Types of Robotic Arms
The robotic manipulator arm is one of the main parts of an industrial robot and is sometimes referred to as the robotic manipulator. Robotic arms are programmable, mechanical devices connected by joints or axes that allow for rotational or linear movement. Robotic arms are responsible for moving and controlling the end-effector in order to complete a specific application. There are several types of robotic arms available for industrial automation, they include:
- • Articulated Arm - The articulated robotic arm is the most common for industrial automation. Articulated robotic arms are designed to look and mimic the movements of a human arm. They feature a single mechanical arm that is attached to a rotating base. Since articulated arms closely resemble human arms, they are able to automate many different manufacturing processes, which is why they are popular. Articulated robots typically have between four to six axes allowing for a greater range of motion, with six axis robots being the most popular. They can automate arc welding, spot welding, painting, assembly, material removal, material handling, palletizing, and many more types of robotic applications. Popular articulated robots include the Motoman HP20 which is ideal for material handling automation and the FANUC Arcmate 120ic designed for arc welding.
- • Dual Arm - Dual arm robots, as the name implies, are configured with two mechanical arms instead of one. The arms extend out from each side of the robotic body. Dual arm robots can have between four to fifteen axes. Each arm can work separately from one another for increased productivity or they can work together on the same task. Top robotic manufacturers Yaskawa Motoman and ABB Robotics both produce dual arm robots. Dual arm robots are typically deployed to automate material handling processes such as assembly, machine tending, part transfer, and packaging. The main advantage of dual robotic arms is they provide functionality that is most similar to humans than other types of robotic arms.
- • Parallel Link Arm - Parallel link robotic arms consist of three slender and lightweight arms that extend downward from the robot body. All three arms attach to a single end-effector. Parallel link robotic arms work in a dome shape since all three control the EOAT. Unlike other robotic arms, the motors are located above the arms in the robot body instead of inside the robotic arms themselves. This allows for precise, high-speed, agile operation. Delta robots are configured with parallel link arms. They can be used to automate high speed and light payload applications including automated assembly, pick and place, and dispensing. The FANUC M2ia is one of the most well-known parallel link robots.
- • Other Robotic Arms - Other types of robotic arms are less common than the ones mentioned above. These include cartesian, SCARA, cylindrical, and polar. Cartesian robotic arms feature three linear axes that are located at right angles to one another for straight line movement. SCARA robotic arms can operate on three axes and excel in lateral movements. Cylindrical arms extend perpendicular to a rotating pole. The movement of the pole allows the arm to operate in a vertical and sliding motion. Polar robotic arms consist of two rotating joints, one linear that is attached to a base and a rotational joint attached to the end of the linear joint creating a spherical work envelope.