Robotic Laser Welding vs Robotic Plasma Welding
Robotic laser welding and robotic plasma welding are two forms of welding automation processes that yield precision welds. However, their methodology is quite different from one another as one is non-conventional while the other features characteristics of more traditional robotic welding
Robotic Laser WeldingAutomated laser welding involves integrating a welding robot with laser cutting head and laser generator. Robotic laser welding is viewed as a non-traditional welding automation process but has become more common in recent years. What makes it standout from plasma welding and other types of robotic welding is that it is a non-contact welding method with no current needed to pass through parts. This means that articulated robots can weld parts together without the EOAT coming into contact with parts.
During robotic laser welding a laser generator creates a laser beam that travels through a fiber optic cable to the laser cutting head and is then projected towards the metal workpiece. The laser beam is able to heat metals with minimal heat, at the point of the weld, where they will quickly solidify. The ABB 2400 and the FANUC Arcmate 120ic are two six axis robots that can automate laser welding processes.
Robotic laser welding can weld both thin and thick metals as well as dissimilar metals. It produces precise and clean welds making it ideal for delicate workpieces. Robotic laser welding has a much smaller heat affected zone than plasma welding since there is no material contact. The laser beam and lower heat prevent spatter from occurring and the distortion of workpieces. It is also much faster than plasma welding, making it best suited for high volume productions. Hard to reach or narrow welds can benefit from robotic laser welding since it does not require contact with the workpieces. Laser welding robots can complete welds from over a foot away, making any workpiece accessible. The FANUC M710ic/20L can be used in laser welding applications that require a longer reach. The Motoman HP20 or FANUC Arcmate 120ib can be a cost effective approach to automating this applications.
Robotic Plasma WeldingRobotic plasma welding is an arc welding process and one of the more traditional methods of welding automation as it uses a current (arc) for welding. For PAW a welding robot is integrated with a plasma welding torch and a welding power supply. Instead of using a laser beam to weld workpieces from a distance, plasma is applied directly to metals to melt and join them together. Plasma welding uses a tungsten electrode positioned inside the torch to separate the arc from the shielding gas. This allows plasma to travel through the torch and to the workpiece when the robot applies the torch. The high heat of the plasma melts the metals, creating a weld joint. The Motoman MA1400 is often selected for automating plasma welding processes.
Like laser welding plasma welding produces precise and clean welds. The use of shielding gas helps prevent weld contamination and the constriction of the arc prevents part distortion, even though this method requires high temperatures. Plasma welding robots can also weld both thin and thick metals, but not dissimilar metals like laser welding robots. Plasma welding robots can complete welds with a single pass of the weld torch regardless of metal thickness making it one of the faster welding methods, but it is not as fast as robotic laser welding.
While laser welding is better suited for delicate or small parts, plasma welding can be used on a wider variety of part types. Those looking to weld a mixture of workpieces should consider a FANUC Arcmate 100ic plasma welding robot.