Robotic arms are mechanical devices, which consist of several motors and articulations so they can move in various axis (generally 5), this motion can be a rotational movement or linear displacement.
There are several applications on the printing industry where a robotic arm can help improve a process. For example in a CNC cutter, the process of taking out the finished part of a cut can be performed by a robotic arm, and switching materials to be cut can be achieved by a conveyor belt, this reduces man operations during the process, making a process faster and more efficient.
There are 3D printing applications (and other additional manufacturing processes) where the print head is at the end of one robotic arm, this increases the movement possibilities for the plastic material to be laid out, reducing the need for support material and making it easier for more complex structures to be printed.
Operations where a person performs repetitive manual jobs are good examples where an automation process can be performed to optimize times and reduce potential mistakes. The task to be performed will determine the kind of equipment to be used, a robotic arm may suit several tasks, the complicated part of this process is the programing of the steps and movements of the robotic arm, and the later calibration in-situ.
One of the mayor drawbacks of this technology is the high cost, the most known brands are quite expensive, but they guarantee a high precision of the task programmed on the device, in order to assure the lowest cost for one of these machines is to reduce the degrees of movement to the minimum required for the task.
Robotic arms are an alternative to other equipment, they are more versatile and can be reprogramed to perform several tasks, and they can even be upgraded or modified according to the activity to be performed. For example, instead of a hand-like tool at the end of the arm, a suction-tool or a laser-engraving tool can replace it.
Source: robotics.org, archdaily.com, ati-ia.com