Used robots can provide excellent and inexpensive solutions. Many of the big automotive companies reinstall robots when they are 10 or more years old. Some have machines over 20 years old working in mission critical roles. The quality of engineering and reliability of industrial robots makes them viable for much longer than one would assume.
Ex car factory robots that have been well cared for can be purchased for just a few thousand pounds. However buying used is not without risk, buying the wrong machine can lead to throwing good money after bad. Spare parts and programming prices can be very high for older machines and in some cases trying to find any information about a machine can be near impossible. Some robots are very niche, one offs designed for individual applications, and not suitable for repurposing.
The used robot market has come a long way in the last decade, and established dealers snap up many of the true bargain robots. What’s often left is more or less scrap. There are also instances on the well know auction sites of miss-described or incomplete machines. I have even seen cases where a good robot is pictured and described but it is a simple fraud where it will never be shipped and may not have ever been owned by the “seller”. Other instances include robots that have been badly stored, repaired, or had their working hours misrepresented. Given the prices of robots and the unregulated nature of the industry this is all too common.
New software and hardware can be difficult or impossible to interface with older robots. Depending on the application they may not have the path following or accuracy needed. Many manufacturers do not support robots over a certain age and will charge heavily for new software and hardware to make them work. Some companies require a new software license to be purchased by the new owner.
The key is to find a trustworthy supplier and to know what has been done to the robot in terms of servicing, parts and refurbishment. Having worked in this market for many years we know who to trust.