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Robots fall under two categories: general-purpose robots and special-purpose robots. The development of robots as a whole is a fascinating journey into the advancement of our industrial world, as well as technological advancements in science and medicine.

Because of their roles in these advancements, general-purpose and special-purpose robots have distinct differences that aid them in their respective industries. Learn more about what distinguishes general-purpose from special-purpose robots below.

1.   Performance

General-purpose robots can perform a variety of tasks.

General-purpose robots can be reprogrammed to perform different tasks. This is a great feature for businesses that want multiple projects out of their robots. From arc welding to painting, general-purpose robots can change their day-to-day tasks with the help of a programmer and relevant parts.

Special-purpose robots have one job.

Special-purpose robots are not reprogrammable like general-purpose robots. They are designed for one job, like scoping out the sea floor, that will be the sole task for the robot’s lifespan.

2.   Function

Factories and warehouses tend to use general-purpose robots.

General-purpose robots are used in manufacturing since they are primed for repetitive tasks involving the production of materials like cars or packaged goods. They increase the efficiency of production labor while relieving humans of dangerous and monotonous tasks.

You can find special-purpose robots in places like laboratories and surgical rooms.

The major difference between general-purpose and special-purpose robots is that special-purpose robots are used in high-stakes environments, like performing brain surgery or exploring outer space. Because they are programmed and designed for one specific task, special-purpose robots can perform jobs that demand precision and flawless execution.

3.   Maintenance

General-purpose robots have an easy maintenance routine.

Because they are made from standard, replaceable parts, it’s easy to maintain a general-purpose robot. They have a regular schedule for tune-ups and repairs, and maintenance is relatively inexpensive. Many of the large robotics producers, such as KUKA and ABB, have interchangeable parts, making the reparation process simple.

Special-purpose robots require maintenance for rare and unusual parts.

Special-purpose robots are more difficult to repair and maintain due to their unusual parts and programming. These robots require highly specialized technicians to repair and program them, which isn’t cheap. They also have rare parts that have been created specifically for that robot, so finding a replacement means a new part must be produced.

Two sides to the story

As you can see, general-purpose and special-purpose robots have their differences. Their performance, function, and maintenance require them to be used and repaired with their purpose in mind.

As an industrial manufacturer, general-purpose robots will be your best bet. Scientists and doctors should consider special-purpose robots if they have a specific task to complete. Despite their differences, both robots have helped humans progress in production, science, and technology.

Looking to add a general-purpose robot to your manufacturing facility?

Browse iGAM’s inventory of ABB, KUKA, and Fanuc robots today!


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iGAM is the leading online marketplace for used industrial robots, robot parts, and manufacturing equipment. Providing quality industrial equipment at an affordable price, iGAM has helped manufacturers of all sizes with their automation goals. Keep your production line up and running with products and services from iGAM. From supplying Industrial Automation equipment to asset appraisals, iGAM aims to be the ultimate destination for every manufacturer’s industrial automation needs.

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