Industrial robotic arms have been assisting humans in manufacturing for decades. The idea of using industrial robotics for applications, in place of manual processes, took off in the 1980s, and manufacturers haven’t looked back.
But, how are these machines put together? How are these complex arms that operate with such speed and accuracy built?
Robotic arms are associated with automation sciences, a part of science that uses machines and computers that can learn or perform operational tasks. These robot arms start much like anything else – a design.
During the design process, engineers must decide which job the robot will perform, as well as what speed and accuracy it will perform this task with, along with other variables like environment, types of materials involved in the process, etc.
After the design process, the entire design is fabricated with metals like steel, aluminum and cast iron. While the components used to fabricate the robot are fairly common, the process of assembling the robot is not. Many companies, like FANUC Robotics, actually use industrial robots to build parts of the industrial robotic arms and controllers, as well as using their accuracy for the assembly process.
Once pieces are fabricated and machined, the engineers and technicians assemble robots from the base, which is the heaviest, to the wrist (typically the lightest part of the robotic arm). The fabricated metal pieces are combined with purchased electric motors, cables and sensors to create an arm that operates much like a human arm with a shoulder, elbow and wrist. These robot arms can have from 4-6 joints, and have several degrees of freedom.
Finally, the robot is wired to the controller – the finishing step. All the wires are routed back to the controller cabinet, the brains of the robot. This is where the robot arm will be programmed to do what the engineers designed it to do.
Once the robotic arm is built, it is run through a rigorous quality control process to test the speed and accuracy of the unit. It is then sent out for installation at the consumer’s facility.
While RobotWorx does not build robot arms from scratch, this robotic integrator does refurbish old systems from the ground up, as well as customizing refurbished and new robots to fit our customers’ needs. We have a team of highly-trained individuals that work with our customers to design the perfect layout and system for their facility.