What is the Difference Between Articulated & Gantry Robots?
There are several types of industrial robots to choose from. Articulated robots are by far the most common, but gantry robots are gaining in popularity as they overcome one of the few limitations of articulated robots which is linear movement. How do these two types stack up against one another? Below is a look at some of their key differences.
DesignArticulated robots feature a single robotic manipulator that is designed to mimic a human arm. This robotic manipulator is attached to a rotating base. Articulated robots feature a chain of joints called axes which control the movement of the robot. Most articulated robots have six axes for a full range of motion, but they can also have less than or more than six axes. Most articulated robots are floor mounted but depending upon the industrial robot model they may also be ceiling, wall, or tabletop mounted.
Gantry robots also feature a design with a single robotic manipulator. However, there is one major difference between the design of gantry and articulated robots. The robotic manipulator of a gantry robot is mounted to a linear rail. The linear rail allows the robot to move back and forth horizontally unlike the stationary articulated robot. Most gantry systems are mounted overhead, but they can also be mounted below workstations.
ApplicationsArticulated robots are capable of automating just about any production related task. Their incredible versatility is one of the main reasons manufacturers prefer automating with robots. The FANUC M-20ia is ideal for automating material handling applications. The Motoman MA1400 is an example of an arc welding robot. Some of the most common applications for articulated robots include material removal, painting, welding, assembly, material handling, and automated palletizing.
Since gantry robots are capable of linear movements, they are ideal for applications requiring large work envelopes. Most gantry systems are used for automated pick and place, part transfer, and machine loading/unloading. Automating part transfer processes with the FANUC M-710ic/70T can reduce cycle times with its speed. Other applications that can be automated by gantry robots include dispensing, cutting, packaging, and assembly.
Advantages/DisadvantagesOne of the main advantages of articulated robots is their versatility. These multipurpose robots allow users to automate several applications with a single unit. The Motoman HP20D can be programmed for assembly applications one day and reprogrammed for part transfer the next. They can also work with a variety of part types and materials. In addition, they are able to automate complex processes.
The main disadvantage of articulated robots is that they are stationary. While their long reaches do allow them to access greater amounts of space, their work envelope is still limited.
The advantage of gantry robots is their linear movement. This allows them to be able to cover large amounts of space and move parts quickly. When configured as an overhead system precious floorspace can be saved.
The disadvantage of gantry robots is they are not as versatile as articulated robots are and are not well suited for complex applications. Processes with minimal part orientation are best for gantry robots.