What Makes a Great Industrial Robotic Arm? A Closer Look

Robotic Arm

Projections show that the global robotic arm market will reach a value of $39.2 billion by 2024.

This growth is due to the usefulness of robotic arms in many industries. There are various types of robotic arms available, each with distinct characteristics. Finding the right robotic arm for you means understanding how these types differ.

To find out more, keep reading.

What Is a Robotic Arm?

Robotic arms are machines that can carry out a range of tasks with a high degree of speed and accuracy. This is done using computer software to program the arms with a set of directions which the arm will carry out as instructed.

They are very useful in industrial environments where repetitive tasks are needed, as they can carry out automated functions sometimes without a need for rest and the error rate is minimal.

Different Types

There are various types of robotic arms available today with different traits that make them suitable for specific applications. The main difference between these arms is the design of the joints and how they move.

Cartesian (Gantry)

These are named for the Cartesian coordinate system, which essentially makes use of X, Y axes (and sometimes Z) to determine their movements. Programming coordinates allows a gantry arm to move along these 3 axes in a linear fashion, giving a 3D range of motion.

They often manipulate a tool or attachment through a range of positions to carry out their given task. These serve a range of applications, most commonly machining parts or picking/placement along with a conveyor belt.

Cylindrical

The coordinates for a cylindrical robotic arm work within a cylindrical space, meaning it can move up, down, and around. These are generally used for applications that require both linear and rotational movement.

Some common uses include machine tool handling and spot-welding.

Polar/Spherical

The work envelope of a polar robotic arm is spherical, which is made possible with a rotational joint, a linear joint, and two rotary joints. It connects to the base with a twisting joint and can carry out many tasks similar to a cylindrical robot arm.

Some examples of applications include:

  • Machine tool manipulation
  • Spot welding
  • Arc welding
  • Die casting

SCARA

SCARA robot arms (Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm) have certain limitations, as they can move freely along some axes, but are rigid in others. These are not the most capable type available, but might be the best robot arm for simple tasks when the cost is a factor.

SCARA arms are most often used on production lines for assembly and placement. The rigidity in certain axes is sometimes helpful as components can be inserted into tight spaces with a lower risk of damage to the parts involved.

Ideal Characteristics

The main characteristics to look out for include the following:

  • Load – the capacity that the arm can bear
  • Orientation – the movement the arm is capable of in relation to its placement
  • Speed – how fast it can perform tasks, and therefore how efficient it is
  • Precision – the accuracy of the arm, which is more crucial for use with smaller, more intricate parts
  • Environment – how intensively the arm will need to work to carry out its task, taking into account rest and maintenance
  • Construction – the durability of the arm and any cast parts which will have an effect on the lifespan and the maintenance needed

Finding the Best Robotic Arm

When looking for a robotic arm for a certain task you should consider the factors above. Make sure it is capable of carrying out the desired task efficiently and accurately while keeping the maintenance to a minimum.

If you’re interested in more tech articles check out some of our other blog posts.

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