GMAW, also known as gas metal arc welding, is an arc welding process involving the formation of an electric arc between a consumable wire electrode and the workpiece metal. The electric arc heats the workpiece metal causing them to melt and fuse together. During this process shielding gas is fed through the welding torch in order to prevent contamination due to particles in the air. GMAW is the most common industrial welding process due to its speed, versatility, and ease of automation with robotics. Integrating a FANUC Arc Mate 120ic with a Lincoln Powerwave i400 welding supply can fully automate the GMAW process.
GMAW robots like the Yaskawa Motoman MA1400 are becoming popular among manufacturers, particularly those in the automotive and sheet metal industries, due to their easy integration and versatility. The switch from manual welding to GMAW robots takes little down time or interruption to operations. Once production lines are up and running with GMAW robots manufacturers will see their operations become more streamlined. What is so great about GMAW robots is the incredible amount of versatility they offer. Not only can GMAW robots such as the ABB IRB 1600 perform welds, but they can also be repurposed to complete additional applications like material removal. Having a robot that can perform multiple applications involved with a production line decreases costs. A manufacturer would need several workers to complete the work of just one robot.
In the industrial world applications like GMAW need speed and precision to keep production expenses at bay, but often this combination is hard to find in cases of manual welding. The integration of GMAW robots such as the FANUC Arcmate 100ic bring these elements to manufacturers. With GMAW welding the level of heat produced by the arc needs to be controlled. If the heat becomes too high this can lead to splatter causing defects in the weld and poor quality. Robots are able to control the level of heat during the GMAW process, resulting in seamless, smooth welds that will not break down. Their precision with temperature control cannot be matched by human workers and speeds up productions. Time is not taken to readjust the heat level or to fix mistakes because the arc was too hot. GMAW robots can replicate the same precise results with every weld meaning all products will have the same high-quality while being completed in a shorter amount of time.
Another reason for the spike in popularity of GMAW automation with robots amongst manufacturers is the increase of worker safety. GMAW is a dangerous application that risks worker safety due to the exposure to extreme heat, hot metal, and sparks. Workers have to take precautions in these environments by wearing protective clothing to prevent exposure to the arc. This increases manufacturer costs because they must provide items such as heavy gloves, jackets, and helmets for workers. Robots are designed to withstand the harsh elements of GMAW applications. Workers may also develop conditions such as arc eye which could lead to permanent damage to the retina. Some health risks associated with GMAW are hard to protect against as workers are in danger of inhaling the toxic gases and airborne debris created during the welding process.