Industrial Robot Axes
Industrial robots typically have between three to seven axes, with six axis being the most common. A robot axis represents a degree of freedom or independent motion. The more axes a robot has the more degrees of freedom or movements it will have. Industrial robots with more degrees of freedom have a better level of flexibility and will be capable of completing complex applications. However there are many types of robots and not everyone will need a robot with several axes. The number of axes needed will depend upon a user’s application requirements. It is important when selecting a robot to understand what your requirements are to best determine an appropriate number of axes as over or under estimating can hinder automation.
- 3-Axis Robots - Three-axis robots can operate along the x, y, and z planes. Three-axis robot types include gantry robots, delta robots, and SCARA. These robots are popular since they are simple to operate and maintain. In addition, they keep energy consumption to a minimum. Three-axis robots are best suited for robotic pick and place without much variance since their range of motion is limited. Parts should be placed in the same location in the same orientation with each cycle run for optimal results.
- 4-Axis Robots - Like three-axis robots, four-axis robots can operate along the x, y, and z planes. In addition, a four-axis robot has a motor in its wrist that allows it to rotate parts. This gives four-axis robots the ability to change part orientations. The simplified design of these robots allows for maximum strength and stability making them ideal for material handling and robotic palletizing applications. SCARA, delta, and articulated robot types may be configured with four axes. The FANUC M-410ib/300 is one of the most commonly utilized robotic palletizers.
- 5-Axis Robots - Five-axis robots are part of the articulated robot family. These robots are capable of operating along x, y, and z planes and positioning tooling along two additional axes. These robots have more freedom of movement than those with fewer axes, but that movement is still somewhat limited. Five-axis robots may be used to automate palletizing, material handling, and robotic assembly applications. The FANUC M-710ic/50H is ideal for material handling tasks.
- 6-Axis Robots - Six-axis robots are heavily utilized for industrial manufacturing. From automotive to electronics to warehousing, many different industries have automated their productions with six-axis robots. Six-axis robots can move along the x, y, and z planes as well as position tooling with roll, yaw, and pitch movements. This allows these robots to reach every angle of space as their movements simulate those of a human arm. This is why they are able to take on complex tasks and have multi-application capabilities. Six axis robots are very common in automated welding. Some of the most notable six-axis robots include the FANUC R-2000ib and the FANUC Arcmate 100ic.
- 7-Axis Robots - There are two robotic system configurations that fall under the seven-axis category. The first is a six-axis robot that is mounted on a track system to move it in a linear motion from one place to another. The track system is considered the seventh axis. The other configuration is a robot with an extra axis in its arm like the Motoman VA1400. The extra axis allows for end-effector positions with several joint configurations to avoid certain objects during operation. This can be particurlary useful in robotic welding.