6-Axis or SCARA? A Complete Guide to Choosing the Right Robot for Your Business’ Needs



Choosing the right robot for your business depends on a thorough evaluation of your specific needs. By considering factors such as workspace, payload, speed, precision, cost, and programming complexity, you can make an informed decision.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the features, applications, and considerations for choosing between 6-axis and SCARA robots. This article will compare the specifics of Mecademic’s 6-axis industrial robot arm (the Meca500) and Mecademic’s latest robot launch, the micro-SCARA. 

Understanding the Basics

Before diving into the comparison, let’s briefly explore the fundamental characteristics of SCARA and 6-axis robots.

SCARA Robots: SCARA stands for Selective Compliance Articulated Robot Arm. SCARA robots are typically designed with three rotary joints and a linear vertical axis, providing exceptional speed and precision for horizontal applications. Their configuration restricts them primarily to working on horizontal surfaces. Because of their simpler architecture, SCARAs are usually the more affordable option if you’re looking for a simple pick-and-place application on parts that remain horizontal, so to speak.




6-Axis Robots: These robots, also known as vertically articulated robots, have six degrees of freedom, allowing them to translate or rotate an end-effector in any direction. They consist of a base, shoulder, arm, and wrist, offering high flexibility and dexterity.

Although six-axis robots tend to be slightly less precise and take up more space than SCARA robots, the Meca500 by Mecademic offers the smallest and most precise six-axis industrial robot arm in the world, meaning you don’t need to sacrifice flexibility for precision and floor space. 




Applications and Advantages

To determine which robot suits your business needs, consider the following applications and advantages of both 6-axis and SCARA robots.

6-Axis Robots

Assembly: 6-axis robots excel in complex assembly tasks, handling intricate components with precision and agility. Check out this case study on how Mecademic’s 6-axis robot can be used for manufacturing in space through its ability to micro-handle delicate parts and integrate easily into the small workspace of a spacecraft!

Lab automation: Six-axis robots are used in lab automation due to their modularity and their flexible range of motion. With its compact size and micro-handling abilities, the Meca500 is ideal for lab automation, especially for handling test samples in labs where footprint is an issue. For example, the implementation of the Meca500 in a lab at the University of Montreal resulted in a remarkable tenfold increase in throughput. You can read more about that case in this article.

Inspecting and testing: The versatility of 6-axis robots makes them good choices for inspecting and testing applications. They can be programmed to perform several different tasks in conjunction with cameras and sensors to perform various product tests. The Meca500 is a particularly ideal choice due to its accuracy, which ensures consistent test results, improving product quality. Its modularity allows for easy integration with various sensors and testing equipment. Learn more about the Meca500’s testing abilities in this case study. 




SCARA Robots

Pick and Place: SCARA robots are exceptional at rapid and precise pick-and-place operations or parts that are located on horizontal surfaces, making them valuable for tasks like sorting, packaging, and machine tending. For instance, Mecademic’s SCARA robot reaches speeds of 3000 mm/s. 

Electronics Assembly: Their high-speed capabilities and accuracy make SCARA robots ideal for electronic component assembly, where high throughput is as important as precisely handling delicate parts.

Loading & Unloading: Mecademic’s SCARA is the best solution for transferring small parts at short distances, in highly constrained spaces.

Key Considerations for Choosing the Right Robot

To make an informed decision, several factors should be considered.

Workspace: Assess the spatial requirements of your application. Six-axis robots have a larger workspace and can operate in various orientations. For a better understanding of what this looks like, you might want to read this article on the workspace of a typical 6-axis industrial arm

SCARA robots, on the other hand, are restricted to working on horizontal surfaces, mainly. However, Mecademic’s SCARA robot can be mounted in two ways, whether it be on a tabletop or upside down, which provides more flexibility.

Payload and Reach: Determine the weight and size of the objects the robot needs to handle. Six-axis robots generally have higher payload capacities and longer reach capabilities. While Mecademic’s SCARA and 6-axis both have a payload of 0.5 kg, the SCARA has a reach of 225 mm while the latter has a reach of 260 mm. However, recall that the workspace of a 6-axis robot is a complex six-dimensional entity that cannot be summarized with a single number (see tutorial on workspace), as in the case with SCARAs.

Speed: Evaluate the required speed for your application. SCARA robots offer excellent speed in horizontal tasks, while 6-axis robots provide superior dexterity for complex maneuvers. Both the Meca500 and the MCS500 provide extreme precision with a position repeatability of 0.005 mm, but the SCARA robot has speeds of up to 3,000 mm/s, ensuring faster cycle time and maximum throughput.

Cost: Budgetary constraints are crucial when considering robot options. While 6-axis robots are typically more expensive than SCARA robots due to their increased complexity, the Meca500 stands out as a cost-effective choice compared to its competitors. Nevertheless, it is essential to take into account the overall expenses associated with owning a robot. Check out this article on Robots- Total Cost of Ownership to get a better idea of what you should be spending on your robotic system. 




Training and Programming: Assess your team’s expertise in robot programming. Six-axis robots may require more extensive training, while SCARA robots often have simpler programming interfaces. However, both Mecademic robot types are plug-and-play systems, enabling easy programming using any contemporary programming language. Moreover, they come equipped with a modern user interface called the MecaPortal that facilitates intuitive and effortless interaction with the robots. Use this guide to learn how to program your manufacturing robot with no programming training.



If you are looking for precision, both Mecademic’s SCARA and 6-axis robots are good options, with a position repeatability of 0.005 mm. If you are looking for flexibility and dexterity to complete complex applications, the 6-axis robotic arm is the better choice. However, if your application can be done on horizontal planes and maximizing throughput is your priority, the SCARA robot is your answer, with speeds up to 3000 mm/s within a planar workspace. 

Remember, no one-size-fits-all solution exists. Assess your application’s unique requirements, consult with robotics experts, and consider case studies similar to your industry to ensure the right robot choice for your business’s success. 

About Mecademic

Mecademic is an award-winning robotics designer and manufacturer based in Montreal, Canada. We make the world’s smallest, most precise, easy-to-use industrial robotic arms. Our customers have come to rely on us to automate precision tasks and delicate manipulations for the aerospace, automotive, manufacturing, electronics, jewelry, and other industries. Learn more about us.


Read the Press Release for Mecademic’s new SCARA robot – the MicroDASH-MCS500.