If you are interested in robotic arms for the Maker, educator, or small scale manufacturer, there is a lot to be excited about right now. Here are five choice robotic arms that may find their way onto your workspace soon.
The Dobot robotic arm is already over 220% funded on Kickstarter with lots of time to spare.
Dobot is a four axis robotic arm designed for Makers, artists, educators, and scientists. The high quality aluminum frame provides stability and the Arduino-controlled stepper motors provide precision and accuracy.
The arm can be controlled with Bluetooth via a smartphone app or PC. There is a control rig to allow Dobot to follow the motion of your hand, and it can recognize objects via a web camera.
In addition to a gripper, the Dobot has multiple heads for different types of operation, including laser engraving. That’s hot!
Another robotic arm tearing up Kickstarter right now is 7Bot. They funded in four days and have already nearly doubled their goal. They still have plenty of time left if you want to get in on it.
7Bot’s six axis aluminum frame and custom high torque steel gear 24W servos make for an impressively robust and stable platform. The servos provide positional feedback with 0.18 degree accuracy. It is available with options for a vacuum cup gripper or a two finger gripper.
7Bot is designed to be easy to use. You can train it by physically guiding it; their Kickstarter page brags that the grandfather of one of the creators taught 7Bot Chinese calligraphy. You can use computer vision to have 7Bot follow and copy your movements. It can be programmed to sort objects by color. There is also a 3D model UI for programming and an API for more advanced control.
FLX.ARM from Flux Integration
Flux Integration has been working on a robotic arm to fill what they see as an important niche in the market. It’s the space between low quality “toy” robotic arms and high cost manufacturing and research arms that cost $10,000 or more.
Their solution is the FLX.ARM low cost precision robotic arm, which can do 3D printing, milling, and electronics assembly. They successful funded their Kickstarter campaign last October, and have been working ever since refining their design and preparing for production.
FLX.ARM is the robot arm itself. The solution also includes the FLX.IDE development environment and the FLX.CTL control hardware.
An interesting feature is the auto tool change. Different tool heads are stored on a special rack, and the arm can be programmed to swap between tools during operation.
Makerarm is a pretty ambitious concept. One robotic platform that can be configured to 3D print, laser cut and engrave, carve and mill, write and plot, perform PCB fabrication and assembly, cut stencils, pick and place, assemble, or whatever else you can dream up.
Makerarm is intended to be a “personal fabrication system” that can mount to your desktop. Interchangeable tool heads let you swap between functions. One arm that can perform many functions is a great concept. Their design looks beautifully executed, although many details are lacking thus far.
Despite the small base footprint, the arm has a 30″ reach and a 10″ working height. The system features auto-levelling so it can work with any flat surface. You can even control Makerarm wirelessly.
Makerarm was founded by Zaib Husain, who has two other technology startups under her belt.
The product is in private beta testing now. You can submit your email on their website to request a free trial.
Evil Minion Robot Arm from Marginally Clever
Dan Royer, President of Marginally Clever, believes the human race is fated to leave the planet Earth. In fact he wants to develop automated factories on the Moon. For this to happen we must, Royer says on his blog, “make low cost, high quality robotic arms that can assemble each other.”
And so Marginally Clever has a goal to design educational robot arms that are open source and open hardware, and make them available so we can all help towards the mission of developing automated robot factories.
His website sells a three axis robot arm kit like the one pictured to the right, but he also has the “Evil Minion” five axis robot arm, which he recently displayed at the TELUS World of Science in Vancouver. Royer’s purple minion is a test bed for new designs.
He frequently posts pictures of his work on Instagram. You can follow him there @imakerobots. Below you can see a new gripper that has been developed.
Royer will be at World Maker Faire in New York this September with a giant LED wall, and of course, his Evil Minion.