Innovative welding technologies are constantly being developed and evolved to recreate the way metals are used. Robotic welding is just one type which is making an impact on manufacturing.

As Julio Villafuerte, corporate product development manager for CenterLine Limited, based in Ontario, Canada, said: \\$quot;Robotic welding offers many benefits including increased productivity, repeatability, flexibility and networkability. For several years, industrial robots have been used with a number of welding processes including Resistance Spot Welding, Gas Metal Arc Welding and Laser Beam Welding, among others. Over the last two decades, welding robots have evolved to their present configurations; being lighter and much more compact at a lower cost has prompted more and smaller fabricators to find robots more attractive.\\$quot;

The assembly of car bodies is one area where Resistance Spot Welding, a repeatable, fast and economical process, is used. The welding is based on a localised resistive heat at contact surfaces between two metal pieces.

As RSW has evolved, emerging high strength-to-weight ratio materials, for example, advanced high strength steels, aluminium and magnesium alloys are being increasingly used for welded car parts. RSW process control is continually being evaluated to obtain sound joints with these new materials as currently the weldability of the materials is not very good.

But as Mr Villafuerte explained: \\$quot;In the race for better process control, consistent quality and higher productivity, RSW servoguns are increasingly being used for welded fabrication of automotive components.\\$quot;

And he said a push for increased productivity and better control of RSW has resulted in the use of auxiliary axes to drive servomotors to replace conventional actuators in transguns. In the new generation of servo-actuated transguns – servoguns – the robot controller takes over control of weld force and electrode positioning, though future trends in servogun technology could include the use of linear servomotors.

But he warned that the principle which makes linear motors attractive may also backfire as a disadvantage as with direct linear motion, the option of adjusting output forces through mechanical gears is lost and force output will be solely dependent on the area of the motor.

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