Welding Cobots vs Robots
May 6, 2024
Understanding Welding Robots: A Guide for Manufacturers

Have you been searching for innovative solutions to address labor shortages, improve efficiency and product consistency? If so, welding robots, especially collaborative robots, might be the solution you’ve been searching for.

These automated tools present a promising answer to many industry challenges. They can increase productivity, improve product consistency and reduce operational costs.


Let’s explore the capabilities of welding robots and their potential to improve your manufacturing processes.

In this article

• What is a Welding Robot? ›

• Types of Welding Robots ›

• Welding Processes Performed by Robots ›

• Manual vs. Automated Welding ›

• Introduction to Collaborative Robots (Cobots) ›

• Choosing the Right Welding Robot ›

• How Kinetic Elevates Your Robot ›

• The Integral Role of Welding Robots in Manufacturing Growth ›

• FAQ: Understanding Welding Robots ›

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What is a Welding Robot?

A welding robot is an automated system, engineered with the sole purpose of optimizing the welding process. It’s a blend of technological precision and the art of welding. These robots aren’t just tools; they bring consistency that manual processes can’t match.

A typical automated welding cell includes a robotic arm, a welding torch for the actual welding work, a power supply to fuel the welding process, and control software to orchestrate every move with precision.

These robots are designed to perform welding tasks repetitively, but with a level of efficiency and consistency that’s tough to match manually.

What Is A Welding Robot

Types of Welding Robots

Let’s explore the different types of welding robots that we see on the market right now. Each type brings its own set of capabilities to the table, catering to various needs and tasks in the welding world.

6-Axis Robots

Imagine a robot that can move like a human arm but with even more flexibility. That’s what 6-axis robots are all about. They have rotary joints, allowing them to twist and turn in ways that make them incredibly versatile. This flexibility means they can reach different angles and positions easily, making them a go-to for complex welding tasks that require a lot of movement and access. Because of their ability to adapt to almost any task, they are commonly used in manufacturing to automate welding.

SCARA Robots

SCARA stands for Selective Compliance Articulated Robot Arm. These robots are perfect for high-speed welding tasks that need to be done with precision but within a 2D plane. They move fast and with pinpoint accuracy, making them ideal for projects where time and precision are of the essence, especially in assembly lines.

Cartesian Robots

They move in straight lines along the X, Y, and Z axes. They are valuable in the fabrication of large structures like frames or panels, where consistent, straight-line welds are required. Their design, which inherently limits motion to three perpendicular axes, ensures a high degree of repeatability and accuracy, particularly beneficial in automated production lines that demand uniformity.

Collaborative Robots (Cobots)

Cobots are designed to work safely alongside human operators. But they’re not just about safety. They are user-friendly, making them accessible to operators and shops who don’t have programming knowledge. Cobots can assist with repetitive welding tasks, so your welders can put their skills to use elsewhere in the shop.

Each type of welding robot has its place in the manufacturing process. From the highly versatile movements of 6-axis robots to the safe and collaborative nature of cobots, there’s a welding robot out there to meet any need in our modern manufacturing environment.

Welding Processes Performed by Robots

Robots are adept at handling a range of welding processes, each suited to different materials and product requirements.

Welding Processes Performed by Robots

Arc Welding

Arc welding is like the Swiss Army knife of welding processes, adaptable to a variety of materials and thicknesses. It involves using an electrical arc to melt metals at the welding point. Robots can perform several types of arc welding, including:

GMAW/MIG (Gas Metal Arc Welding/Metal Inert Gas): This type is great for its flexibility, working well with a wide range of metals and thicknesses. It’s known for its efficiency and the high-quality welds it produces.

GTAW/TIG (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding/Tungsten Inert Gas): Favored for precision tasks that require clean, high-quality welds, such as in aerospace or automotive applications. It’s slower than MIG but offers greater control over the weld.

SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding/Stick): This traditional form of welding is strong and versatile, ideal for construction and industrial projects. It’s straightforward but highly effective and capable of welding thick materials.

Robots bring precision, speed, and consistency to these arc welding processes, increasing productivity and quality.

Spot Welding

Spot welding is a staple in automotive manufacturing, where it’s used to join sheets of metal with precision and strength. Robots excel in this process, applying pressure and electrical current to weld at specific points with remarkable efficiency.

Laser Welding

For tasks that demand high precision and speed, laser welding is the go-to. Laser welding cobots can perform complex welds on delicate components, offering unmatched accuracy and minimal heat distortion.

Plasma Welding

Similar to TIG welding but with a tighter arc and higher temperature, plasma welding is perfect for achieving precise, high-quality welds, particularly in thinner materials. Robot-assisted plasma welding ensures consistent results, even in challenging applications.

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Manual vs. Automated Welding

The choice between manual and automated welding is pivotal in shaping the quality and overall productivity of manufacturing operations. Let’s break down the advantages and disadvantages of each to see how they stack up.

Advantages of Automated Welding

Increased productivity and efficiency: Automated welding systems drastically improve productivity. They’re designed to maximize “arc-on time,” which is the amount of time the welding arc is active and working. More arc-on time means more welding is getting done, as the machines can operate continuously without the need for breaks, leading to a significant uptick in production speed.

Consistent, high-quality welds: Robots deliver precision and consistency that’s hard to match with manual welding. This consistency reduces the chances of defects, ensuring each weld meets high standards of quality.

Reduced rework and post-weld tasks: Since automated welding is precise, there’s less need for rework and post-weld clean-up tasks like grinding and finishing. This not only saves time but also materials and labor costs.

Disadvantages of Automated Welding

Initial investment: The upfront cost of automated welding equipment and the necessary training can be high. This initial investment is a significant consideration for businesses.

Programming and maintenance expertise: Operating some automated welding systems requires specific expertise in programming and maintenance, which can be a barrier for teams without existing technical skills.

Advantages of Manual Welding

Flexibility: Manual welding offers unmatched flexibility for custom or unique welding tasks. Welders can adjust their techniques to accommodate different materials, shapes, and sizes.

Lower initial investment: Getting started with manual welding requires less financial outlay compared to setting up automated systems. This can be particularly appealing for smaller operations or for tasks that cannot be easily automated.

Disadvantages of Manual Welding

Variability in weld quality: The quality of manual welds can vary depending on the welder’s skill and experience, leading to inconsistencies.

Higher long-term labor costs: Manual welding is labor-intensive and slower than automated processes, leading to higher costs over time, especially for large-scale production.

Lower arc-on time: Unlike automated systems, manual welders need breaks and can only weld for a portion of their shift, leading to less overall arc-on time.

Automated welding systems are versatile and can be optimized for different manufacturing environments. Some systems excel in large-scale, repetitive tasks, where the same welds are performed over and over, such as in mass production settings.

On the other hand, there are automated welding systems specially designed for HMLV productions. These systems are adaptable, and can switch between different welding tasks without significant downtime for reprogramming or setup changes.

This flexibility makes them a perfect match for shops that handle a variety of welding jobs in smaller quantities, providing the efficiency and precision of automation without sacrificing the versatility needed for custom projects.

While manual welding is great for those unique, custom jobs, automated welding increases efficiency and maintains quality across the board. So, if your goal is to streamline operations, get predictable welds every time and solve your labor shortage issues, automated welding might be the solution you are looking for.

Introduction to Collaborative Robots (Cobots)

Collaborative Robots are changing the way we think about robotics in weld shops. These new types of robots are engineered to work alongside humans, improving safety, efficiency, and productivity.

Safety features: Cobots come equipped with sensors and software that create a safe working environment if they xome into contact with objects or people in their vicinity. By setting force limits, these sensors allow the cobot to stop its movement automatically when it encounters a predefined level of resistance or force.

Ease of programming: One of the best things about cobots is their user-friendly software. Even those new to robotics can quickly set up and make adjustments, making cobots a practical choice for a wide range of businesses.

Flexibility: Cobots are incredibly adaptable. They can be easily redeployed to different welding tasks, which is perfect for dynamic production environments. Plus, their small footprint makes them a fit for almost any workspace.

Integration: Whether it’s a high-mix-low-volume shop or a larger manufacturing floor, integrating cobots is straightforward. They’re designed to complement existing workflows, not complicate them.

Precision and quality: Cobots are synonymous with consistency. They deliver precise welding performance with minimal errors, ensuring high-quality results every time.

Cobots blend safety, ease of use, flexibility, and precision, making them an invaluable asset for any welding operation looking to step up production.

Collaborative Robots

Choosing the Right Welding Robot

Selecting the right robot for welding is crucial for improving productivity and achieving long-term success. Here’s a practical checklist to guide your selection:

Checklist for Choosing a Welding Robot

Identify your welding needs: First, pinpoint the specific welding tasks you’re aiming to automate. Consider the materials, the complexity of the welds and potential ROI.

Space evaluation: Assess the space you have available. Robots have varying footprints and can fit into different operational layouts.

Flexibility requirements: Decide whether you need a robot that can adapt to a range of tasks or if it will be dedicated to specific types of welds.

Safety considerations: Safety is a key advantage of robots. Assess the safety requirements of your workplace through a detailed risk assessment. Make sure that the model you choose can be integrated with the necessary safety measures.

Ease of operation: Assess the internal expertise your company already has or the external resources you’re willing to invest in for assistance with integration. Alternatively, consider opting for a solution that aligns with the abilities of your current workforce, ensuring a smoother adoption and integration process.

Support and training: Look for comprehensive support and training offerings from your supplier so that your team can confidently use the robot.

Total cost of ownership: Beyond the initial investment, consider ongoing costs like maintenance, support, and potential future upgrades.

How Kinetic Elevates Your Robot

We know that integrating a new robot into your operations can seem daunting. From selecting the right model to ensuring it fits seamlessly with your existing processes, there are many steps and considerations along the way. That’s exactly where we step in.

Our approach is to be there for you at every stage, helping you navigate the complexities of setup, customization, and training. We’re committed to making the transition as smooth as possible. We will make sure your robot meets your specific needs and becomes a valuable asset to your team.

Increase Functionality with Fixtures and Positioners

Our fixtures and positioners are designed to give cobots the ability to adjust and securely hold workpieces in the best positions for welding. This functionality is essential for executing complex welds where precision is paramount.

Achieve optimal welding angles: Positioners position the piece being welded at the ideal orientation for a precise weld.

Versatility in handling: Regardless of the size or complexity of the parts, fixtures and positioners equip cobots to manage a wide array of shapes and sizes, broadening the scope of welding tasks they can perform.

The Benefits of Our Accessories

Superior weld quality: When workpieces are positioned accurately, cobots can achieve welds with greater precision and consistency, markedly improving the quality of the output.

Boosted efficiency: Our fixtures and positioners streamline the positioning process, allowing cobots to complete welding tasks faster, reducing cycle times and improving arc-on time.

Expanded project range: These accessories allow cobots to perform welds that are complex or hard to reach, expanding the variety of welding projects they can handle.

Integrating fixtures and positioners improves the precision and flexibility of your cobots, allowing them to handle a wider range of tasks with greater efficiency. This translates to improved productivity and overall performance in your automation processes.

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of combining robotic welding fixtures and positioners with a cobot, read our exclusive EBook.

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The Integral Role of Welding Robots in Manufacturing Growth

Welding robots, particularly cobots, are becoming an essential component for any manufacturing operation or shop aiming to grow in today’s competitive landscape.

Cobots ensure consistent high-quality welds and improve overall productivity, representing a leap forward in how tasks are approached and completed in manufacturing settings.

When you partner with us, we will make sure that the integration of a cobot into your processes is seamless. Our commitment to the ‘final mile’ of implementation ensures that you receive a cobot that fits your specific needs and the support and customization necessary to make integration a breeze.

Ready to see how a cobot can transform your operations? Contact our team today to discuss how we can make integration effortless for you. Think of us as more than a supplier; we’re your partner in manufacturing success.

FAQ: Understanding Welding Robots

What is a welding robot used for?

Welding robots are used to automate the welding process, ensuring precision, consistency, and efficiency. They handle various welding tasks across different industries, reducing the need for manual labor and improving weld quality.

Who uses welding robots?

Manufacturing plants, automotive companies, aerospace industries, construction firms, and any business involved in metal fabrication use welding robots to improve production efficiency and weld quality.

Can robots take over welding?

While robots can automate many welding tasks, especially repetitive or high-volume jobs, skilled human welders are still needed for complex, high-precision tasks and decision-making processes.

How efficient are robots in welding?

Robots greatly improve welding efficiency, often completing tasks faster and with higher precision than manual methods. Their ability to work non-stop and perform precise welds reduces waste and rework, contributing to overall operational efficiency.

What type of company needs a robotic welding system?

Any company that wants to increase production speed, improve weld quality, and reduce labor costs could benefit from a robotic welding system. This includes companies in automotive, aerospace, construction, and metal fabrication industries.

Are welding robots really expensive?

The initial investment in welding robots can be significant, but the cost is increasingly justified by the long-term savings in labor, improvements in efficiency, and consistent weld quality. Moreover, as technology advances, options become more accessible and cost-effective for smaller operations.