According to a Business Wire report, by 2026, the robotic welding market is projected to nearly double from a 2018 value of $5,450.5 million to $10,784.4 million.
There are a number of key drivers behind the expansion of robotic welding. First and foremost, industrialization is growing at a rapid pace throughout the world, especially the automotive and metal industries. There is also an increase in customer demands, and many manufacturers can’t keep up.
Robotic welding assists both manufacturers and the customer in creating more efficient processes. On the supply chain, robotic welding provides the following advantages:
- Increased speed and improved accuracy of operations in warehousing and manufacturing
- Improved efficiency through robot and human collaborative working
- Reduced risk of employee injury
Automation is the way of the supply chain future. It decreases long-term costs, provides labor and machinery utilization stability, increases productivity, reduces error rates and frequency of inventory checks, and optimizes the component picking and sorting process.
With robotic welding, OEM suppliers move seamlessly into the future. In this article, we provide a brief overview of how robotic welding works, its advantages over manual welding and the most common robotic welding processes.
What Is Robotic Welding?
Robotic welding is a manufacturing process that uses mechanized programmable tools — which are also considered robots — for a completely automated welding process in which both the welding and the handling of the part are conducted by the robot. Typically, loading the ingot into the furnace is the only human involvement in the process.
Robotic welding has become increasingly more popular because of its mostly human-independent process. The most commonplace robotic welding machinery is made up by two main components:
- The mechanical unit creates manipulations in the material or parts to create the component or product.
- The controller is considered the unit’s “brain” in that it is what makes the arms of the unit move based on a design implemented into the system.
The movements of the unit can either be pre-programmed or guided by machine vision, which is an imaging-based automatic inspection and analysis technology. A unit might also be programmed with a combination of the two methods.
Ultimately, the many benefits of robotic welding have enabled many OEMs to increase accuracy, repeatability and throughput.
Popular Robotic Welding Processes
Over the last several decades, robotic welding has become one of the most common robotic applications in the manufacturing sector, especially in the automotive sector due to the sector’s high-volume, repetitive welding tasks.
The following list, though not exhaustive, includes several of the most common types of welding.
Resistance welding is one of the most common types of robotic welding because of its economical benefits and versatility of function. In this process, a current passes between two pieces of metal, forming a pool with the heat and joining the pieces together.
Spot welding is a type of resistance welding. This type of welding is used primarily to join thin metal together. Typically, this practice is used in the automotive industry to join sheet metal frames together.
Arc welding uses an electrode to create the heat necessary to melt and weld the metal components together. This type of welding is used for applications that require high accuracy and repeatability.
Tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding is used for projects that require precision, such as welding bicycle frames and completing other complex products. This is a type of arc welding process that uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to produce the weld. Typically, this is a slower weld because of the complexity of the process.
Metal inert gas (MIG) welding uses a high rate of melted filler metal to create the weld. The process involves a wire that is fed toward the heated weld tip. MIG welding is a subtype of gas metal arc welding and is best used for applications that require simplicity and speed.
Laser welding uses a laser generator that delivers a laser light via a fiber optic cable through a robotic cutting head to weld pieces together. Laser welding is often used in high volume applications that require high accuracy, especially in the automotive sector.
What Are the Advantages of Robotic Welding Over Manual Welding?
Manual welding can be an incredibly dangerous practice, which makes robotic welding one of the most practical procedures for OEM suppliers. Not only does it contribute to a safer work environment, but robotic welding also offers significant advantages over manual welding in improved quality, maximized efficiencies and decreasing cost of labor. Here are a few more advantages:
- Faster, more consistent cycle times. Robotic welding systems can produce 24 hours a day, allowing for greater productivity and throughput.
- Higher quality and higher volume. Welding at a high volume, systems can produce high-quality welds with speed, precision and efficiency to produce a high volume of diverse parts.
- Fewer interruptions. Robotic welding systems allow for fewer interruptions caused by human-led manufacturing. This also creates a safer working environment and solves potential labor shortages.
Ultimately, manual welding can come with a lot of hidden costs and require the human welder to undergo training that takes time, skill and concentration to master the craft. Robotic welding, by contrast, produces components in a short amount of time with high precision and comes with fewer costs.
An OEM with the Right Equipment and Expertise
At VPIC Group, we believe robotic welding is necessary for highly complex projects. We conduct these projects without compromising reliability, precision or cost. With our robotic welding equipment line and expertise, you can trust that your projects are in capable hands.
To get the ball rolling with your manufacturing project, contact us today.