Differences Between Flux Core and Plasma Robotic Welding
Welding robots are commonly used for automating arc welding processes. Arc welding in general involves melting two metals together through electricity and can be accomplished through several different applications with used industrial robots. Two of these applications are flux core (FCAW) and plasma welding (PAW).
Welding ProcessesFlux core welding is one of the oldest arc welding processes and is ideal for welding automation. For automation a welding robot is integrated with a power supply, welding torch, and safety equipment. A robotic workcell may also be integrated for complete optimization. The FANUC Arcmate 120ic and the Motoman MA1400 are two six axis robots that can be programmed for FCAW applications. During this process a hollow wire electrode is continuously fed through the robot’s welding torch. When the articulated robot applies the welding torch to the base metal, electricity is transferred by the electrode and forms an arc to heat and melt the metals.
Plasma welding is a high precision welding application that can be difficult to perform manually, fortunately robotic technology allows it to be automated. To automate PAW applications, a welding robot will be integrated with a power supply, plasma torch, and safety equipment. The ABB 2400 and the FANUC Arcmate 100ic are two of the most successful plasma welding robots. During this process a tungsten electrode is used inside the torch to separate the shielding gas and plasma. Inert gas is heated and converted into plasma inside the torch. The plasma created is extremely powerful, reaching temperatures over 55,000 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing for deep welds. The extreme temperatures of PAW are one of the reasons to automate it with robots. Once the plasma has formed, the welding robot will apply the torch to the metals, melting and joining them together.
MaterialsFlux core welding robots can be used to weld many different types of metals. FCAW robots can weld surfacing alloys, high nickel alloys, stainless steel, and mild/low alloy steels. Any metals that fall into those categories as long as they are not too thin will work with robotic FCAW. One advantage of FCAW robots is that metal surfaces do not have to be clean prior to welding. They can weld metals that are dirty, painted, or rusted.
Plasma welding robots can be used to weld together non-ferrous metals. These include copper, aluminum, steel, and magnesium. Unlike FCAW robots, plasma welding robots can weld thin metals as well as thick metals, making PAW robots ideal for those operating with a mixture of different workpieces. Most used FANUC robots for sale that were previously perform plasma welding still have the end-effector and welding supply integrated to it.
QualityThe weld produced by flux core robots will be strong and durable. The welding process does produce some slag which will need to be removed after welding. While it produces incredibly reliable welds, it is not recommended for those looking for an aesthetically pleasing weld appearance.
Plasma welding robots on the other hand produce strong and clean looking welds. The small heat affected zone and high concentration of the plasma prevent part distortion, which is why it is often used when precision is needed.
UsesFlux core robots are often recommended for industrial fabrication or industrial manufacturing processes. Since these robots can weld in dirty conditions and weld dirty metals, they are best for heavy-duty industrial settings.
Since plasma welding robots are some of the most precise when it comes to welding, they are often implemented in industries that manufacture more intricate parts. The ABB 2600-12 is commonly used for PAW in the electronics and healthcare manufacturing settings.