Robotic Vs. Manual Welding

April 11, 2018

Robotic vs. Manual Welding

One of the most important advances in welding in recent years is robotic welding, or automated welding. What are the advantages of robotic welding vs. manual welding? What are the pros and cons of each? Here’s what you need to know.

Advantages of Robotic Welding

First, it’s important to understand how welding robots work. There are fully automated welding processes and semi-automatic welding processes. In a semi-automatic welding set up, an operator manually loads the metal in and removes it once the welding is complete. In a fully automated process, machines move the material to be welded through the whole process from beginning to end.

There are four basic advantages to automated welding:

  • Better Weld Quality – The automated process allows the operator to maintain weld integrity using electronic weld process controllers. In addition, automated welding is highly repeatable. The robots follow the same process exactly every time, so the results are much more likely to be consistent.
  • Increased Output – Robots can naturally work faster than humans, without any loss of accuracy. In addition, they do not fatigue or need to take breaks.
  • Less Scrap – Because of the high-level of accuracy and efficiency possible with robot-controlled welding, scrap is reduced.
  • Lower Labor Costs – Even in semi-automatic welding setups, you need to pay fewer human workers.

Disadvantages of Welding Robots

So, what are the limitations of robot welding?

  • Cost – Over the long-term, you may save money in labor costs, but in the short-term, an automated welding system requires a considerable investment, which may take a while to recoup.
  • Lack of Flexibility – Automated systems are great at doing the same thing over and over again. If you need your robot welders to perform a variety of different manufacturing tasks, however, it will take time to reconfigure them — which could be costly.
  • Risk – If you become dependent upon robots to do your welding, you could be in real trouble if your main welding robot goes down.

Advantages of Manual Welding

Naturally, manual welding is still very popular. What are the advantages of using manual welding?

  • Greater Flexibility – Your human staff members probably do not need to be retrained every time they get a welding job. As soon as a welding project arrives, human welders can jump right in, while you may require much greater lead time with robot welders.
  • Replaceability – If one of your human workers cannot weld, you can easily substitute another one. You don’t need to send anyone in for repairs before you can continue manufacturing.
  • Awareness – If there is some problem on the manufacturing floor, a human worker will often notice it before a robot welder, who will typically keep working until something causes it to malfunction.

Limitations of Manual Welding

There are some limitations to manual welding, though, which include:

  • Risk – If a human gets hurt while welding, it could be a very serious issue. A robot may break, but it cannot be hurt.
  • Speed – Robots are much faster than humans when it comes to mechanical operations.
  • Efficiency – Robots are capable of much greater accuracy than humans.

Fairlawn Tool Automated Welding

Fairlawn Tool has capabilities for both automated and manual welding. Automated welding is often indicated for manufacturing parts such as:

  • Solenoids
  • Sensors
  • Light Bulbs
  • Fuel Filters
  • Pipe Fittings

Other items where a highly accurate or highly repetitive weld is necessary are also best suited for robotic welding. To learn more, contact Fairlawn Tool today.

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