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What is a Robotic Reamer?

What is a Robotic Reamer? Robotic preventative maintenance is key for ensuring your robot system performs efficiently and is long lasting. Preventative maintenance doesn’t just stop with your industrial robot, it is also needed for any additional robotic equipment, including welding torches. Welding torches are a key component of any robotic welding system as they allow the robot to interact with the weldment. Torches are integrated with welding robots including the FANUC Arc Mate 100ic and the ABB IRB 1600 to perform MIG, TIG, plasma, and spot welding applications. However, failing to clean your welding torch can significantly decrease the efficiency, productivity, and quality of your welds. This is why many manufacturers integrate torch cleaning stations, also known as reamers, to their robotic welding torches.

A reamer is a mechanical cleaning device that is integrated into an automated robotic welding system. Reamers are typically used to clean torches utilized for arc welding applications. When used it removes the excess buildup of spatter from inside the welding torch’s consumables, which include the nozzle, contact tips, and retaining heads. Reamers can be mounted in any position but should be close to the welding robot for optimal performance. The frequency of reaming depends upon the workpiece and application, but torches using cleaning stations are typically cleaned every 5 to 15 parts. Monitoring the welding operation will help users determine the best reaming frequency for their torch.

Reamer Types

There are two types of reamers that can be integrated with robotic welding systems. The first type is an analog reamer. Analog reamers consist of an air supply and multiconductor cord set. Each conductor cord signals a specific task indicating when the reamer will start, spray, or return to its starting position. The FANUC Arcmate 100ib is an example of a welding robot frequently integrated with an analog reamer.

Digital reamers comprise the second type. Digital reamers send functions to an IP address through a network cable. Unlike analog reamers, digital reamers are not limited in their functions due to cord sets. They can perform all functions within a ream cycle, including start, spray, clamp, lift, lower, and power the motor on and off. Troubleshooting is simplified with digital reamers as they allow for remote monitoring of each function. This allows for issues to be detected without completely disrupting operations. The FANUC Arcmate 100ic or the Motoman MA1400 are ideal for integrating with digital reamers.

Reamer Benefits

Incorporating torch cleaning stations with robot welding systems helps to prolong the lifespan of the torch and consumables. Using less consumables decreases production costs since nozzles and contact tips are not replaced as frequently. In addition, reamers are significantly faster for cleaning torches than operators. Reamers can have a torch cleaned in about 5 seconds, while manual cleaning can take over 5 minutes. Nozzles can be cleaned while parts are being unloaded or during tool indexing. This helps to keep cycle times down and productions moving.

Arcing against the workpiece is prevented with the use of reamers as they prevent spatter from accumulating between the contact tip and nozzle of a torch. Eliminating spatter buildup allows for proper shielding gas coverage to protect the weld pool and prevent defects. Keeping welding torches clean results in complete robotic welding optimization for higher productivity and quality.

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