Advantages of Robotic Plasma Welding
Plasma welding is an arc welding process that is similar to TIG welding. Because of its similarities to TIG welding, plasma arc welding is often overlooked. However, PAW is a high-quality precision welding process that can be successfully automated with industrial welding robots in order to optimize a manufacturing process. With robotic plasma welding a FANUC Arcmate 120ic or similar robot is integrated with a plasma welding torch. The main difference between robotic TIG and PAW applications is that during plasma welding the electrode is suspended in the torch nozzle, constricting the arc. This constriction of the arc causes heat creating the plasma that is expelled from the nozzle to the workpiece for welding. Automating plasma welding applications with industrial robots is extremely advantageous allowing for maximum efficiency.
One of the main advantages of automating with industrial robots is their high repeatability and accuracy. This is particularly beneficial for plasma welding as it leads to better quality welds. The precision of welding robots ensures the complete control of the torch. Each weld is concentrated to the exact location for each workpiece without deviation from one piece to another. Welds turnout uniform with each cycle. Articulated robots are able to target the welding torch with their precision, resulting in a small heat affected zone. Having a small heat affected zone is crucial for preventing part distortion when working with high temperatures. Only the desired weld area is targeted. When plasma welding is automated with robots, weld seems are smooth, spatter-free, and non-porous.
Another advantage of robotic plasma welding is that it is ideal for precision welds. Many plasma welding robots have been deployed in the electronics and medical industries as an automation solution for small welds. Small welds can be difficult as they require a great deal of precision and consistency, both of which are possible with robotic welding automation. The small heat affected zone results in weld seems that are less visible and cleaner, which is ideal for precision welding. Robotic PAW is also better suited for precision welds since it can produce a lower current limit than other forms of robotic arc welding.
Automating plasma welding with industrial robots provides enhanced flexibility. Welding robots are capable of working with both thin and thick metals. They can also weld a variety of metals including steel, aluminum, and copper. Each weld will meet the same high-quality standards regardless of material type or thickness. With plasma welding robots they can always be reprogrammed for new processes and redeployed. There is no time wasted with retraining or learning curves, they will immediately be expert welders regardless of changes. Plasma welding robots are also capable of performing plasma cutting applications. A FANUC M710ic/20L can weld and cut workpieces using the same torch. The flexible automation of plasma welding robots is key to manufacturing as many product lines have high turnover in today’s world.
Plasma welding robots will also reduce cycle times. Their accuracy and high repeatability prevent errors during welding that can cost manufacturers time to correct. Cycle times are further reduced since they can complete welds with a single pass of the torch regardless of metal thickness. Robotic plasma welding is also faster than TIG welding. A Motoman MA1400 can plasma weld parts at a speed that is 20% faster than using TIG welding.