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What is a robot manipulator?

An industrial robot is comprised of a robot manipulator, power supply, and controllers. Robotic manipulators can be divided into two sections, each with a different function:

  • Arm and Body - The arm and body of a robot are used to move and position parts or tools within a work envelope. They are formed from three joints connected by large links.
  • Wrist - The wrist is used to orient the parts or tools at the work location. It consists of two or three
    compact joints.

Robot manipulators are created from a sequence of link and joint combinations. The links are the rigid members connecting the joints, or axes. The axes are the movable components of the robotic manipulator that cause relative motion between adjoining links. The mechanical joints used to construct the robotic arm manipulator consist of five principal types. Two of the joints are linear, in which the relative motion between adjacent links is non-rotational, and three are rotary types, in which the relative motion involves rotation between links.

The arm-and-body section of robotic manipulators is based on one of four configurations. Each of these anatomies provides a different work envelope and is suited for different applications.

  • Gantry - These robots have linear joints and are mounted overhead. They are also called Cartesian and rectilinear robots. 
  • Cylindrical - Named for the shape of its work envelope, cylindrical anatomy robots are fashioned from linear joints that connect to a rotary base joint.   
  • Polar - The base joint of a polar robot allows for twisting and the joints are a combination of rotary and linear types. The work space created by this configuration is spherical. 
  • Jointed-Arm - This is the most popular industrial robotic configuration. The arm connects with a twisting joint, and the links within it are connected with rotary joints. It is also called an articulated robot. 

RobotWorx is an Authorized Integrator of Fanuc, Motoman, ABB and Kuka industrial robots. To learn more about robot arm manipulators or how to purchase an industrial robot, check out our product listings and specials or request more information.