While there is a misconception about it, using robots in welding makes work easy and flawless.
Ever since the inception of the first industrial robot, welding has been a common task for them. In recent days, robot welding has managed to fill in the gap left by the shortage of skilled welders. According to the AWS (American Welding Society), there’s an expected rise in the need for skilled welders by about 40,000 by the year 2024.
That will automatically cause a rise in the use of robot welders. Robots have proven themselves reliable, especially in welding. Their use will result in increased productivity, efficiency, and production of high-quality products.
A closer look at the benefits of using welding robots
· High-quality production
Robots work at a faster pace as compared to human workers. This results in short cycle times per part. Moreover, welding robots do not need to take breaks on a frequent basis. Primarily, these robots are great for boosting overall productivity.
· More work for skilled workers
According to research, there will be a shortage of skilled welders in the coming years, causing an increase in the number of posts that go unfilled by the year. The solution for this has been to use robots for all routine welding jobs. That way, human workers are able to fill in the gap in other areas.
· High-quality production on a consistent basis
When it comes to robots vs. human workers on matters of welding quality, robots take the cup. Welding robots have the ability to perform the same task all day and night without compromising on quality.
· Better safety
Welding is a job that involves dangerous tasks. It requires the handling of molten metal and extremely high heat. As such, human error is bound to happen whenever a human is welding. On the flip side, robots have a 99.9% accuracy rate meaning no accidents.
When human welders weld, the result is usually a slightly larger weld than needed. Such slightly oversized welds can be a massive loss to the company. When using a welding robot arm, this will be avoided.
Steps to the perfect robot welding
· Clarify the welding and task type:
Even though there are many different welding robots, spot and arc welding robots are the two most common ones.
In spot welding, robots weld several points together to join two metal pieces. These robots use two electrodes on the metal as it passes an electric current through the pieces. The metal is heated up as the current passes through, and the pieces get joined together.
In arc welding, two metal pieces are joined together with one electrode. The electrode releases an electric current to the metal’s base. As a result, the metals are melted and fused together.
· Choose the correct hardware.
Once there’s enough clarity on the task that is to be undertaken, the next step is choosing the right hardware. Doing this involves the following components:
- The robot arm should have the correct specs for the task at hand. For instance, the payload capacity should be enough to hold a welding tool, etc.
- The tool: The welding tool to be used depends on the type of welding being done.
- External axes: The welding robot arm should have axes that allow its extension to fit an operation.
- Safety: The welding robot arm should be able to work without the need for a fence. It should also have sensors that can detect the presence of a human within a given distance.
· Choosing the correct programming interface and calibrating
Utilizing the correct interface will make the process of programming the robotic welding arm easy and fast. Proper calibration is also necessary for an accurate outcome.
Buying guide for a welding robotic arm
One of the most critical parts to look for in any robot arm is the DoF (degrees of freedom). This refers to the axes’ the arm has, thus enabling it to have a 3D motion ability. When you have a 6DoF welding robot arm, it means that it can move in any direction and given orientation.
Some of the tasks a 6DoF can perform include but aren’t limited to:
- Using the handle’s farthest end to grasp tools, flip them and even put them back together.
- After opening the drawer, take an item from a drawer, then close that drawer.
- Writing on a wall or desk.
There is also a 7DoF robot welding arm which is quite similar to a human being’s arm. This arm perfectly replaces the motion of a human arm. It can also reach in places that are inaccessible to the 6DoF robotic arm.
Reach & strength
The maximum reach and maximum payload also require attention. Think of the welding project the robot arm will be undertaking. Keep in mind that accuracy might be affected when a robot’s maximum payload is high. As for reach, ensure that is maximum reach is good enough for your job.
Other than those mentioned above, other criteria that should be looked into include speed ad accuracy. The number of grippers that are available for that robot, ROS compatibility, CE marking, IP classification (dustproof & waterproof), and your budget.
Who can operate automated welders?
Even though welding is a manual job, the person operating it should be highly skilled and educated. As such, not everyone can handle a robotic welding arm; only AWS-certified people are allowed to do so.
Robots are now used in many different processes. They are used with the aim of making appropriate modifications to enable automation. Industrial robots are sturdy machines that are able to do many other manufacturing jobs. They have also been made to emulate the movement of a human arm but with more precision and speed.
Some have the ability to adapt to any changes that might occur during operation, and their design allows them to perform functions previously performed by human workers. Robots have now taken over all tedious and dangerous jobs. This has resulted in significant improvements in output quality and the company’s productivity.