Robotic Welding vs Manual Welding
When it comes to metal fabrication, manufacturers have two choices, robotic welding or manual welding. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages that are mainly dependent upon the specific robotic application being deployed. Understanding the pros and cons of each will help you decide which method will be the most beneficial to your metal fabrication process.
Robotic WeldingRobotic welding is the complete automation of a welding application in which the need for human interaction is eliminated or significantly reduced. For welding automation, a welding robot is substituted for a manual welder. The welding robot is integrated with a welding torch, power source, wire feeder, and safety equipment. Welding robots may also be integrated within a robotic workcell. Robotic welding can be used to automate most types of welding applications including spot welding, MIG, TIG, FCAW, PAW, electron beam, and laser welding. The FANUC R2000ib is ideal for automated spot welding applications, while the FANUC Arcmate 120ic is designed specifically for arc welding automation.
Advantages of Robotic WeldingWelding applications account for nearly half of all industrial robot uses. Welding processes are incredibly successful with robotic automation with a number of advantages.
- • Quality - Automating welding applications with a Motoman MA1400 significantly improves weld quality. Eliminating the chance for human error along with robotic process control brings consistency and high repeatability. All welds produced are uniform and high-quality.
- • Increases Productivity - Articulated robots can operate at faster speeds, for longer hours, and without breaks. This allows welding robots to have greater output resulting in increased productivity rates.
- • Reduces Costs - Labor and material costs are significantly reduced with welding automation. There are no salaries or benefits to pay with six axis robots. The accuracy of robots prevents errors that result in material waste, keeping consumable costs low.
- • Prevents Labor Shortages - One of the biggest challenges for metal fabrication is finding skilled labor, especially with less workers opting for manual labor jobs and many seasoned welders retiring. With welding robots, you immediately inherit the skillset of an experienced welder without the risk of turnover.
Robotic Welding Disadvantages
- • Cost - While robotic welding will save you money in the long run, it can be expensive to implement due to purchasing the industrial robot and various peripheral equipment. If you are concerned about the initial cost, then you should consider buying a used robot such as the FANUC Arcmate 100ic. Buying used provides the same automation benefits at a fraction of the price of a new robotic welding system and allows you to obtain your ROI quicker.
Manual WeldingFor manual welding fabrication is completed by humans instead of robots. This method requires great skill and concentration in order to produce quality welds.
Manual Welding Advantages
- • Quality Control - A manual welder is able to self-inspect their work, bringing attention to any potential errors immediately.
- • Inability to Automate - There may be some welding processes that cannot be automated with robots. Whether it’s the process itself or because it’s a low volume operation making manual welding necessary.
Manual Welding Disadvantages
- • Decreased Safety - There are many hazards associated with welding which can put your workers’ safety at risk. If a welder becomes injured there could be additional expenses or production delays.
- • Higher Costs - Since welding requires a high skillset, welders often have expensive salaries. There also may be hidden costs in regard to employee training.
- • Increased Errors - Manual welders are less accurate and precise than robots. Humans are not capable of replicating their movements which can result in errors, poor weld quality, and inconsistent workpieces.