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How 6-Axis Industrial Robots Work

6-axis industrial robots are commonly used in the manufacturing industry due to their flexibility, powerful programming software, payload capacities ranging from 5kg up to 1000kg and accuracy to 0.1mm or better. Here is a basic breakdown of how a standard 6-axis robot works. The way it rotates, how it is programmed, and the different types of tooling and grippers.

Here is a basic breakdown of how a standard 6-axis robot works. The way it rotates, how it is programmed, and even the different types of tooling and grippers are covered in this informative video.

Six-axis industrial robots are one of the most powerful tools available today. This type of robots performs a wider range of applications with greater flexibility. In their simplest terms they consist of two units; the robotic arm and the control system. It is called as six degrees of freedom or six-axis robot because the arm has 6 axis which allow it to move to any point within a working envelope. The following list specifies the functions of each axis.

  • Axis 1 – It is located at the base of a robot, and allows it to rotate from left to right.
  • Axis 2 – It helps the lower arm of a robot to extend forward and backward.
  • Axis 3 – It allows the upper arm of a robot to raise and lower.
  • Axis 4 – This axis is known as wrist roll, and it rotates the upper arm of a robot in a circular movement.
  • Axis 5 – It permits the wrist of the robot’s arm to raise and lower.
  • Axis 6 – It allows the wrist of the robot’s arm to rotate freely in a circular motion.

Movement is driven by servo motors. The control system is a computer that allows precise movement of the arm by controlling the power supplied to the motors. 6-axis robots can be integrated with e.g. injection moulding machines, diecast machines, clipping presses, flame treatment, spraying and welding equipment.

A 7th axis can also be incorporated if needed, again there are a full range of sizes to be selected. When working on complex parts, or with complex processes like arc welding, 6 axis may just not be enough. For these situations it is introduced a new generation of workpiece positioners which can be fully coordinated with the movement of robots. The main robot manufacturers are among other ABB, Fanuc, Kuka, Motoman, Nachi and Kawasaki.


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