Spot Welding Keeps Moving Forward
- Spot welding is one of the most mature applications in robotics. Particularly in the automotive industry, the speed, precision, efficiency and resulting cost reductions afforded by automated spot welding are well documented and accepted.
- Robotic welding plays a key role in enabling car companies to keep pace with demand for new, more technologically advanced, higher quality product.
- At the forefront of this new technology are servo guns, which typically are controlled by electronic motors rather than pneumatic or hydraulic cylinders, and can be more completely integrated and controlled through the robot interface software.
- Although machined aluminum weld guns have more parts than copper cast guns, the modular approaches allow users to quickly reconfigure a gun as the customer's product lines change.
- Another consideration when building a welding cell is the size of the robot and weight of the weld gun. While welding cycle times or multi-head weld gun applications in automobile frame and aircraft body manufacture can be reduced by going to a large robot, including the new 500-kg robots from Kuka , ABB and soon ComauPICO among others.
- Other improvements to automated welding applications are helping speed throughout while increasing safety. A main trend that reduces the moving mass of the robot is to go to a stationary weld gun and have the robot bring the part to the weld gun.
- The largest source of failure in a robot spot welding cell is the weld gun and the cabling used to operate the gun. The dynamic action of the robot motion can fatigue the robot dress causing downtime, while the spot welding gun is susceptible to damage from a crash. By putting the weld gun on a stationary pedestal, the robot dress is minimized as the tool required to hold the panel uses only air and signal power.
- As manufacturers continue to explore more exotic, light weight materials in their quest to capture the consumer's imagination, robotic integrators and suppliers will follow suit, building better tooling and more efficient automation systems for a highly competitive industry.
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