WHAT IS ROBOTIC WELDING?

Robotic welding, systems and technology

ROBOTIC WELDING EXPLAINED

Robotic welding represents an advanced iteration of automated welding, wherein welding robots execute the welding process. Employing robotic welding technology enables the attainment of precise and swift outcomes, reducing waste while enhancing safety and efficiency. Advanced robotic welding solutions empower access to otherwise inaccessible areas, facilitating the execution of intricate and precise welds at a quicker pace compared to manual welding. This fosters efficient manufacturing and enhances flexibility.

By leveraging suitable machinery and technology, robots can easily adapt to various welding processes, encompassing arc, resistance, spot, TIG, laser, plasma, and MIG welding. The primary emphasis lies in crafting appropriate welding programs and jigs tailored to 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 seamlessly integrates welding, robotics, sensor technology, and control systems. Its components encompass specialized software for programming, welding equipment for channeling energy from the power source to the workpiece, and the welding robot responsible for executing the welds. The robot is equipped with process sensors to gauge welding parameters and geometrical sensors to measure weld dimensions. By processing data from these sensors, the control system adjusts the robotic welding process in accordance with predefined welding procedure specifications.

Robots employed in robotic welding can take the form of robotic arms or robot portals, with six-axis industrial robots being the norm. These robots feature a three-axis lower arm and a three-axis wrist, allowing for versatile positioning of the welding torch to accommodate three-dimensional welding requirements.

Integration of the system with the robot is crucial, and the welding equipment should ideally be specifically designed for robotic welding to ensure seamless control by the robot throughout all processes. Compatibility between the welding equipment and the robotic system is essential for optimal performance.

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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