REDwire Selecting robots for use in pharmaceutical manufacturing

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There are three types of industrial robots most commonly used in pharmaceutical manufacturing: Cartesian, SCARA and articulated.

Pharmaceutical manufacturing, with its need for speed, repeatability and verification, is ideally suited to benefit from robot automation. It is, therefore, not surprising that robots have been at the forefront of automation developments in the pharmaceutical industry. 

In a recent white paper, Denso Robotics, a manufacturer of industrial robot arms, provides details on the essential things you need to know when selecting robots for use in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Here are some of the highlights:

There are three types of industrial robots most commonly used in pharmaceutical manufacturing: Cartesian, SCARA and articulated.

Cartesian robots: The chief advantage of Cartesian robots is their low cost, although their restricted range of motion limits their usage. They are often incorporated into automation subsystems or machines dedicated to a single purpose, such as assay testing.

SCARA robots: SCARA stands for “selective compliance articulated robot arm.” This refers to the fact that a SCARA’s arm segments, or links, can move freely, but only in a single geometrical plane. The unique design of SCARAs gives them a high degree of rigidity, which in turn allows them to move very fast and with precise repeatability. SCARAs excel at high-speed pick-and-place and other material-handling tasks. 

Articulated robots: Articulated robots not only have more joints than SCARAs, they have both horizontal and vertical joints, giving them increased freedom of movement. Whereas a Cartesian robot has a cube-shaped work envelope and a SCARA has a cylindrically shaped one, the work envelope of an articulated robot is spherical. With their greater flexibility of movement, articulated robots can perform almost any task that can be performed by a human arm and hand. 

When determining the type of robot needed, take a look at the process parameters, including: the required type and size of end-effector or end-of-arm tooling; cycle time; repeatability; reach; and payload capacity. Taken together, these will usually determine whether a Cartesian, SCARA or articulated robot is necessary.

To download the white paper, click here. 

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