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Types of Robots

There are numerous types of robots available for automating manufacturing processes. While some are more common than others, they each have their own unique features and benefits. The following is a list describing each robot type and their uses.


Articulated robots are the most common when it comes to industrial automation. They are designed to mimic a human arm, with rotary joints connecting the arms links. Each joint is referred to as an axis with each one determining an independent movement. Articulated robots may range from two to ten or more axes. Six-axis robots are the most popular in the articulated robot family since they have the most flexible range of motion with six degrees of freedom. Articulated robots can in numerous applications including robotic welding, spot welding, automated assembly, robotic handling, material removal, painting, and foundry. TheFANUC M-20ia is one of the most successful articulated robots with its multi-application capabilities and speed. Top manufacturer's for this type of robot include FANUC, ABB Robotics, Motoman, and KUKA.


SCARA is an acronym that stands for Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm. SCARA robots are known for their speed and are widely deployed for assembly applications. These industrial robots can operate on the x, y, and z planes with rotary motion. They feature a cylindrical work envelope with two parallel joints. SCARA robots are best for lateral movements, which is why they are mostly used for robotic assembly processes. However, they may also be deployed for light palletizing, machine loading, and automated packaging applications.


Delta robots are commonly referred to as parallel or spider robots. This is because of their unique design that features three slender parallel joint arms that extend downward from a common base. The robot arms connect to a single EOAT, allowing for a dome-shaped work envelope. Due to their light weight arms, these robots are able to operate at very high speeds with extreme precision. Delta robots are commonly used amongst electronic, food, and pharmaceutical manufacturers for automating pick and place and part transfer applications. FANUC has designed an entire line of spider robots, featuring the M-1ia, which is one of their most utilized from the series.


Cartesian, also known as gantry robots, feature a robotic manipulator that is mounted to a linear track system. These robots have a cubic work envelope with three perpendicular axes, x, y, and z. These robots are ideal for pick and place applications providing linear movement across the track system that can travel tens of meters within minutes.


Collaborative robots have opened up the realm of robotic manufacturing by being able to operate directly alongside humans without the need for safety barriers. These robots feature a rounded design, no pinch points, and special sensors giving them the ability to assist workers. Many robotic manufacturers now produce cobots including FANUC. FANUC’s CR-15ia stands out from their other robots with its bright green color and foam exterior.


As the name implies, cylindrical robots feature a cylindrical work envelope. They are configured with a rotary joint at the base and a prismatic joint connecting the links. These robots are ideal for confined work areas for automating assembly, robotic coating, or machine tending tasks.


Polar robots are also called spherical robots and were one of the first types of robots to be invented. They feature a spherical work envelope due to the polar coordinate formation of the robot axes. These robots can be deployed for robotic die casting, automated injection molding, or material handling processes.

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