Integration of Robotic Welders
With the ever growing production demands many manufacturers are turning to automation with robotics, especially with arc welding applications. The integration of robotic welders provides many benefits to manufacturers including reduces costs, improved product quality, and increased worker safety. While integrating a robotic welding system may seem intimidating, especially to those new to industrial robots, having a good understanding of your application requirements will ease the integration process. Factoring in all considerations for your robotic welding system will lead to successful integration.
The first step of beginning the integration process of automating a robotic welding system is to verify that the weldment can be robotically welded. Robots weld best when workpieces are consistent, and the process is repeatable. In order to achieve high quality welds, it is best that the weld joints are flat or horizontal without gaps.
The next step of integrating a robotic welding system is to select a welding robot. Popular welding robots include the FANUC Arc Mate 100ic and Motoman MA1400. When selecting a robot, it is important to consider the payload and reach needed in order to best perform the desired welding application. For welding robots, payload tends to not be a big concern since most welding equipment such as torches and mounting brackets, are often on the lighter side. The robot reach is the more important of the two, as you want to make sure the robot selected will be able to access all weld joints. Reach is also important because you want to be sure the robot can orientate the weld torch into various positions needed to complete welds. Some welding robots such as the ABB IRB 2600-12 feature an extended reach specifically for arc welding applications. You will also need to consider if the workpiece size will vary. If the workpiece size does vary or you believe it could change in the future it is recommended to purchase a larger welding robot than current needs to cover any future changes.
After a robot similar to the FANUC Arc Mate 120ic is selected, the next step of integrating a robotic welding system is to select the welding equipment. This will vary based upon the type of welding application being performed such as MIG, TIG, or spot welding to name a few. The most crucial piece of welding equipment is the weld torch since it is the tool that will be performing the work. The weld torch is the robot’s end of arm tooling or EOAT that is fitted to the end of the robot arm. Additional welding equipment needed for robotic integration includes the welding power source and wire feeder. The power source is the device that supplies the electric current to produce a weld. Popular power source equipment options include the Lincoln Powerwave R350 and Miller Auto Axcess 450. Wire feeders are devices that add filler metal during the robotic welding process. However, not all robotic welding applications require a filler metal, so a wire feeder may or may not be needed.
Once you have finished planning your robotic welding integration you can start programming the robot with the welding application parameters. It is important to verify the robotic welder is operating as desired and the weld quality is validated.
Proper planning and guidance help to ease the integration of robotic welders and ensure a successful transition to automated robot welding.