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Types of Robotic Welding Systems
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Considerations to take into account for the Robotic Welding Automation
Firstly, we have the six-axis robot itself. Considerations here are for payload and envelope or reach. Most welding systems tend to have a lightweight torch and therefore it tends to be the reach required that denotes the robot type. (Because of the services brought to the torch it is also a good idea to take into account the drag on the wrist that these may introduce particularly if there is a lot of wrist re-orientation during the welding motion.
Where it is required that the part is tilted or rotated during the welding process an integrated turntable will be used, these can have different configurations and different numbers of axes depending on the requirements for the movements necessary.
Robotic Welding Cell
Secondly, in terms of producing the welding tool paths, there are essentially two methods used in welding automation.
One method is to hand teach by jogging the robot from the teach pendant and recording the positions. The alternative is to use offline CAD-CAM software to prepare the tool paths. This is the most common method where there is a diversity of paths.
Having talked about some of the considerations to take into account we will now have a look at the main elements that make up the majority of robotic welding cells and welding automation.
Main Elements of the Robotic Welding Processes
Key elements that make up the majority of robotic welding cell.
Welding Robot Jig
The quality of the jigs that hold the parts prior to welding is very important for the quality of the finished job.
The parts need to be located with high repeatability and also rigidly to ensure that no movement takes place during the welding process.
Secondly, the clamping arrangement is very important to avoid having clamps and supports that get in the way of the weld path that the torch needs to take.
As mentioned previously there is usually some form of part presentation turntable. The most basic is a simple two-position device that has two stations one for the operator and the other for the robot. An output from the robot itself driving by a simple motor would drive the turntable into position.
Otherwise, the operator turns the turntable by hand and the robot controls the rotation via a locking shot bolt.
Robotic Welding Turntable
Firstly, the robot will move over to the wire cut device which will trim the welding wire to the correct length.
Second, as the nozzle of the torch will suffer a build-up of weld spatter over time there is a reamer fitted to the tip clean. It will move up inside the nozzle to clean the tip of this build-up. The removed spatter will fall into a removable collection dish mounted under the reamer.
For mounting the part or parts some form of fixture jig will be required. As this fixturing relates to the customer’s parts, we normally supply the work table but not the fixturing itself.
Two-Position Welding Turntable
It is common for installations to feature some form of the two-position turntable. This allows the completed parts to be removed and new parts reloaded whilst the robot is welding on the parts previously loaded.
It may be the case that the parts need to be re-orientated during the welding process either for access to the welding torch or to keep the weld path horizontal.
Torch & Weld Controller
Fitted to the robot will be the torch and associated equipment along with a weld controller. As standard, we favour a Fronius setup. The central control and regulation unit of the power sources is coupled with a digital signal processor. The central control and regulation unit and the signal processor control the entire welding process.
During the welding process, the actual data is measured continuously, and the device responds immediately to any changes. The control algorithms maintain the desired target.
This results in:
- A precise welding process.
- Exact reproducibility of all results.
- Excellent weld properties.
- Mounted near the robot but out of the work area will be mounted a tip clean stand. This allows for several actions to be carried out.
In this situation an integrated positioner is used, whereby the axes of the positioner are controlled directly by the robot.
In the case of this type of workpiece presentation, there will again be two stations. One for the operator to load and unload and the other for the robot to carry out the welding operations.
However the rotational axis, in this case, will be part of the robot’s own movement. There will be two or three additional axes for each station. This allows the robot to rotate the part both horizontally and vertically.
Robotic Welding Cell Design
The cell will need some form of guarding. The cell will form a room or enclosure to make sure that nobody is present whilst the robot is working in automatic.
The guarding or enclosure will have any access points protected by a two-channel safety system that is integrated into the safety panel. The guarding will also protect against the flash from the welding process.
Electrical Control Panel Robot
To control the complete cell a safety panel with cell control pushbuttons will be installed which is electrically connected to the robot controller. This panel will include the safety relays for the two safety circuits for both the robot and positioner. One circuit will be for the Estops, these will stop the robot in all modes, the other will be for the cell access and this will stop the robot and positioner whenever the robot is in Auto mode if the access door to the cell is opened.
Lastly, the robot moves the torch over to the parting agent spray system which will spray a parting agent up into the newly reamed nozzle.
Advantages of Welding Robot
More and more we are finding industrial robots being used to perform welding operations where in the past traditionally this was a manual process.
There are some clear advantages of using a six-axis robot for welding:
- The welding working conditions are not an ideal one for workers, whereas the robot is unaffected by the welding flash, heat, or fumes.
- If required, the robot arm can run for 24 hours 7 days a week.
- Once programmed the robot path will be very repeatable and consistent. Because of this, once the robot has been programmed and is producing good welds each job run on that cell will have the same quality as the previous jobs.
Robotic Welding Integration Solutions
We offer a wide range of options from a single welding cell to a fully bespoke welding process line. In fact, we aim to provide turnkey solutions including component fixturing and handling for products of differing types of the weld. If you are looking to upgrade or enhance your production, get in touch with us. We will work together to find the best robotic welding solution. Contact us for your next robotic welding project. See an example of one of our robotic welding automation with the price included.
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Phoenix integrates and installs complete robotic milling solutions from initial design and consultation to manufacture. Also, we offer robot training, robot programming, robot simulation, commissioning, and technical support. Whether you decide to configure your complete milling robot cell, around a new robot or reconditioned robot.