solutions. “Once we saw that the wood industry was ready to invest in robotic technology due to an industry labor crisis, we knew it was time to begin."

CMA Spray Robotics offers full turn-key systems with many different configurations available. CMA offers completely custom as well as a few standard configurations. It depends on the specific application. See

Robotic Solutions will be exhibiting both CMA and KUKA robots at IWF 2020 with more new robotic technology for the wood industry.


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About the author
Karl Forth

Karl D. Forth is online editor for CCI Media. He also writes news and feature stories in FDMC Magazine, in addition to newsletters and custom publishing projects. He is also involved in event organization, and compiles the annual FDM 300 list of industry leaders. He can be reached at [email protected].