Painting robots

There are many painting robots on the market manufactured by numerous industrial robot manufacturers such as ABB, Fanuc, KUKA and others. As you know the supply is driven by the demand. As painting is one of those three D's jobs it is easy to understand why the demand and interest on this type of industrial robots are quite high.

Are you wondering about the three D's? That's a designation of jobs suitable for robots but not for humans. Three D's stands for Dull, Dirty and Dangerous. I think there is no need to explain further why painting fits every one of those three D's perfectly.

Do I have to mention that industrial robots can work more effectively than human workers with a lower ratio of defective paint jobs? Well, it's a fact if a robot is properly programmed. Other reasons why painting robots are considered include increased safety and lower amount of paint used.

As I mentioned above, many robot manufacturers have models that are designed specifically with painting applications in mind. As the industry develops older models can be found at a cheaper price, while new ones work even more effectively.

Fanuc

Fanuc is one of those companies that have chosen to design a line of products designed specifically for painting applications. There are models designed for smaller parts as well as robots designed to work with larger parts. Interesting additions to this line are robots designed for specific auxiliary operations.

Fanuc Paint Mate 200iA is a relatively small industrial robot designed as a solution for small painting applications that can be used in hazardous environments. They come in two versions iA and iA/5L which mainly differ with reach - 704 and 892 millimeters respectively. The payload can reach up to 5 kilograms.

P-50iA is a larger robot designed as an affordable solution for medium sized part painting. It has a reach of 1360 mm and can carry a payload of up to 7.5 kilograms. P-250iA/10S and P-250iA/15 on the other hand can reach 2000 and 2800 millimeters and payloads of 10 and 15 kilograms accordingly. As you understand, these are designed for mid to large applications.

P-200E can be regarded as the ultimate robotic painting solution from Fanuc. The color changer as well as the flow meter is both integrated near the applicator. Also the 7-th optional degree of freedom is available.

Robotic door and hood openers P-10 and P-15 can be integrated with P-200E. Also, P-200E is included in Fanuc's total paint shop automation solution for automotive industry. Some other pre-made integrated solutions are available with this robot.

P-500 is a 5-axes robot with a payload of 8 kilograms designed specifically for finishing paint jobs. Also it's possible to find older used models on the market. Naturally, these robots come with appropriate controllers. Special painting software usually comes in a standard package. More advanced software is usually available as an option.

Motoman

Motoman's line of painting robots also include smaller robots like Motoman PX800 designed for general industry use as well as larger robots such as Motoman EPX2900 designed for automotive and aerospace industries. Other robots occupy the middle range.

Payloads vary from 3 to 20 kilograms and reaches vary from 798 to 2900 millimeters. Motoman's painting robots come with a variety of wrist types - hollow, Lemma, three-roll and standard. This way the broad range of possible applications is covered efficiently.

These robots use either the XRC 2001-FM or the NX100-FM controllers that include painting specific software. MotoSim EG simulation software which is Motoman's offline programming environment is available as an option.

ABB

ABB also has a product line dedicated to painting solutions. Available products range from smaller robots designed for small to medium-sized part coating to robots with large working envelopes designed for large sized part coating.

IRB 52 is an example of smaller robots designed as cost effective painting solutions for general industry needs. It can carry a payload of up to 7 kg and reach as far as 1.2 or 1.45 meters while measuring just above one meter.

IRB 5500 FlexPainter, on the other hand, is a robot with especially large work envelope designed for car body exterior painting. ABB state that two FlexPainters can be used instead of four other robots to paint the body.

Of course, other robots are also available with payloads ranging from 5 to 25 kilograms and reaches ranging from 1.2 to up to 15 meters for robots mounted on a rail. Also, used older generation robots are also on the market.

One interesting thing about ABB's last generation painting robots is their controller. IRC5P which is used in majority of these robots is a controller designed specifically for painting robots. It also comes with a FlexPaint pendant - a pendant also designed specifically for painting robots.

As you can understand, these robots come with an appropriate painting software. An interesting addition is the ability to upgrade ABB's offline programming environment - RobotStudio with a Painting PowerPac. This way painting robots can be programmed without down-time.

Staubli

You guessed - they have a line of robots designed specifically for painting applications. I'm not trying to be ironical here, I just don't like to be overly repetitive. Still, I have to say that robots for painting by Staubli cover a wide range of payloads and reaches.

Reaches range from 665 to 2010 millimeters, payloads range from 1.5 to 20 kilograms. All Staubli painting robots have 6 degrees of freedom. It is easy to recognize which Staubli robots are designed for painting applications - they all have "paint" in their model designations - RXPaint 60 L for example.

Controllers in use are CS8 EX and CS8C. Process control is provided by the PAINTIXEN software designed specifically for painting applications. Mounting options include floor, ceiling and for some models - wall. The option of mounting the robot on a rail is not mentioned though.

As you can see, the selection of painting robots is quite comprehensive. I'm sure that there are more companies that can provide you with a painting robot. Also there are robot arms that can be adapted for painting applications while not designed specifically for that.

Which one to choose

Of course, I can't answer this question just like that. However, there are some things that should be evaluated before choosing a painting robot. As you understand, the task at hand is very important. One solution will be appropriate for small, general industry applications while entirely different - for automotive applications.

Next, the ease of use and support should be evaluated. How easy it will be to program a robot for a new paint job? Is offline programming environment available? Will it be possible to train your people? How fast you can get support from your dealer or robot integrator in case a need arises?

Also, you should check if a robot is certified appropriately for your use in your region. Not all above mentioned robots are certified for use in hazardous environments both in USA and Europe. Also keep in mind that such certificates may also be required for robot controllers, pendants and other peripherals.

Last but not least - you should evaluate the price. I didn't list here pricings of robots as they can differ by regions and time. However, you should remember that the price can develop differently. You should clarify what's included - the robot, the software, offline programming environment.

This is an important point. It can seem that the robot is cheap but maybe the maintenance, or support, or training are costly. On the other hand, maybe a robot seems expensive compared to competitors but superb software, training costs, and other expenses are included.

Despite the wide variety of painting robots they all share some common traits.By installing a painting robot you can and should expect heightened quality and efficacy, increased material savings and throughput which give a good return on investment which ultimately results in higher profit.

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