Robot Components 120

This class covers the functions and characteristics of the different components of an industrial robot.

Class Details

Class Name:
Robot Components 120
Number of Lessons:
Additional Language:

Class Outline

  • Objectives
  • The Components of an Industrial Robot
  • The Power Supply
  • Hydraulic Drives
  • Pneumatic and Electric Drives
  • Servomotors and Encoders
  • The Controller and Cabinet
  • The Teach Pendant
  • The Axis Control Module
  • Sensors
  • The Parts of a Robotic Arm
  • Degrees of Freedom
  • End-Effectors
  • Grippers
  • Types of Grippers
  • Robot Safeguards
  • Summary


  • Describe the basic components of an industrial robot.
  • Describe the components of a robot's power supply.
  • Describe hydraulic drives.
  • Distinguish between pneumatic drives and electric drives.
  • Describe servomotors and encoders.
  • Describe a robot's controller and cabinet.
  • Describe the teach pendant.
  • Describe the axis control module.
  • Describe sensors for robots.
  • Describe the parts of a robotic arm.
  • Describe the degrees of freedom of a robotic arm.
  • Describe the end-effectors of a robotic arm.
  • Describe grippers.
  • Distinguish between the different types of grippers.
  • Describe safeguarding systems for robots.



Vocabulary Term Definition
actuator A device that converts an electrical control signal into mechanical motion.
alternating current Current that regularly reverses the direction of its flow in a repeating, cyclical pattern. Power is supplied to robots using AC run through a transformer.
axis An imaginary straight line or circle used to describe the location or movement of an object in the Cartesian coordinate system.
axis control module A component that allows a robot to move in different directions. The axis control module also controls the velocity and torque of the robotic arm.
bladder An expandable sac that can be inflated with air or filled with fluid.
cabinet An enclosure containing a robot's controller, axis control module, input/output module, and power supplies.
Cartesian robot A type of robotic arm that has prismatic joints only. The linear movement of the joints gives the Cartesian robot a highly rigid structure that allows it to lift heavy objects.
central processing unit The main device that processes information and carries out instructions in a robot. Also known as the controller or processor.
circuit A controlled path for electricity. A circuit includes a source, path, load, and control.
compressor A component that pressurizes ambient air and directs it into a pneumatic system.
contact sensor A type of sensor that detects physical contact with an object or surface. Contact sensors for robots include tactile, force, and collision sensors.
control circuit A circuit in the robot's power supply that coordinates the robot's programming, motion control, and I/Os.
controller The main device that processes information and carries out instructions in a robot. Also known as the CPU or processor.
coordinate A specific location in three-dimensional space.
count An increment on an encoder that measures the distance a robotic arm has traveled.
current The flow of electricity. Current is measured in amps.
degree of freedom The available ways a component can move in three-dimensional space. Robots typically have three to six degrees of freedom.
direct current Current that travels in one direction. Robots run on DC motors.
electric drive An actuator that uses electricity to create mechanical motion.
electric motor A machine that converts electricity into mechanical energy or motion. An electric motor is a type of prime mover for a hydraulic system.
electromagnet A powerful magnet that gains an attractive force only when current passes through it.
encoder A measuring device for motion control that is divided into a fixed number of increments called counts. In a typical encoder, one revolution equals one million counts.
end-effector The end component of a robotic arm that is shaped like a hand or like a specialized tool. Also known as end-of-arm tool (EOAT).
end-of-arm tool The end component of a robotic arm that can be shaped like a hand or a specialized tool. Also known as an end-effector.
expanding gripper A type of EOAT that uses an inflatable bladder to lift hollow objects from the inside.
finger The part of a gripper that grasps an object.
force multiplication The exponential increase in available power. Hydraulic drives and pneumatic drives provide high force multiplication.
gripper A hand-shaped end-effector designed for seizing and holding.
hydraulic drive An actuator that uses pumps, valves, and pressurized liquids to create mechanical motion.
hydraulic pump A mechanical device used to move liquids. The hydraulic pump introduces pressure into the system.
industrial robot A programmable mechanical device that is used in place of a person to perform dangerous or repetitive tasks with a high degree of accuracy.
input A device, usually a type of sensor, that sends information into a robot.
input/output module The jack where an input/output device is physically connected to a robot. Inputs and outputs allow the robot to interact with its environment.
LCD screen A screen on a teach pendant for displaying the robot’s inputs and outputs, position, and program.
linear joint A joint that moves in a straight line across one axis. Also known as a prismatic joint.
lockout/tagout A method of protecting employees from accidental robot startup through proper locking and labeling of robots that are undergoing maintenance.
magnetic gripper A type of EOAT that uses electromagnets or permanent magnets to pick up metallic objects.
main power supply The power supply that provides voltage and current to a robot’s motor. A robot's main power supply is AC run through a transformer.
manipulator A robotic arm. A manipulator is generally mounted on a platform or suspended from a track while the arm reaches to various distances and locations.
motion control key A type of key on a teach pendant for lead-through programming and position adjustment of the robot.
noncontact sensor A type of sensor that detects changes in light or an electromagnetic field. Noncontact sensors for robots include proximity sensors and vision sensors such as photosensors and cameras.
number key A type of key on a teach pendant for entering numeric data such as axes.
output A device that performs a mechanical action after receiving the electrical signal to do so from the robot.
payload The maximum load that a robot can manipulate.
permanent magnet A magnet that retains its attractive force once it is removed from a magnetic field.
pick-and-place robot A robot designed to transfer objects from one place to another.
pneumatic drive An actuator that uses pressurized air to create mechanical motion.
power circuit The circuit for the power supply. Power circuits for robots provide large amounts of power to the servo amplifiers that power the robot's drives.
power off A button on a teach pendant that powers off the controller.
power on A button on a teach pendant that powers up the controller and turns on the servomotor if it has been turned off by an E-stop.
power supply unit A separate power supply that provides DC voltage to a robot’s outputs and controller.
prime mover A device supplying the force necessary to turn the shaft of a generator or alternator. Hydraulic drives and pneumatic drives require prime movers.
prismatic joint A joint that moves in a straight line across one axis. Also known as a linear joint.
program control key A type of key on a teach pendant for selecting and executing programs.
revolute joint A joint that rotates around more than one axis.
safeguarding system Any device, barrier, or process that protects a worker from being injured by a robot. The two basic types of safeguarding systems are safety devices and safety guards.
safety device A mechanism that prevents the robot from operating when a worker is near a dangerous area.
safety guard An obstacle that prevents a worker from entering a dangerous area of the robotic system.
sensor A device that detects the presence or absence of an object, or certain properties of that object, and provides feedback. Robots use sensors to interact with their environment.
servomotor A type of motor used in applications that require precise positioning. Many robots use DC servomotors.
status lamp A LED on a teach pendant that lights up when errors occur.
suction cup A rubber or plastic device that sticks to smooth, nonporous surfaces. A robot's grip strength may be determined by the size of the suction cups.
teach pendant A hand-held device that can be used to program a robot and control its movements.
tool changer A device used for changing the end-effector on a robotic arm.
transformer A device that transfers electrical energy from one circuit to another, without changing the frequency, using electromagnetic induction. A transformer is most often used to change the line voltage.
vacuum gripper A type of EOAT that uses suction cups for gripping flat objects.
velocity profile A profile in the robot's program that controls the acceleration and deceleration of the robotic arm as it moves to its destination.
voltage A measure of electrical pressure or potential. Voltage is measured in volts.