Spotlight on… Universal Robots: How to Program UR Robots Easily

Universal Robots (UR) was one of the early trailblazers in the field of collaborative robotics and has remained a leader for years. If you use UR robots, this spotlight guide will help you to program them easily and efficiently with offline programming.

A standout feature of UR robots is that they can be programmed easily, even by people with no robotics knowledge. However, this is most commonly done with the physical robot present, meaning it must be taken out of production to program.

By combining UR robots with the power of RoboDK’s offline programming, you can get even more from these ubiquitous collaborative robots.

The Universal Robots Story: What Sets UR Robots Apart

It’s fair to say that Universal Robots revolutionized the robotics industry when they led the introduction of collaborative robots back in 2005.

Founded by Esben Østergaard, Kasper Støy, and Kristian Kassow, the company began as a small Danish startup and has since grown into a global leader.

Factory 4.0 concept : View of Gripper on universal robot is sorting goods on automatic conveyor by vision system in smart warehouse

One thing that set UR apart, particularly in the early days of cobots, was its commitment to developing user-friendly, flexible, and cost-effective collaborative robots that can be adapted to a wide range of applications.

UR’s brand is rooted in making robotic technology available to everyone and it fosters long-lasting partnerships to maintain its leading place in the industry.

What Industries are UR Robots Used In?

Universal Robots can be found in a wide variety of industries thanks to their versatility and ease-of-use. As well as traditional robotic industries like electronics manufacturing and automotive, they are also used in less common industries like education and small eCommerce business.

In particular, collaborative robots are now being used for those tasks that were too small to be worth automating with conventional industrial robots. These might include small scale packaging, machine tending, or product testing.

You can also find UR robots working directly alongside human workers, which was not possible with the more dangerous conventional industrial robots.

3 Example Applications for UR Robots

Here are some examples of applications where you might find UR robots being used:

1. UR5 in Dental Crown Production

One example of a classic cobot task is machine tending, where the robot places and removes products into a semi-automated CNC machine.

In one example from medical manufacturing, a company used a UR5 robot to optimize a production process for dental crowns. Adding the robot reduced the cycle time by 40% and reduced the need for human operators.

2. UR10 in Powder Coating

One painting company used the slightly larger UR10 to move from a manual to an automated painting process.

The task involved powder coating, which involves applying a powder to the surface of the workpiece. It can be a complex task, but the cobot was able to replicate the operator’s movements and perform it consistently.

3. UR20 in Palletizing

For larger tasks, [like robotic pallietizing][PALLET], a high-payload collaborative robot is now an option.

One food production company used the new UR20 to stack bags of grain onto a pallet for shipment. As well as improving palletizing throughput, this also helped to remove an unhealthy task from the arms of human operators.

Universal Robot Conveyor

Options for Programming UR Robots

There are a few methods for programming UR robots. Which you choose will depend on your application, level of robotics expertise, and production requirements.

Here are the 3 most common options for programming UR robots:

  1. Brand Programming Language: UBScript — The scripting language for UR robots supports a range of features for more advanced programming. Due to the focus on users without robotics expertise, UBScript is not the primary method of programming.
  2. Teach Pendant: PolyScope — The most commonly used method is the graphical teach pendant. With UR robots, this uses a system called Polyscope. However, programming with this method needs to be done “online” with the physical robot present.
  3. RoboDK — For flexible offline programming, RoboDK is both intuitive and powerful. It has a huge range of features and offers strong support for Universal Robots.

When you are looking for a suitable programming method, remember to consider whether there is a benefit to using offline programming.

Spotlight on 3 Models in the RoboDK Library

The RoboDK Library is an extensive collection of robot models from a variety of brand, including Universal Robots.

The library contains pre-configured models for 9 UR models at the time of writing.

Here are 3 models you can find in the library:

Robot 1: UR3

The UR3 is a small and versatile collaborative robot arm with a 3 kg payload capacity. It weighs 11 kg, has a 500 mm reach, and a repeatability of 0.1 mm.

A fun fact about this model. When the model was first launched, Universal Robots used UR3 robots to make copies of themselves.

Robot 2: UR10e

The UR10e is a larger cobot with a 10 kg payload. It has weighs 28.9 kg, has a reach of 1300 mm, and an impressive repeatability of 0.05 mm.

As an e-Series Universal Robot, the UR10e has an integrated force-torque sensor plus an increased safety rating. It also features a new look teach pendant and user interface.

Robot 3: UR30

The newer UR30 is a heavy payload cobot capable of lifting a whopping 30 kg. The robot itself weighs 63.5 kg, has a reach of 1300 mm, and a repeatability of 0.1 mm.

The UR30 is part of Universal Robot’s next generation of heavy payload robots. The robot has been redesigned from the ground up to handle heavier weights.

How to Program UR Robots Easily with RoboDK

If you want to streamline the deployment process for your UR collaborative robot, it’s worth looking at using RoboDK for your programming.

RoboDK’s rich simulation environment makes it easy to quickly design robot programs and test them before you put the robot into production. The intuitive graphical interface allows you to quickly create robust programs while the API allows you to incorporate any advanced features you want.

To get started, download a trial copy of RoboDK from our download page and load up your favorite robot model.

What UR robots model do use for which applications? Tell us in the comments below or join the discussion on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or in the RoboDK Forum.. Also, check out our extensive video collection and subscribe to the RoboDK YouTube Channel

About Alex Owen-Hill

Alex Owen-Hill is a freelance writer and public speaker who blogs about a large range of topics, including science, presentation skills at, storytelling and (of course) robotics. He completed a PhD in Telerobotics from Universidad Politecnica de Madrid as part of the PURESAFE project, in collaboration with CERN. As a recovering academic, he maintains a firm foot in the robotics world by blogging about industrial robotics.

View all posts by Alex Owen-Hill