A mechanical arm, also called a robotic arm, is an innovative invention in the automated industries. Covering a wide range of applications, the mechanical arms are designed to be almost the alternatives to the hands of the operators. In other words, for the industries that require the automatic operation that does the same works as the operators, they are benefited from the appearance of the mechanical arms.
For the traditional industries, which divided a complex work into parts and distributed these parts of the work to the employed operators, it is time-consuming to complete a project, since there are several limitations that the manual operation may have, such as the requirement of the break time. In addition, even if the work time of the operators is extended, the quality and the consistency of the products are hard to be controlled.
With the progress of the advanced technology, some of the industries develop semi-automatic operation, which makes the operation of the machines automated, but still requires a few operators that take the responsibility for the delivery of the loads, controlling of the computerized system, or supervising the working processes.
When the semi-automatic operation is adopted, the costs might be significant, because the industries have to spend the costs not only on the automated mechanism but also the labor expenditure, although the amount of the latter has been reduced. Considering the maximum efficiency and the minimum costs that the manufacturers are required to spend, mechanical arms are invented.
Comparing to the semi-automatic operation, the mechanical arms serve as the fully automatic operation, which is more advanced than the former. The fully automatic operation, as the name implies, means that the operation is totally automatic without the need of the operators.
The design of the mechanical arm system can be derived from the structure of the human body. Imagine the structure from the shoulders, arms, and wrists of a person; the assembly of the mechanical arm system is identical to what the above structure looks like. This device consists of a control system, drive system, robotic arms, end effectors, and sensors.
● Control system
As the brain of a human being that dominates the movements of the arms, the angles, and the strength when the arms are moving, the control system serves as the brain of the mechanical arms.
The control system is an intricate computerized system, which can either be adjusted by the operators with the science project kits or joysticks or automatically controls the robotic arms, depending on the type of models that the manufacturers adopt.
● Drive system
The drive system contains several drives in the “joints” of the robotic arms, which are the motors that cause the arms to move. Since the mechanical arms may be long in length, the transmission routes from the motors to the end effectors on the “wrists” of the arms would be long accordingly. Therefore, these transmission routes are usually connected with belts, just like what the construction of a car would be equipped with.
● Robotic arms
The robotic arms are the parts that perform the motions that are maneuvered by the control system. The assembly contains the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. With the maneuvering of the control system, these arms are capable of moving forward, backward, or spinning depending on the requirements.
● End effectors
The end effectors exist on the wrists, which are the end parts of the arms and may come in two types. One is identical to the hands of the operators that grab and secure the machine tools during the machining processes, and the other acts as the machine's tools, such as the blowtorches, drills, and spray painters.
The sensors are used to detect the precision of the arm movements, which determine whether the pressure that the end effectors give on the workpieces is too high or the positions of the arms are right or not.
● Reduces costs
Comparing the mechanical arms and their direct counterparts, the manual operators, the most obvious variation is the requirements on the employment of the operators. As the fully automatic system, the mechanical arms eliminate the need of the operators, which directly reflects on the reduced cost that should have been spent on the employment.
● Enhances precision and quality
Since the mechanical arms are maneuvered by the computerized system, they are operated with repetitive and consistent movements, which ensure the precision of each process, and thus refine the quality of the products that are made with this innovative device.
● Increases efficiency and productivity
As long as the electric power is kept supplied, the mechanical arms are never tired. In other words, there is no limitation on the work time of these robotic arms, so that the efficiency of the works can be definitely increased, and the productivity of the manufacturers that adopted the mechanical arms is therefore increased accordingly.
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