Robot Investment Tool - Robot Definitions

Types of robots

Articulated Robots

The articulated robot arm is the most commonly used robot system. There is virtually no task that the right articulated robot cannot handle. The articulated robot is extremely flexible, and many tasks can only be handled by an articulated robot. Though still much faster and more precise than its human counterpart. The articulated robot is inferior to the more dedicated systems in terms of speed compared to price for Scara and Parallel robots, and range for large Cartesian robots. However a Cartesian robot, or parts of it i.e. a rail or gantry system may be combined with an articulated robot arm to get a system, that is both flexible and has a long range.

Parallel Robots

Like the Scara robot, the Parallel robot is useful when handling smaller objects at great speed over short distances. Packing is one such task. The parallel robot differs from the Scara robot because it is celling mounted over the working area. This means that is not in the way of for instance a conveyor belt, and may service both sides of the belt. Celling mount also means that cleaning of the working area is easy. Thus the parallel robot is particularly popular in the food industry.

SCARA Robots

The SCARA robot is extremely fast compared to its price. The tradeoff is flexibility, and range. The SCARA robot is mainly used for small handling tasks, and packing of small parts. Scara robots are used in any small parts industry where speed is essential, and flexibility is not as essential. Industries include food production and medicine industry.

Cartesian Robots

This type of robot is suited for flat surfaces. Types may vary from small Pick’n’Place robots to gigantic gantry systems in for instance shipyards. This type of robot is unique in the way that it may be supported at both ends in a gantry system, and may run on rails or cog bars. This gives the robot a great weight to strength ratio. The reach of the robot is only limited by the length of the rails (in a gantry system), and thus virtually unlimited in one plane. Cartesian robots are widely used in the metal industry for steel plate cutting and surface treatment.

Processes

Arc Welding

Apart from high precision, the process require neither high speed nor large payloads. Reach and foremost maneuverability is key, when welding. Therefore, many dedicated arc-welding robots may have more than the traditional three joints, normal for articulated robots, giving them access to hard to reach areas. Robot types used for arc welding are mainly articulated robots, either alone or in combination with Cartesian robots, which gives arc-welding robots, virtually unlimited range. Arc welders are usually dependent on humans or other robots, to mount the part and align them before the process begins. Arc welders are used in a variety of industries and may be applicable through the metal industry.

Packaging

Packing is essentially handling and/or assembly into boxes. Therefore, any solution that may apply for these processes may also apply for packing robots. Speed is an important factor, and Scara and especially Parallel robots are superb for packing smaller items from a conveyer belt to boxes, packing several thousand items an hour.

Painting

The process in many ways resemble the arc welding process. The robot do not need a high payload or excessive speed, however reach, precision, and maneuverability are important factors. The robot may be placed in a hostile environment, and may have to be covered by a sleeve and/or able to withstand corrosive chemicals.

Assembly

The process of assembly varies from ultrafast assembly of tiny parts, like pick'n'place, over delicate high precision manufacturing to extreme payloads for instance in the car industry. The size of the robot should accommodate the requirements of the assembly process in term of reach and payload. For normal assembly processes, you will want a robot that is fast enough, not to slow down the production line. A rule of thumb is the more lightweight and tiny the parts in need of assembly are, the faster a robot you may choose. For small parts assembly, Parallel and Scara robots are most applicable, due to their superior speed and precision. Their lack of flexibility is their trade off. For larger jobs, or jobs that require less speed and more flexibility the articulated robot is applicable. For huge assembly jobs and jobs in a plane that are out of the reach of the Parallel and Scara robots the Cartesian robot is a good choice – often combined with an articulated robot, for flexibility. In the area of assembly, you see more and more collaborative robots, working alongside humans. Robots are used throughout the entire assembly industry.

Spot Welding

High position and fast speeds are essential for spot welding robots. The actual welding process does not account for much of the robots operating time. Maneuvering from one spot to the next does, however. Therefore, a fast lightweight articulated robot arm with medium payload is most suited for spot welding. Robot types are mainly articulated robots, in combination with conveyer belts to pass different parts through the reach of the robot, while it welds. Spot welders are usually dependent on other robots or funneling systems to fix the parts together while the welding process is taking place. Spot welders are widely used in the car industry.

Handling

The handling process is assisting many other processes like welding, spot welding and assembly processes, fetching and fixating parts for other processes to take place. Like the assembly process, handling may require anything from low weight and high speed, to huge parts for cars, and even shipyards. The robots used for handling are mainly articulated robots, due to flexibility. However, any type of robot may be applicable, depending on the handling requirements. In the area of handling, you see more and more collaborative robots, working alongside humans, for instance with the robots acting as the workers third arm and hand. Handling robots are used throughout the entire production industry.

Grinding / Finishing

Like painting, and arc welding, the grinding and finishing process do not require fast speeds or high payloads. However, reach, precision, and maneuverability are important factors. The robot may be placed in a hostile environment, and may have to be covered by a sleeve and/or able to withstand corrosive particles.

Palletizing

Isolated to placing cartons on pallets, the task requires the manipulation of larger boxes. Therefore robots with relative high payload and reach is requires. However, speed is often not critical. For this task larger articulated robots are used for flexibility, sometimes combined with a rail or gantry (Cartesian) system, for instance for flex picking. Larger Cartesian robots may also be used, especially for heavier payloads and the need for longer reach. Palletizing is used in any industry that ships goods on pallets.