Friday, 23 November 2018

Industrial Robots Are The Largest Application Of Robotic Technology

Owing to rapid technological advancements in robotics and automation, the manufacturing sector has witnessed an increased adoption of robotics engineering and technology into its production processes. Industrial robots are being used to perform tasks with high precision and repeatability resulting in products of higher quality. The ability of industrial robots to work continuously without taking a break is helping manufacturers in increasing output. Moreover, robots can work in dangerous and harmful environments, thus improving the working conditions and safety of the production plant. Therefore, the several advantages of industrial robots are encouraging manufacturers to integrate different types of industrial robots in its production line to increase plant efficiency and profitability.

The food packaging robotics market is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 10% by 2022. To be a part of this highly profitable market, industrial robot manufacturers such as ABB, FANUC Robotics, KUKA, Yaskawa Electric and Kawasaki Heavy Industries are investing in research and development to provide end users with more sophisticated and customized automation solutions.

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What are the Major Types of Industrial Robots in 2018

Based on mechanical configuration, industrial robots can be classified into six major types namely: articulated robots, cartesian robots, SCARA robots, delta robots, polar robots and cylindrical robots. Apart from mechanical configuration, industrial robots can also be categorized based on motion control, power supply control and physical characteristics.

This blog will focus on the major types of industrial robots based on configuration, their advantages and disadvantages and the areas of application.

Articulated Robots

Articulated robot is one of the most comment types of industrial robots. It resembles a human arm in its mechanical configuration. The arm is connected to the base with a twisting joint. The number of rotary joints connecting the links in the arm can range from two joints to ten joints and each joint provides an additional degree of freedom. The joints can be parallel or orthogonal to each other. Articulated robots having six degrees of freedom are the most commonly used industrial robots as the design offers maximum flexibility.

Advantages

High speed
Large work envelope for least floor space
Easier to align to multiple planes
Disadvantages

Requires dedicated robot controller
Complicated programming
Complicated kinematics
Application

Food packaging
Arc welding
Spot welding
Material handling
Machine tending
Automotive assembly
Steel bridge manufacturing
Steel cutting
Glass handling
Foundry and forging application

Cartesian Robots

Cartesian robots are also called rectilinear or gantry robots and have a rectangular configuration. These types of industrial robots have three prismatic joints to deliver linear motion by sliding on its three perpendicular axes (X, Y and Z). They might also have an attached wrist to allow rotational movement. Cartesian robots are used in majority of industrial applications as they offer flexibility in their configuration which make them suitable for specific application needs.

Advantages

Provides high positional accuracy
Simple operation
Easy to program offline
Highly customizable
Can handle heavy loads
Less cost
Disadvantages

Requires large operational and installation area
Complex assembly
Movement limited to only one direction at a time
Application

Pick and place operations
Loading and unloading
Material handling
Assembly and sub-assembly
Nuclear material handling
Adhesive applications
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SCARA Robots

SCARA (Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm) robots have a donut shaped work envelope and consists of two parallel joints that provide compliance in one selected plane. The rotary shafts are positioned vertically, and the end effector attached to the arm moves horizontally. SCARA robots specialize in lateral movements and are mostly used for assembly applications. The SCARA robots can move faster and have easier integration than cylindrical and cartesian robots.

Advantages

High speed
Excellent repeatability
Large workspace
Disadvantages

Requires dedicated robot controller
Limited to planar surfaces
Hard to program offline
Application

Assembly applications
Semiconductor wafers handling
Biomed applications
Packaging
Palletizing
Machine loading
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Delta Robots

Delta robots are also called parallel link robots as it consists of parallel joint linkages connected with a common base. Owing to direct control of each joint over the end effector, the positioning of the end effector can be controlled easily with its arms resulting in high speed operation. Delta robots have a dome shaped work envelope. These robots are generally used for fast pick-and-place or product transfer applications.

Advantages

Very high speed
High operational accuracy
Disadvantages

Complicated operation
Requires dedicated robot controller
Application

Food industry
Pharmaceutical industry
Electronic industry
Flight simulators
Automobile simulators
Optical fiber alignment
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Polar Robots

Polar robots have a twisting joint connecting the arm with the base and a combination of two rotary joints and one linear joint connecting the links. These are also called as spherical robots, since it has a spherical work envelope and the axes form a polar co-ordinate system. These robots have a centrally pivoting shaft and an extendable rotating arm. The gun turret configuration of polar robots sweeps a large volume of space, but the access of the arm is restricted within its workspace.

Advantages

Can reach all around
Can reach above or below obstacles
Large work volume
Requires less floor space
Disadvantages

Cannot reach above itself
Short vertical reach
Low accuracy and repeatability in direction of rotary motion
Requires sophisticated control system
Fallen out of favor and not common in new designs
Application

Die casting
Glass handling
Stacking and unstacking
Injection molding
Forging
Welding
Material handling
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Cylindrical Robots

Cylindrical robots have at least one rotary joint at the base and at least one prismatic joint connecting the links. These robots have a cylindrical workspace with a pivoting shaft and an extendable arm which moves vertically and by sliding. Thus, robots with cylindrical configuration offers vertical and horizontal linear movement along with rotary movement about the vertical axis. The compact design of the end of the arm allows the robot to reach tight work envelopes without any loss of speed and repeatability. It is mostly used in simple applications where materials are picked up, rotated and placed.

Advantages

Simple operation and installation
Minimal assembly
Can reach all around itself
Requires less floor space
Can carry large payloads
Disadvantages

Cannot reach around obstacles
Low accuracy in direction of rotary motion
Fallen out of favor and not common in new designs
Application

Transport of LCD panels
Assembly applications
Coating applications
Die casting
Foundry and forging application
Machine loading and unloading

Future Trends: Major Types of Industrial Robots

While implementing industrial robotics and automation into their businesses, one needs to understand and select the appropriate type of robot for their operations. Manufacturers are considering factors such as load, orientation, speed, precision, duty cycle, travel and environment before selecting the robot that will give the most effective and profitable results in their plant. Leading robotics companies are providing automation and robotics solutions to cater to the specific needs of their clients.






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