The best 3 small robotic arms

March 5, 2024
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What is a small robotic arm?

A small robotic arm, typically classified as having a reach of less than 1 meter and a payload capacity of less than 10 kilograms, is designed for precise manipulation in confined spaces.

These arms are compact enough to fit into tight areas and are versatile enough to handle a variety of tasks like pick and place, testing and inspection, and light assembly. Their small size also means they have a small footprint so they can be installed almost anywhere.

Small robotic arms are easy to program and integrate into existing automated systems. Most are compatible with various end-of-arm tools (EOAT) like grippers, allowing them to perform specialized tasks. 

Let’s take a look at some of their other benefits:

  • Energy efficient: Small robotic arms consume less power compared to larger Industrial robots, making them an eco-friendly option for businesses looking to reduce their energy consumption and operational costs.
  • Easier to set up and deploy: Due to their simplicity and size, small robotic arms can be quickly set up and deployed in new processes or production lines, minimizing downtime and enhancing productivity.
  • They’re scalable: As your business grows, these arms can easily be reconfigured or moved to different parts of the production process, offering scalability and flexibility to meet changing demands.
  • Better precision for high-quality output: With their ability to perform tasks with high accuracy and consistency, small robotic arms contribute to improved product quality, reducing waste and rework.
  • Cost-effective automation solution: Offering a lower entry price point and reduced operational costs, small robotic arms represent a cost-effective automation solution, particularly suitable for small to medium-sized enterprises dipping their toe in the robotics pond. 

The top 3 small robot arms in 2024

  • Meca500: The market's smallest Six-Axis Industrial robot arm, perfect for high-precision tasks due to its compact size.
  • Franka Emika Panda: With 7 axes of movement and torque sensors, the Panda rocks with power and precision for delicate tasks, and an open programming architecture. 
  • DOBOT Magician: Targeted at educators and hobbyists, the affordable DOBOT Magician features a lightweight design and can be programmed via block-based coding or Python – great for DIY projects. 

What are the best applications for small robotic arms?

The compact size of small robotic arms makes them  great for:

  • Assembly tasks: Small robotic arms rock assembling intricate components like circuit boards and medical devices, offering the precision to operate in tight spaces where human hands might not reach, performing repetitive tasks with extreme accuracy. 
  • Inspection roles: Ideal for inspection duties, these arms use cameras and sensors to identify defects, verify product quality on assembly lines, or conduct component tests to meet strict standards, including performing non-destructive evaluations like ultrasound.
  • Material handling: Despite their smaller size, these robotic arms adeptly manage light material handling tasks, such as picking and placing parts, feeding materials into machines, and moving items within work cells.

Are small robotic arms easy to operate?

Small robotic arms are designed to be simple to set up and operate. Unlike their larger industrial cousins, small robot arms don’t need extensive training or programming knowledge to get started. 

Here are other things that make them easy to operate: 

  • They don’t take up much space: Small robotic arms are designed to fit into limited spaces, boasting a compact footprint that makes them ideal for tabletops or small workspaces, requiring just a minimal area for their range of motion.
  • They can be safe: Even if they can go pretty fast, their lighter payloads minimize potential damage – although adherence to manufacturer safety guidelines is not optional.
  • Easier to program: Designed with user-friendliness in mind, most small robot arms feature intuitive interfaces or pre-programmed tasks, simplifying programming for basic operations and making them accessible even to those without extensive robotics knowledge.
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How much do small robotic arms cost?

Small robotic arms can vary a lot in price depending on their features and capabilities. In general, you can expect to pay between $2,000 to $50,000 for a basic small robotic arm. 

The specific factors that determine the final cost include:

  • Lower payload: The lifting capacity of a robotic arm significantly influences its price, with arms capable of handling heavier loads generally being more expensive; smaller arms typically manage payloads between 1 to 5 kilograms.
  • Precision pricing: The arm's precision, important for tasks requiring high accuracy, directly correlates with its cost -higher precision arms command a higher price due to their ability to perform intricate operations.
  • Compatibility matters: The ability to use specific or various end-of-arm tools affects the price; arms with fixed tool options might be cheaper but offer less flexibility compared to those that accommodate a range of tools.
  • Software influence: The complexity and capability of the software for programming the arm play a role in cost determination; user-friendly software might not heavily affect the price, whereas more sophisticated software capable of offline programming can lead to a significant price hike.

What should you look for in a small robotic arm?

When shopping around for a small robotic arm, there are a few key factors to keep in mind:

  • How much can the arm lift? The payload capacity, indicating the maximum weight the arm can manage, varies from 1 to 10 kilograms for smaller arms; select an arm that matches your task requirements – without excess payload capacity to avoid unnecessary costs.
  • The importance of precision: Precision or repeatability is vital for tasks requiring exact positioning, such as electronics assembly or lab work; ask around about the arm's degrees of freedom and encoder resolution for insight into its positioning accuracy.
  • Speed as a productivity factor: Despite being slower than larger industrial models, the speed of small arms, typically 30 to 200 millimeters per second, is absolutely crucial for efficiency in repetitive tasks, making a quicker arm desirable for boosting productivity.
  • Compatibility with peripherals: Assess the compatibility of the arm with desired peripherals and end-effectors, such as grippers or custom fixtures, to make sure the arm supports the tools you plan to use. Some models offer easy integration, which is desirable. 


The Meca500 is still the smallest and most compact Six-Axis Industrial robot arm on the market, making it an extremely precise option for intricate tasks. 

At just 9 inches tall, it can fit almost anywhere and is easy to integrate into existing systems. You don’t need any special training or software to start using this robot. 

It’s perfect for inspection, testing, and other high-precision jobs.

Franka Emika Panda

If you need power and precision in a small frame, the Franka Emika Panda is the arm for you, with a payload of 3 kg. 

It has 7 axes of movement, torque sensors in every joint, and built-in safety features that make it ideal for delicate tasks and collaborative operations.

The Panda also has an open control architecture, so you have flexibility in how you program it. Use Franka's intuitive web interface to quickly create and simulate robot programs, or code in C++ and Python using their SDK. 

DOBOT Magician

The DOBOT Magician is an affordable desktop robot arm aimed at educators, makers, and hobbyists

It weighs 1 kg. payload and a 40cm reach, with servos that provide smooth and precise movement. 

The DOBOT Magician can be programmed using block-based coding, Python, or C++. It’s a great platform for learning robotics and for building DIY automation projects. 

DOBOT also offers an industrial version with a higher payload and reach.

Summing up

That’s the lowdown on the best 3 small robotic arms out there. 

Whether you need precision for small parts assembly or want automated help around the house, these mini bots have got you covered.

Next steps

Need something a bit bigger? Standard Bots' RO1 is an innovative Six-Axis robot arm tailored for both emerging startups and seasoned industry behemoths.

  • Affordable innovation: RO1 leads with its advanced technology while being remarkably cost-effective. Priced significantly lower than comparable systems, it brings sophisticated automation within the financial grasp of companies at every growth stage.
  • Setting new performance standards: Boasting an 18 kg payload and outperforming competitors in both agility and accuracy, RO1, enhanced with self-teaching technology comparable to GPT-4, redefines robotic efficiency benchmarks.
  • Core safety integration: Safety is paramount with RO1, featuring comprehensive sensors and systems for collision avoidance, ensuring reliable and safe operation in any manufacturing environment.
  • Adaptive learning and improvement: Standing out in the field of automation, RO1 excels by learning from direct interaction, adapting to evolving tasks, and making autonomous adjustments as needed.

Discover the synergy of AI flexibility and mechanical robotic strength with a no-obligation, 30-day trial. Our dedicated team is ready to guide you through integrating RO1's cutting-edge capabilities into your shop floor.

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