WHAT IS ROBOTIC WELDING?

Robotic welding, systems and technology

ROBOTIC WELDING EXPLAINED

Robotic welding is a highly advanced version of automated welding, in which the welding robot conduct the welding process. The use of robotic welding technology allows for precise and quick results, less waste, greater safety and efficiency.  With advanced robotic welding solutions you are capable of reaching otherwise inaccessible locations and can perform complex and precise weldings and welds more quickly compared to manual welding. It allows time for manufacturing and also for more flexibility.

Using the correct machinery and technology, robots can adapt to a wide variety of welding processes including arc, resistance, spot, TIG, laser, plasma, and MIG welding. The main focus is on creating the right welding programs and jigs into the welding application.

ROBOTIC WELDING INDUSTRIES

Due to its time-saving benefits and high productivity, robotic welding has become important in heavy steel industries, and especially in the shipbuilding industry that employs arc welding.

Normally it has been considered that welding automation can be utilised only in the early stage of ship block construction, when structures are relatively simple and easily accessible. The possibilities of using welding automation in the rambling structures of the later production stage have been considered minor, even though a big ship block contains a great number of similar, repeatable welds. The situation where similar welds are done repeatedly is an optimal application for welding automation, and this is the case also in the block assembly phase in ship manufacturing. However, lack of space has been the main obstacle to utilising the well-known benefits of automated welding in the later stage of shipbuilding.

Offshore wind farms are becoming increasingly comprehensive and complex. We are experiencing a clear trend of more heavy and larger foundations in offshore wind industries.  Quality standards for basic materials and the welding joints of monopiles in general are also becoming more strict with more demanding requirements. This has created a demand not only for high welding speeds, but also for high welding quality, increased process capabilities and flawless welding joints.

Although robotic welding is mostly used in mass production, in which efficiency and quantity are essential, welding technology can be made to suit any needs, and robotics can be deployed for complex and large steel objects while maintaining high cost-effectiveness.

ROBOTIC WELDING SYSTEMS

Robotic welding combines welding, robotics, sensor technology and control systems. The components include the software with specific programming, the welding equipment delivering the energy from the welding power source to the workpiece, and the welding robot using the system to accomplish the weldings. The robot’s process sensors measure the parameters of the welding process and its geometrical sensors the geometrical parameters of the welds. By acquiring and analyzing the input information from the sensors, the control system adapts the output of the robotized welding process based on the welding procedure specifications defined in the program.

Depending on the intended usage, robots can be robotic arms or robot portals. Normally, six-axis industrial robots comprising a three-axis lower arm and a three-axis wrist are used since they enable the welding torch to be mounted at the wrist to achieve all the positions necessary for three-dimensional welding.

The system needs to be integrated with the robot, and the welding equipment needs to be compatible with and preferably specifically designed for robotic welding because then, all processes can be controlled by the robot.

ROBOTIC WELDING TECHNOLOGY

The mechanical design of the hardware around the welding robot systems primarily serves to bring the robots in position for welding. Thus, there are in principle no limitations to the range of possibilities. Most of the welding robots, which are based on correct technology, are designed primarily for the shipbuilding industry. The specifications must be exact to ensure correct welding. In automated welding, welds are consistent, so they can be measured to be as small as possible. Consistent parts allow the robot to conduct the weld in the same location repeatedly. All processes can be controlled thanks to the pre-planned programs, which will operate the robot.

When the welding robot is in the right position and the job set-up is prepared, the operator just needs to start the sequence. Often this means that the operator, in most cases being the welder, just has to press the START button. In some cases, the operator also need to select a direction and maybe even number of jobs to perform automatically after each other.  The SensLogic welding robot from Inrotech recognizes the designs, sizes and dimensions and starts welding automatically without further input.

On the Inrotech team we have highly skilled welders from the off-shore and shipbuilding industry, who ensures that not only does Inrotech offers great technology and sophisticated software and robot design, but also first-class quality robotic welding.

NO PROGRAMMING

Historically, welding robots were, to a large extent, programmed using CAD drawings; however, this demanded the need of capable back-end-engineering for translating the given design into welding instructions, thereby increasing time and cost for each of the welding operations. This, in return, demanded extremely strict tolerances at the assembly stage for the parts to be welded.

In the early stages, the welding robot was physically taught the welding operation; this process was slow and laborious, and an operator was required to manipulate the robot head around the area to be welded and then store the data for use with future welds of this type. The days of manually programming have long since passed, and the need for offline programming, transfer of CAD drawings, manual selection of objects, and back-end-engineering are also things of the past.

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