Initially known as “Forced Labor” back in the 1920s, Industrial robots are now part of every manufacturing unit. They made their first appearance at the automotive assembly plant in the 1960s. And by then, their definition was changed too.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Today, Industrial robots are defined as “automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose manipulator, programmable in three or more axes, which can be either fixed or mobile for use in industrial automation application.” Not only that, over time, industrial robots took many shapes and began serving manufacturing units in many aspects. Here we tell you six types of Industrial robots and their top 10 applications.
Types of Industrial Robots
Industrial Robots are categorized based on their structure and five parameters given below:
- Degrees of freedom: That is, the sum of the joints that compose it.
- Accessibility space: The number of points accessible to the terminal point, depending on the geometric configuration.
- Positioning ability: Which measures the degree of accuracy of the movements in a scheduled task.
- Load capacity: Weight that can be transported.
- Speed: Maximum speed that can be reached.
Analyzing these elements, plus the geometric configuration of the robots, we can say there are more than six types available, but the most common are:
- Cartesian robots
Essentially Cartesian industrial robots are distinguished by positioning themselves through 3 linear joints, generating perpendicular movements according to the 3 Cartesian axes X, Y and Z.
Also, this type of industrial robot offers 3 essential benefits:
- Good level of accuracy and repeatability.
- Ease of programming
- Economic cost.
Therefore, it can be considered as the lowest cost solution for the Welding industry, as it can perform simple operations such as welding, placing or choosing efficiently and cheaply.
- Scara robots
Scara robots are more like Cartesian robots. The only difference is that its final axis of the Z plane rotates the tool or clamp at the end of the robotic arm. Therefore, you will find that Scara robots are excellent for assembly processes, although they are not as universal since arm termination limits their reach.
- Cylindrical industrial robots
While the previous robots focus on having a certain position, this type of industrial robot differs essentially by having different positions at a fixed point. A widely used analogy that we can use to understand how it works is to compare it with a human arm, which can hold something fixed while moving your shoulder and elbow. That is, these robots can place their tool or clamp in a certain position, but with different positions.
- Articulated industrial robots
Unlike other robots on the list, Articulated robots have a twisting base with two to 10 (or more) joints, connected to it. These robots are more like a human arm and are used for painting, packaging, metal casting, and other industrial applications.
- 6-axis robot
6 axis industrial robot is also called 6 degrees of freedom robot as it can hold joints, tool or clamp in a position with 3 orientations, that is, with 3 movements. This allows you to have a better capacity for flexibility for different jobs or industrial applications, having the ability to become collaborative robots.
- Delta industrial robots
Delta robots have a spider-like structure with multiple joints connected to a common base. These robots have high precision speed and are usually used for fast pick and place applications.
Top 10 Applications of Industrial Robots
As said earlier, Industrial robots have been serving us for decades and here we have listed top 10 uses of these robots:
- Spot Welding: This is a process in which two pieces of metal are welded at localized points by passing a large electrical current through the parts where welding is performed.
- Continuous Arc Welding: Arc welding is a continuous welding process, unlike spot welding that could be considered a discontinuous process. Continuous arc welding is used to obtain long joints or large welded joints in which, often, a tight seal is needed between the two pieces of metal to be joined. The process uses a bar-shaped electrode or metal wire to supply the high electrical current of 100 to 300 amps.
- Material Transfer Application: Material transfer applications are defined as those operations in which the primary objective is to move a piece from one position to another. They are considered among the simplest or most direct operations performed by robots.
- Palletization: It is a process of manipulation, which consists of arranging pieces on a platform or tray, known as a pallet. These pieces occupy predetermined positions ensuring stability, and ease of handling.
- Paint: Most products made of metallic materials require some form of paint finish before delivery to the customer. Robots perform this task expeditiously and at a higher speed.
- Loading / Unloading Machines: The robot loads a workpiece in the process and unloads a finished piece. An example of this case is a machining operation.
- Application of Adhesives and Sealants: In the automotive industry, robots are frequently used for the application of sealant or adhesive cords (window and windshield sealants, anti-corrosion material, etc.).
- Deburring: Deburring consists of eliminating burrs of metal or plastic parts, coming from some previous processes such as casting, stamping, etc. For deburring, the robot carries a tool according to the application, which must follow the contour of the piece, which in many cases is complex. Therefore, robots with continuous path control capability and good precision characteristics and speed control are required.
- Cutting: The cutting of materials is a recent application and of great interest. The reprogramming capacity of the robot and its integration into a CIM system makes it ideal for transporting the cutting tool by precisely carrying out a previously defined cutting program through a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) system.
- Other processes: In addition to the tasks given above, robots are widely used for assembly, waterjet cutting, inspection, and soldering robots.
These are only a few types and some applications of industrial robots. However, if we consider the technological progression in the field of robotics, we can say that soon the application of these robots will be limitless. Stay tuned in to know more.