Which is Better? Scara vs. Cartesian Robots

Oct 21, 2007

Both the SCARA and Cartesian robot styles offer benefits for pick and place, assembly, and packaging applications. Each robot has unique features, so knowing your specific application needs will help you choose. Contact Robots.com experts today to discuss your workspace, application, and product and make the decision between a SCARA and a Cartesian robot.


Choos­ing between SCARA and Carte­sian robots can be dif­fi­cult. Both styles pro­vide excel­lent solu­tions for pick and place, assem­bly, and pack­ag­ing appli­ca­tions, but each robot has unique fea­tures and advan­tages. By under­stand­ing these dif­fer­ences, and care­ful­ly eval­u­at­ing your work­space, appli­ca­tion, and prod­uct, you can make the best decision.

What is a SCARA robot?

SCARA stands for Selec­tive Com­pli­ance Assem­bly (or Artic­u­lat­ed) Robot­ic Arm. SCARA robots are com­mon­ly used in assem­bly appli­ca­tions since SCARA arms are pri­mar­i­ly cylin­dri­cal in design, but can also be used for oth­er appli­ca­tions. Each robot fea­tures two par­al­lel joints that pro­vide com­pli­ance in one select­ed plane.

What is a Carte­sian robot?

Carte­sian robots, also known as gantry robots, are robots that hang on an over­head track that is above the work area. These are typ­i­cal­ly used for mate­r­i­al han­dling appli­ca­tions, but can also be used for weld­ing parts on a man­u­fac­tur­ing line.

SCARA Robots vs. Carte­sian Robots

Although SCARA robots and Carte­sian robots, there are a few deter­min­ing fac­tors to con­sid­er when choos­ing the right robot for your man­u­fac­tur­ing line.

Con­sid­er Your Work Envelope:

The SCARA robot pro­vides a cir­cu­lar work enve­lope. This broad move­ment range allows for added flex­i­bil­i­ty. SCARA robots have a small foot­print and can be built on a small­er scale.

Carte­sian robots work from an over­head grid. This type of robot is an accu­rate, quick solu­tion for mate­r­i­al han­dling appli­ca­tions. Its work enve­lope is rec­tan­gu­lar. The work enve­lope is deter­mined by the grid — so it can be quite large. The Carte­sian robot­’s over­head grid can take up over­all room but does free up floor space.

Assess Move­ment:

The SCARA robot pro­vides more flex­i­bil­i­ty than the Carte­sian robot. Its cir­cu­lar work enve­lope is cre­at­ed by 4‑axis motions. While rigid, the SCARA robot can move with more flex­i­bil­i­ty in a hor­i­zon­tal plane. Depend­ing on the appli­ca­tion, a SCARA robot can per­form with more speed than a Carte­sian robot.

The Carte­sian-style robot is capa­ble of X, Y, and Z direc­tion­al move­ments. Its rigid­i­ty allows for more pre­ci­sion. Easy to pro­gram and ide­al for appli­ca­tions that require move­ments such as straight-line inser­tions, the Carte­sian robot is a strong, depend­able mover.

Keep Your Part in Mind:

How big or small is your prod­uct? All the joints on a SCARA robot are locat­ed at the end of the arm, with lim­it­ed pay­load capac­i­ty. SCARA robots are best for small­er-sized parts.

Carte­sian robots, on the oth­er hand, are an excel­lent choice for larg­er parts. Their pay­load is larg­er and ful­ly sup­port­ed. Because they work from a grid, Carte­sian robots pro­vide bet­ter acces­si­bil­i­ty to larg­er parts.

Remem­ber Pro­tec­tion Needs:

SCARA robots can be safe­guard­ed from haz­ardous envi­ron­ments. All their joints can be pro­tect­ed and they can be sealed for under­wa­ter appli­ca­tions. Carte­sian robots, on the oth­er hand, require spe­cial cov­er­ing when work­ing in haz­ardous envi­ron­ments. They are not able to work underwater.

Find the right robot with Robots​.com

Both SCARA and Carte­sian robots have dif­fer­ent fea­tures, so find the right fit with Robots​.com. We offer new and refur­bished Fanuc, KUKA, Motoman, ABB, and Uni­ver­sal robots. Con­tact Robots​.com rep­re­sen­ta­tives online or at 8777626881 with addi­tion­al ques­tions about SCARA and Carte­sian robots.

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