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Robot Primer 7: Robot System Overview

The typical industrial robot is an integrated system consisting of:

  • The robot arm. Common types include articulated, SCARA, cartesian, and delta.
  • The robot controller, which typically includes the servo amplifiers, controllers, interfaces, and I/O.
  • Teach pendent – for maintenance, teaching points, debugging, and limited development.
  • Development software. OK, you can develop on the teach pendent, but for anything serious you need to use PC-based software.

The end effector is the equipment mounted to the end of the robot arm. Typically the system integrator develops a custom end effector for the specific application with devices such as suction cups, grippers, welder equipment, or cameras.

The robot needs to be supplied with electrical power and often compressed air. Very small robots can use 1 phase 120VAC or 240VAC power; however, most robots require 3 phase 240VAC or higher electrical power. Compressed air isn’t always required; some robots need it to balance their Z axis (to counteract gravity), and it’s often used by end effectors such as pneumatic grippers and pneumatic vacuum generators for suction cups.

Some small robots can be mounted upside down. The advantage is that the robot has a larger clear area, however, the mounting will be more difficult.

Another way to add flexibility is to mount the robot on rails so it can move from station to station.

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