Factors to Consider when Choosing a Robotic Arm

Factors to Consider when Choosing a Robotic Arm

When deciding on an industrial robot for your facility, many options are to be considered. This article will help you understand how to choose the best robotic arm for your application.

Robotic arms are typically used in applications that require high repeatability and reliability. They can also be programmed to complete complex tasks that require a high degree of accuracy or safety.

Understanding some critical factors about robotic arms will help you choose the right one for your business. Here are some of the factors you need to consider before buying a robotic arm.

The Application

The first consideration is the application you need the robotic arm for. Robotic arms have varying capabilities. They vary in terms of the payload they can carry, the number of axes, and their reach distance.

These differences make each robotic arm suitable for specific applications. For example, a robotic arm with a high payload capacity is ideal if you need to lift heavy objects. If you need to perform intricate tasks, a robot with more axes and a more extensive reach distance is more appropriate.

If you aren’t sure of your exact requirements, consult a robotics expert or the robotic arm manufacturer to determine which type of robot suits your needs best.

 The Design of the Robotic Arm

The design of the robotic arm is a significant factor that needs to be considered when choosing an industrial robot. The type of design will determine the flexibility and functioning of the robotic arm.

There are two main designs of industrial robots: articulated and SCARA robots. Articulated robots are more flexible than SCARA robots, and they can efficiently perform different tasks. They have six or seven joints, unlike SCARA robots with only four joints. The joints in SCARA robots are fixed, and this limits their flexibility.

The design of the robotic arm will also determine how the robot reacts to external forces. This is very important because it will prevent damage to the robot due to collision. Wear and tear can be avoided if you consider this factor when choosing your robot.

Cost and Availability of Parts

The cost and availability of parts are essential for any manufacturing system. If something goes wrong with your robotic arm, waiting for parts can cause delays in production or even shutdowns if there are no other machines available to complete production.

The availability of parts can be a concern for older models. If you go with a new model, you will likely have fewer issues with the availability of spare parts. It is also essential to consider how much parts cost when choosing your robotic arm seeing as some models are pricier than others.

The Speed at Which the Robot can Work

Different applications have different speed requirements. If you’re using the robot to move apart from one location to another, speed isn’t as critical. However, if you’re using the robot to do something like welding, you will realize that speed matters. Make sure you understand the maximum axis speeds of the robotic arm you want to purchase and how they compare with what you need.

The Payload/Weight that the Robot can Lift

The robot’s payload is critical because this will determine if it is suitable for your application. You need to know how much weight your robot needs to lift to find one that has enough power to handle it. The weight of the payload will determine if you have enough space to accommodate one or more robots.

The Reach of the Robot

Reach is the distance between the center of rotation of the base and the end effector. This distance is critical because it determines how much workspace you will have in front of the robot. If you need to reach over an assembly line or a large object, your robot should have a long reach.

If you are working with a giant robot with an extensive reach, you will also need to ensure that the robot’s structure can support its weight at full extension. Also, be sure that your robot’s work envelope does not collide with anything.

The Number of Rotary Joints on the Arm

Most robotic arms come with one rotary joint, but some have several. Most modern industrial robots are articulated, meaning they can move in many different directions. The number of rotary joints on a robot will dictate the types of applications it can be used for. If you need to access small or hard-to-reach areas, for example, then you’ll benefit from an articulated arm with multiple rotary joints. 

If you’re unsure how many rotational joints you need for your application, think about where the robot will be placed and what it will be used for. You may also want to talk to an expert who can advise you on the best type of robot for your specific application.

The Repeatability of the Arm 

You need to know the repeatability of your arm. Repeatability is the ability of the end-effector to return to a programmed position after completing a task. Robotic arms are built with different levels of repeatability depending on their intended application.

Typically, this is measured in micrometers (um) or thousandths of an inch, so if you see a specification that says the repeatability is 0.1mm or 0.01in, that means the end-effector can return to its programmed position within 0.1mm or 0.01in at any point along its path.

Repeatability is vital for applications that require high precision, such as 3D printing or CNC machining, where the robot needs to be able to pick up and replace an object in precisely the same place every time. It’s also crucial for applications like assembly, which require robots to repeatedly place objects in exact locations.

If your robot arm has poor repeatability, it will make mistakes in these types of applications, which could cause damage to itself or other parts of your machine and potentially lead to injury.

Degrees of Freedom 

Degrees of freedom (DOF) refers to the number of independent movements a robot can make. A DOF is assigned to each axis on a robot: one DOF for each axis. The axes are named according to their movement — shoulder, elbow, wrist pitch (up and down), wrist roll (rotation), wrist yaw (sideways). These have historically been called joints as well.

For example, if you’re looking for an 8-axis robotic arm, it has eight independent axes capable of moving in different directions and at different speeds simultaneously. An 8-axis robotic arm could move its base left or right while lifting its elbow up or down and rotating its wrist yaw clockwise or counterclockwise all at the same time.

Maintenance Requirements

Robots are mechanical devices. As with all machines, regular maintenance will be required to ensure that they operate at an optimal level. This will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so you should ensure that you know what is required and how much this will cost to do on an annual basis.

The type of maintenance required can also vary depending on the degree of automation. If a robot is fully automated, it may require less maintenance than if it were partially automated. This is because a fully automated robot doesn’t need to be manually programmed, which means there’s less chance of human error that could lead to a malfunction.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right robotic arm for your production line is complex and challenging. There are many factors to consider before making a purchase. This article focuses on the key considerations that need to be made before choosing an industrial robot.

With that, you should be better positioned to make the right choice.

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