Industrial robots are programmable and automated machines that carry out complex tasks in manufacturing. They typically can move in three or more axes, carry loads, perform operations at high speeds and work with great precision and accuracy. These characteristics provide numerous advantages, such as increased productivity, higher part quality, longer working hours, reduced downtimes and lower costs. They can be used for many different tasks such as picking and placing, machine vision, automated storage, measuring, cutting, dispensing, marking, sorting and tool handling.
However, some industrial robots can be expensive, and require extensive training for proper implementation. Some of them also lack flexibility, which makes them harder to repurpose. All these factors may drive off certain companies, that are interested in implementing industrial robots, but need a user-friendly, flexible, and cost-effective solution to their automation requirements. Collaborative and cartesian motion robots are two great options for these businesses.
Collaborative Robots (Cobots)
Collaborative robots, more commonly referred to as “cobots”, are robots specifically designed to work with humans in a shared workspace in a safe manner. No guards, lasers, sensors or other safety equipment are needed in most situations. Cobots can work either sequentially, collaboratively or simultaneously with humans. They can also perform unrelated tasks and just share the same space. Either way, this approach dramatically differs from more traditional industrial robots, that must be isolated from humans, due to safety concerns.
Cobots normally move in 6 axes or more and are easy to program. Most of them require little coding and can be programmed directly by recording an operator’s movements with a handheld device. All these make them useful for almost any industrial environment and easy to repurpose when needed. The only major limitation they have is their relatively low payload capacity (normally up to 10 kg) compared to other solutions. Even with this in mind, cobots are an economic, lightweight, and versatile option for those looking to implement industrial robots.
Cartesian Motion Robots
Cartesian motion robots (also called linear motion robots, gantry robots or x-y-z robots) are another great option for businesses looking to get started with industrial robots. This kind of robots have straight three axes of movement, perpendicular to one another. This setup makes them better suited for performing simpler movements (due to their 3-axis configuration).
Cartesian motion robots can be used to replace of pneumatic and hydraulic actuators, or SCARA and articulated robots (or cobots). They offer more capabilities, lower costs and less maintenance than pneumatic and hydraulic actuators; and they are cheaper and less complex than the mentioned robots. Overall, they are a great option for manufacturing and automated processes.
Linear and rotary, electric actuators are a great alternative to pneumatic and hydraulic technologies. They can be combined to build a cartesian motion system or even more complex machines.