Robotic welding may not be new, but it continues to evolve rapidly enough that one would be hard-pressed to think of it as anything other than a modern technology. Because of the complexity of the process, we decided a series of blogs was in order to best showcase robot welding as an end-to-end operation. Up until now, we’ve mainly covered the basics, but today, we’ll get a little more “into the weeds” by explaining just how this type of welding works in a precision sheet metal fabrication job shop setting.
How does robotic welding work?
Generally, robot welding takes place within a robotic welding cell and features two primary components: a positioner with the appropriate handling capacity and the welding robot itself. The positioner can be either single station or dual/twin station in configuration; the choice of one over the other will come down to the type of item being assembled. Large assemblies that require longer weld cycles are often better suited to single station set ups; dual/twin stations can be a better solution for high-mix, low-volume conditions.
What are the primary features of a robotic welding cell?
There are a number of different features that work together to make a functioning welding cell. Besides the positioner and welding robot, some of the most important include:
- Controller: The most important part of the cell, because without it, nothing can function. It both supplies power to the robot and stores information such as the programs that tell the robot and positioners how, when and where to move for each job.
- Torch: This is the tool that actually joins materials together in a weld. Torches can also utilize inert gasses to protect the arc weld while it is in process.
- Wire Feeder and Cleaner: The feeder moves the filler wire at the speed programmed into the controller, while the wire cleaner removes welding spatter build up on the torch, helping to keep the equipment in good working condition.
- Welding Power Supply: Powers the welding torch in order to produce an arc. They can vary greatly in size and performance, depending on the requirements of the job.
A quality robot welding cell will also include important safety features such as shields to protect operators from arc flash. An arc flash is a type of electrical discharge that can exceed 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit. It is able to travel through the air between conductors, and if workers are exposed to the flash, the resulting explosion or potential fires may harm both people and equipment.
Robotic welding requires balancing multiple variables, but because of its automated nature, it’s easy to miss just how complex it can be. From welding program selection to the assembled end product, there are many factors that need to be considered in order to complete a job in a way that ensures that joined areas are completely stable and uncompromised from start to finish.
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