One of the most unique and distinctive-looking classes of 3D printers is the SCARA printer. SCARA is an acronym for Selective Compliance Articulated Robotic Arm or Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm. The use of the word assembly is an indication of the origin of the concept: manufacturing.
What Is a SCARA Printer?
A SCARA printer has one or two articulated arms that control the position of the print head. They directly control movement in the X- and Y-axes. The arms generally control Z-axis movements too. It is, however, possible to control this by adjusting the print bed.
Each arm of a SCARA printer has a single joint. This allows it to extend far and double back on itself for the maximum possible build volume. Some printers use a single-arm, which reduces weight and cost, while others use two arms to provide better stability. The print bed of a SCARA printer is often circular but can also be square.
Lightweight but Difficult to Calibrate
One of the downsides of SCARA printers is that the arm or arms can’t support much weight because they’re only supported at one end. This means that the weight of the print head needs to be minimized, so Bowden-style extruders are the norm. This is because the heavy extruder and motor can be mounted to the frame rather than the arm in this setup. However, the upside of this is that the lightweight print head can move faster than most cartesian 3D printers.
While you can buy SCARA 3D printers for prices ranging from $300 to more than $50k, they’re not particularly common. Many of the makers that have one have chosen to build their own. One of the difficulties with this type of printer is that the joints of the arms need to be high quality to maintain their accuracy and precision.
Further to that point, calibrating the printer can be a tedious process too. The technology behind SCARA printing is somewhat new, so firmware support is not as advanced as it is for other types of printers.
SCARA printers are a unique option that looks very distinctive and generally attracts attention. Whether you want to deal with the extra hassle of maintaining it rather than a standard cartesian printer is a personal choice. Have you bought or made a SCARA printer? What’s your impression of them? Let us know down below.