Articulated Robot Applications
Structure is one of the key characteristics of an industrial robot as it defines the type of robot one is. There are a variety of robot types used for industrial automation, but the articulated robot remains the most popular. Articulated robots feature the classic industrial robot design of a single robotic manipulator arm attached to a rotating base. These robots are typically configured with four to six axes.
Articulated robots are widely used due to their incredible versatility. These robots can automate most production related tasks, unlike other robot structures which are more limited due to design or axis restraints.
While articulated robots can automate a large variety of applications there are two categories that are the most common and those include welding and material handling. Nearly half of all active robots are currently being used for welding automation. Welding processes require great skill, accuracy, and precision which is why industrial robots are perfect for automating them. Welding applications for articulated robots fall under two subcategories: arc welding and resistance welding. The FANUC Arcmate 120ic and Motoman MA1400 are two popular welding robots capable of automating arc welding processes including GMAW and GTAW. Other arc welding applications for articulated robots include plasma, FCAW, and SAW. Resistance welding for articulated robots includes spot welding. High payload robots such as the FANUC R-2000ic/210F are ideal for spot welding automation. Articulated robots can also be used to automate laser and electron beam welding.
There are a number of manufacturing processes that fall under the material handling category that can be automated by articulated robots which is why it is the second most common category. These include assembly, machine tending, machine loading, injection molding, part transfer, pick and place, packaging, palletizing, dispensing, and press tending. Articulated robots are integrated with a gripper in order to handle or move parts for an automated material handling process. The ________ is often deployed for material handling automation.
Articulated robots are also capable of automating material removal applications. These include drilling, deburring, sanding, grinding, polishing, buffing, and deflashing. Cutting applications also fall under the material removal category and include laser, plasma, oxyfuel, waterjet, and ultrasonic cutting. The type of EOAT integrated with the articulated robot will vary based upon the exact material removal process as tooling tends to be application specific.
Coating and gluing applications can be automated by articulated robots as well. These include painting, thermal spray, sealing, and bonding. These processes typically involve the use of harsh chemicals. Automating them removes workers from being exposed to such chemicals. The accuracy and precision of articulated robots ensures even applications for higher quality parts.
Advancements in robotic technology has allowed articulated six axis robots to branch out from traditional industrial applications into new and less conventional robotic processes. New applications for articulated robots include inspection, 3D printing, and training workers. Integrating the FANUC LR Mate 200ic with a robotic vision system gives it the capability to inspect parts for the most microscopic of defects. 3D printing is still relatively new itself, but now articulated robots are helping automate the process through dispensing materials and tending printers. Articulated robots are also being deployed to train workers for skilled labor positions when tasks cannot be fully automated.