Common Robotic Welding Applications
Welding is one of the most popular applications of robotics within the industrial world. Using industrial robots for welding applications helps to improve efficiency, quality, and productivity. It also helps to remove workers from the dangers of welding such as fume inhalation, arc eye, and heat exposure as robots are better suited to handle harsh conditions. Robots make ideal welding candidates when it comes to high volume, repetitive tasks. There are many types of robotic welding applications to choose from, some of the most common in the industrial sector are listed below.
- MIG Welding - Metal inert gas welding is one of the most popular types of arc welding processes and is extremely easy to automate with robots like the FANUC Arcmate 120ic. During MIG welding a consumable electrode is continuously fed through a welding gun forming an electric arc between the wire and metal workpiece, causing the metals to melt and join together. Many manufacturers turn to MIG welding when large workpieces are involved and for when speed is needed. Other advantages of MIG welding include higher quality welds due to the use of shielding gas and the ability to weld thin and thick metals.
- TIG Welding - Tungsten inert gas welding is another form of arc welding. During TIG welding an arc forms between the electrode and the workpieces to heat and join them together. Inert shielding gas is applied during this process in order to protect the welding pool from contaminants. TIG is often the go to choice of manufacturers for welds requiring a great amount of precision. Because TIG is a precision driven process it is slower than other forms of welding and requires great skill and control. This is why automating TIG applications with robots such as the Yaskawa MA1400, has become so popular. Robots ease the complexity and produce strong welds. Robotic TIG welding can be used on almost any metal or alloy, on thin metals, and on small intricate parts.
- Plasma Welding - Plasma welding is another type of arc welding in which an electric arc heats inert gas to form plasma. This plasma is then applied to the metal workpieces to melt and bond them together. Plasma welding is ideal for producing clean and precise welds which is why it is commonly used. The small heat affected zone and containment of the arc within the welding torch prevents distortion of the workpiece allowing for seamless welds. Plasma welding robots like the ABB IRB 2600 can complete welds with one pass and provide flexibility with temperature and velocity adjustments.
- Spot Welding - Robotic spot resistance welding is heavily utilized amongst the automotive industry and is considered the most economical robotic welding application. During this process metals are joined together through heat produced from the resistance to an electrical current. As the name implies spot welding targets a specific “spot” of the workpiece, preventing excessive heating of the rest of the metal. This is why robots like the FANUC R-2000ib/210F, can often be seen spot welding car frames on automotive production lines. The accuracy and high level of repeatability provided through the use of robots is why robotic spot welding has become so commonplace.