A robotic positioner is a device that controls the rotation of a part during a welding application. The rotators of a positioner allow for 360 degrees of part rotation and access to the part for the robot. Robotic positioners are integrated into robot weld cells such as the Lincoln 35 or the Arcworld 6200, along with custom designed workcells. Positioners help welding robots, like the FANUC Arcmate 100ic, weld at faster production rates and to higher quality. Positioners allow robots greater accessibility to parts enabling specific weldments to be reached and decreased cycle time. There are a variety of positioner types, but not all positioners and robots pair well together. In order to select the correct positioner, you should have an understanding of the welding application, part type, and part movement needed. Choosing the correct positioner will lead to complete optimization of your welding process.
- Single Axis - Single axis positioners are the most affordable and simple out of all positioner types. Single axis positioners are mounted as a headstock to the floor or on a table top. These positioners are designed for small or simple part welding, but a headstock and tailstock can be combined to support larger parts. For applications needing heavier payloads, two headstocks can be used. Robots with a longer reach like the FANUC M-710ic/20L can perform long welds in a single axis setup. Single axis positioners can also be integrated to a large robot, such as the ABB IRB 6640 to perform spot welding applications
- Ferris Wheel - Ferris wheel positioners feature a two-station design for floorspace efficiency. They are best suited for medium to large parts that range from 3 to 5 meters in length and generally have a payload capacity of 1,255 kg per side. This positioner type earned its name since it features two trunnion axes on each side of a major sweep axis that turns the positioner over and under. Dual arm robots like the Motoman MA1400 can operate in tandem on ferris wheel positioners allowing to quickly make a lot of precise welds. All this is servo driven, making it a popular choice for high demand productions due to its speed. Operators are kept safe from weld spatter with the arc screen, which divides the two workstations. A welding robot such as a Motoman MA3100 is positioned in the middle allowing it to perform a weld on both positioners.
- Turntable - Turntable positioners are commonly integrated with pre-engineered workcells, such as the _______. These are designed with a base axis that is floor mounted and a table top which can accommodate additional stationary tooling. These positioners rotate in a circular motion, rotating parts from the operator station to inside the cell and are best for small to medium parts. Turntable positioners do not allow for parts to be rotated during the welding process.
- H-Frame - H-frame positioners are similar to turntables, but they feature an additional headstock and tailstock instead of a table. An additional axis can be added to the floor-mounted base allowing for part movement during arc welding. This can be advantageous by speeding up productions since a robot, like the FANUC Arc Mate 120ic, can continuously weld without needing to stop so workpieces can be repositioned. H-frame positioners are an ideal choice for medium, complex workpieces with requiring multiple welds.
- Multi-Axis - Multi-axis positioners consist of a combination of servo axes, headstocks, and bases in order to create specialty positioners. Examples of these include the tilt-rotate and skyhook positioners. These are typically utilized when increased flexibility is needed to accommodate parts and tooling of various sizes and complexities. Large, block-like or cylinder-like parts work best with multi-axis positioners, as they allow robots greater accessibility for optimal welding. It is also common to see these positioners wall or track mounted for enhanced part access.