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 Wondering: What is Robotic Welding?

The process of robotic welding requires the mixing of heat and pressure of materials, usually metals. Mainly, manual welding was done until the 1980s when robots for automated space soldering were adopted in the automotive industry. Since then, robotic welding has continued to develop, with approximately 50% of today’s robots used for soldering automation. Welding robots provide more efficiency, consistency, and speed to the skill level of an experienced welder. As witnessed by welder withdrawals and expanding the welding gap in current workers, automation of welding processes is becoming even more important with industrial robots.

Robotic welding means full automation with mechanical manipulation and robotic tooling programmed for handling and welding parts for a welding application. Robotic soldering may also be known as automatic soldering. Industrial robots can complete welds by pre-programmed routes, guidance for the robotic vision system, or a combination of both for more complicated applications. The robotic manipulator’s managed drives ensure accuracy and precision of the results in durable, high-quality welds.

Most robots are six-axis robots that are used to automate soldering applications. These joint robots have a single-arm configuration that is capable of working from any angle because of their wide range of movement. Six-axis welding robots can weld big bits, obtain easy angles or fit in narrow spaces. A top option for manufacturers who want to automate a welding process is the FANUC Arcmate 120ic. For robotic welding, robotic robots can also be used. They are suitable to operate on large welds with their robotic system, but their range of motion is limited to 3 axes.

To automate a welding process, more than just an industrial robot is needed. Welding robots should be equipped with a power supply for robot welding, a torch welding, a wire feeder, robotic positioners, and a reamer. In one robotic work cell, all of these components can be contained. The robotic cells provide robots with a secure welding area by protecting floor staff against any welding threat. Workcells permit robots to operate to optimum productivity and efficiency.

A series of steps are initiated and supervised by an operator in the traditional robotic welding phase. The operator starts by holding a workpiece on the first or two workstations from outside the cell. The workpiece is secured and placed with the positioning system. To run the desired welding program, the operator will use the robot controller. After the robot has been picked; the welding process starts inside the work cell while the workpiece is prepared by loading onto the still workpiece. The reamer is designed to clean the welding torch between parts when the welding is done. The ABB 2600 and the FANUC Arc Mate 100ic are common robots used in cells such as these. The positioner rotates with the preloaded piece until washed, and positions it before the robot during the next solder cycle. The operator can detach the completed workpiece from the first workstation, which now is idle.

The application of robotic welding can be divided into two categories: resistance and arc welding. Processes of resistance welding involve spot welding that is commonly used in automotive production. The FANUC R-2000ib offers an example of a spot welding robot. MIG, TIG, FCAW, and plasma welding applications include arc welding processes. The Motoman MA1400 is specially built for arc soldering automation.