Robotic Ultrasonic Welding vs Flux Core Arc Welding
Ultrasonic and flux core arc welding are two processes that can be automated with industrial robots. While ultrasonic welding is not new to the welding industry, it is relatively new to robotic automation. Ultrasonic welding robots have only been around for the past decade and have recently seen growth in their use. Flux core arc welding (FCAW) is one of several arc welding applications frequently automated with articulated robots. Below is a look at how the unconventional ultrasonic method compares to the more traditional FCAW method for welding automation.
Robotic Ultrasonic WeldingRobotic ultrasonic welding is one of the few welding applications that combine both precision and speed. This method involves joining workpieces together through heat generated by ultrasonic vibrations. The heat produced from the vibrations melts workpieces at precise points.
Automating ultrasonic welding can be accomplished with a six-axis industrial robot. Robots automating this process are integrated with an ultrasonic actuator. The tooling for ultrasonic welding can be heavy so a higher payload robot will be needed. The Motoman Mh50 is ideal for ultrasonic automation.
Ultrasonic welding robots can weld a variety of metal types. In addition to metals, ultrasonic welding robots can also join plastic workpieces together. This robotic welding method gives manufacturers greater flexibility when it comes to workpiece materials.
The main advantages of robotic ultrasonic welding include reduced cycle times, ability to weld plastics, and lower costs. Robotic ultrasonic welding reduces cycle times through both robot speed and the elimination of tooling warmup as well as part cooling. The FANUC M-20ia can complete a weld in under 500 milliseconds. No tooling warmup or part cooling reduces idle time. The ability to weld plastics with this method allows manufacturers to diversify their materials and helps lower costs since plastics are typically less expensive than metals.
Robotic Flux Core Arc WeldingFCAW is a more traditional welding application that involves a wire electrode and electric arc. The wire electrode used for FCAW features a metal exterior and contains flux in the interior which acts as a protectant for the weld pool. During welding the electrode is continuously fed through the robot’s welding torch. Electricity is transferred by the electrode, creating an arc which heats and melts metal workpieces together.
Most arc welding robots along with some general purpose robots are capable of automating FCAW. The FANUC Arcmate 120ic and ABB 2400 can both be deployed for FCAW applications.
Unlike ultrasonic welding, FCAW can only be used to weld metals. However, FCAW robots are capable of welding most types of metals as long as they are not too thin including alloys and stainless steel.
The main benefits of robotic FCAW include the elimination of shielding gas and the ability to weld unclean metals. The flux contained inside the wire electrode acts as a protectant by forming slag over the weld pool. This avoids additional consumable costs that are incurred for welding processes requiring shielding gas. FCAW robots are also able to weld unclean metals including those with rusted, painted, or dirty surfaces. This helps speed up cycle times by reducing prep time for the workpieces.