6 Major Types of Industrial Robots Used in the Global Manufacturing 2018

types of industrial robots

Owing to rapid technological advancements in robotics and automation, the manufacturing sector has witnessed an increased adoption of robotics engineering and technology into its production processes. Industrial robots are being used to perform tasks with high precision and repeatability resulting in products of higher quality. The ability of industrial robots to work continuously without taking a break is helping manufacturers in increasing output. Moreover, robots can work in dangerous and harmful environments, thus improving the working conditions and safety of the production plant. Therefore, the several advantages of industrial robots are encouraging manufacturers to integrate different types of industrial robots in its production line to increase plant efficiency and profitability.

The food packaging robotics market is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 10% by 2022. To be a part of this highly profitable market, industrial robot manufacturers such as ABB, FANUC Robotics, KUKA, Yaskawa Electric and Kawasaki Heavy Industries are investing in research and development to provide end users with more sophisticated and customized automation solutions.

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What are the Major Types of Industrial Robots in 2018

Based on mechanical configuration, industrial robots can be classified into six major types namely: articulated robots, cartesian robots, SCARA robots, delta robots, polar robots and cylindrical robots. Apart from mechanical configuration, industrial robots can also be categorized based on motion control, power supply control and physical characteristics.

This blog will focus on the major types of industrial robots based on configuration, their advantages and disadvantages and the areas of application.

Articulated Robots

Articulated robot is one of the most comment types of industrial robots. It resembles a human arm in its mechanical configuration. The arm is connected to the base with a twisting joint. The number of rotary joints connecting the links in the arm can range from two joints to ten joints and each joint provides an additional degree of freedom. The joints can be parallel or orthogonal to each other. Articulated robots having six degrees of freedom are the most commonly used industrial robots as the design offers maximum flexibility.


  • High speed
  • Large work envelope for least floor space
  • Easier to align to multiple planes


  • Requires dedicated robot controller
  • Complicated programming
  • Complicated kinematics


  • Food packaging
  • Arc welding
  • Spot welding
  • Material handling
  • Machine tending
  • Automotive assembly
  • Steel bridge manufacturing
  • Steel cutting
  • Glass handling
  • Foundry and forging application

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Cartesian Robots

Cartesian robots are also called rectilinear or gantry robots and have a rectangular configuration. These types of industrial robots have three prismatic joints to deliver linear motion by sliding on its three perpendicular axes (X, Y and Z). They might also have an attached wrist to allow rotational movement. Cartesian robots are used in majority of industrial applications as they offer flexibility in their configuration which make them suitable for specific application needs.


  • Provides high positional accuracy
  • Simple operation
  • Easy to program offline
  • Highly customizable
  • Can handle heavy loads
  • Less cost


  • Requires large operational and installation area
  • Complex assembly
  • Movement limited to only one direction at a time


  • Pick and place operations
  • Loading and unloading
  • Material handling
  • Assembly and sub-assembly
  • Nuclear material handling
  • Adhesive applications

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SCARA Robots

SCARA (Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm) robots have a donut shaped work envelope and consists of two parallel joints that provide compliance in one selected plane. The rotary shafts are positioned vertically, and the end effector attached to the arm moves horizontally. SCARA robots specialize in lateral movements and are mostly used for assembly applications. The SCARA robots can move faster and have easier integration than cylindrical and cartesian robots.


  • High speed
  • Excellent repeatability
  • Large workspace


  • Requires dedicated robot controller
  • Limited to planar surfaces
  • Hard to program offline


  • Assembly applications
  • Semiconductor wafers handling
  • Biomed applications
  • Packaging
  • Palletizing
  • Machine loading

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Delta Robots

Delta robots are also called parallel link robots as it consists of parallel joint linkages connected with a common base. Owing to direct control of each joint over the end effector, the positioning of the end effector can be controlled easily with its arms resulting in high speed operation. Delta robots have a dome shaped work envelope. These robots are generally used for fast pick-and-place or product transfer applications.


  • Very high speed
  • High operational accuracy


  • Complicated operation
  • Requires dedicated robot controller


  • Food industry
  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Electronic industry
  • Flight simulators
  • Automobile simulators
  • Optical fiber alignment

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Polar Robots

Polar robots have a twisting joint connecting the arm with the base and a combination of two rotary joints and one linear joint connecting the links. These are also called as spherical robots, since it has a spherical work envelope and the axes form a polar co-ordinate system. These robots have a centrally pivoting shaft and an extendable rotating arm. The gun turret configuration of polar robots sweeps a large volume of space, but the access of the arm is restricted within its workspace.


  • Can reach all around
  • Can reach above or below obstacles
  • Large work volume
  • Requires less floor space


  • Cannot reach above itself
  • Short vertical reach
  • Low accuracy and repeatability in direction of rotary motion
  • Requires sophisticated control system
  • Fallen out of favor and not common in new designs


  • Die casting
  • Glass handling
  • Stacking and unstacking
  • Injection molding
  • Forging
  • Welding
  • Material handling

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Cylindrical Robots

Cylindrical robots have at least one rotary joint at the base and at least one prismatic joint connecting the links. These robots have a cylindrical workspace with a pivoting shaft and an extendable arm which moves vertically and by sliding. Thus, robots with cylindrical configuration offers vertical and horizontal linear movement along with rotary movement about the vertical axis. The compact design of the end of the arm allows the robot to reach tight work envelopes without any loss of speed and repeatability. It is mostly used in simple applications where materials are picked up, rotated and placed.


  • Simple operation and installation
  • Minimal assembly
  • Can reach all around itself
  • Requires less floor space
  • Can carry large payloads


  • Cannot reach around obstacles
  • Low accuracy in direction of rotary motion
  • Fallen out of favor and not common in new designs


  • Transport of LCD panels
  • Assembly applications
  • Coating applications
  • Die casting
  • Foundry and forging application
  • Machine loading and unloading

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Future Trends: Major Types of Industrial Robots

While implementing industrial robotics and automation into their businesses, one needs to understand and select the appropriate type of robot for their operations. Manufacturers are considering factors such as load, orientation, speed, precision, duty cycle, travel and environment before selecting the robot that will give the most effective and profitable results in their plant. Leading robotics companies are providing automation and robotics solutions to cater to the specific needs of their clients.

Read our blog on top 21 companies in the industrial robotics market to get an insight of the competitive landscape and the key products offered by these companies


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