Robotic Arm- What They Are, the Different Types Available and Their Pros and Cons

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Robotic arms, also called industrial robots, are also referred to as mechanical arms. These are devices whose functionality is the same as that of human hands. They have several joints which enable mobility either in a rotational manner or along an axis.

There are robotic arms that even try to imitate human movement, thus being anthropomorphic. In many cases, these arms are programmable and are used to perform specific functions. They are most commonly used in industrial, fabrication, and manufacturing applications. 

They can also either be small devices performing details and intricate tasks. They can also be small enough to be operated on using a single hand. Other times, they are so big that their reach can be used in the construction of buildings. 

These arms were first designed to help in mass production in different factories like the car manufacturing industry. They were also widely implemented as a way of mitigating employee work-related injuries.    

Types of Robotic Arms

Robotic arms are of many different types. Each component found in the current manufacturing industry has been specifically designed. That way, they can provide functions tailor-made to a manufacturer’s needs. 

For the most part, robotic arms are differentiated with the type of joints they have. This subsequently affects the range of functions and movements the arms can operate. Types of robotic arms include;

1. Cartesian/Rectilinear Robotic Arm:

It was initially invented to marks geometric graph curves using algebra equations. It has three joints, with each joint being programmed using the X, Y, and Z axes coordinates. They specify linear movement in all three directions along axes. This robotic arm also has wrist joints. 

2. Cylindrical robotic arm

These have axes that form a circular coordinate system. As such, their movements have been programmed to happen in a cylinder shapes manner. This robotic arm is mainly used in assembling, handling machine tools, and spot-welding. They are used in these applications because their prismatic and rotary joints will give it linear and rotational motion. 

3. Spherical/Polar robotic arm

This robotic arm operates within a spherical envelope. This is achieved when a combination of one linear joint, two rotary, and one rotational joint. It is also connected via its base at a twisting joint. 

4. SCARA robotic arm

SCARA, or Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm, is widely used in assembly, placing, and picking up applications. It also can tolerate some level of compliance. It has flexibility along some axes but is still rigid in others.

Uses of Robotic Arms 

Robotic arms are used in all sorts of manufacturing roles, processing, and production. They are ideal for tasks that require repetitive motion, precision, and speed. Here are more uses of robotic arms:

  • Loading        
  • Orientation
  • Speed
  • Travel 
  • Precision

Benefits of Robotic Arms

1.Accuracy and Precision

Collaborative robotic arms are very accurate and highly precise. They will work in the manner in which they were programmed to function. Under no circumstance will they deviate, and this increases production quality.

2.Efficient and Fast

This means that robotic arms can multi-task and help your business improve its market position and financial status.

3.Safer work environment

Robots are best suited when assigned to difficult, dirty, dull, and dangerous work. This frees up workers in those positions, and they are thus able to focus on other tasks. This protects their health physically and mentally. 

Disadvantages of Robotic arms

1.Constant monitoring

Robotic arms need to be carefully monitored. That way, if there is a mechanical fault, it can be detected early and fixed. Monitoring robots can, however, be done in a small way. The robots send you feedback on the processes through text. If there is a technical hitch, the problem can also be fixed remotely.

2.No innovativeness or creativity

Unlike humans, who can give you ideas to ease the process, robots only do what they have been programmed to do. They also can’t know when the preferences are being changes and what a consumer wants. The manufacturer is now given the task of always keeping a lookout. When a collaborative robot is added, it can adapt very fast. However, they cannot know when to change and adjust and cannot be delegated. 

3.Joblessness

Robots are feared to take over jobs that humans previously occupied. Their mechanical ability and cost-effectiveness mean they might completely replace human workers. Cobots are, however, eliminating such fears as they work alongside humans. 

Vision and Sensor Robots

The creation of robotic arms has helped human developmental behaviors to improve. There has also been advancement in robotic sensors. The kinds of sensors robotic arms now have include:

2D vision sensors: Comes with a camera app and enables the robotic arm to detect motion. The robot later adapts such a movement referring to the data that was presented in the camera.

3D vision sensors: This is a newer concept that allows robotic arms to make more complicated decisions. It can do so using the two cameras it has that are situated at different angles. It can also do make better decisions by using three-dimensional laser scanners.

Force Torque sensor: This makes it easy for robotic arms to identify the amount of weight that has been out on it. It can also change force. 

Collision Detection sensor: This gives the robot awareness of its surroundings.

Safety sensors: These are used to ensure that anyone working near the robotic arm is safe from harm. In case there is a need for the robot to move, the sensor will notify the robot. The robot will, in turn, stop working or move. 

Conclusion

Mechanical or Industrial robotic arms are mostly made from cast iron or steel from the base up and end at the wrist. When a factory incorporates the use of robotic arms, its processes are automated. These metallic phenomena will continue being used in the manufacturing industry for years to come. Their benefits keep growing with each advanced version. So, you can be sure you will be seeing more of them in industries. 



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