8 ROBOTIC CONSIDERATIONS FOR WELDING ROBOT AUTOMATION
Welding robot automation is one field that sees a lot of benefits from integration. The industry dictates a high degree of accuracy and efficiency, conditions that robots are known to offer. But there are important things to consider before production is automated. Below are some things to think about for welding operations.
1. Production volume
Before investing in welding robot automation, the production rate needs to be evaluated to ensure that the cost of automation is justified. Parts with low production rates generally don’t get any automation upgrades. Likewise, parts in high demand will benefit greatly from automation. Assessing the production rate helps to determine the scope and the level of automation that’s needed. Intermediate production volumes, for example, will benefit from a flexible automation system that can be programmed to handle welding tasks at different levels to maximize the use of the system.
2. Part size
Next to asses is the weight and size of the part in order to determine the needed work relative to the load capacity of the system automation. Large parts will require robots with larger work scope, longer slides, larger positioning equipment with increased load capacity, and possibly a robot transport unit.
One of the most important areas to take into consideration when it comes to automation is accuracy. It is very critical in welding robot automation wherein small imperceptible deviation can be the difference between a good weld and a rejected one.
4. Criteria for weld acceptance
Another key variable that requires a lot of consideration is weld acceptance criteria. Partial penetration joints are preferred in most parts but full penetration welds are a lot more complex and will require robots to make the joints. Welds of partial length are also preferred. Welding right to the edge instead of stopping just short of the edge also presents more challenges. Oftentimes, aesthetic appearance dictates the type of welding process to be used.
5. Welding process
It’s important to evaluate the welding process in order to fit the required criteria for the project. Each process is unique when it comes to the needed equipment and operation cost. To what degree to automate should also be considered as well as the limitation and deposition rates. Also, as technology continues to advance, innovations can sometimes exert enough influence on some of the processes and put them at the forefront which wasn’t considered previously in some applications.
6. Robotic Plasma Transferred ARC Welding
Plasma arc welding has some advantages over the traditional welding process such as a more consistent current density. Since plasma arc resists deflection, joint alignment has a higher degree of repeatability. Filler metal can also be added in powder form rather than the standard practice of using wire. On the downside, PTA equipment is quite expensive.
7. Base material
The weldability of the base material should also be considered before automation. Mild steel is known to have good weldability because of its resistance to oxidation and cracking. High and low strength alloy steels require a preheat stage which only adds to the complexity and cost to automate the operation. Aluminum’s weldability relies on the cleanliness of the material. Stainless steel, titanium, high nickel alloys, and other reactive metals need special consideration to minimize oxidation.
8. The capability of the facility
One of the most neglected things when it comes to automation in welding is the technical capability of the facility. Staff needs to be receptive to the change, not to mention trained well. Operators, engineers, and maintenance staff should be capable of supporting the new system once it’s installed.
Joint configuration and material thickness are also things to consider before welding automation takes place. Joints need an accurate alignment. Similarly, the thickness of a material affects the part’s accuracy.
Eliza Brooks is an avid blogger who loves to cover a wide range of topics from careers and finance to travel and leisure. She is found seeking adventure activities when she is not writing. She is currently working with wielding picks, which offers everything you ought to know about welding.
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