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CANADA'S LEADING INFORMATION SOURCE FOR THE METALWORKING INDUSTRY

CANADA'S LEADING INFORMATION SOURCE FOR THE METALWORKING INDUSTRY

Cobots the fastest growing option for welding tasks: Universal Robots

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Vectis’ new Park’N’Arc feature enables the cobot welder to handle longer parts while cable management remains simple through the rotational pivot. PHOTO courtesy Vectis Automation.

Initially dismissed as too heavy-duty a task for cobots, welding is now the fastest growing application segment for Universal Robots (UR).

The channel grew more than 80% the first nine months of 2022 compared with last year with well over 1,200 cobots expected to ship in the welding vertical this year.

Since the first UR cobot-powered welder made its debut in North America at Fabtech 2017, several OEM partners now standardize weld solutions on the UR platform, constantly innovating their offerings.

At Fabtech 2022, Vectis Automation debuted its new Park’N’Arc; a “diving board” rotational range extender that allows for the base of the cobot to be manually moved to various locations.

“Compared to a short linear track, the Park’N’Arc is an improved design for increasing range as the cobot base can be translated nearly 8ft in a linear direction while maintaining simplicity, robust cable management, and portability,” said Josh Pawley, co-founder of Vectis Automation. “We’ve got a lot of customer excitement around this new product and orders are already coming in for it.”

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Universal Robots’ UR20 cobot sports a 1750 mm and 20 kg payload capacity – Shop Metalworking Technology (shopmetaltech.com)

Another new take on welding larger parts, typically out of the cobot’s reach, was shown by Hirebotics and partner Kinetic Technologies LLC, launching RT1, a new cobot-controlled rotary table designed to maximize welding capacity.

Hirebotics Cobot Welder equipped with the new indexing table, RT1 from Kinetic, will excel on handling hard-to-reach joints and products such as large frames and welded steel boxes where a cobot on a single table cannot reach fully across the part. PHOTO courtesy Hirebotics.

“The need for this system is two-fold,” said co-founder of Hirebotics, Rob Goldiez. “RT1 gives customers the ability to rotate the part to the front and back for welding. Secondly, it gives users with high volume production the ability to have separate load and weld stations; loading a part on one side while the cobot is welding on the other, increasing arc on time and throughput.”

Cobot Systems has launched the first commercially available IPG LightWELD laser welder to be guided and controlled by a cobot. PHOTO courtesy Cobot Systems.

Metal fabricators visiting UR’s booth were also able to gauge the potential of leaning on Cobot Systems, a UR Certified Systems Integrator (CSI), that has launched the first commercially available IPG LightWELD laser welder to be guided and controlled by a cobot. For deburring needs, Kane Robotics showed the GRIT ST-X robotic system for sanding, grinding and finishing, using ATI’s UR+ certified Compliant Reciprocating Tool.

Picking unstructured parts out of bins is another traditionally challenging task to automate. UR’s collaboration with Precision Cobotics, demonstrates how a UR5 cobot is able to pick a shiny metal part from a randomized bin and place it into a MECCO laser marking machine. The UR5 is guided by Apera AI’s new UR+ certified Vue Vision software that locates and places the part.

“Robotic bin picking systems often struggle with shiny or complex objects and usually have much longer cycle times than a human performing the same actions,” said Eric Petz, head of marketing at Apera. “The Vue Vision software provides the industry’s fastest total vision cycle time—as low as 0.3 seconds— and operates under ambient light using standardized cameras, so the user does not need expensive specialized equipment.”

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