FABTECH REPORT: TRUMPF develops smart, self-programming robot that sets its own weld path

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Instead of teaching each welding spot individually, the employee only needs to bring the robot into the starting position. The rest is done by the technology. PHOTO courtesy TRUMPF

TRUMPF has introduced new sensors that enable its arc welding robot to program its own weld path.

The robot makes use of TRUMPF’s new smart seam-tracking technology, which the high-tech company developed in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA. Housed in the head of the welding torch, the sensor automatically calculates the weld path for each part.

“We’ve basically developed a way for the welding robot to program itself,” says TRUMPF R&D manager Sven Klingschat. “For users, that means a much easier transition into automated arc welding – plus a clear competitive edge.”

Robot ready to go in seconds

With conventional welding robots, production workers must program a new weld spot into the software each time they want the robot to change direction. This can be time-consuming, especially when it comes to complex parts with many curves or corners. The new smart seam-tracking function makes the whole process simpler. All the user needs to do is to place the welding robot in the start position, and the technology takes care of the rest. The robot uses the sensor to determine the weld path automatically. The system software quickly calculates the weld spots and creates the welding program for the part. The robot is “good to go” in a matter of seconds.

This solution makes it far easier to program the robot. “The whole process takes seconds to complete, even for complex parts such as spiral arcs,” says Klingschat. “And it doesn’t require any specialist knowledge on the part of production workers.” In addition, the intuitive user interface can be used to carry out a wide range of welding tasks, such as sealing runs and identical weld seams.

Less scrap and a more stable process

Smart seam tracking helps companies save time and cut costs while also making life easier for workers on the shop floor. The robot’s ability to automatically correct its weld path makes the whole process more stable. It also simplifies the task of handling tighter tolerances and dealing with warping or distortion.

“This is the right solution for any business looking to harness automation in order to boost productivity,” says Klingschat. “It’s particularly useful for fabricators who weld large and complex parts. And the creation of a customized weld path for each individual part is an excellent way to achieve consistently high quality.”

Components for wind turbines and screw conveyors for the animal feed industry are just two examples of areas that can benefit from this innovative and efficient method. Starting in February 2024, Smart Seam Weld Tracking technology will be available as an option on new TruArc Weld 1000 arc-welding machines and may be retrofitted to some newer TruArc Weld machines with CMT (Cold Metal Transfer), an optional technology package that ensures high process reliability and energy-reduced welding with fewer weld spatters and reduced distortion.

(Fotograf: Martin Stollberg)
With Smart Seam Tracking from TRUMPF, the TruArc Weld robot calculates its own welding path. PHOTO courtesy TRUMPF.
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