In the last two decades, robot arms have migrated from industrial tools to household tools, toys, and DIY projects. Here we list a few of the best robot arms that you can buy or 3D print to extend your workshop or just use for fun!
There are many different styles of robot arm, but most operate on the same general principles of motion. Robot arms, unlike Cartesian machines such as 3D printers, utilize the polar coordinate system for movement and have an arc-shaped working area. Robot arms are unique in that they are not restricted by their footprint, and as such take up very little space in comparison to other machines with similar functionality.
Robot arms are usually referred to in terms of degrees of freedom (DOF). This term is used to indicate the number of rotational joints or axes on a particular arm, for instance a 4DOF arm can rotate at four seperate joints.
Robot arms vary in use, but most are capable of pick-and-place operation, while some are equipped for CNC work, laser engraving, and even 3D printing, all in one machine.
Since there are hundreds of great designs and projects to sift through when deciding on a good robot arm to buy or print, we’ve narrowed it down to 10 of the best, most popular arms that are available today.
The uArm is probably one of the most versatile of all the robot arms on this list, now on its third set of commercially available variations, the uArm Swift and the more advanced Swift Pro.
This robot arm is open-source and completely compatible with Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and Seeed Studio Grove kits. It’s unique in that the Swift Pro is able to Laser Engrave and 3D print — when equipped with the proper toolheads — and can “learn” movements without the need for a computer.
It is a 4DOF arm, and is touted as having an exacting precision of up to 0.2 millimeters.
You can find more details and where to buy one on UFactory’s product page.
Developed by Hackaday maker AngelLM, this arm is fully open source and 3D printable. It is a 6DOF arm with a maximum payload of 750 grams, and it has a unique setup that allows for great flexibility.
You can find a full write-up and all of the files to print this 3D printed robot arm on the Thor project page.
The EEZYbotARM MK2 is an exemplary example of a 4DOF arm, and is fully 3D printed with outstanding assembly instructions. This robot arm has won multiple contests and is probably one of the simplest arm designs to build. There is also a MK3 in progress.
You can find full assembly and print instructions on the EEZYbotARM webpage.
With amazing flexibility and aesthetics, this is another great, fully 3D printed robot arm. In addition to sourcing components yourself, Roboteurs offers a full kit of parts with a proprietary stepper driver to get your RBX1 running, all you need is a Raspberry Pi and a 3D printer. This arm is a 6DOF build, and offers great aesthetics.
You can find the entire BOM and the kit of parts on the Roboteurs product page.
Developed by Slant Concepts on Hackaday.io, the LittleArm is the simplest arm on this list. With only 3DOF, this arm is a great intro to Arduino programming for students, and opens exciting doors to new technologies in the classroom.
This fully 3D printed arm is very easy to assemble. The creators even developed an easy interface app for computers to use in conjuction with the arm.
You can find full documentation on the LittleArm project page
Created by Andreas Hoelldorfer on Hackaday.io, this is a very large, fully 3D printed robot arm with many, many uses. The creator has been developing it through 4 iterations to make industrial arms accessible to everyone, and the project does that quite well. With a 6DOF design and a 2-kg maximum payload, this arm is full of possibilities.
To find the print files and full BOM, visit the project page.
The MeArm is one of the most popular robot arm designs around, and for good reason. It is made of simple parts that can be laser cut or 3D printed, and has a simple yet robust 4DOF design.
The design is so popular, in fact, that it’s mimicked by two of the other arms on this list. Powered by four servos and either an Arduino or a Raspberry Pi, this arm is availiable in several different colors as a kit — or you can build it your own.
To find the purchaseable kits, have a look at the MeArm product page.
To find the printable files, take a gander at the MeArm on Thingiverse.
A 5DOF design, the Zortrax Robot Arm isn’t necessarily the strongest for it’s size, with only a 100-gram maximum payload, but it has a very impressive fully 3D printed design that makes it worth mentioning. It is unique in that only three axes are powered, while the others are positioned by hand.
This arm is designed for a set of interchangeable toolheads, allowing it to hand you a screwdriver or even just give you a fist bump — whatever you feel like having it do.
To find the full list of part files, check out the project page.
The BCN3D Moveo is a very impressive 4DOF arm controlled by an Arduino. It is fully 3D printed and fully open source, and has been well tested as an educational tool, with many already in operation in schools.
Being open source, it’s not limited to its intended use, and as such can be modified to complete all sorts of tasks for anyone from a dedicated DIYer to a robotics specialist.
For more relevant information, visit BCN3D’s Moveo webpage.
Another 4DOF design, the OWI Robotic Arm Edge is a simple arm meant for educational purposes. It’s only availiable as a kit, but an additional CPU interface can be bought allowing limited programming action.
Powered by DC motors with no encoders, precision is limited, making this robot arm more suitable for use as a toy. We included it in this list because it’s a fantastic kit for students interested in robotics and technology, and makes for a great “desk toy” during boring lunch breaks. It can also be extensively modified to seve as a platform for Arduino projects and other DIY uses.
License: The text of "10 Best Robot Arms to 3D Print or Buy" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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