Robots are becoming more and more common in the workplace. Some people see this as a great advancement in technology while others see it as an advancement that will ultimately hurt everyone who needs to work. No matter what you believe about robots in the workplace, the fact of the matter is that they are here to stay, and that includes in the welding industry.
Robot welding is when robots – mechanized tools that are programmable – are used to both perform the welding and handle the parts to be welding. This completely automates the welding process. Keep in mind that many of the automated processes, like gas metal arc welding, are not the same as true robot welding. This is because many times humans are still the ones in charge of preparing the materials that need to be welded. Robot welding needs no humans, except for the programmer. You will often find this kind of welding in the automotive industry and other high production industries doing arc welding and resistance spot welding.
It was back during the 1960s that robots were first introduced into industry in the United States. Using robots in welding is relatively new. In fact, robots being used in welding did not gain much popularity until in the 1980s and that was because the automotive companies began to use robots for spot welding. The use of robots in industry and the applications that they do has grown greatly since then. Over 120,000 robots were being used in North American industry in 2005 and half of those were being used for welding applications. The growth of using robots is limited by the fact that the equipment costs are high and this limits use to high-production areas.
It was just recently that robot arc welding began to grow quickly. 20% of robot applications in industry are arc welding processes. The robots are made of the controller and the manipulator or mechanical unit. There are several different kinds of robots, such as the SCARA robot. A new development in the 1990s allows the data from the automated robots to be collected in real time. This allows for welds to be optimized and for the rate of mistakes to be lowered. Even though there are many robots in welding, they are not replacing people and there are still plenty of jobs in this growing field for welders of all kinds.