Arc welding applications are some of the most popular for robotic automation. Each year more companies convert their manual welding processes to automatic ones by using industrial robots from some of the top brands around the world. ABB is one of those top robotic brands whose factory robots have become common for welding automation. Below is a general outline of what components are involved with an ABB arc welding system.
The arc welding robot is obviously the first component that comes to mind for a robotic arc welding system as it is responsible for executing the welding application. ABB manufacturers several general-purpose industrial robots with many capable of automating arc welding processes. Robots from ABB’s IRB 100, 1000, and 2000 series can be used for arc welding automation. ABB’s IRB 1600 is ideal for MIG automation.
The EOAT integrated with an ABB industrial robot arm for arc welding is the welding torch. The welding torch interacts directly with the metal workpieces supplying the heat to the electrode and the shielding gas if needed. ABB robots will be integrated with either an air-cooled or water-cooled torch, depending upon a user’s torch cooling preference. Torches from Fronius, Dinse, Binzel, and SKS are the most compatible with ABB robot manipulators.
The power source is considered the central component of a robotic arc welding system as it supplies the electric current and can also store the shielding gas if needed. ABB manufacturing robot arms are typically integrated with power sources from either Miller Electric or Fronius. For example, ABB’s 4600-20 can be integrated with the Miller Auto-Axcess-450-DI. The ABB 2400L integrates nicely with welders from Fronius.
For arc welding applications that require a filler wire, a wire feeder will need to be integrated with the welding robot. Wire feeders continuously supply filler wire during welding and are mounted on the back of the arm of an ABB six axis robot.
Torch Cleaning Station
Arc welding torches require routine cleaning to remove and prevent the buildup of spatter inside the torch. A robotic torch cleaning station can be integrated with an ABB arc welding system for automatic torch cleaning at predefined intervals. Integrating a torch cleaning station with the ABB 1410 allows for spatter to be removed from the torch after every 5 workpieces.
In order for an ABB articulated robot to access all weld locations of a workpiece a positioner is needed. Robotic positioners control the rotation of workpieces during welding. There are several different types of positioners that vary based upon payload capacity, part size, and rotation requirements.
It is important to ensure safeguards are in place to protect against the UV light and extreme heat of arc welding. Safety devices such as interlocking guards, light curtains, laser scanners, pressure sensing mats, and arc glare shields can be used to safeguard an ABB arc welding system.
A weld cell is a robotic workcell designed specifically for robotic welding. ABB’s FlexArc series features several pre-engineered cells designed to optimize arc welding. Each cell comes pre-assembled with all components needed for an ABB arc welding system for easier and faster implementation.
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