Welding is an industrial process that has been around for decades. While once only performed manually by workers, today’s manufacturers are turning to robotic welders. Robotic welders automate welding applications through using industrial robots. Industrial robots are programmed to automatically complete welds and handle parts. The use of robotic welders eliminates the need for human interaction during the welding process for complete optimization. Robotic welders got their start in the automotive industry during the 1980s. Since then they have expanded into other industries including aerospace, electronics, and the metals industries.
As mention above, the main component of robotic welders is the industrial robot. The robot is what controls the movements and tooling needed to complete a weld. In the beginning of robot welding, multipurpose robots were used. As robot welding has grown many robot manufacturers have designed specific welding robots, such as the FANUC Arcmate 120ic.
There is more to robotic welders than just the industrial robot, although it is an important part. Robotic welders consist of entire welding systems that also may include a wire feeder, torch, power supply, torch cleaner, safety equipment, or even a complete robotic workcell. Welding processes that require a filler wire will need a wire feeder. This device supplies the filler through the robotic manipulator arm to the welding torch. All robotic welders will require a welding torch. A welding torch is the EOAT used for welding applications and is integrated to the end of the robot arm to interact directly with workpieces.
A power supply is the machine that provides the electric current needed for welding applications, in other words it provides the power to the robot’s welding torch. There are many different types of power supplies and the one needed will depend upon the exact weld type and your six axis robot. For instance, the Motoman MA1400 can be easily integrated with the Miller Auto Axcess 450-DI. Most used FANUC robots for sale that were previously performing arc welding applications include the weldings power supply and wire feeder.
A torch cleaner, also called a robotic reamer, is recommended with robotic welders in order to keep the welding torch in good condition for optimal operation. Welding can be messy with spatter which can build up within the torch. A torch cleaner will automatically clean the torch between cycle runs ensuring high-quality welds and preventing the torch from malfunctioning.
Robotic welders can be used to automate a number of different welding applications. The two most common are robotic spot welding and automated arc welding. Spot welding involves joining metals together through heat produced from resistance to an electrical current at a specific point. Robotic welders first got their start spot welding car frames during automobile manufacturing and are still used today for that purpose. Spot welding robots have high payload capacities to accommodate heavying spot welding guns. The FANUC R-2000ib/210F is designed specifically for automating spot welding.
Arc welding involves joining metals together through electricity and consists of several different methods. MIG, TIG, PAW, FCAW, and SAW are all arc welding methods that can be automated with robotic welders. The FANUC Arcmate 100ic is ideal for automated MIG welding applications, while the ABB 2400L is good for robotic plasma arc welding. Other welding applications that can be automated with industrial robots include laser welding and electron beam welding.