Knowing which type of welding robot cell design you need to complete a project requires in-depth knowledge of the system’s components. Oxygen Service Company explains the history of welding automation systems and their crucial features.
The History of Welding Automation Systems
In 1962, General Motors introduced the first industrial robot for spot welding. The revolutionary welding solution was designed to improve employee safety during the automotive welding process—but by 1980, welding automation systems began gaining popularity in other industries.
Today, welding automation systems are one of the top industrial robotic applications. They make up 50% of the world’s automated robots because they are a modern, cost-effective way to increase productivity. With a growth rate of 8.91%, welding automation systems are expected to become more prominent by 2023.
Types of Welding Automation Systems
Robotic welding cells are categorized into three systems:
- Arc welding (MIG or TIG)
- Spot welding
- Laser welding
Sheet metal is the most common material used to fuse and produce a welded joint, or weldment. Other application components such as nuts, caps, and tubes can be welded by robotic welding cells, too.
Welding Robot Cell Design: Crucial Components
A welding robot cell design has several crucial components:
The Power Supply
A welding machine’s power supply generates power to create heat for the welding process. There are many types of power supply options available, depending on the weld type and application requirements.
The Robotic Arm
The most well-known component of a welding cell design, the robotic arm does the heavy lifting during the welding process. The arm’s movement styles include multi-axis and linear. Welding cell designs equipped with joint rotation adds to the system’s flexibility and range of motion, but the arm’s reach and payload, or distance and weight, affect its welding capabilities.
Welding torches have a wide range of features to make different types of welding tasks seamless. You can perform MIG, TIG, spot, laser, and arc welding processes on one machine with the proper torch in place. Torches are also manufactured with peripheral equipment to increase productivity, such as a wire cutter and a nozzle cleaning station.
Welding Fixtures and Equipment
Welding fixtures and equipment position and hold parts in place while rotating joints for easier access to ensure a quality weld. Positioning equipment is designed to easily discharge automated parts, adding flexibility to accommodate part families with automated movements.
Robotic welding cells are also equipped with a variety of alert sensors that promote safety and efficiency, such as collision detection to avoid contact with the torch or other hazardous equipment, seam finding sensors to support weld quality, tool center point sensors to ensure proper part placement, and vision cameras to verify clamp and part position.
A significant component of a welding cell design is safety equipment, such as pressure-sensitive safety mats and personal protective equipment. Other safety features include interlocking switches to prevent the welding system from starting a new cycle time without user permission and guard locking to ensure safety guards are not removed.
Electronic Controls and Human-Machine Interfaces (HMI)
A welding automation system’s HMI can be simple or complex, depending on the application. When deciding on features for your welding machine’s HMI, it’s crucial to consider the employee’s level of machine access. Ask yourself which features should be adjustable by the operator and restricted to the programmer and maintenance personnel. In some applications, handheld devices allow welding operators to seamlessly program the robot’s movements and store them as a program, while other applications require more programming experience.
Here are some welding machine troubleshooting tips to reduce downtime and increase productivity:
- Perform routine maintenance to identify minor issues before they become costly problems.
- Be aware of how input quality and consistency affect output quality.
- Incorporate peripheral equipment like switches and sensors to detect the presence and location of parts.
- Staff robotic welding cells with experienced welding technicians.
- Train staff on basic system maintenance to catch problems quickly, extending the machine’s life.
Superior Welding Robot Cell Designs
Oxygen Service Company has been an industry leader in welding automation system solutions for more than 20 years. With premier partners who specialize in welding robot cell designs, OSC provides a variety of industries with automated robotic welding cells that deliver accuracy and repeatability.
Our automated robotic welding solutions:
- Maximize productivity
- Optimize quality
- Minimize manufacturing costs
- Improve workplace safety
Our robots work well with most welding applications. With OSC’s quality robotic welding systems, you can complete your next project efficiently and successfully.