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Robotic Welding: How to get started? - Part 2

Catherine Bernier
by Catherine Bernier. Last updated on May 05, 2016 5:09 PM
Posted on Jul 24, 2013 11:24 AM. 5 min read time

Robotic welding was first used in the automotive industry. Robot welders began to be very popular in the 1980’s and were mainly used for spot welding. Nowadays, the number of applications which use robot welders has grown substantially. In 2005, over 120,000 robots were used in North American industry and half of them were welding robots. When considering robot welding for your production a lot of elements need to be considered. We will discuss this below in the second part of Robotic Welding: How to get started?. For this article, we will refer to Gas Metal Arc Welding (or MIG Welding) since this robotic application is very popular.

The first thing to consider is the welds you want to robotize. You should take the time to analyse if your welding process can really be automated. In order to help you, you can take a look at this check list : Can You Automate Your Welding Process with Robotic Welders? 

The next step, when you conclude that it would be worthwhile to robotize your welds, is to find the best equipment for your welding cell.

The basic welding equipment that is used for manual welding are still needed, for example:

  • Power source

  • Welding gun - as a robotic end effector though.

  • Electrode feeder

For more information on this equipment, take a look at part 1 of this article.

Then, robotic components are also needed.

Welding Robot

Of course, you have to determine what is the best welding robot available on the market for your needs. The characteristics you should look at are the following:

arc, welding, kinetiq, robotic welding

  • The payload of the robot is generally linked to its size. So you have to know which size of robot would fit your needs. Robot welders can have sizes from those that fit on a table top to those that are up to 6 feet high.

  • Then, the number of axes needed to perform your welds is another important feature to consider. Robots today can have up to 7 axes, but this might not be necessary for your application and they might be more expensive.

  • The main features that manufactures look for when robotizing a process are accuracy, repeatability and reliability. Once again, it is important to choose values that will fit your welding process, because it can have an impact on the final price. Each welding robot is tested and you can find this information on their specification sheet.

Welding Robot Controls

  • The robot controller is considered like the “brain” of the robot and is usually supplied with the robot welder. The programmer can set the desired welding parameters and the controller will communicate with all the other component features (torch speed, electrode feeder speed, end effector distance to the weld, etc...) in order to perform the desired weld.

  • Other components, such as vision, can greatly improve the weld quality and consistency through seam finding and seam tracking. The seam finding system will use vision to locate precisely the joint that has to be welded. Then, seam tracking consists of adjusting in real-time the trajectory of the welding torch to keep it on the joint. These systems improve the robotic welding quality, speed and consistency.

  • Kinetiq, welding, teaching, robot welder

    Programming is necessary to make the robot welder do its job, however, there are a lot of different techniques available. Hard programming was used a lot at the beginning, but, nowadays, user-friendly programming methods are being developed. One good example is the Kinetiq Teaching end effector from Robotiq. This device is installed between the robot wrist and the welding torch. Then, the user just needs to grab the torch and move it where he wants. This can be used to program any task by demonstration. For example, the welder can just move the robot to a point and, through the teach pendant, set it as the start point of the weld.

This video shows this application:

Cell design

In the implementation of a robotic welding cell, safety is an important feature. As seen in many companies using robot welders, these cells are generally surrounded by fences and safety-guards. These components will prevent collisions and spatter projections.

New jobs for welders

Some people say that robotizing processes in manufacturing is about replacing human workers by robots. In fact, we should not talk about replacement, but rather about reassignment. Humans are still needed around robots either to supply them or to program them. Moreover, with the new tools entering the market, such as Kinetiq Teaching, a welder without programming knowledge would just need a little training to be able to set up a welding robot.


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Catherine Bernier
Written by Catherine Bernier
Catherine is an Application Engineer here at Robotiq. Drawing from her expertise with manufacturing processes, production management and business management in general, her main focus is helping her clients find the solutions that will best serve their needs. If you have any questions about Robotiq's products and how they can serve your application, get in touch with her at
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