Do You Need a Six-Axis or High-DOF Robot?
When automating a manufacturing process, there are a number of factors to consider in order to select the best industrial robot for your operation. Industrial robots vary considerably by structure, payload capacity, reach, repeatability, and number of axes. Traditional industrial robots typically have six axes, however, there are some applications that may require fewer than six and some that may benefit from more.
Each axis of an industrial robot represents an independent motion or what is referred to in robotics as a degree of freedom. The more axes a robot has the more movements it will be capable of. The more complex your application is, the more likely a greater amount of maneuverability will be needed by the robot and will need to be automated by a six-axis or high-DOF robot.
Six-Axis RobotsSix-axis robots are the most common for robotic automation since their design mimics the human arm allowing them to move similarly. They are ideal for automating most manufacturing processes including welding, material handling, material removal, assembly, and painting among many others. The FANUC Arcmate 120ic is a six-axis robot that is capable of automating arc welding applications.
Six-axis robots are able to move on the x, y, and z planes as well as complete roll, pitch, and yaw movements. This gives them a greater range of motion to make the most out of their work envelope. Six-axis robots are the most versatile since they are capable of automating multiple applications and most manufacturing processes will not require movements that go beyond the scope of six axes. They can be used to automate specific applications for certain periods of time or used to complete a sequence of multiple tasks. The FANUC M-10ia is capable of automating various material handling tasks. The FANUC M10ia can be programmed for automated part transfer tasks one day and then reprogrammed for robotic packaging the next day or it could be programmed to transfer and package parts in a sequence. Six-axis robots are rarely limited by their degrees of freedom making them invaluable to most manufacturing processes.
High-DOF RobotsHigh-DOF (degree of freedom) robots are those with more than six axes. While six-axis robots have the range of motion necessary for most manufacturing processes, a high-DOF robot may be needed for better EOAT positioning to increase workpiece access or for increasing productivity.
A high-DOF robot may consist of seven or more axes. A seven-axis robot is one that has an extra axis in its arm. The Motoman VA1400 is a seven-axis welding robot that uses its extra axis for better access to workpieces. Seven-axis robots may also consist of a six-axis robot mounted onto a track system to expand its work envelope. Mounting the FANUC R-2000ic/165F to a track allows it to travel tens of feet within seconds.
An articulated robot with greater than seven axes will likely consist of a dual arm setup. Dual arm robots feature two robotic manipulators with a single base and may have up to fifteen axes. Each arm of the robot can work on different applications simultaneously or they can work on the same application together for hyper productivity. Dual arm robots are typically used to automate complex material handling processes.