Industry: Other
Welding processes:

Overcoming the challenges of automated welding with fine-grained steels

Welding without crack formation. Welders need to be able to weld without cracks forming when joining (weight-bearing) steel components made from fine-grained steels. Preheating the corresponding component reduces thermal stress. Finsterle GmbH’s task for EWM was to automate this step. Developers at our Sales and Technology Centre in Neu-Ulm quickly came up with the basic framework: the system is designed using two separate robot welding cells, each with a positioner, and an integrated preheating unit.

The challenge:
As a toll manufacturer, flexibility is absolutely crucial for Finsterle GmbH. Ultimately, nobody can predict what orders customers will approach the metal construction company with – neither in terms of the application nor in terms of the components. A robot system with two welding cells, each with a positioner, is the perfect base concept. Clamped components are accessible from both sides and the robot can easily reach them. However, previous systems have been purely robot welding solutions without any consideration for a preheating unit.
The solution:
The robot arm is equipped with a pneumatically operated tool changer and can be used to hold all kinds of tools. The oxyacetylene torch and the welding torch are located on different sides of the welding booth to avoid any hoses getting in the way during operation. First, the gripper takes hold of the oxyacetylene torch. This is ignited at an external ignition station. Once the base temperature of the component has been sufficiently increased, the oxyacetylene torch is placed in the parking position. The gripper then grabs the welding torch to start welding the steel components.
The success:
The automated system for Finsterle GmbH is the first solution of its kind. An automated welding process has previously never been designed for this material due to the required preheating for fine-grained steels. This development is particularly interesting for components with large batch sizes. But Finsterle’s automated solution isn’t just a win from a production standpoint. In times of skilled worker shortages, the new robotic welding system also means the company is now better equipped to face the future challenges of the labour market.