What is a Mechanical robot arm?

March 5, 2024
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What is a Mechanical robot arm?

A Mechanical robot arm is essentially an automated manipulator

Or, in other words, a programmable machine consisting of multiple joints that work together to perform various physical tasks. 

Each joint provides one degree of motion, allowing the arm to bend, twist, and extend to different positions.

Why are they so great? Let’s take a look: 

  • They make things more productive: By operating continuously with zero need for breaks, mechanical robot arms can significantly increase the output of manufacturing and assembly processes, keeping productivity levels consistently high.
  • They’re more precise and accurate: These arms execute tasks with a level of accuracy and consistency that far exceeds human capabilities, resulting in higher-quality products with fewer errors or defects.
  • They make things cheaper: Over time, the investment in Mechanical robot arms can lead to substantial cost savings by reducing labor expenses and minimizing waste materials through precise operations.
  • They’re versatile and flexible: Mechanical robot arms are adaptable to a wide range of applications, from intricate electronic assembly to heavy-duty tasks in automotive manufacturing, demonstrating their flexibility to meet diverse operational needs.
  • They make things safer for people: By taking over dangerous or repetitive tasks, mechanical robot arms reduce the risk of injuries and accidents in the workplace, promoting a safer environment for human workers.
  • They allow you to scale more easily: As business needs grow, mechanical robot arms can be reprogrammed or added to scale production capabilities efficiently, allowing for flexible adjustments to production volumes.
  • They cut downtime to a minimum: With high reliability and the ability to work around the clock, mechanical robot arms help minimize downtime in production processes, ensuring that operations run smoothly and continuously.

All in all, there are plenty of benefits to Mechanical robot arms. The best part, though? They have a very fast RO1, typically just 1-3 years. 

How do Mechanical robot arms work?

As we established above, Mechanical robot arms are made up of multiple joints and links that are connected to form an articulated arm. 

Here are the other components that make the magic happen: 

Actuators power things up

Actuators, usually electric motors, provide the force and motion in the joints. They’re responsible for the rotational and linear movements of the robot arm. The motors are controlled by a computer which sends signals to move the joints to the required positions.

Sensors help the robot “feel”

Sensors are essential components that provide feedback to the robot. They can detect properties like torque, force, position, and velocity

This feedback allows the robot to monitor its motion and make corrections to achieve accurate and precise movements. Common sensors in robot arms include potentiometers, encoders, strain gages, and load cells.

Controllers and software run the show

The controller, usually a microprocessor or microcontroller, acts as the brain of the robot arm. It receives input from the sensors and sends signals to the actuators. 

The controller executes software programs and algorithms that determine the motion and trajectory of the arm. The software incorporates math, logic, and planning to coordinate the movements of all joints.

What are Mechanical robot arms good at?

Plenty of companies have been using Mechanical robot arms with great success. In fact, these robotic helpers have been around for longer than you think.

Here are eight industries that say “yes” to Mechanical automation: 

  • Assembly line automation: Mechanical robot arms are amazing at automating repetitive tasks on assembly lines, where they assemble parts, tighten screws, and perform quality inspections with precision and speed.
  • Material handling and packaging: These robots efficiently sort, move, and package products, reducing manual labor and improving productivity in warehouses and distribution centers.
  • Medical and pharmaceutical applications: In hospitals and labs, robot arms help out in surgeries, handle delicate materials, and conduct precise laboratory tasks, enhancing both safety and accuracy.
  • Art and entertainment: Mechanical arms are used in creative sectors to produce intricate art pieces, and sculptures, and even perform in entertainment shows, showcasing their versatility beyond the most commonly known industrial applications.
  • Education and research: In academic settings, robot arms serve as teaching aids and research tools, helping students and researchers explore robotics, engineering principles, and conduct experiments with high precision.
  • Precision agriculture: Mechanical robot arms are revolutionizing the agricultural sector by performing tasks such as planting, weeding, and harvesting with unprecedented accuracy and efficiency. This not only increases yield but also reduces the environmental impact by minimizing the need for herbicides and pesticides.
  • Construction and fabrication: In the construction industry, these robots are being deployed for tasks like bricklaying, welding, and material handling, speeding up the construction process while ensuring higher levels of safety and reducing human labor in hazardous environments.
  • Food and beverage service: Robot arms are making their way into the food industry, not just in food production but also in serving and preparation roles in restaurants and cafes. They can consistently prepare and serve dishes, mix drinks, and even interact with customers in novel ways – which adds up to a pretty interesting dining experience.
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What are the limitations and downsides of Mechanical robot arms?

While Mechanical robot arms provide many benefits to manufacturers, they do come with some downsides you’ll need to keep your eye on.

They are: 

  • They’re not cheap: Industrial robot arms, especially collaborative models, represent a significant upfront investment. The initial purchase price for a collaborative Mechanical robotic arm typically ranges from $25,000 to $100,000, depending on the model and capabilities. 

    You’ll also need to factor in ongoing costs like programming, training, and maintenance. For small businesses, the price tag can be prohibitive. 
  • Flexible, but not as much as you think: Once installed, the robot arm is fixed in place and typically can’t be moved easily. This limits its ability to multitask or work in different areas of a factory. 

    Reprogramming the arm for a new task or location necessitates some amount of custom coding, which adds to costs and downtime. Some models offer mobility features to address this limitation but at a higher price point.  

    Newer models can also offset this by working with no-code frameworks that require absolutely no programming knowledge. 
  • Safe, but not foolproof: Although Collaborative robots are designed to work safely with humans, there’s always a risk of injury. So, proper precautions need to be taken, like installing safety mechanisms, providing operator training, restricting access to the robot cell, and ensuring correct programming of the arm. 

    If used improperly or without safeguards
    , a robot arm could collide with a worker or malfunction in a way that could create a serious risk of injury.
  • Job disruption: Some see robotics as a threat to human jobs, and while Collaborative robots are meant to work side-by-side with people, they may still reduce the need for certain types of manual labor and repetitive jobs over time.

    However, many experts argue that robotics will create new kinds of jobs even as it eliminates others, so it’s not all doom and gloom. 

Summing up

That’s our overview of Mechanical robot arms. From understanding how they work to the pros and cons, we hope that this guide has now given you a solid understanding of this fascinating technology. 

But remember: Robot arms continue advancing all the time, becoming ever more nimble, skilled, and capable. If you’re looking to dip your toe in the automation pond, the time is now! 

Next steps

Streamline your manufacturing automation with Standard Bots' RO1, a pioneering Mechanical robot arm designed for both rising startups and established industry leaders.

  • Affordability paired with cutting-edge technology: RO1 isn't just at the forefront of innovation; it's also priced to be accessible. Costing half as much as similar systems, it makes advanced automation attainable for businesses of all sizes.
  • Elevating performance benchmarks: With its 18 kg payload capacity, the Mechanical robot arm, RO1, surpasses its rivals in speed and precision. Its advanced self-learning technology, akin to GPT-4, sets a new bar for robotic efficiency.
  • Built-in safety features: RO1 integrates safety at its core, featuring advanced sensors and collision prevention systems to ensure operations are safe and dependable across varied settings.
  • Self-adapting learning capabilities: RO1 distinguishes itself in automation technology, able to learn from hands-on experience, adjust to new challenges, and autonomously refine its actions when necessary.

Try RO1 with a complimentary 30-day trial: Explore how RO1 combines the flexibility of AI with the strength of mechanical robotics. Our expert team is on hand to assist you in incorporating RO1's sophisticated technology into your workflow seamlessly.

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