Choosing the Right Robotic Welding Machine 101

Robotic welding machines are an investment for any manufacturing facility, and choosing the right machine for specific applications is essential for maximizing productivity and achieving high-quality welds. When choosing a robotic welding machine, there are several factors to consider. Here is an easy guide to selecting the best robotic welding machine for specific applications.

1. Material Type and Welding Requirements
The first factor to consider when selecting a robotic welding machine is the type of material being welded, and obviously you may regularly work with a variety of materials but that also makes a difference in determining your choice. Different materials have different properties as you know, and the welding process may vary depending on the material. The welding process and the thickness of the material(s) are critical factors to consider as well, just the same as choosing the right manual welding process. The robotic welding machine must be capable of welding the specific materials, and it should be able to handle the required thicknesses.

2. Welding Process
There are several different welding processes to choose from, including MIG, TIG, and spot welding. Each process has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the best process for a specific application will depend on factors such as material type, thickness, and required weld strength. The weld process is an important factor to consider when using a robotic welding machine because it directly affects the quality and consistency of the welds produced. The choice of welding process can have a significant impact on the speed, efficiency, and accuracy of the welding process, as well as the strength and durability of the welds themselves. For example, MIG welding is commonly used for welding thin materials, such as sheet metal, because it produces a fast, efficient, and clean weld. TIG welding, on the other hand, is often used for welding thicker materials or materials that require a higher degree of precision, such as stainless steel or aluminium. By selecting the appropriate weld process for the job, a robotic welding machine can produce high-quality, consistent welds at a faster rate than would be possible with manual welding. By selecting the appropriate process for the job, manufacturers can maximize the benefits of robotic welding and achieve the best possible results.

3. Production Volume
High-volume production runs may require a more specialized robotic welding machine, while smaller production runs may require a more versatile machine. It’s important to choose a machine that can handle the production volume required without causing downtime or delays. The volume of parts that need to be welded per day, week, or month is important to consider because it will determine the speed and efficiency required of the robotic welding machine. Robotic welding machines can produce welds at a much faster rate than manual welding, which makes them well-suited for high-volume production environments. In addition, robots can work continuously without tiring, taking breaks, or making errors due to fatigue, which means they can maintain a high level of productivity over long periods of time. However, the cost of purchasing and maintaining a robotic welding machine can be high, which means that the benefits of automation may not be as pronounced for low-volume production runs. In these cases, it may be more cost-effective to use manual welding techniques, which require less initial investment in equipment and training. Therefore, it’s important to carefully evaluate the production volume and overall cost structure of a manufacturing operation before deciding whether to invest in a robotic welding machine. In some cases, it may make sense to use a combination of manual and robotic welding techniques to achieve the optimal balance between productivity, cost, and quality which is what many THG Automation customers do!

4. Welding Position
Some robotic welding machines are designed for flat welding only, while others can handle welding in various positions, including overhead and vertical positions. It’s important to choose a machine that can handle the required welding position to ensure accurate and consistent welds. Different welding positions, such as flat, horizontal, vertical, and overhead, require different welding techniques and settings. For example, overhead welding is typically more challenging than flat or horizontal welding because of gravity on the weld pool and requires specialized equipment and techniques to produce high-quality welds. Robotic welding machines are designed to be versatile and flexible and can be programmed to perform a wide range of welding positions and techniques. However, the specific parameters and settings used for each position will depend on the material being welded, the thickness of the material (as we mentioned before), and the geometry of the parts being joined. Therefore, it is important to carefully consider the welding position when programming a robotic welding machine to ensure that the appropriate welding technique and settings are used to produce high-quality, consistent welds. This may involve adjusting the welding parameters, such as the wire feed speed, arc voltage, and travel speed, as well as the orientation and positioning of the robot itself. This all has a significant impact on the quality and consistency of the welds produced. By carefully evaluating the welding position and selecting the appropriate welding techniques and settings, manufacturers can maximize the benefits of robotic welding and achieve high-quality, reliable welds in a variety of different welding positions. There are tons of robotic welding machines out there to cater to every manufacturer’s welding needs. So, if you’re having a hard time finding what’s best for you, you can rest assured that there is 100% a system that exists that can help achieve welding success for your unique parts.

5. Robot Reach and Payload
The robot’s reach determines how far it can reach from its base, while the payload determines how much weight it can handle, which are important considerations because your robot obviously needs to have the ability to access and manipulate parts and to support the weight of the welding tool and any auxiliary equipment that may be required. If the robot’s reach is too short or its payload capacity is too low, it may not be able to access all the necessary weld locations or support the weight of the welding tool and other equipment, which can result in lower quality welds or reduced productivity. Similarly, if the robot’s reach is too long or its payload capacity is too high, it may be more expensive than necessary and may require additional floor space to accommodate its larger size. A longer reach allows the robot to access a larger work surface, which can be particularly important for welding large or complex parts that require a variety of different welding positions and orientations. The payload capacity of a robot is determined by its motor power, gear ratios, and structural design, and can range from a few kilograms to several hundred kilograms or more. Therefore, it is important to carefully evaluate the requirements of the welding application and select a robot with an appropriate reach and payload capacity to ensure that the welding process can be performed efficiently, accurately, and reliably.

6. Software and Controls
The software and controls of a robotic welding system play a critical role in the machine’s accuracy and efficiency. The quality and sophistication of the software can have a significant impact on the quality and consistency of the welds produced, as well as the speed and efficiency of the overall welding process. Some important considerations when selecting robotic welding software include ease of use, compatibility with different welding processes and equipment, the ability to import and export CAD files and other data, and the availability of advanced features such as adaptive welding and real-time monitoring and feedback.
In addition to software, the controls used to operate and monitor the robotic welding machine are also critical to its performance and reliability. These controls may include operator interfaces, safety systems, motion control systems, and sensors to monitor the robot’s position and performance. By carefully evaluating the software and controls used to operate and monitor the robot, manufacturers can ensure that their robotic welding system can produce high-quality, consistent welds in a variety of different welding applications.
Also, choosing a machine with user-friendly software and controls is especially important, because using robots is still very new for most people! By choosing a system with a user-friendly AND high-quality interface you can get your new robotic welding system(s) integrated more quickly into your production process.

7. Weld quality
If you’re investing in a robotic welding machine, it better be capable of producing consistent and high-quality welds, right? You know why high-quality welds are imperative, and you want to get the most out of your robotic welding machine. Robotic welding machines are specifically designed to produce high-quality, consistent welds by controlling the welding process with precision and accuracy after all. However, the quality of the welds produced by a robotic welding machine still depend on several factors, including the welding process, the welding parameters, the condition of the welding equipment, and the skill and experience of the operator. You’ve got to select the appropriate welding process and parameters for the material being welded, ensure that the welding equipment is in good condition and properly maintained, and provide adequate training and support for the robot operator.

8. Space and layout
The available space for the robotic welding cell and the layout of the production line are also critical factors to consider. The robotic welding machine must fit within the available space and be compatible with the production line’s layout. Robotic welding machines require a certain amount of floor space to operate, which can vary depending on the size and reach of the robot, as well as the size and shape of the parts being welded. It is important to carefully evaluate the available space in the manufacturing facility and select a robotic welding system that can be accommodated without interfering with other operations or creating safety hazards. In addition to floor space, the layout of the manufacturing facility can also have a significant impact on the efficiency and safety of the robotic welding process. For example, it may be necessary to rearrange other equipment or workstations to provide adequate access and clearance for the robot and welding equipment. Other important considerations for optimizing the space and layout of a robotic welding system may include the location of power and utilities, the need for ventilation or other environmental controls, and the availability of storage and material handling equipment. By carefully considering space and layout when selecting and implementing a robotic welding system, manufacturers can ensure that the robot is able to operate safely and efficiently within the available space, and that the overall manufacturing process is optimized for maximum productivity and quality.

9. Cost
The cost of the robotic welding machine is another important factor to consider and sometimes the only hurdle for an organization to overcome when they’re considering adding a robot to their production process. The cost will depend on the machine’s features, capabilities, and brand and this is something to dive more into with the integrator that you’re hoping to purchase from. A consultation is the best way to breakdown the potential investment.

10. Maintenance and support
The level of maintenance and support required for the robotic welding machine must be considered, because like people, machines need consistent TLC to function properly and efficiently. This can impact the reliability, performance, and lifespan of the equipment, as well as the overall productivity and profitability of the manufacturing operation. Robotic welding machines require regular maintenance to ensure that they are operating at peak performance and to prevent breakdowns and downtime. This may include tasks such as cleaning, lubrication, calibration, and replacement of worn or damaged components. It is important to select a robotic welding system that is designed for ease of maintenance and to establish a maintenance schedule that is consistent with the manufacturer’s recommendations. In addition to maintenance, it is important to consider the availability and quality of technical support and training when selecting a robotic welding system. Manufacturers should look for suppliers that provide comprehensive training and support services, including troubleshooting assistance, spare parts, and software updates. This can help ensure that the robot is operating at peak efficiency and that any issues are quickly addressed to minimize downtime and production delays. Other important factors to consider when evaluating maintenance and support for a robotic welding machine may include the availability of local service technicians, the quality and availability of documentation and training materials, and the responsiveness and reliability of the support team. By prioritizing maintenance and support when selecting and implementing a robotic welding system, manufacturers can minimize downtime, maximize productivity and profitability, and ensure that their investment in the technology is protected over the long term.

All in all, selecting the best robotic welding machine for specific applications requires considering factors such as material type, welding process, production volume, welding position, robot reach and payload, software and controls, who you’re buying from and the support system they offer, and a variety of other factors. By taking these factors into account, manufacturers can choose the best machine for their specific needs, maximizing productivity and achieving high-quality welds, and make that investment worthwhile!

Curious about what collaborative robotic welding would look like in your organization?
Do you want more information? Contact us today! Reach out for a virtual demo in-person demo or consult with us about getting sample parts run to show you how THG Automation’s robotic integrated systems can help your organization. Our automated welding solution will help you seal the deal on that competitive edge, and you’ll see instantly gratifying results by integrating cobots into your organization’s regime. Explore our website for more information about the benefits of this investment and get a clearer understanding of what’s going on. Want to read more about our supplier? Check out the Universal Robots website, and be sure to send us any questions you may have about how to attain greater productivity, upgraded quality and decreased costs with THG Automation.