Articulated Robot Guide
What is an Articulated Robot?
An articulated robot, or articulated robot arm, is a type of industrial robot with rotary joints and is in fact the most common type of robot used in industrial applications, which is why it is also known as the articulated industrial robot.
Articulated robots are basically robots with rotary joints, which can range from a two-joint structure to systems of up to 10 or more interacting joints. The joints are often referred to as the axes in the robotic field. Most industrial robots are equipped with 4 to 6 axes, with 6 being the most prevalent. These robots can be powered by various means, typically by servo motors.
Following the above, each axis or joint of the articulated robot offers additional degrees of freedom, which is often referred to as independent motions. The axes are arranged in a way that each joint supports the other, forming a segmented chain that extends the length of the robot.
The construction of an articulated robot primarily includes a base placed on a surface, with the first joint attached. The main body of the robot is connected to the base via the first rotary joint. Another joint is positioned 90 degrees to the robot's body and connects the shoulder to the body. At the end of the robot shoulder lies a parallel rotary joint that is used to attach the robot arm on to the shoulder. Additional joints can then be used to attach the robot wrist at the end of the robot arm. Simply put, the entire structure of an articulated robot is to imitate the movement of a human arm, except that we cannot really rotate the segments of our arms like the robot arms can.
Work envelope is an important term to know in the world of industrial robots that are used as a factor to assess its usability. Work envelope, also known as reach envelope, is a 3-dimensional shape that defines the boundaries the robot is able to reach. One of the biggest advantages of articulated robot arms is that they are able to use a majority of their work envelope. The only part of the envelope that articulated robots are not able to use is the back at which the cables are located. However, more advanced models have successfully eliminated this problem by featuring internally routed power and data cables in order to produce a spherical reach. But even if a spherical reach is not achieved, the most standard types of articulated robots are still very efficient in terms of productivity and usable space in factories. For those that especially value production flow, safety, and available space, articulated robots may be an ideal option.
Benefits and Applications
The major advantage of an articulated robot is without a doubt its degrees of freedom that other types of the robot cannot match, making it one of the most prevalent robots amongst manufacturers. With the structure closely mimicking a human arm, articulated robots are capable of a wide variety of operations in production lines, offering the flexibility to cover a handful of movements within production processes. This in turn enhances the adaptability to any changes in the production process or work materials.
With specific respect to work materials, the superior freedom of movement yields a greater work envelope for the articulated robot, enabling workpieces from small to large to be handled at ease and making them extremely versatile amongst various applications. Some of these applications include assembly, part transfer, arc welding, material handling, pick and place, packaging, machine loading and palletizing, etc. And the wonderful thing is that most articulated robots are designed to be capable of performing multiple functions.
Instead of giving you an exact number, we thought it's better to break down the prospective expense into a few components to provide you with a better price outlook.
First and foremost, there is the upfront cost, which is the price of an actual, stand-alone unit. Next is the operational and maintenance expense, which is constituted by the monthly maintenance and operation of the robot.
With that said, the benefits will eventually offset the upfront cost in most cases if we look at the long-term picture of the return on investment. Moreover, articulated robots enhance the level of automation for the production line, which not only improves the safety of workers by minimizing repetitive stress but also reduce the degree of human intervention, thereby saving labor cost. In addition, products can be manufactured more consistently and efficiently, resulting in increased productivity.
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