This section provides an overview for welding robots as well as their applications and principles. Also, please take a look at the list of 33 welding robot manufacturers and their company rankings.
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Welding robots are industrial robots that can perform welding processes automatically. They are mainly used in factories that manufacture automobiles, airplanes, etc.
Welding robots can save labor and improve productivity. Welding robots can repeat the same operation quickly and accurately, thus increasing work efficiency through short and stable operations. They can also reduce the risk of occupational accidents, such as burns associated with welding processes and health hazards due to inhalation of toxic gases during welding, as well as errors caused by human error.
In the welding process, it is difficult to adjust the appearance, density, etc., of the weld area, and the quality of the welding process is difficult to stabilize because the quality of the welding process is greatly affected by the skills of each worker in manual operations. Welding robots are also industrial products, so there may be minute rattling of the operating axes. Still, the individual differences between robots are controlled on a millimeter-by-millimeter basis, so the reproducibility of work is exceptionally high.
Quality variation can be minimized without relying on the operators' skills, and uniform products can always be produced. As a result, quality reliability can be improved.
Welding robots make welding processes unmanned, automatic, and efficient. The work can be unmanned by teaching welding robots a series of work procedures and processes. The appeal of welding robots is that they can reduce labor costs by saving manpower and preventing a reduction in work efficiency due to a lack of human resources.
Also, when welding processes are performed manually, work must be completed in high-temperature areas where metal melts, so there is a high risk of burns from spatter generated during welding, blindness from irritating light, and health hazards from harmful gases. Welding robots also help improve the safety of the work environment.
Welding robots have an arm shape that resembles a human hand and are constructed with many joints to allow smooth movement. Generally, the 6-axis type with six joints is the most common. Still, welding robots with fewer joints can handle heavier objects instead of having a narrower range of motion, and welding robots with more joints can perform more detailed movements.
Welding robots have a welding torch attached to the arm's end, and various welding processes can be performed by changing the torch part. By attaching a jig for setting parts instead of a welding torch to the end of the arm, the robot can also be used as a transfer/handling robot, enabling automation of operations other than welding.
Teaching is teaching welding robots welding operations and procedures and programming them to operate automatically. The robot can only perform the work determined by the program. Teaching is critical because the accuracy of the welding process varies greatly depending on factors other than the Welding robot, such as workpiece misalignment when setting parts and surface accuracy of the welding surface.
Teaching programming uses a microcontroller called a PLC (programmable logic controller) or a sequencer, although the names differ depending on the manufacturer. The most common programming language is "ladder diagram," which is an intuitive "ladder-like" graphic. The two main teaching methods are as follows.
Offline teaching can be done by using 3D data on a computer to obtain the coordinates of welding process points, then simulating and transferring the data to the Welding robot, or by programming the welding motion directly into the robot. Depending on the processing accuracy of the product or jig, it may not be possible to follow the 3D data strictly. Combining online teaching, as described in the next section, to improve teaching accuracy is necessary.
In online teaching, the teaching operator uses a remote control to directly move the Welding robot to perform a series of welding operations. The robot then memorizes these actions and reproduces them precisely the same way.
However, this teaching method has the disadvantage that the robot cannot be used for production during the teaching process. The teaching process takes a lot of time because the operator has to set up each welding operation by moving the robot. This is why offline teaching has been adopted in recent years.
Therefore, offline teaching has become mainstream in recent years. However, there are cases in which fine adjustments are necessary depending on the machining accuracy of the product or jig, so it is essential to switch teaching methods flexibly as needed.
Special training is required for teaching welding robots. This is stipulated in Article 59 of the Occupational Safety and Health Law. Violations are punishable by the operator and the company. 2 days of special training qualifies the operator for the job. The operator must acquire the skills and knowledge to perform the teaching operation immediately.
Teaching requires programming and simulation techniques using 3D data and knowledge of welding operations. In many cases, optimizing the welding process order and posture changes of the welding robot can significantly improve the efficiency of the welding process. The skill of the operator doing the teaching is noticeable, so it is necessary to receive training from an experienced person in the company or a teaching person outside the company.
For large parts, processing and assembly errors in the previous process often cause misalignment of the welding part. In recent years, sensing technology has been attracting attention for its ability to automatically respond to welding robot misalignment by attaching sensors to the robot. Sensing mainly includes wire touch sensors and laser displacement sensors for pre-sensing in the pre-welding stage and arc sensors and visual sensors for real-time sensing during welding.
Sensing technology will continue to develop, as welding robots can automatically compensate for misalignment, eliminating the need for detailed manual teaching corrections and ensuring more stable product quality.
*Including some distributors, etc.
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ABB E-mobility provides electric vehicle charging solutions for customers around the globe. ABB E-mobility offers DC fast chargers as well as AC chargers with focus on reliability and uptime. Since 2010, ABB E-mobility has sold over 50,000 DC fast chargers and over 1 million total AC chargers. ABB E-mobility offers home single and multi-charge units, retail, workplace, and hospitality charge units, electric vehicle fleet sales, as well as public transportation. Additionally, numerous digital solutions and software services are available.
AMADA WELD TECH is a subsidiary of AMADA WELD TECH Co., LTD, which was founded in 1972. AMADA is based in Southern California and is a manufacturer of equipment and systems for resistance welding, hot bar bonding, laser marking, and other laser cutting services for industries such as aerospace, automotive, electronics, medical, and photonics. AMADA is ISO 9001:2015 certified. Examples of AMADA products include machines and systems for resistance welding, laser cutting, hermetic steam sealing, laser micromachining, and more.
Ergonomic Partners is a branch of Tri-State Overhead Crane, located in St. Louis, Missouri. Ergonomic Partners has a 50-year history as a turnkey solution manufacturer for material handling applications. Ergonomic Partners provides customer solutions for repetitive lifting application, precise product placement, and awkward load handling. Additionally, Ergonomic Partners provides off-the-shelf ergonomic material handling and workstation equipment with custom designed and engineered handling devices and special equipment solutions. Custom lifting devices include ergonomic lift assists, easy arms, manipulator arms, vacuum lifters, tool balancers and more
Sutton Garten Co.’s history dates back to1916 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Sutton Garten is an independent welding distributor, providing products and services. Sutton Garten’s product offerings include welding abrasives, dry ice & blast equipment, electric welding equipment & supplies, filler metals, flux and chemicals, fume extraction equipment, gases, cylinders, dewars, gas equipment for welding, welding hand tools, plasma cutting equipment, metal cutting sawing grinding tools, welding safety equipment, and weld accessories. Sutton Garten’s service offerings include bulk gas installations, carbon dioxide gas fill service, rental welding & cutting equipment as well as repairs.
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