Exploring various types of robot-assisted polishing techniques


In industrial manufacturing, integrating robotic systems has revolutionized traditional methods, leading to enhanced efficiency and improved product quality. Among the myriad applications of industrial robots, robot-assisted polishing has emerged as a pivotal technique across diverse sectors such as automotive, aerospace, and optical manufacturing. This article delves into an exhaustive analysis of various kinds of robot-assisted polishing techniques, encompassing Small Tool Polishing (STP), Bonnet Polishing (BP), Fluid Jet Polishing (FJP), Magnetorheological Finishing (MRF), and Rigid Comfortable (RC) Tool Polishing.

Before delving into the specifics of robot-assisted polishing, it’s crucial to acknowledge the global industrial robot market trends. According to statistics from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), Asia/Australia emerged as the largest market for industrial robots, accounting for 71% of new global deployments in 2020. Notably, China stands out as the largest market, with over 160,000 installed industrial robots in the same year.

Evolution of Polishing Techniques

As a precision-controlled mechanical or chemical process, polishing traditionally relied on manual labor, resulting in unstable surface quality and low efficiency. However, with the advent of numerically controlled polishing machines and robots, the landscape of polishing has undergone a significant transformation. Various commercialized polishing machines, such as bonnet, ion beam, magnetorheological, and plasma polishing machines, have been developed, revolutionizing the polishing industry.

Robot-assisted polishing systems have garnered attention due to their ability to enhance efficiency and surface quality. These systems leverage industrial robots equipped with robust pose and path-generation algorithms. Sensors are crucial in monitoring and predicting surface roughness, enabling intelligent algorithms to determine optimal polishing parameters. However, challenges such as motion accuracy and stiffness limitations necessitate precise calibration and error compensation methods.

Exploring Various Polishing Techniques

  • Small Tool Polishing (STP): Widely employed in processing aspheric surfaces, STP utilizes computer-controlled polishing to achieve precise material removal. Integration with industrial robots enhances flexibility and efficiency, making it suitable for applications such as aspheric mirror processing.
  • Bonnet Polishing (BP): Invented to address the limitations of STP, BP employs flexible spherical bonnets and precession moving methods to achieve high-quality surface finishes. The integration of robots enhances adaptability to complex surface shapes, making it ideal for optical mold polishing.
  • Fluid Jet Polishing (FJP): Utilizing abrasive water jets, FJP offers high adaptability to complex surfaces with minimal thermal effects. Integration with robots enhances flexibility and precision, enabling applications such as ultrasonic-assisted abrasive water jet machining for ceramic materials.
  • Magnetorheological Finishing (MRF): Leveraging the rheological properties of magnetorheological fluid under a magnetic field, MRF achieves precise material removal with minimal subsurface damage. Integration with robots enhances flexibility and cost-effectiveness, enabling applications such as processing large aspheric mirrors.
  • Rigid Comfortable (RC) Tool Polishing: Utilizing non-Newtonian fluid-filled tools, RC polishing offers high removal efficiency with adaptability to varying workpiece curvatures. Integration with robots enhances precision and surface quality, making it suitable for applications such as polishing large telescope mirrors.


Robot-assisted polishing techniques significantly advance industrial manufacturing, offering enhanced efficiency and surface quality across various applications. Despite challenges such as motion accuracy and material limitations, integrating robots continues to drive innovation in polishing technologies, paving the way for further advancements in the field.

In conclusion, the synergy between robotics and polishing techniques holds immense potential for revolutionizing industrial manufacturing processes, driving toward greater efficiency, precision, and product quality.