Applications for Welding Automation
The primary goal of welding automation is to significantly reduce or eliminate entirely the need for human involvement in a welding process. This is typically accomplished by converting a manual welding process to an automatic one through either fixed machinery or industrial robots. In recent years industrial robots have become the preferred method for welding automation with their versatility and advanced functionality. Welding robots reduce costs, increase productivity, and improve welding quality. With the rising welder shortage many manufacturers are finding it necessary to automate their welding applications with the FANUC Arcmate 120ic or other welding robots.
There are many different types of welding applications and not all are well suited for automation. The following is a breakdown of applications that can be successful with welding automation.
Resistance WeldingThe category of resistance welding includes spot welding which is the most common welding application for industrial robots. Some of the first robots were used for spot welding and today spot welding robots, like the FANUC R-2000ib/210F, are heavily utilized in the automotive industry. Spot welding involves applying pressure at a specific point on a workpiece in which resistance from the metal to an electrical current heats and melts to form a weld.
Arc WeldingArc welding is the second most common category for welding automation. Within the arc welding category are several subtypes which include GMAW, GTAW, PAW, MAG, FCAW, and SAW. Gas metal arc welding (GMAW) and gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) are the two most common arc welding applications for welding automation. GMAW involves using a consumable wire electrode and shielding gas. If the shielding gas used is inert then the process is referred to as MIG (metal inert gas). If the shielding gas is active, then the process is called MAG (metal active gas). GMAW is known for its speed and ability to weld thick metals.
GTAW, also referred to as TIG (tungsten inert gas) is ideal for welding detailed, thin workpieces due to the precise methodology of this application. Speed, however, is not the main focus of this process. Plasma arc welding (PAW) is similar to GTAW as it is another precision focused method, but it can be used to weld both thin and thick metals. Flux core arc welding (FCAW) is similar to GMAW, but it does not use shielding gas. Instead, the flux contained in the wire electrode protects the weld pool. Submerged arc welding (SAW) is limited to thick plated welding, making it the least common arc welding method. Popular arc welding robots include the FANUC Arcmate 100ic and Motoman MA1400, as they can automate most of those arc welding applications.