How to Choose the Right Industrial Robot
Choosing the right industrial robot is key in order to successfully automate a production process. Today, there are five main types of industrial robots commonly used for robotic automation. These types include articulated, SCARA, cartesian, delta, and collaborative. Each type of industrial robot has its own unique strengths and limitations. Understanding these will help buyers narrow down their selections and find the type that will be the best fit for their operations.
- • Articulated - Articulated robots are the most common due to their versatility and availability in a wide range of sizes, payloads, and reaches. They are designed around the concept of the human arm with most having six axes for a range of motion that is similar to a human’s. Articulated robots may also come in four, five, and seven axis configurations. The higher axis count of the FANUC Arcmate 120ic and other articulated robots make them ideal for automating complex applications as they can reach any angle within their work envelope. With their full range of motion they can automate just about any manufacturing process including welding, painting, material handling, material removal, among many others. There are few drawbacks to articulated robots other than they tend to be more expensive and harder to program compared to other robot types.
- • Collaborative - Collaborative robots are still relatively new and have emerged as the cost-effective alternative to articulated robots. They feature a similar design to articulated robots just with rounder edges and six axes. However, they lack variety in size, payload, and reach as they have compact designs. Their built-in safety features allow them to work directly with or alongside humans without safeguarding. Programming is simplified with hand guidance. Cobots like the Universal UR5 are mainly used for material handling, but they can also automate welding and inspection applications. The main limitation for cobots is their size as they cannot work with large parts or work envelopes.
- • Cartesian - Cartesian or gantry robots feature an overhead track system that allows them to move linearly. They excel at highly repetitive applications such as automated machine loading, robotic part transfer, and pick and place. Their track system provides extra stability for handling heavier loads. Their lower axis count also makes them easy to program. Limitations for cartesian robots include their lack of motion and flexibility.
- • Delta - Delta robots feature an unique parallelogram configuration that allows for fast, agile movements. They are the fastest type of industrial robot. Their small size and low payloads limit the applications and workpieces they can automate. The FANUC M-1ia can automate light pick and place tasks. Delta robots are best for serving sectors that deal with delicate parts such as the electronics and pharmaceutical industries.
- • SCARA - SCARA robots feature small structures with a limited range of motion. They are incredibly fast and accurate especially for automated assembly applications. Their main limitation is their lack of motion which prevents them from automating more complex processes.