A power supply is a crucial component of any robotic welding package. It is the machine that supplies the electric current needed to complete robotic arc welding applications. Power supplies are integrated with welding robots in order to automate a welding application. In addition to supplying the electric current, power sources may also have connectors for processes requiring shielding gas, allowing the supply to control the gas flow during welding.
Robotic welding power supplies are classified as either constant current (CC) or constant voltage (CV) machines. A constant current supply features a constant current with a varied output voltage to maintain a steady current. A constant voltage supply will vary its output current to maintain a specific voltage. Which power source is needed will depend upon the robotic welding application. A FANUC Arcmate 120ic automating a GTAW application will need to be integrated with a constant current supply. While automating a GMAW process would be best with a Motoman MA1400 integrated with a constant voltage supply.
There are three main types of welding power supplies: transformer, generator/alternator, and inverter types. Transformer style power supplies convert moderate voltage and current electricity into a high current and low voltage supply. Transformer style power supplies are usually the least expensive, but they can be large and bulky.
Generator and alternator power supplies convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. Newer generator and alternator power supplies use an internal engine to convert energy, while older machines will be driven by an electric motor.
Inverter welding power supplies feature a switched-mode configuration in which a switching regulator is used to convert electrical power. Inverter power supplies are ideal for arc welding applications with high loads.
Some of the top brands for robotic welding power supplies include Fronius, Lincoln Electric, and Miller Electric. Fronius’s line of TransPuls welders can be used for MIG, MAG, and TIG applications. The Fronius CMT 3200 pairs well with the FANUC Arcmate 100ic for automated TIG welding. Lincoln Electric is known for their Powerwave welding supply series. The Lincoln Powerwaves can be deployed for automated MIG and TIG welding as well as other welding applications. The FANUC Arcmate 120ib integrates seamlessly with the Lincoln Powerwave 455M. Miller Electric’s Auto Axcess power supplies are designed for MIG welding, while their Auto Continuum line can be used for MIG, pulsed MIG, and FCAW processes. The Miller Auto Axcess 300 can be integrated with the Motoman EA1400N or the ABB 2400.
When selecting a power supply for your robotic welding system there are several factors to consider ensuring you select the right option. If you already have a welding robot or know which articulated robot you will be purchasing, you will want to see which power supply brands will be compatible with your robot. Selecting a compatible power supply will ensure a smooth integration with your six axis robot. The type of welding application you are automating will be another factor to consider as not all power supplies are designed for every arc welding process. Lastly, you will need to consider the duty cycle, output power, input power, and size of the power supply.
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