Robotics: End effectors.

A principal difference between robotic arms and other methods of digital fabrication is that with most other types of machines such as a CNC router, the effector, or tool is a fixed component of the machines design.  With robotic arms this is not the case.  The robot is build to act as a “blank canvas” to accept many different types of effectors for many different applications.  Often used robotic applications (directed by the type of effector attached to the robot arm) include:

Airbrush Attachment.

Airbrush Attachment.

Robotic painting such as this ensures high quality surface finish with little to no overspray.

Robotic painting such as this ensures high quality surface finish with little to no overspray.

Traditional gripper type effector.

Traditional gripper type effector.

Hot Wire Cutting

Hot Wire Cutting

Material handling (glass).  Robots are developed as a blank canvas and then integrated with effector hardware to form a work cell.  Often the effector that is attached to the manipulator arm is very complex and is a machine of it's own.

Material handling (glass). Robots are developed as a blank canvas and then integrated with effector hardware to form a work cell. Often the effector that is attached to the manipulator arm is very complex and is a machine of it’s own.

MIG Welding

MIG Welding

Spindle attachment for 5/6 axis CNC Milling.  It is important to note that while robotic arms are capable of milling operations, due to their lower rigidity as compared to traditional CNC mills, they do not excel at this type of use.

Spindle attachment for 5/6 axis CNC Milling. It is important to note that while robotic arms are capable of milling operations, due to their lower rigidity as compared to traditional CNC mills, they do not excel at this type of use.

"basket" type effector used for palletizing bagged products.

“basket” type effector used for palletizing bagged products.

Robotic brick stacking (pick and place operation)

Robotic brick stacking (pick and place operation)

Effector for spot welding.  These are widely used in automotive assembly, precise weld locations can be engineered and replicated accurately and quickly.

Effector for spot welding. These are widely used in automotive assembly, precise weld locations can be engineered and replicated accurately and quickly.

A major overarching theme with robotic applications is repeat-ability.  Complex effectors are developed in order to facilitate efficient repeated tasks for manufacturing.  For this fact there is an “economy of scale” for this type of hardware.

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