Electron-beam welding, also referred to as EBW, is the welding process of fusing two materials together using a beam of high velocity electrons. The kinetic energy of the electrons converts into heat upon impact with the workpieces, melting and joining them together. EBW can be automated with the use of robotics by integrating a robot such as the FANUC Arcmate 120ic with an electron beam welding supply.
Robotic electron beam welding is best when performed under high vacuum conditions as this prevents the breakdown of the electron beam. However, it is possible for electron beam welding robots to work in medium and non-vacuum conditions, but for purity and high depth to width ratios high vacuum conditions are best. High vacuum chambers also prevent any gas contamination from the welding process and results in a clean, high quality weld.
EBW robots stand out from other arc welding application robots because they solve the problem that has been daunting manufacturers for years. They are able to fuse together dissimilar materials such as copper and stainless steel. Electron beam welding robots melt only the material with the lower melting point, while the other remains solid. The weld pool created from the melted material is then used to fuse the solid material to it. This results in cost savings for manufacturers as expensive materials can now be welded to inexpensive ones. Companies can use electron-beam robots to improve manufacturing.
Not only can dissimilar materials be joined together with electron beam welding robots such as the ABB IRB 2600-20, but they can also fuse together materials consisting of different thickness. This allows manufacturers to be able to weld thick and thin materials together, giving them a greater amount of flexibility in their production process.
Delicate materials may also be welded together with electron beam welding robotics. The localized heating due to the narrow weld zone of the robot uses minimal heat input. The surrounding material on the workpiece stays cool resulting in minimal distortion and damage to the material such as those used to manufacture electronics. This makes adding a Yaskawa Motoman MA1900 for electron beam welding jobs ideal for those manufacturing parts with a variety of materials that need to appear seamless.
Electron beam welding robots like the KUKA KR 16 increase production speed as they can weld much faster than a human worker and with a single pass due to their high depth. They are able to weld large quantities of parts while replicating accuracy and quality with each one. With manual welding each part will have some amount of deviation as humans are just not capable of replicating the exact weld every time. EBW robots are capable of welding at speeds up to 30mm per second. This reduces the cycle time for manufactures as well as human error. Eliminating mistakes saves companies money and time as materials are no longer wasted and production time is not taken up to fix those mistakes.
Manufacturers are recognizing the advantages of adding electron beam welding robots to the production floor. Older used robots such as the FANUC Arcmate 100ib can be used for a more cost effective approach to automation. The precision and high quality produced along with the flexibility of being able to weld a variety of materials together is giving companies more freedom in their productions and more profitability.
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