Common Robotic Welding Questions
Welding is a common fabrication process in which materials, typically metals, are permanently joined together. Parts are melted using high heat, when parts have cooled a weld is formed. Welding can be performed either manually or through robotic automation.
Robotic welding involves automating welding processes through using industrial robots. Robotic welding converts manual welding applications into automatic ones. With robotic welding robots are used for both handling and performing the welding application, limiting the need for human involvement.
What robots can automate welding?Most welding applications are automated with six-axis articulated robots. The six degrees of freedom provide a full range of motion that is similar to the human arm for easy automation. The FANUC Arcmate 120ic is a six-axis robot that can be programmed for welding automation. Seven-axis robots are also starting to be used for robotic welding. The extra axis of seven-axis robots eliminates the need for a positioner, allows for better torch access, and can help avoid peripherals. Gantry and collaborative robot types can also be used for robotic welding.
What equipment is needed for robotic welding?The equipment needed for robotic welding is similar to equipment used for manual welding, only it is designed to be integrated with industrial robots. The welding robot is powered through the welding power source which supplies the electric current needed for most welding applications. Miller, Lincoln, and Fronius all manufacture robotic power sources. The Lincoln Powerwave R500 is compatible with the FANUC Arcmate 100ic and other FANUC welding robots. The weld torch is the end-effector that interacts directly with the workpieces. A robotic reamer may be used for automatic torch cleaning. A robotic positioner and wire feeder are also typically part of a robotic welding package.
What welding methods can be automated?There are many different welding applications that are suitable for robotic welding. Robotic welding is ideal for processes that are repetitive and without constant shifts in the weld path. Spot welding and arc welding are the most common applications for robotic welding. The automotive industry automates their spot welding and arc welding processes with industrial robots. The ABB 6640 is a great option for robotic spot welding. Other welding methods that can be successfully automated with robots include laser, ultrasonic, and electron beam.
Why use robotic welding?There are numerous reasons to implement robotic welding. The short answer is automating welding with industrial robots will significantly improve your fabrication. The accuracy and high repeatability of robots will improve weld quality and make welding outcomes consistent. Weld quality is also increased since eliminating human involvement prevents errors thst result in defects and poor quality.
Eliminating errors in welding processes will decrease production costs by reducing material waste. Production costs are also lowered by eliminating expensive welder salaries and reducing cycle times. Robotic welding is faster than manual welding as robots can complete welds in less time. More parts are able to be processed in a shorter timeframe, increasing productivity. Other reasons to switch to robotic welding include increased work environment safety, the elimination of welder shortages or turnover, and increased manufacturing flexibility.