For generations, human beings have used various methods to heat metal for welding. Today, however, robots have automated the process of welding. The development of various welding robots has gathered pace in the industrial world because a welding robot has many tools that are not available in its manual equivalents.
The Configuration of a Welding Robot
Before we delve into the various types of welding robots, it’s essential to know that a welding robot can be configured on two major welding versions. For a rectilinear welding robot, the machine’s arm is configured to move in three directions while robots configured through the articulating version can move through more planes.
The Process of Welding
Once the robot operator configures the controller using a teach pendant, the operator begins the welding process by pressing the buttons on the service box. The tools of the robot arm heat the metal to melt it before tying the parts together. The wire feeder supplies wire and torch to the arm as required. Once the robot is done with one part, it pushes the torch to the cleaner for cleaning to remove any metal splatters from the robot arm to prevent them from solidifying in place.
In both versions of robot configuration, the filler wire is conveyed to the robot through a wire feeder. After melting metal using a high-heat torch, the molten metal is placed in the welding robot’s arm for the welding process.
This automated method of welding is preferable to the traditional welding process because it is safer. A welding robot substitutes human labour, which is affected by the high temperatures needed for melting metal. Nonetheless, certified experts are still required to supervise the welding robots in case of a machine malfunction.
The development of arc welding-specific robots has also increased the use of robots in welding because they are smaller, cost-effective, and flexible and consume less space for operation. Besides increasing productivity, using a welding robot has increased the quality of products produced and lowered the cost of operation.
What to Consider Before Choosing a Welding Robot
If you want to acquire a welding robot for your company for the first time, finding the best welding equipment may not be easy. Today’s market offers a range of options that leave you confused over which machine would best fit your company’s operations.
The first step towards determining the best robot fit for your company is identifying the welding process you require. Robotic welding includes:
- Laser welding.
- Resistance spot welding.
- Gas tungsten arc welding.
- Gas metal arc welding.
- Plasma welding.
- Laser hybrid welding.
- Thin gauge arc welding.
Each type of these process has its pros and cons in specific scenarios. You, therefore, need to take a close look at each to determine which process best suits your needs.
The second step towards determining the best robot fit for your company is making a few equipment considerations. You need to identify an automation consumable and automation peripheral that will best help you boost your productivity and your return on investment. It would be best to consider the manufacturing software the robot is using, the capability of its remote support, and performance analytics. As these also play a significant role in the difference between average and peak productivity.
To increase your company’s competitiveness in the global market, you need to invest in the correct welding robot. The best way to do this is by choosing a robot with the proper welding system and the latest software development. Let’s now narrow the options to help you take a closer look at each piece of equipment and process.
The Main Types of Welding Robots
Arc Welding Robot like Gantry Welding Robot
This is an arc welding robot that has between 6 to 7 axes. It weighs between two to thirty kilograms depending on its size. It has an acceleration and velocity capacity of up to 25 m/s2 and up to 5 m/s, respectively. Gantry welding robots also have a repeatability of up to 0.05 mm and both digital and analogue IOs.
Spot Welding Robot
This type of robot is ideal for joining current resistant metal. They are often used for joining metal frames in a car. This type of welding also has a variety of resistance welding.
Resistance Welding Robots
This type of robot is ideal for economic welding and heat-treating projects. The current is passed between metal pieces which are then joined to create a pool of heat.
TIG Welding Robots
These robots are ideal for performing processes that need high levels of precision.
MIG Welding Robot
These robots are ideal for a quick and straightforward process that does not need much attention to detail. They have a high deposition rate that is straightforward and relatively fast. Due to its low level of precision, this robotic welding process involves continuous feeding of wire towards the weld tip, which allows a larger surface area of melted wire or metal to drip.
Laser Welding Robot
This robot is ideal for welding works with hard to reach weld locations. The laser light is delivered through a fibre optic cable. This type of robot is also used in high volume utilization that requires accuracy, such as biomedical companies, jewellery industries, and automotive parts that need precise applications.
Plasma Welding Robot
This robot is ideal for processes in which extreme temperatures are produced during the welding process as they provide flexibility through temperature and velocity adjustment.
Challenges of Using a Welding Robot for Production
- Using a welding robot has its advantages. However, there are a few challenges associated with welding robots that are important to note. These challenges include:
- High cost of equipment and the experts to operate it.
- Low ability to make judgement during unusual circumstances. For example, when the robot needs a specific modification, you might have to halt the production process to modify it, thus increasing the production time.
- If you have a small project, it may take longer to program a robot than the welding process.
There are different types of welding robots. Finding the right fit for your organization requires you to identify the welding process your company requires and consider the features that will enable you to achieve your goal and maximize production at the least cost.