Fabtech 2022: Universal Robots to premiere cobot welders with extended range

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Universal Robots will showcase new solutions from Vectis Automation and Hirebotics at Fabtech 2022 this year.

The new systems enable the weldment of larger and more complex parts. Attendees will also be able to experience Precision Cobotics’ automated MECCO laser marking solution with Apera AI bin picking, laser welding with Cobot Systems, metal deburring with Kane Robotics, along with the new UR20 cobot in a machine tending application.

Long dismissed as too heavy-duty a task for cobots, welding is now the fastest growing application segment for Universal Robots (UR). The company reports that the channel grew more than 80 percent in 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, a range of OEM partners now standardize weld solutions on the UR platform and are constantly innovating their offerings. At UR’s  booth (#C-11045), Vectis Automation will debut the 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,” says Josh Pawley, cofounder of Vectis Automation. “We’ve got a lot of customer excitement around this new product and orders are already coming in for it.”

Another new take on welding larger parts, typically out of the cobot’s reach, will be shown by Hirebotics and partner Kinetic Technologies LLC, which are launching RT1, a new cobot-controlled rotary table designed to maximize welding capacity. “The need for this system is two-fold,” says Hirebotics cofounder 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.”

Picking unstructured parts out of bins is another traditionally challenging task to automate. At Fabtech 2022, UR will showcase a collaboration with Precision Cobotics, demonstrating 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 accurately 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,” says 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.”

Metal fabricators visiting UR’s booth will also gain new insights from 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 will show the GRIT™ ST-X robotic system that is ideal for sanding, grinding and finishing, using ATI’s UR+ certified Compliant Reciprocating Tool.

For the first time at a fabricating show in North America, attendees will also be able to experience the new 20 kg payload cobot, the UR20 from Universal Robots that expands automation opportunities such as the ability to reach further into machines, tend several machines in the same cycle, and handle 25 percent heavier parts than other UR cobot models. Despite being UR’s most powerful robot, the UR20 is the lightest cobot in its class, weighing 64 kg (141.1 lbs.).

“We are launching a redefined cobot that has been completely re-engineered from the ground up, focused on freeing up more manpower within a wide range of human-scale automation tasks,” says Joe Campbell, senior manager of applications development and strategic marketing at Universal Robots. “We look forward to showing fabricators the capabilities of our new cobot along with the numerous new innovative partner solutions showcased in close to 30 different application demos across our own booth and throughout the FABTECH show.”

Fabtech 2022 takes place November 8-10 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta GA. More information here.

Universal Robots.

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