Robotic Welding Process (automated welding) is one of the cutting-edge technologies available in today’s time. It has revolutionized the welding industry in a significant way. Robotic welding offers advantages such as accuracy, increased speed, and cost savings. Automotive, aerospace and manufacturing industries are using robotic welding in a variety of applications. In this article, we will discuss the basics of robotic welding in an elaborate way along with other parameters.
- Robotic Welding Meaning
- Robotic Welding Principle
- Robotic Welding Equipment
- Robotic Welding Programming
- Robotic Welding Processes Types
- Robotic Welding Advantages
- Robotic Welding Disadvantages
- Robotic Welding vs Manual Welding
- Robotic Welding Employment Areas
- Robotic Welding Jobs
- Robotic Welding Future!
What is Robotic Welding?
It is a process that involves using a robotic arm, equipped with welding tools, to perform welding tasks. It is a challenging combination of robotics, welding, control systems, sensor technology, and artificial intelligence. Robotic welding significantly improved the accuracy, consistency, and speed of welding activities. The process is programmable and can move around in three dimensions. Welders can pre-program robots with specific commands about moves and what welding tool should be used.
Due to the robot’s ability to follow commands, welders can complete tasks in a much shorter period of time than expected. As a result, robots automatically can perform complex welding processes without any direct human intervention. Most commonly, robotic welding is performed to weld metal components together.
Robotic Welding Basics
The process joins two metals together using a robotic arm and an electric arc. The robotic arm is programmable and it allows automated, repeatable, and precise welds.
Robotic welding works first by heating the metals to their melting point. Then, an electric arc is used to create a conductive path between the two pieces of metal. Consequently, the arc creates intense heat and melts the metal at the joint. Further, melted metal is allowed to flow together to form a weld. After that, the robotic arm is programmed to move in a specific pattern and ensure a consistent weld. Comparatively, robotic one is faster and more efficient than manual welding.
Robotic Welding Equipment
It is a highly automated process and the systems include controllers, manipulators, welders, and other necessary components.
The controllers’ function is to give instructions to a robot on how to weld the material. The instructions include deciding the size and shape of the welded joint, the type of welding method selection, the pace of the robot during the welding process, and controlling the voltage/current to ensure proper operation.
They are machines that are able to move materials to achieve precise movement for completing the welding task. The welder (machine) is an electric arc device that provides energy for joining metals together. Usually, an operator or controller runs this device. An operator can be a computer or other type of programmable system.
3. Other Components
They include robots, power sources, shields, electrodes, and additional sensors and controllers.
4. Robotic Welding Sensors
i) Hall Effect Sensor, Current Shunt – for welding current measurement
ii) Voltage Sensor – for arc length control
iii) Capacitive Sensor – for distance control
iv) Tactile Sensor, Proximity Sensor – for weld edge searching
v) Eddy Current Sensor, Vision Sensor – for weld seam tracking
vi) Infrared Radiation Sensor, Ultrasonic Sensor – for weld penetration monitoring
vii) Vision Sensor, Thermal Imaging – for weld pool monitoring
viii) Eddy Current Sensor, Ultrasonic Sensor – for weld quality inspection
Most importantly, use the correct equipment for each application to ensure the quality and accuracy of welds.
Robotic Welding Programming
It is a robotic welding system to accurately and reliably weld parts together. Further, it consists of code-creation that instructs the robot how to weld components together. The codes can include welding method types, welding parameter types, and any other specific steps needed for ensuring strong and accurate welding. Programming is a complex process that requires a deep knowledge of the materials being welded and the environment in which the robot will be operating. Robotic programming consists of two parts.
1. Online Programming
It involves teaching the robot how to perform different tasks. The process can involve using visual/tactile cues, or even human input to manually adjust robot motions during welding operations. Typically, online programming is employed when welds need changes quickly and efficiently such as during mass production. Online programming is a much more dynamic process than offline programming
2. Offline Programming
It happens before any welding starts and means actual code is written and tested here. The code reveals the necessary parameters for the robot to properly weld pieces together. The parameters include weld types, speed, and position of the parts. After testing and verifying the code, it is loaded onto the robot for welding operations.
Programming a robot requires a great deal of skill, experience, and welding and robotics knowledge.
Robotic Welding Processes Types
With the advent of various technologies, now robots can adapt to various welding processes for laying welds. The following welding types are suitable for robot welding.
1. Mig Welding – it uses a high deposition level. The heated welder tip melts wire as it moves continuously to the tip. And, the molten metal can drip onto a base, connecting the base to a different piece.
2. Arc Welding – Here, an electric arc generates extreme heat (6500° F) and melts the metal. As a result, the molten metal joins parts together and solidifies into a stable connection after cooling.
3. Tig Welding – It may fulfill the need for a high level of precision required in robot welding applications. In this process, an electric arc passes between a tungsten electrode and the metal base.
4. Laser Welding – It is a preferred method of joining metal when accuracy requires a high volume of parts. Small parts such as jewelry or medical components often use laser welding.
5. Resistance Welding – Robots may use this welding method when projects need heat-treating or as a way to lower costs. As current passes between the two metal bases, a current of electricity creates a pool of molten metal and results in joining pieces of metal together.
6. Plasma Welding – It provides maximum flexibility since an operator can change both the speed of gas passing through the nozzle and the temperature.
7. Spot Welding – Sometimes, some materials resist electrical currents and preclude them from other forms of welding. In order to overcome this problem, robotic welders use a variation of resistance welding to connect thin metal sheet pairs in a single spot.
Robotic Welding Applications
The manufacturing industry has been using robots for many years due to their efficiency, quickness, reliability, and accuracy. This can weld metals like copper, aluminum, titanium, steel, and others. The most common robotic welding applications are as follows-
1. Automotive Industry – Since, robots can weld complex curves, shapes, and angles with precision and speed. Therefore, they are used to produce car bodies, frames, suspension systems, and other parts with high accuracy.
2. Construction Industry – Robots can weld large pieces of metal together with high accuracy and strength. So, this becomes a good option for creating bridges, buildings, and other large structures.
3. Aerospace Industry – Due to robots’ ability to weld complex shapes accurately and quickly, it is used to build spacecraft, aircraft, and other aerospace components.
4. Military – Robots can weld thick armor plating quickly and accurately. Consequently, the robotic process is employed in the military to create armor, weapons, and other defense systems with high accuracy.
5. Marine Industry – Robots are able to weld underwater with speed and precision. They are used to build submarines, ships, and other vessels with long-lasting strong welds.
6. Home Appliances – Robots can impart precision welds for producing home appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators, and other electronics.
Robotic Welding Issues
Despite a lot of benefits in the manufacturing industry, robotic welding has some drawbacks or disadvantages.
1. Complex programming is one of the hiccups in an industrial robotic application. It is still a difficult and complex task for regular operators even.
2. Difficult modern sensing techniques are another issue, especially while applying them in some applications effectively and efficiently.
3. High temperature and intense light can interfere with the sensors. This comes from molten metal, arc, spatter, fume, high current, and other factors involved in arc welding.
4. Difficult to translate information effectively obtained by the sensors for fabrication.
Robotic Welding vs Manual Welding
Both robotic welding and manual welding are two different processes in terms of the fabrication of metal components. Both types have their pros and cons. Let us dive into the differences between robotic and manual welding types.
1. Robotic Welding
i) It uses both robots and machines to complete welding tasks.
ii) A robotic arm is programable for a specific set of instructions to carry out.
iii) It is an ideal choice for large production runs due to its high speeds and accuracy levels.
iv) Generally, it is more efficient than manual welding due to not requiring constant monitoring from a human operator.
2. Manual Welding
i) It requires an experienced welder to control the welding process manually.
ii) Typically, it takes longer and is less cost-effective.
iii) It is less precise and prone to errors.
iv) It may be a good choice if precision and quality are of paramount importance.
Future of Robotic Welding
The future of robot welding is bright and innovative for the welding industry. Today, robots account for only a small portion of welding projects. But emerging technologies will likely change this significantly. Let us see the futuristic use of welding robots.
1. Growing Market Trends
Welding robots are important parts of the transportation and automotive markets. The demand for cars has multiplied worldwide and puts pressure on the transportation and automotive sectors for procurement. It requires more production. So, robotic welding is the solution to meet the growing demands.
2. Durable Collaborative Robots
They are people-friendly machines that allow for easy interfacing with humans. The robots have sensors that make them capable of gathering information and reacting accordingly. Industrial robots require prior programming and are expensive. Collaborative robots have solved this problem. They can work with people in industrial applications and could integrate into manual welding areas.
3. Increased Productivity
Welding robots can perform the work continuously while providing reliable and durable welds. On the other hand, human welders can only work for particular hours as they are prone to physical exhaustion. So, these robotic machines can perform faster and complete projects quickly, and reduce facility waste.
4. Mind-controlled Weld Robots
At present, welding robots are programmed to start them on a process. But, in the future, operators may only have to think about what they want the robot to do. They may not have a computer terminal or teaching pendant. In recent years, researchers have created a cap that transfers brain waves into operations for a robotic welding arm.
5. Provide Safety Practices
Employers need to invest so much money in safe practices for their employees’ health and prevent injuries at the workplace. In the industry, some of the welds are difficult for humans but robots can perform these tasks safely. Besides this, robots can help to reduce injuries or damage to equipment and enhances overall workplace safety.
Robotic Welding Employment Areas
From metal fabrication to railway applications may use robotic technologies. Normally, robot welding is the best solution for complex metal projects. The following industries employ robots in their production lines.
- Automotive Industry
- Fabrication Industry
- Agriculture Industry
- Rail Industry
- Aviation Industry
- Electronic Industry
Robotic Welding Jobs
The job titles are as follows-
- Robotic Welder
- Robotic Welder Operator
- Robotic Welder Technician
- Robotic Welder Programmer
- Robotic Production Welder
- Robotic Welder Specialist
Robotic welding is becoming popular due to its efficiency and precision properties. In many areas of manufacturing, robots already providing satisfactory production results. The future of robotic welding is bright and demanding. Thus, the above information on robot welding such as meaning, principle, equipment, programming, process types, advantages, disadvantages, and differences are of immense use to operators, welders, and other professionals in the industry.