It used to be that motion control was X, Y, and Z, and then there was the evolution of articulated and SCARA robots to go ahead and achieve, cost effectively, anywhere from three to seven axes of motion. Then there started to be the delta format robots that you would see on packaging lines, that would go ahead and pick up cookies and put them into boxes at blinding speeds. It’s kind of interesting, all these different robotic transforms are out there and they each have their pros and cons.
As an example, in the world of 3D printing, or additive, the dominant configuration is XYZ robot or cartesian, and that’s somewhat based upon most of the processes rely on gravity and tend to work in two planes. That’s why there are so many XYZ robot configurations, but, as an example, there are an increasing number of delta configurations that are coming forward and their niche is to go ahead and print long and tall objects. There are people that are doing delta printers that are literally printing pillars or printing extrusions that need to be, let’s say, a cross section that’s six inches by six inches, but they need to be 12 foot tall, okay? What a perfect format for a delta robot.
Then there are recent examples of using articulated robots to perform some printing functions, either to go ahead and actually move the extruder head or, quite honestly, move the part and kind of change its orientation in order to go ahead and reduce the amount of support material that’s required.
The bottom line is each of these formats will have its place. I think that you will continue to go ahead and see XYZ dominate, what I will call, parts that are, quite honestly, just rectangular in shape. Then you’ll see the other formats being used for, what I will call, other application needs that, quite honestly, solve problems that simple rectangular work areas don’t.