Gantry robots are industrial robots used in a number of manufacturing applications. They are characterized by having three principal axes of control, each of which moves in a straight line. The superstructure typically includes an elevated horizontal part, which is supported by legs at both ends. This “bridge” is the implement that allows the robot to translate the load or instruments it carries along the three different axes. Positioned perpendicularly to each other, the XYZ modules can move forward and backward, left and right, and up and down, respectively.
Because of the machine’s versatility, speed, and accuracy, an XYZ gantry system is highly favored by many manufacturers. To give you an idea about whether or not such a system is suitable for your industrial needs, here are a few of its useful applications.
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Pick-and-Place Assembly Machines
One of the most well-known applications of gantry systems is their use as an integral component of pick-and-place machines, robotic equipment used in the manufacture of electronic circuits. The machine collects and mounts small electronic components like integrated circuits, transistors, and resistors onto a substrate such as a printed circuit board (PCB). This manufacturing method is known as the surface mount technique.
Since these electronic circuits are incorporated into critical electronic devices like computers and telecommunications equipment, pick-and-place machines use precision components like highly accurate XY linear stages in order to perform at their best. Such components can help ensure proper positioning of the PCB components. Likewise, their high level of speed and consistency can help manufacturers’ mass produce PCBs in the least amount of time possible.
Automated Parts Inspections
A number of industries consider inspection of their products’ components a vital part of their business’ safety protocols. Oftentimes, these components vary in sizes and specifications. Since an XYZ gantry system is usually mounted on an overhead track, it provides more room for the loading and unloading of the components allowing for bigger parts to be inspected. Because of this set-up, manufacturers are able to conduct a thorough examination of their products and its mechanisms.
An XYZ gantry system’s elevated mount set-up is also ideal for 3D printing. As gantry robots can easily reach different points in a three-dimensional space, three-dimensional printing is made possible. A tool, such a nozzle that releases molten polymer, can be deployed by the gantry system to any point within the space in order to “print out” the design. This process, known as fused deposition modeling, is completed through a layer-by-layer application of the polymer until the final object is formed.
Metrology and Inspection
Another ideal application of XYZ gantry systems is their use in coordinate measuring machines (CMMs).
CMMs are specialized metrology equipment that is used to accurately measure the dimensions or surface areas of three-dimensional objects. Such machines usually feature a flat platform where the object or specimen is positioned. Above this surface, a gantry system—composed of an XY bridge and an additional implement that can move along the Z axis—is deployed. This is responsible for carrying the probe that performs the measurement.
Traditionally, CMMs used mechanical probes, but these days, novel non-contact forms of scanning probes employ laser beams and other types of light to carry out the measurements and inspections. Not only do these non-contact probing technologies help in providing more accurate measurements, they are also helpful in applications where delicate handling of materials is required, or when computerized 3D modeling of the specimen is desired.
XYZ gantry systems are also used in the handling and dispensing of materials like liquids,
making them very useful in applications like laboratory automation. Vital diagnostics and life science procedures like genome sample preparation, liquidating, and high-throughput screening are typically laborious and repetitive, putting a tremendous strain on the productivity and well-being of laboratory personnel. As such, automating material dispensing and handling not only helps laboratories achieve higher throughput, it also improves the quality of samples being prepared because procedures are made more precise and are standardized across the board.
An XYZ gantry system is essential to applications where automation and precision is essential. These machines are favored by many people in the manufacturing industry because of their simple design, stability, high accuracy, and low-cost. Thus, an XYZ gantry system is perfect for equipment developers and end users who value efficiency, flexibility, and ease of use.