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What is an industrial robot Types & Examples (2024)

Published on: 2022-11-11

Industrial Robot Arm

Industrial Robot Arm

There are various types of robots, such as service robots equipped with AI and household cleaning robots. Among them, “industrial robots” are the robots that are active in manufacturing sites. Industrial robots are used in a variety of applications, such as assembly, transportation, welding, inspection, and cleaning.

Industrial robots used in manufacturing lines are defined by experts as follows.

“Machines used in industry that have a manipulation function or a movement function by automatic control can perform various tasks by programming and are used in industry”

The manipulation function is a function for “grabbing things”. Machines that can freely grab and carry objects by programming are called “industrial robots.”

Composition of industrial robots

An industrial robot consists of three elements: a “manipulator”, a “teach pendant” and a “controller”.

Manipulator (industrial robot)

It is the part corresponding to the human finger, hand, arm, and joint. Driven by multi-axis joints and servo motors, it can grab and carry objects.

Teach pendant (industrial robot)

This is an operation panel for making robots learn movements (teaching). Teaching requires an experienced professional operator called a teaching man. Some industrial robots for NC machine tools can be controlled by NC.

Controller (industrial robot)

A control device for controlling the manipulator. It controls the movements of servo motors and reduction gears according to the content of the teaching.


Types of Industrial Robots

Industrial robots can be divided into several types according to arm movements and applications.

  • Robot arm (vertical articulated robot)
  • SCARA robot (horizontal articulated robot)
  • Cartesian robot
  • parallel link robot
  • desktop robot
  • Collaborative robot

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Robot Arm (vertical articulated robot)


Articulated Robot Arm

Articulated Robot Arm

A robot arm is a typical industrial robot often seen in manufacturing factories. It is also called a vertical articulated robot. There are various types such as 4-axis, 5-axis, and 6-axis, and various movements are possible as the number of axes increases.

A 7-axis robot that mimics the movement of a human arm has also appeared. It is highly versatile and can be used for a variety of tasks such as “tightening”, “painting”, and “welding” by exchanging the tip parts.

SCARA Robot (horizontal articulated robot)


SCARA robots are industrial robots used for picking up and assembling parts. SCARA is an acronym for “Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm” and is also called a horizontal articulated robot.

Although it has less versatility than a robot arm, it is good at high-speed horizontal movement and has high mechanical rigidity, making it suitable for pushing parts and press-fitting work.

Cartesian Robot

Cartesian Robot

Cartesian robots are industrial robots that combine linear slide mechanisms. By intersecting the slide mechanism, you can create simple robots such as 2-axis and 3-axis. Because of its high versatility and ease of design, it is used in factory automation lines.

Parallel link Robot

Parallel link Robot

Parallel link Robot

Parallel link robots are industrial robots used for picking up small parts and assembling precision parts.
Since one point is supported by multiple arms, it can be operated at high speed with high positional accuracy. Since the output (machine power) is large, it can be used for simple metal processing and press processing.

Desktop Robot


Desktop Robot

Desktop Robot

A desktop robot is a stationary type of small industrial robot. It is a gate-type machine and is used as a dedicated machine for small electronic parts such as “automatic soldering equipment” and “liquid coating equipment”.

Collaborative Robot

Collaborative Robot

Collaborative robots are space-saving industrial robots that can work together with people.
It is used to assist workers in simple assembly and transportation between processes.

In NC machine tools, it is also being used for attaching/detaching workpieces and changing tools.
It is also equipped with a vision sensor, etc., and is sometimes used for workpiece measurement and defective product discrimination after processing.

Collaborative robots that can work in cooperation with “humans” are rapidly spreading.

“The co-robot market is expected to grow at an average annual growth rate of more than 50% in the future, as products become cheaper and smaller, and the creation of motion programs becomes easier. Demand is expected to increase, mainly from small and medium-sized enterprises.”


Usage Examples for NC Machine Tools

Industrial robots are also widely used at metal processing sites. We will introduce the use cases of industrial robots that play an active role in the labor-saving, labor-saving, and automation” of NC machine tools.

  • Attaching and detaching workpieces and tools for NC machine tools
  • In-machine utilization of NC machine tools
  • Workpiece processing assistance for NC machine tools
  • Stamping without a mold

Attachment and detachment of workpieces and tools of NC machine tools by industrial robots

A robot is installed in front of the front door of a ”machining center ” or ” turning center “. You can automate the mounting (loading) and removal (unloading) of workpieces. It is also possible to install a moving rail for the robot and automatically transfer between the processes of the NC machine tool.

As an alternative to ATC (Automatic Tool Change System), robots can also be used to change tools. By using robots, it will be possible to exchange special tools that do not fit in the ATC, as well as exchange jigs and grindstones.


In-machine utilization of NC machine tools by industrial robots

By using a dustproof/waterproof type robot, it is possible to install it inside an NC machine tool where coolant and cutting chips scatter. By installing it inside the machine, it will be possible to “clean the workpiece” and “clean chips” during machining, which was not possible until now.

New ways of using robots, such as assisting CNC lathe workpieces, are also being created.

Workpiece processing assistance for NC machine tools by industrial robots

A tool is attached to the tip of the robot to undertake simple processing between processes of NC machine tools. By performing processing such as deburring and drilling, the burden on workers can be reduced.

Stamping without Molds by Industrial Robots

By applying a three-dimensional molding technology called” dieless forming,” press processing without the need for dies is possible. A push rod is attached to the robot arm, and molding is performed while applying pressure from both sides.

It is beginning to be used for the molding of prototypes and the processing of a wide variety of products in small lots.


What is a robot system integrator that is indispensable for introducing industrial robots?

A robot SIer is a specialized company that supports the introduction of industrial robots. There are various system integrators, such as the flow of factory automation (FA) by automating factories, affiliated companies independent from major electronics manufacturers, and companies launched by dedicated machine manufacturers.

System integrators are gaining more and more attention as factory automation continues to advance.


Summary of Industrial Robots Used in NC Machine Tools

In this article, we introduced types of “industrial robots” and robots that are active in metalworking sites, such as examples of their use in NC machine tools.

Until now, “industrial robots” were used only in factories such as automobiles and semiconductors, but as labor shortages and improvement of the working environment have become issues, they are rapidly spreading to small factories.  In particular, production lines using collaborative robots have come to be seen at various sites. We hope that this article will give you some hints about introducing industrial robots.


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