Automated Welding Systems
An automated welding system involves converting a manual welding process into either a semi-automatic or a fully automatic application in which human involvement is significantly reduced. With either semi-automatic or fully automatic welding, industrial robots are used to perform the welding application. Semi-automatic welding requires an operator to manually load and unload workpieces. While fully automatic welding relies solely on industrial robots or other automated machinery to load parts.
There are several components that make up an automated welding system. The main components include:
- • Robot - An automated welding system will consist of at least one industrial robot or multiple depending on the volume of your welding project. Multipurpose industrial robots can be used for welding automation. The ABB 2400 is a multipurpose robot that is capable of carrying out welding applications. There are also industrial robots that are specifically designed for welding. The FANUC Arcmate 120ic is an industrial robot that is designed specifically for arc welding automation. The 120ic can automate MIG, TIG, and other arc welding processes. While the main purpose of the FANUC R-2000ic is to automate spot welding applications, it can handle material handling automation as well. Automating with a robot designed specifically for welding will optimize the application as they include features such as slender arms, internal cabling, or in the case of spot welding, heavier payloads.
- • Power Supply - Power supplies are integrated with industrial robots when automating an arc welding application. These devices supply the electric current needed for the arc. Power supplies may also be used to supply the shielding gas if it is needed for a welding application. The top three power supply manufacturers are those from Fronius, Miller Electric, and Lincoln Electric.
- • Weld Torch - The weld torch is the EOAT or end-effector that is integrated to the articulated robot of an automated welding system. The exact type of weld torch will depend upon the welding application being automated. A ABB 6640 being implemented for spot welding will be integrated with a spot welding gun. While robots automating arc welding will need an arc welding torch.
- • Wire Feeder - A wire feeder may be needed if your welding application requires a filler metal, such as MIG and MAG welding. Wire feeders are typically mounted on the robotic arm and are used to continuously feed the filler wire.
- • Reamer - Robotic reamers are used to automatically clean arc welding torches. These devices remove excess spatter from inside the weld torch to prevent buildup to ensure optimal performance of the torch.
- • Positioner - Robotic positioners are used to control the rotation of parts during welding. Positioners can rotate parts a full 360 degrees, allowing welding robots greater access to workpieces for the most accurate welds.
- • Weld Cell - A weld cell is a robotic workcell that is designed specifically for welding automation. All components of an automated welding system can be housed within a weld cell for a more efficient and safer operation. Robotic weld cells can be pre-engineered in which the automated welding system is completely turnkey with all components pre-selected for easier integration. Weld cells may also be completely customized in which users design and build the entire cell to their specific needs.