Robots are evolving into an essential purchase for manufacturers. They can easily boost your productivity and simplify your automation processes. SCARA Robots, in particular, are popular. In this article, we’ll look at what SCARA robots are and why they may be one of the best choices for your facilities.

What is SCARA?

Fanuc SR-6ia

SCARA Robot. Image courtesy of FANUC America

SCARA stands for Selective Compliance Articulated Robot Arm. They are robotic arms that have a versatile range of motion in the X-Y plane. The arms can move vertically as well, but the position of the vertical axis remains fixed. Thanks to the combination of rigid and dynamic axes, SCARAs are well suited to tackle a variety of material handling operations. They excel at pick-and-place tasks and rapid transportation processes. SCARA robots are at their best, however, when they are used to perform assembly applications. This includes anything from semiconductor handling to bio-med applications and packaging.

Articulation

The number of joints a robot has, combined with the number of axes in each joint, determines its degree of freedom. SCARAs are four-axis robots, with motion in the X-Y and Z planes, and 360-degree rotational movement about the Z-axis. Inverse kinematics and data interpolation allow the robot to move dynamically, quickly, and intelligently.

Work Envelope and Footprint

Fanuc SCARA Controller

SCARA and R30-iB Controller. Image courtesy of FANUC America

The work envelope (the area of space that a robot can physically reach) is a significant consideration. Often, when choosing between SCARA, Delta, or six-axis robots, the work envelope is the deciding factor. Due to their full rotation about the fixed Z-axis, SCARA robots have a cylindrical work envelope. In some applications, a SCARA’s work envelope is limited to the front and side. The rear may not be useable if cables and pneumatic hoses exit from the back. Still, having the ability to work in all, or mostly all, of their reach allows SCARA robots to maintain a minimal footprint while maximizing workspace.

Speed

SCARA iRProgrammer Software

iRProgrammer Software. Image courtesy of FANUC America

Speed is an essential factor when choosing a robot. SCARAs are one of the fastest on the market. With four axes, they have fewer moving joints than their six-axis counterparts. Additionally, the reduction in joints simplifies inverse kinematic calculations, requiring less computational time. When cycle time is critical, SCARA robots present an ideal package.

So, How Much Should you Expect to Pay?

While Delta robots may be faster, SCARA robots are less expensive. When considering the cost per operation, SCARA robots are a better deal than most other configurations. Companies can expect to pay about $45,000 for a medium to large SCARA robot, but the price may vary depending on the number of extras and payload capacity. They can range from $25,000 and go up to $400,000.

So is the SCARA robot the right type for you? Hopefully, you now have a better idea of how they may meet your needs and expectations. They have many advantages, including if you are limited in space and need the maximum work-envelope to footprint ratio. For more information on SCARA and other robots, check out DIY-Robotics forum and join a community of industrial robotics specialists and enthusiasts.

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