Laser Welding with FANUC Robots
Advancements in laser welding technology over the past several years have led to the rapid adoption of this welding method with industrial robots. Once solely reserved for manual welding, robotic laser welding is becoming common amongst automotive, aerospace, and heavy equipment manufacturers. It has a number of advantages over traditional welding methods including increased precision, cleaner welds, and greater flexibility.
Laser welding stands out from other welding processes since it uses a laser beam instead of an electric arc to melt and weld metal workpieces. It also does not require contact in order to weld metals. Metals can be fused together from a distance, allowing for access to difficult weldments. The non-conventional aspects of laser welding are drawing manufacturers to the welding method and it is quickly becoming the preferred choice over traditional resistance welding with its high deposition rate and small heat affected zone. Manufacturers converting to robotic laser welding are choosing to automate with FANUC welding robots.
FANUC’s Arc Mate robot series is well-known for automating arc welding applications, but many of the articulated robots in the series can also be used for laser welding automation. The FANUC Arcmate 120ic is incredibly popular for robotic arc welding, but it is also capable of performing laser welding. Automating with the Arcmate 120ic allows for greater manufacturing versatility since it can perform traditional arc welding processes or be switched to laser welding when greater precision is needed. The slim arm design allows FANUC’s Arc Mate robots to be able to weld even in narrow spaces, but if a part is completely inaccessible converting to laser welding allows the FANUC 120ic to still be able to complete the weld from a distance.
Laser welding with a FANUC Arc Mate robot is ideal for delicate or thin metal workpieces. The high repeatability of the Arc Mate robots ensures pinpoint accuracy with every part welded. This high repeatability combined with a small heat affected zone prevents part distortion resulting in high-quality and strong welds. FANUC Arc Mate robots also provide reliable operation, especially the hollow arm robot versions. The hollow arm design of FANUC welding robots allows for internal cable routing which prevents cable interference during welding and cable wear. Other robots from the Arc Mate series that are capable of laser welding automation include the Arcmate 100ib, Arcmate 100ic, and Arcmate 120ib. For laser welding applications that require an extended reach robot, the FANUC M-710ic/20L offers just that.
In addition to arc welding and laser welding, FANUC’s Arc Mate robots can also automate laser cutting applications using the same EOAT that is used for laser welding. This allows for an extremely efficient metal fabrication process as the FANUC Arcmate 120ic/10L can prepare parts by cutting them with its laser and then weld them with the same EOAT. Productions become more streamlined as one FANUC Arc Mate robot can be used for arc welding, laser welding, and laser cutting. Investing in a multipurpose robot like the FANUC Arc Mates provides greater manufacturing flexibility, increases productivity, reduces automation costs, and will be a long-lasting investment. This is why many manufacturers are opting to automate their laser welding applications with a FANUC robot. To further increase return on investment, many companies are turning to used FANUC welding robots to automate their applications. Most used robots for sale still have the end effector from the previous application allowing them to be put right back into production.