Industrial robots are the workhorses of modern manufacturing. They operate for long hours, repeating several cycles of each task over and over. You may be wondering what drives robots to be able to operate almost endlessly around the clock. The answer is their power source, which is critical to the success of a robotic system.
3 Phase Power
Most industrial robots operate on 3 phase power. This gives them enough power to operate 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Most robots will be given a main disconnect that ties into the controller. The controller then provides power to the robot through the robot to controller cables. The FANUC M710ic/50 and the Motoman MA1400 are examples of six axis robots that run on 3 phase power.
Single Phase Power
Smaller articulated robots that have a lighter payload capacity can be operated using single phase power. This proves useful for non-industrial setting that lack 3 phase power. The FANUC LR Mate 200id and ABB 120 are 2 type of robots that can run on single phase electric.
Fuel cells are similar to batteries. They generate power by combining oxygen with hydrogen gas. Fuel cells may potentially replace traditional batteries as the main source of power for factory robots in the future. However, there are two drawbacks to fuel cells. The first is they are very expensive, but as their use increases their price may begin to decline. The second is they can be flammable due to the hydrogen gas.
Generators are another power source that may be used to fuel robots. Generator systems convert gasoline into energy for the robot. However, this power source may be more expensive due to the consumption of gas. There are also thermoelectric generators that convert heat into electricity to power a robot.
Air pressure may be used to power the movements of some industrial robots. Bottled pressurized air is used to fuel pneumatic cylinders, providing robots with the power needed to operate. Other robots may utilize an air compressor that is powered by a battery. Air pressure power sources are more common for suppling energy to a robotic gripper as opposed to the entire robot itself.
Welding Power Supply
In applications of robotic welding, robotic welding power supplies are used to fuel the application. Integrating a FANUC Arcmate 100ic with the Lincoln Powerwave 455m provides enough energy to supply the welding torch. Many robotic power supplies offer multi-welding process capabilities, allowing for the flexibility to adapt to process changes.
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