Robotic painting uses industrial robots to automate painting applications in order to achieve flawless, high quality paint finishes. Painting robots have been around since the 1980s when they first made their debut in the automotive industry. These robots were created to increase productivity, lower costs, and remove workers from hazardous environments. The original painting robots featured bulky designs that were built to only paint large parts. However, advances in robotic technology has modernized the painting robot into slimmer designs with longer reaches making them capable of painting a variety of objects from large to small intricate parts.
Painting robots such as the ABB IRB 5400 are equipped with vision systems allowing them to be able to inspect a part, locate the edges for the part, see patterns, and determine the part size. Vision systems allow the robot to determine what areas need to be painted and provide them with extreme accuracy. They are programmed to apply the correct amount of paint with every stroke, producing smooth, even paint finishes. It is impossible to match the precision of a painting robot with manual painting. Most of the time manual painting results in too little or too much paint being used because it is difficult for the worker to apply the same amount of paint with every application. Paint finishes turn out uneven with either dripping or overspray and need to have additional touch ups to correct these mistakes. Cycle time is increased in order to make corrections and materials are wasted causing costs to rise. A painting robot like the KUKA KR 10 R1100 is programmed to prevent any deviation during the painting application helping manufacturers to decrease their cycle time while increasing productivity.
Manual painting applications can be a tedious and tiring job that is undesirable for workers. It can involve repetitive bending, twisting, reaching, and crouching in order to paint a part, these constant movements can be taxing to workers. Painting robots are designed with five to six axis of motion to handle all the various movements needed to paint parts of various sizes. Three axis are used for base movements and up to three axis are used for applicator orientation. They are also capable of working in small or tight spaces because they can be mounted from the wall, shelf, or a rail. Advances in anti-collision software make it possible for multiple painting robots, such as the FANUC Paint Mate 200ia, to work side by side in order to complete joint tasks. With the capability to have several robots working together throughput increases, and parts are painted at faster rates.
Not only can painting jobs be laborious, but they can also be hazardous to workers. Paints often have dangerous chemicals and produce toxic fumes that can have adverse health effects to humans when inhaled. Some paints can even be highly flammable further increasing the safety risk of workers. With painting robots like the Motoman MH50-20 manufacturers do not have to worry about the toxicity of paints. These robots are built with explosion proof arms allowing them to be capable of working with any combination of chemicals without failure.
The advancements of robotic painting technology are expanding the capabilities of robots to make them a more versatile and cost-effective solution for manufacturers.