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1-axis vs. 6-axis Robots for Powder Coating Installations: Which System is Most Suitable?

When renewing a powder coating installation, there is an increasing consideration between which type of robot to invest in. Whereas in the past, the choice almost automatically fell on a conventional 1-axis robot, we now see the 6-axis robot gaining more ground as a new application in the industry. But which of the two is truly the best investment? In this blog, both technologies go head-to-head.

Let's first get acquainted with both technologies:

1-Axis Robot A 1-axis powder coating robot is designed to perform painting tasks with a single motion axis. This means that the robot can only move in one direction or along a single plane of motion. The most common type is a linear powder coating robot, which moves on a linear slide.

Linear painting robots usually consist of a motorized base that moves along a slide, and a powder coating gun or other type of painting tool attached to the base.

6-Axis Robot A 6-axis painting robot is a sophisticated machine that uses six motion axes to move its arm, allowing it to reach any point in a 3D space with a high degree of precision and accuracy.

The robot arm can move in six different ways. The first three axes correspond to the linear motion of the robot arm along the x, y, and z axes. The remaining three axes correspond to the rotational motion of the robot arm around the x, y, and z axes. The 6th axis of these robots acts as a wrist joint, allowing them to tilt their tool.

Now that we've gotten to know our candidates better, it's time for the comparison.

Round 1: Complexity A 6-axis robot has five degrees of freedom more than a 1-axis one. This allows the angle at which the gun stands relative to the product to be dynamically changed. Thus, complex 3D pieces pose no challenge for the 6-axis robot.

Winner: 6-axis robot

Round 2: Speed Multiple spray guns can be mounted on a conventional 1-axis system, while a 6-axis robot is often equipped with only 1 gun. Therefore, a larger amount of square meters per hour can be coated with a 1-axis system.

Winner: 1-axis robot

Round 3: Powder Consumption With its six degrees of freedom, the 6-axis robot is highly agile and can better follow and approach the shapes of the piece than a 1-axis one. This has a significant impact on powder consumption because, thanks to this flexibility, the 6-axis robot applies the powder in a very precise manner, resulting in up to 30% less powder consumption.

Winner: 6-axis robot

Round 4: Powder Changes By using the right equipment, color changes can be done within 10 seconds, without the need to empty many meters of pipes.

Winner: 6-axis robot

Round 5: Programming By utilizing vision systems, 6-axis robots can now self-program, enabling them to follow different paths each time. With information from the vision system, the robot can generate a new path for new pieces without any technician intervention. With this flexibility, the 6-axis robot is also suitable for job and contract coaters.

Winner: 6-axis robot

Round 6: Touch-ups A 6-axis robot can anticipate the Faraday cage effect that occurs during powder coating. This means that once the robot completes its work, no operator is required to touch up the parts.

Winner: 6-axis robot

Round 7: Initial Investment Cost The investment cost for a 1-axis system is generally lower than for a 6-axis robot. By using a cobot or smaller robot setups, costs can be reduced, potentially making them cheaper than a 1-axis robot. However, overall, a 6-axis robot is a larger investment.

Winner: 1-axis robot

And the winner is... After a long and challenging battle, where the main advantages and disadvantages of each type were clearly outlined, the winner is... the 6-axis robot! With a score of 5 out of 7, 6-axis robots have several advantages over conventional 1-axis robots.

However, we would like to make the following note: the best technology is one that is fully tailored to your specific requirements. We are happy to identify your needs and collaborate on finding the right powder coating solution for your company.

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