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Oct 05, 2001

High-tech robotic welding cells

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International welding company Esab has announced that it is returning to the automated robotic welding scene after an absence of some ten years. Mechanisation and automation are proved company technologies and these disciplines have been augmented by state-of-the-art system solutions to produce flexible manufacturing systems to provide higher levels of productivity, constant and better-quality products and greater competitiveness for users.

This return to the automated robotic welding market is a considered response to several factors, the firm reports. These include the fact that production must respond faster and more flexibly to market changes; indeed flexible automation is a stable growth area throughout the world. And, of course, there is a present shortage of skilled welders – a situation that is not likely to change in the near future Present manufacturing cells are less costly and much more flexible then they were ten years ago. Performance criteria have improved and installation and operating costs have fallen, allowing cells to be used for the economic production of small batches. The present range is the result of a partnership with ABB to produce safe modular robot systems which are based on Esab's power sources and consumables and the company's extensive process knowledge.

These cells are intended to be used in a permanent working area and are easily incorporated into existing manufacturing and production processes. They can be used typically in the production of various seam welds, producing good bonding and round fusion penetration profiles at high welding speeds and high feed rates. Parameters are simply set and welds are started with immediate effect and full penetration. Splatter is reduced to a minimum and end-of-weld problems are eliminated. Different kinds of positioners help to adopt the function cells to the welding needs. The compact welding stations can be moved with a forklift to where they are needed in flexible production and provide a plug-and-play operation to keep production breaks to a minimum. The basic robots are typically backed by various positioners, power sources, torches and torch service stations. A standard package includes security barriers as well as other safety equipment. Help in workpiece fixing can be offered on request.

In other developments, Esab has launched a new gantry system for welding automation.

The gantry unit provides an extension to the range of automation systems already available, which includes powered roller beds and a variety of welding tractor units. MechTrac is designed specifically for use with the company's A2 submerged arc welding system under the control of the A2 to A6 process controller. In addition, the system can be configured for gas metal arc welding. The system has the ability to offer linear welding speeds from 0,2 m/min to 2 m/min. It comprises a steel gantry, available in widths of 1 500 mm and 2 000 mm, and a floor-mounted rail available in three-metre sections. Mountings for the welding head, flux container and wire bobbin are provided on the cross-rail as semi-permanent fixtures which may be altered in accordance with operational requirements. Maximum allowable weight on the gantry is 220 kg.

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