Anatomy of Industrial Robots

The RIA (Robotics Industries Association) has officially given the definition for Industrial Robots. According to RIA, “An Industrial Robot is a reprogrammable, multifunctional manipulator designed to move materials, parts, tools, or special devices through variable programmed motions for the performance of a variety of tasks.”

The Anatomy of Industrial Robots deals with the assembling of outer components of a robot such as wrist, arm, and body. Before jumping into Robot Configurations, here are some of the key facts about robot anatomy.

  • End Effectors: A hand of a robot is considered as end effectors. The grippers and tools are the two significant types of end effectors. The grippers are used to pick and place an object, while the tools are used to carry out operations like spray painting, spot welding, etc. on a work piece.
  • Robot Joints: The joints in an industrial robot are helpful to perform sliding and rotating movements of a component.
  • Manipulator: The manipulators in a robot are developed by the integration of links and joints. In the body and arm, it is applied for moving the tools in the work volume. It is also used in the wrist to adjust the tools.
  • Kinematics: It concerns with the assembling of robot links and joints. It is also used to illustrate the robot motions.

The Robots are mostly divided into four major configurations based on their appearances, sizes, etc. such as:

  • Cylindrical Configuration,
  • Polar Configuration,
  • Jointed Arm Configuration, and
  • Cartesian Co-ordinate Configuration.

Cylindrical Configuration:

This kind of robots incorporates a slide in the horizontal position and a column in the vertical position. It also includes a robot arm at the end of the slide. Here, the slide is capable of moving in up & down motion with the help of the column. In addition, it can reach the work space in a rotary movement as like a cylinder.

Example: GMF Model M1A Robot.


  • Increased rigidity, and
  • Capacity of carrying high payloads.


  • Floor space required is more, and
  • Less work volume.

Polar Configuration:

The polar configuration robots will possess an arm, which can move up and down. It comprises of a rotational base along with a pivot. It has one linear & two rotary joints that allows the robot to operate in a spherical work volume. It is also stated as Spherical Coordinate Robots.

Example: Unimate 2000 Series Robot.


  • Long reach capability in the horizontal position.


  • Vertical reach is low.

Jointed Arm Configuration:

The arm in these configuration robots looks almost like a human arm. It gets three rotary joints and three wrist axes, which form into six degrees of freedoms. As a result, it has the capability to be controlled at any adjustments in the work space. These types of robots are used for performing several operations like spray painting, spot welding, arc welding, and more.

Example: Cincinnati Milacron T3 776 Robot


  • Increased flexibility,
  • Huge work volume, and
  • Quick operation.


  • Very expensive,
  • Difficult operating procedures, and
  • Plenty of components.

Cartesian Co-ordinate configuration:

These robots are also called as XYZ robots, because it is equipped with three rotary joints for assembling XYZ axes. The robots will process in a rectangular work space by means of this three joints movement. It is capable of carrying high payloads with the help of its rigid structure. It is mainly integrated in some functions like pick and place, material handling, loading and unloading, and so on. Additionally, this configuration adds a name of Gantry Robot.

Example: IBM 7565 Robot.


  • Highly accurate & speed,
  • Fewer cost,
  • Simple operating procedures, and
  • High payloads.


  • Less work envelope, and
  • Reduced flexibility.
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