The 3 best small Industrial robot arms

February 13, 2024
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What is an Industrial robot arm?

An Industrial robot arm is a mechanical arm used in manufacturing that can perform repetitive tasks with a high degree of accuracy. 

These robotic arms are designed to move materials, parts, tools, or specialized devices through variable programmed motions to perform a variety of tasks like welding, painting, assembly, pick and place, packaging, and palletizing.

The central part of the robot arm is the controller, the brain that executes the precise movements based on pre-programmed paths. 

This allows for the arm's deployment in environments that are either hazardous or unsuitable for humans – think extreme temperatures or around toxic substances. 

More advanced models are equipped with vision systems and sensors, enabling them to make real-time adjustments for even more intricate tasks.

The integration of these robotic arms into manufacturing lines is often facilitated by sophisticated software platforms that allow for minute, granular programming and control. 

This software can simulate the robotic arm’s job in a virtual environment, allowing for optimization of the movements for efficiency and accuracy before you actually deploy it on your shop floor. 

Moreover, with advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, some Industrial robot arms are now capable of self-optimization

This means that they can learn from their operations and autonomously improve their performance over time – cutting down the need for human intervention in the programming process.

What should you look for when shopping for a small robot arm?

When you’re looking to scale up production, size matters, but not in the way you might think. You'll want an arm small enough to fit in your workspace, but not so tiny it can't handle the tasks you need it for.

Here are the essentials to get the most out of your small robot arm:

  • Look for a robot that is simple to program, with intuitive software or even pre-programmed movements. Some small arms are plug-and-play - just hook them up and go. And the créme-de-la-créme doesn't even require coding knowledge at all. 
  • Precision is important – especially for small parts handling or assembly. Check the repeatability, or how accurately the arm can move to the same position over and over. The lower the number the better. Under 0.1 mm is good for high-precision work.
  • Speed and number of axes determine how fast the arm can move and how complex its movements can be. More axes mean more flexible and skilled motion. Look for at least 4 or 5 axes for most tasks.
  • Connectivity options let you interface the robot with other equipment. Common options include Ethernet, USB, analog, and digital I/O, so choose what matches your needs.
  • Of course, cost is always a factor. Small industrial arms can range from under $2,000 up to $50,000 or more for high-precision, fast, programmable arms. Try not to break the bank! 

Reviews of the 3 best small Industrial robot arms

Now, time for the main course. Time to check out our review of these compact – but powerful – small Industrial robot arms.

They are: 

RO1 by Standard Bots

RO1 is a Collaborative robot designed for seamless integration into a huge range of industrial environments. 

It’s very compact and efficient, with a base size of 16 x 22 inches, it's perfectly suited for tight spaces, boasting a best-in-class payload capacity of 18 kg.

Capabilities: RO1 stands out for its user-friendly features, including a plug-and-play setup, no-code framework, and an intuitive touch-screen interface for easy programming. 

It’s also built for high precision and speed, to ensure tasks are completed efficiently and accurately. It’s also very versatile and capable of integrating with a broad array of tools and accessories.

Applications: RO1 is ideally suited for a wide range of tasks such as assembly, packaging, material handling, CNC machine tending, testing, and visual inspection. It’s a tremendous asset in workspaces where humans need to collaborate side-by-side with robots. 

Pricing: RO1 is competitively priced, at half the rate of its nearest competitors, and also offers a lease model of $5/hour, offering flexibility for various business needs. 


The YuMi is a Collaborative robot (or Cobot) designed for safe human-robot interaction. It's small and lightweight, with a reach of 580 mm and a payload capacity of 5 kg.

Capabilities: Easy to program (requires a bit of finesse), can be used for various tasks like assembly, material handling, and machine tending. Features built-in vision and sensors for safe interaction with humans.

Applications: Perfect for collaborative workspaces where robots and humans work closely together.

Pricing: Starting price ranges from $40,000 to $50,000, which might vary depending on configuration and options, up to $80,000 for a full-regalia YuMi. 

LBR iiwa 14 R80 (KUKA)

The LBR iiwa 14 R80 is a lightweight, flexible robot designed for delicate tasks and human-robot collaboration. 

It has a Seven-Axis design, 14 kg payload capacity, and 800 mm reach– not too shabby!

Capabilities: Features sensitive joint torque sensors for safe human interaction and precise control. Easy to program and integrate with various applications.

Applications: Ideal for assembly, machine tending, and other tasks requiring high-precision collaboration.

Pricing: Starting at around $70,000 - $80,000, depending on configuration and options.

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Applications for small Industrial robots

Now that we’ve established the best three, let’s take a look at the impact these small Industrial robots are already having in manufacturing and beyond.

  • Once programmed, small Industrial robots can handle routine inspection and testing procedures with speed and accuracy.

    They can nimbly maneuver in confined spaces to check components, take measurements, and ensure quality standards. For labs and research facilities, small robot arms are super useful for conducting experiments that require precise control and replication.
  • Small Industrial robot arms shine when it comes to assembling tiny, intricate components. With specialized end-effectors or grippers, they can pick up minute electronic chips, medical devices, and other small parts and join them together with micrometer precision.

    This type of robotic assembly allows for faster, higher-volume production while reducing costs.
  • Miniature robot arms are great at packaging and kitting applications where space is limited. They can grab products, place them in packaging, seal and label the packages, and palletize them for shipping.

    Their compact footprint means they don’t need much floor space and can operate alongside human workers. Robotic packaging improves throughput and reduces physical strain on employees.
  • Small Industrial robots can tend to other manufacturing equipment like CNC machines, injection molding machines, and stamping presses.

    They can load raw materials, retrieve finished parts, and keep the machines running efficiently with virtually no human intervention. 


How much does a small Industrial robot arm cost?

Small Industrial robot arms can range from $25,000 up to $50,000 or more, depending on the number of axes, size, precision, and features. More complex, high-precision robot arms will be on the higher end of that range, while more basic models for simple pick-and-place tasks will be more affordable.

Do I need any special training to operate a small Industrial robot arm?

Most small Industrial robot arms are designed to be easy to set up and program, even for those without an engineering background. However, we recommend some training to ensure safe and effective operation. 

Many robot arm manufacturers offer online video tutorials and documentation to help you get started. For more complex installations or applications, on-site training with a robotics expert is a good start. 

How are small industrial robot arms programmed?

Small industrial robot arms are typically programmed using teach pendant programming, where you manually move the arm through the desired motions and record the movements. 

Some robot arms also offer programming through a graphical interface on a desktop computer. And some new robots don’t even require coding at all to work, with complex AI that learns on its own. 

What safety precautions should I take when using a small Industrial robot arm?

• Program the robot carefully and double-check that movements will not cause bumps.

• Equip the robot with emergency stop buttons that immediately cut power.

• Follow lockout/tagout procedures before performing any maintenance on the robot.

• Train personnel thoroughly on proper operation and safety procedures.

• We recommend robots with additional sensors or vision systems to detect people or objects.

Summing up

You now have the scoop on the top 3 small Industrial robot arms that can optimize your automation applications without breaking the bank.

While the initial investment may seem high, the long-term savings from reduced errors and increased output will make these compact powerhouses quickly pay for themselves – ROI is just between 1-3 years!

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