What Makes Six-Axis Robots So Popular?
Industrial robots are available in a variety of axis configurations. Some industrial robots have as few as three axes while other are built with up to fifteen axes. Despite the varying degrees of robot axes there is one configuration that continues to be the most popular when it comes to robotic automation and that is the six-axis robot.
One of the reasons six-axis robots are so popular for industrial automation is because they provide a full range of motion. Six-axis robots have six degrees of freedom which allows them to access a unit of space from any angle. Their range of motion is similar to that of the human arm, making automation of manual tasks possible. The FANUC Arcmate 120ic is capable of reaching over, under, and rotating objects a complete 360 degrees due to its six axes. Each axis is responsible for an independent motion, which is why six-axis robots have a great amount of flexibility when it comes to movement.
The full range of motion of six-axis robots makes them incredibly versatile with the ability to automate a variety of applications. Six-axis robots can automate most production related tasks, and most are considered to be multipurpose robots. The Motoman HP20D can automate a variety of material handling applications and can also be deployed for welding automation. Other axis configurations are more limited to the types of applications they can perform, especially those with less than six axes. Fewer axes limits range of motion which restricts their operation to simpler processes. Six-axis robots are capable of not only automating a variety of processes but also those that are complex.
The versatility of six-axis robots makes them extremely cost-effective. Since six-axis robots can automate multiple applications they can always be repurposed should manufacturing processes change. A single six-axis robot can be used for multiple projects throughout its lifetime. Six-axis articulated robots can also streamline production lines by reducing the amount of equipment and personnel needed. A single robot can handle the workload of multiple workers and can handle multiple steps of a production process. Fewer workers and machinery are needed, reducing production costs. In the long run six-axis robots pay for themselves with lower costs, increased productivity, higher product quality, and improved efficiency.
Six-axis robots are also available in a variety of sizes, reaches, and payload capacity making it easier for users to find a robot that suits their needs. Six-axis robots can be small, tabletop units such as the FANUC Lr Mate 200id, or they can be large machines like the Yaskawa Motoman EPL300, as well as all sizes in between. There are low payload, medium payload, and high payload options as well. Reaches can vary widely too with short arm, standard arm, and extended arm versions to accommodate a variety of workspaces.
Six-axis robots are also popular because they are the most commonly manufactured. Top robotic manufacturers FANUC, Yaskawa Motoman, ABB, and KUKA produce a variety of robots, but the vast majority are six-axis. The availability of both new and used six-axis robots makes them more likely to be selected for automation.