As an automated welding process, robotic welding improves safety, increases welding accuracy, and shortens project duration. These benefits and many others make automated robotic welding ideal for a wide range of applications, especially when compared to manual welding processes. This page will review how welding automation works, its advantages, and some of its typical use cases.
Why Choose Automated Welding?
Automated welding processes come with numerous benefits, including:
- Better weld quality. Automated robotic welding systems create welds with tight tolerances through the use of programmed instructions. This results in welds free of unexpected blemishes, weak points, or gaps.
- Improved safety. Unlike manual processes, robotic welding uses automated machinery to handle every step of the welding process in a predictable way. This reduces the risks associated with operator handling and mitigates the likelihood of accidents caused by unexpected movement or other circumstances.
- Consistent welds. Robotic welding equipment will produce identical results across hundreds or thousands of components, which is vital for mass production across industries.
- Faster welding. Automated welding equipment operates continuously. This enables higher weld volumes, ultimately leading to a faster turnaround for every project.
- Cost-effectiveness. Although robotic welding equipment comes with higher upfront costs in terms of equipment and setup, the reduced labor requirements and increased overall efficiency lead to a high return on investment over time.
- Increased efficiency of materials. Fewer errors and increased accuracy result in a reduction in material waste. In turn, users will benefit from more affordable, sustainable, and efficient welding processes.
- Lower labor requirements. With automated robotic welding equipment, manufacturers achieve high volumes of welds with less need for trained welders. Allowing robotic equipment to handle high-volume orders frees up welders and associated workers for other tasks where automation may not be suitable. Cleanup and finishing processes require less labor, as well.
Robotic Welding vs. Manual Welding
Robotic welding offers several key advantages over manual welding, including:
Reduced Costs Around Labor and Safety
Manual welding is often costly, requiring focus, time, energy, and skill. It also presents many risks to workers, including fumes, flash, high temperatures, and sparks. Through automated welding, manufacturers can reduce these risks and mitigate costs associated with labor, insurance, and accidents.
Robotic welding systems help reduce the risk of errors and don’t require any breaks, whereas manual welders will require many breaks across a high-volume production run. When work continues uninterrupted at optimal efficiency, the production run gains a boost in productivity and throughput.
Save More Materials
Welding errors can result in wasted filler and unusable components. Robotic welding virtually eliminates errors, which can provide a notable reduction in production waste. Robotic welding’s high rate of repeatability also ensures that material doesn’t get overused during welding.
Immunity to Labor Shortages
Robotic welding solutions can help manufacturers avoid unexpected slowdowns or shutdowns caused by a shortage of skilled welders. Trained welders on staff get augmented by the robotic equipment, enabling them to focus on extremely complex or time-consuming manual projects without creating order backlogs.
Automated Welding Processes
Metal inert gas (MIG) welding and tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding have both proven ideal for robotic automation.
Automated MIG Welding
MIG welding works with a consumable electrode to fill weld pools with metallic filler materials that strengthen the final bond. This effective and efficient method is appropriate for thick or large metals with high melting temperatures. In addition, the inert gas generates a shield around the weld pool, which prevents contamination by the surrounding air that may weaken the efficacy of the weld. Compared to manual MIG welding, robotic automation reduces splatter and maintains a consistent and sturdy weld bead.
Automated TIG Welding
TIG welding, also known as gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), is a process that uses a non-consumable electrode to complete the weld. The process applies an electrical current to the work area, forming a high-intensity arc between the workpiece and the electrode. The high heat produced by the arc melts the workpiece. Of note, the process may use an optional filler metal to increase the strength of the final bond. TIG welding is best for small or thin materials.
Common Applications for Automated Welding
Many applications across industries rely on robotic welding to impart consistent welds across high volumes of parts. Some typical examples of industries and applications that use robotic welding include:
- Agriculture — trailer parts, heavy equipment components, and outdoor power equipment
- Automotive — parts for on- and off-highway vehicles
- General industry — material handling parts and systems
- Petrochemical — chemical processing systems
Materials for Automated Welding
Automated welding can accommodate a broad spectrum of metals based on the specific needs of each application. Potential materials include:
- Carbon steel
- Exotic metals
- Stainless steel
Ohio Valley Manufacturing Automated Welding Specialists
Welding automation through robotic welding processes can minimize the risk of error, increase welding efficiency and accuracy, and gain economies of scale over time. Through the incorporation of robotics into welding operations, manufacturers gain the ability to protect workers while benefiting from higher productivity.
At Ohio Valley Manufacturing, we provide robotic welding services that drive results, handling every aspect of the welding process in-house, from design and building to production. Our systems are equipped to handle high-volume welding for virtually any application, regardless of complexity.
If you would like to learn more about our robotic welding services and capabilities, contact us today.