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The Pros and Cons of Automated Robotic Painting

Robotic painting solutions like Robotic paint arms offer a variety of potential beneficial solutions. They also have downsides as well. To properly evaluate if they are a good solution for your production process you should consider the benefits and drawbacks which will be covered in this article.  By doing so you can be better prepared to determine if a robotic paint solution will work well for you.

The Pros of Robotic Paint Arms

Repeatability – Depending on the style of robotic paint arm that you choose, it will come with a variety of potential options for how spraying is accommodated by the robot. Some robots come with a predesigned program in place while others are dynamically programed by user training. Either way you will want to determine which style robot is best suited for your process. One major benefit to a robotic paint arm is repeatability. By being able to program the robot to paint in a repetitive pattern continually you can ensure that all areas of your product are effectively covered by the robot.  Additionally, there will be hardly any variance between products in the way they are painted. 

Safety – Robotic paint arms do not risk any issues related to exposure to harmful coating chemicals. Robotic paint arms also often use electrostatic spray guns which involve using strong electrical currents to charge the coating that is being sprayed, the electric charge helps reduce overspray but can have a variety of safety considerations as well. Robotic arms can help reduce some of these concerns.

Production – A robotic arm can spray 8 hours a day without a break and produce the exact same pattern every time. Over time employees need a break, can become sick, or have trouble concentrating on a repetitive task.

The Cons of Robotic Paint Arms

Cost – A robotic paint arm can have a high initial price associated with it. In addition to the cost of the product there can often be additional costs associated with installation as well as training to ensure that you can effectively operate the paint robot.

Maintenance – Like any mechanical device a paint robot can require routine maintenance to prevent issues from arising. If your robot breaks down it may be difficult or impossible to be able to convert over to manual spraying depending on the location and set up of your automated paint robot.

Challenges with Variability of Products – While most paint robots today offer the ability to program multiple patterns and similar benefits to be able to accommodate some variety in your paint process, programming can take time. If your products are routinely changing size and configuration it can be difficult to rapidly change between product sizes in an effective manner with a robot. 

Plant Condition Requirements – If your robot will use an electrostatic spray gun there are a variety of things you will want to ensure are implemented within your plant. To spray electrostatically you need a paint area that all objects are grounded and there can be special solvent considerations among other factors.  You can learn more about electrostatic spray guns and there pros and cons here.  These steps can be difficult to implement depending on your plant and can require strong operating procedures to reduce the risk of problems from arising. Additionally your product may have to be able to be placed on a conveyor so that the product can be brought by a robot which can be difficult for large products as well as oddly shaped products.

Ultimately robotic painting arms offer repeatability, continuous work without the need for rest, and great opportunity for quality finishes. If you have repetitive painting needs that are consistent overtime a robotic paint arm can make sense.  You will want to do additional evaluation if you find that your product sizes routinely change, are extremely large, or your plant is not properly designed to handle the unique needs of electrostatic spraying (if your robot will use an electrostatic spray gun).

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