How are industrial robots made?
Industrial robots revolutionized manufacturing industry by providing fast, precise and accurate methods for performing repetitive tasks. Compared to humans, these robots have a minimal margin of error and do not tire over the course of the day (with the need for a battery recharge, of course).
Without industrial robots, many of the things we use every day would only have been acquired after being on a long waiting list. But then, how exactly are these robots made and what design philosophies are adhered to when creating them? These machines required a lot of development before they could be adopted in large numbers. Often the most advanced pieces of electronic equipment in a manufacturing plant are the industrial robots, as opposed to what they create.
What makes up an industrial robot?
Any industrial robot has three main elements, namely electronics, computing and mechanics. Mechanics refers to the actual physical parts of the robot that move and perform tasks. For example, a “hand” used to grasp and place objects and the arm it is connected to fall under the mechanics of the device.
The electronics are made up of individual printed circuit boards (PCBs) and components that send out electrical pulses that tell the robot how to move and how much.
When it comes to placing the actual components, they are usually placed in 2 ways – via SMT (you can read more in this article) or via through-hole mounting, depending on the size of the project. For larger components, manual through-hole work may be more convenient.
Finally, IT takes care of the “brain” of the robot. Essentially, it’s what allows humans to program a robot to do things in certain situations. These three aspects come together to create a fully functional industrial robot.
The classic definition of an industrial robot is a reprogrammable, automatically controlled manipulator that can be programmed in three or more axes. Simply put, if a robot cannot move up and down and side to side, it is not considered an “industrial” robot.
Common uses for these robots include ARC welding, painting, assembly, packaging, product inspection and quality control, and measuring and cutting various items. the automobile industry makes extensive use of industrial robots with a little human help here and there to quickly and efficiently assemble vehicles made from heavy materials. The robots only need electricity and occasional maintenance to operate at peak efficiency. The cost of these robots is quickly offset by the increased production (and therefore, increased sales potential) they bring.
One of the most significant new developments in industrial robot technology is the advent of “intelligent” robots that can fully interact with an environment and make decisions based on the data they can sense. Robots made with these philosophies can be far more independent than previous industrial robots and can perform far more complex tasks than ever imagined. Many products that require painstaking human effort are coming into the realm of mass production, thanks to these intelligent robots that can learn and improve over time.
The construction process for industrial robots
Building an industrial robot requires several steps, each as important as the next. The mechanisms themselves are usually dealt with first. The robot arm is designed and manufactured based on its size and the type of range of motion desired. A larger range of motion requires more sophisticated parts and more junction points for the robot to rotate inside. Usually the arm is solid metal such as aluminum, steel or even cast iron. Once the arm is created, the rest of the building process can continue.
The arm itself should now be stuffed full of useful mechanical and electronic components. The cables, bearings, motors and everything necessary for the actual physical movement of the arm are placed inside, along with the corresponding electronic equipment used to transmit commands to these physical parts.
After that, the final part is to electronically connect the arm itself to a controller, a teach box used to manually “teach” the robot how to move, and precision tooling at the end of the arm to make sure he can do his job properly.
These robots are fantastic at what they do, to the point where we have no doubt that many industrial robots themselves are made with the help of other industrial robots. There is great diversity in robotic technology. Some simply move in an X, Y and Z axis, while others allow not only the arm to move, but also the end of the robot to move in an X, Y and Z axis. Depending on the number of different joints and motion areas included, a single industrial robot can squeeze into very hard-to-reach places for precise and repeatable placement and manipulation of objects.