When to Automate with a SCARA Robot

FANUC SR-6ia Scara Robot
SCARA stands for Selective Compliance Articulated Robot Arm. It is one of the most common types of industrial robots used in manufacturing. SCARA’s are small robots with a two link jointed arm that operates along the X, Y, and Z planes. SCARA robots are flexible along the X and Y axes but rigid along the Z axis. This is what gives them selective compliance. The majority of SCARA robots are configured with four axes; however, some may only have three axes.

Due to the structure and configuration of SCARA robots, they are more limited in what processes they can automate, unlike articulated robots which are the most versatile. However, SCARA robots will excel at processes that are a good fit for them. Applications that require low payloads, small work envelopes, high precision, and fast speeds will generally be ideal for automating with a SCARA robot.

  • • Low Payloads - SCARA robot payloads start at as little as 0.5 kg and go up to only 20 kg. Therefore the FANUC SR-3ia can only automate processes with light workpieces and light tooling. The compact size of SCARA robots limits their payload capacities.

  • • Small Work Envelopes - SCARA robots are built with short robotic arms which limits their reach. Most SCARA robots have reaches under 1,000 mm. Applications with small work envelopes are best for SCARA robots. Their compact size and limited reach does allow them to be easily implemented along production lines and to operate even in narrow spaces.

  • • High Precision - SCARA robots feature some of the highest repeatabilities with tolerances under 10 microns, while other industrial robots are around 20 microns. This makes the FANUC SR-6ia and other SCARA robots capable of operating with pinpoint precision. Their low axis configuration and selective compliance also contribute to their high precision.

  • • Fast Speeds - SCARA robots are the second fastest type of industrial robot behind delta robots. They are ideal for applications requiring fast speeds. Their low axis configuration and rigid Z axis allows them to operate at high speeds without sacrificing accuracy.

Best Types of Applications for SCARA Robots

While the characteristics listed above describe processes that are generally a good fit for SCARA robots, not every type of robotic application with those characteristics will be successful with a SCARA robot. The application types that are best for them include:

  • • Assembly
  • • Pick and Place
  • • 3D Printing
  • • Soldering
  • • Dispensing
  • • Engraving
  • • Machine Tending

Small parts assembly applications are the most common for SCARA robots. The original meaning of their name was Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm as they were used exclusively for assembly automation when they were first developed. Over the years advancements in robotic technology has allowed SCARA robots to expand their application scope. For pick and place applications, SCARA robots tend to be the most cost-effective for automating due to their simpler setup. 3D printing is a newer robotic application but is becoming increasingly prevalent and SCARA robots have become a popular choice for automating it. While the FANUC SR-20ia and other SCARA robots may be more limited for when they can be used compared to other industrial robot types, when used applicably they will completely optimize operations.

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