Sure, cobots are lightweight: the largest UR10 robot is under 29 kg/64 lbs, so they’re easy to pick up and move from one process to another. But they’re no lightweights when it comes to heavy-duty processes like welding. In fact, there’s already a range of cobot welding systems to choose from. Surprised? Don’t be. It’s just one more smart application for these flexible, cost-effective, and easy-to-program automation tools.
The flexibility and ease-of-programming of cobot-based welding systems make them especially well-suited for low-volume/high-mix environments, as well as custom or small-template welding processes. But with high accuracy and repeatability, these systems can also handle long runs with consistent quality. Welding tasks can be programmed in as little as half-an-hour by workers who have no previous experience, and programs can be saved and reused, saving the expense of trained robot programmers. Lightweight cobot welders can be mounted on tabletops, hung from ceilings, or installed into existing welding booths, offering more flexibility than manual welders or traditional fixed robots. And speaking of manual welders, these will be increasingly harder to find. In the U.S. alone, the American Welding Society predicts a shortfall of 372,000 welders by 2026.
Several companies have already announced cobot welding systems.
SNAPWELD SYSTEM CAN BE EASILY PROGRAMMED DIRECTLY THROUGH ROBOT’S TEACH PENDANT
SnapWeld system can be easily programmed directly through robot’s teach pendant
Universal Robots and ARC Specialties recently announced the first collaborative MIG welding system in the US at FABTECH 2017 taking place this week in Chicago. The SnapWeld Collaborative Robot Welding package is a cobot-assisted, interactive welding system that can be deployed in existing, manual welding booths, so it eliminates the need for costly new robotic cells. The system is ideal for small job shops that are struggling with the budget, programming, and space requirements of traditional welding robots