SCARA robots are one of the most popular and easy-to-use industrial robotic arms. They are commonly used in a variety of industries, often for manufacturing and assembly applications.
What do you need to know to use SCARA robots?
What is the history of this type of robot?
Why are they so popular?
The name SCARA stands for Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm, which refers to the robot’s ability to move freely and maintain stiffness in three axes while being compliant in the final axis. This type of flexibility makes them well-suited to tasks such as pick and place, sorting, and assembly.
Let’s take a closer look at the background of these robots so that you can understand how to better use them in your process.
Who Invented the SCARA Robot?
SCARA robots have a long and collaborative history. In 1977, Professor Hiroshi Makino of Yamanashi University attended the International Symposium on Industrial Robots in Tokyo, Japan. At this event, he witnessed a revolutionary invention – the SIGMA assembly robot.
Inspired by this first assembly robot, Makino formed the SCARA Robot Consortium, which included 13 Japanese companies. The purpose of this group was to improve assembly robots further through dedicated research.
The consortium worked quickly and their first prototype of a SCARA robot one year later in 1978. They tested it on a range of industrial applications, improving the design even further and releasing a second version two years later.
When the first commercial SCARA robot was released in 1981, it was hailed as a groundbreaking robotic design. It had a very favorable price-performance ratio and transformed industrial production processes all over the world.
What is a SCARA Robot and How Does It Work
SCARA robots usually feature 4 axes. They have 2 parallel arms which can move in a single plane. The final axis is at right angles to the others and is compliant.
Thanks to their simple design, those robots can move quickly while maintaining precision and accuracy at all times. Therefore, they are perfect for detailed assembly tasks.
They are easy to program as the inverse kinematics is much simpler than with 6 degrees of freedom industrial robotic arms. The fixed position of their joints also makes them very predictable, as positions in the robot’s workspace are only approachable from a single orientation.
SCARAs are very versatile and can increase productivity, accuracy, and task speed all at once.
The Advantages of Using a SCARA Robot
SCARA robots offer many advantages, particularly for large-scale production applications.
Their simple design helps to provide faster cycle times, impressive positioning accuracy, and high repeatability compared to robot types, such as conventional manipulators. They work very well in smaller environments where precision is the top requirement of the robots.
The areas where these robots most excel are in pick and place operations that require precision, speed, and smooth motion. For this reason, they are extremely popular for applications like electronics assembly and food manufacturing.
They are also very easy to program, particularly if you use RoboDK as your robot programming software. Our Robot Library includes dozens of popular SCARA robots.
The Disadvantages of Using a SCARA Robot
There are also some drawbacks to SCARA robots that you should take into consideration.
While they offer high speed, they tend to be limited in their payload. The highest payload SCARA robots can hold about 30-50 kg, while some 6 axes industrial robot arms can go up to 2000 kg.
Another potential downside of SCARA robots is that they have a restricted workspace. This means that you are limited in the size of operations that they can handle and the flexibility in terms of orientations they can approach a task from.
Despite these drawbacks, these robots undoubtedly apply to a wide range of tasks.
Why Now Is the Right Time to Think About Getting a SCARA
Why should you think about using SCARA robots now?
Well, if this type of robot is suitable for your needs, it can certainly be an economical and highly flexible option.
If you use RoboDK to program your robots, you also benefit from the new updates that we have made to the software to improve SCARA programming even more than in the past.
One feature that we have added recently is to improve the [inverse kinematic solver for SCARA robots][RKSCARA]. This allows you to easily reverse any axis when you are using such robots, which makes it easy for you to mount the robot upside down or in another orientation without complicating the programming process.
However you program your SCARA robots, they are some of the best robots if you are looking for a compact, high-speed, and high-accuracy robot.
How to Choose the Right SCARA Robot for Your Needs
It can be difficult to choose the right SCARA robot as there is now an impressive range of options on the market.
It’s important to take the time to make sure you have defined your needs before you decide on a specific model. If you pick the wrong model, you could risk reducing their favorable price-performance ratio.
With RoboDK, you can test out multiple SCARA models within the simulator before you decide on a model. Just download one of the models you are considering from our Robot Library and test it out on a mockup of your application.
There are many great uses for SCARA robots and it’s worth getting familiar with the type of applications they are best suited to.
What would you use a SCARA robot for in your company? 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