Automated Welding Just Became Viable for Small Manufacturers

January 23, 2024 by

The landscape of robotic welding has witnessed a remarkable transformation, becoming an accessible and viable option for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) working with metals due to a variety of factors. The emergence of collaborative robot (cobot) welding systems has democratized the phenomenon, enabling manufacturers to achieve exceptional weld quality, flexibility, and (most importantly) a quick return on investment (ROI).  In this article, we cover the benefits of collaborative robot welding for SMBs and explore the unique advantages offered by some over others. 

Enabling Robotic Welding for SMBs

Collaborative robot welding systems have shattered the barriers that once hindered SMBs from embracing robotic automation. Traditionally, large, fixed systems dominated the welding landscape, often accompanied by high costs and complex programming. However, with the advent of cobot welding systems, SMBs can now harness the power of automation to elevate their welding processes and battle the skilled labor shortage. These smaller, modular systems are adaptable to varying part runs and material sizes, making them a perfect fit for SMBs with diverse production needs.  Let's zone in on that a bit more - cobots are easy to program.  You do not need a masters degree to perform the programming needed to control the robot.  This means manufacturers of all sizes, in locations all across the united states, can effectively manage and deploy these automated cells.    

Why Settle for the Basic Robots? 

Why does the robot matter in a collaborative robot welding cell?  After all, it's going to do the same weld points - right?  Most of these cobot welding cells are using a UR cobot - the bread and butter of the collaborative robot market.    Our team went to Automate in 2023 and saw a few different welders - but one stood out.  This cobot welding systems showcased a 7-axis robot from Kassow Robots. This additional axis provided an unparalleled level of reach and dexterity. The advantages of the 7th axis are significant, resulting in superior weld quality, increased productivity, and enhanced safety standards.  

Essentially, it gave the entire cell an extra level of capability because it could consistently hit welds in hard to reach places in shorter cycle time than the others.  

Its extended range given by the extra axis allows for access to hard-to-reach areas, ensuring precise welds even in workpieces with complex geometries. The added flexibility of the 7th axis enables efficient adjustment to various welding angles, optimizing the welding process and achieving exceptional results while maintaining torch tip speed throughout complex weld paths.   So again - why settle for the norm when you can get extra functionality for the same price? 

Achieving Consistent, Quality Welds

Last thing we'll tout on for the 7th axis - the crucial role in enhancing weld quality. Its ability to maneuver and adapt to different angles enables improved joint accessibility, ensuring consistent penetration and stronger welds. By providing an extended range of motion, the 7th axis allows for superior torch positioning, resulting in precise weld deposition and reduced spatter. Additionally, the increased dexterity of the 7-axis cobot enables the implementation of complex welding techniques, such as weaving or seam tracking, with ease and precision. These technical advantages contribute to welds of exceptional quality, meeting the stringent requirements of various industries.

Realizing Quick ROI for SMBs

Collaborative cobot welding systems are now capable of offering a VERY compelling return on investment for SMBs, enabling them to achieve profitability in a shorter time frame. These systems excel in both high mix low volume part runs and low mix high volume runs, accommodating the versatile production needs of many SMB manufacturers (thanks to the easy programming). The ease of programming and setup, coupled with the flexibility and efficiency of cobots - especially 7-axis cobots, streamlines production processes and reduces downtime. By eliminating the need for extensive retooling or complex programming, businesses that are smaller than the giants can experience enhanced productivity, minimized labor costs, and improved overall efficiency, resulting in a rapid ROI and teeing them up for a competitive advantage.  

In Summary

Collaborative robot welding systems are changing the game for smaller manufacturers working with metals - especially if they are dealing with staffing issues. The emergence of cobots has propelled the industry forward, offering unprecedented weld quality, flexibility, and a quick return on investment.  Our team at BlueBay Automation is committed to empowering manufacturers with cutting-edge welding solutions, like the Spartan Welder which we recently took on.   If you would like to see the Spartan Welder in action, or learn more about robotic welding as it may relate to your organization, fill out the form below and our team will be in touch soon!

January 23, 2024
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