Lead Through Robotic Programming
Programming is vital to the success of any robotic system as it provides the set of instructions needed for an industrial robot to interact with its environment in order to perform specific tasks. Before a FANUC Arcmate 120ic can weld workpieces together, it must be programmed with the specific commands to be able to accurately complete the application. There are several programming methods used for industrial robots. The most common method is through teach pendants followed by offline programming. Another method that can be used for robotic programming is the lead through method.
The lead through method involves programming industrial robots through demonstration. This method is also referred to as hand guidance programming or the walk-through method. During programming a robot operator will physically move the robotic manipulator through the waypoints of a desired task. Some industrial robots have a joystick attached to their wrist above the EOAT which can also be used to move the robotic manipulator for lead through programming.
This programming method is best for robotic applications involving a continuous path such as welding automation or painting. Lead through programming has declined in use when it comes to traditional industrial robots. The size and weight of the robotic manipulators makes it difficult for robot operators to physically move them through an application path. However, lead through programming has started to make a comeback as many collaborative robots have incorporated the method as their main programming source. The lighter weight and smaller size of cobots makes it easier for operators to physically manipulate the robot arm. FANUC's Cr-15ia is a cobot featuring hand guidance programming. Universal’s cobots also feature this programming method, including their Universal UR10.