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How Robotic Welding Has Changed Welding Processes

Welding techniques have been advancing for hundreds of years, and with those advancements robotic welding has become more and more relevant in the manufacturing industries. In prior years the welds that are now accomplished by the use of robots had to be performed by humans. Many of the welds needed were in hard to reach areas. By using robots to perform these more difficult welds, manufacturing companies have become more proficient and the welds performed are of a higher standard and stronger with less defects. Welding processes now reach across 140 different welding processes from metals, plastics, composites, ships and computer chips. These are impressive numbers and as developments continue to be made in the area of welding, more uses will be discovered.

U.S. manufacturing companies are constantly striving to find faster, less expensive and safer ways in which materials are joined. This has never been more clear as it is today with automation being a prime example of how welding has grown. Since the 1940’s businesses have been looking for ways to include automated welding in their production plans. The favorability of using automated welding is primarily due to how cost-effective it is for companies to use, this is especially true in the automotive industry. While the initial cost of purchasing a robotic welding system is high, the amount of money saved in the long run makes the purchase worth the high initial purchase price.

Most robotic automation is centered on one key element, to make products at high production levels while keeping costs relatively low. Research will continue to find new ways in which automation can make positive changes in the world of welding. Some of these advances may include the ability to produce products one at a time and have them maintain their high quality and usefulness. Welding is an area that has seen developments almost since the day it was first discovered. It is a field that is used in a variety of ways and that will fuel further developments in the industry.

Research is being done to find ways that can make programming of welding robots easier. Right now the process of programming the welding parameters is done manually; researchers are looking for ways in which they can automate the process of teaching robots. When this is accomplished manufacturers will be able to produce more items faster, while maintaining the structural integrity of the item being welded. Researchers are also looking at ways they can make robotic welding more cost effective for smaller businesses to utilize. As of now the price is high enough that only larger companies can afford to add robotic welding to their manufacturing processes. But as with all things, prices tend to fall once the technology becomes more available to everyone.

Robotic welding is especially important in Just-in-time Production, which produces high volume products. Advances in this area will be of importance to ship manufacturers. Improvements in this process may include the ability for plates for the hull and smokestack to be produced at a quicker pace than they are today. Automation in this area will also improve the delivery times that typically range from six months or longer. If this new technology is developed, the process can be shortened to being able to produce the pieces at the time they are ordered with no need for delay.

With advances in welding happening all the time, we will begin to notice how these changes impact our day to day lives. From the delivery of larger items sooner, or the integrity of automobiles becoming stronger, welding is something that affects our lives on a daily basis and many of us do not take the time to notice how many things we use every day that have been made using a welding process. Welding is a field that is bound to see large advancements in the near future and some of those may even be life altering.

Ed C.


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