Efficiency of Robotic Lasers
Robotic laser cutting solutions promote cost savings by occupying less floor space than a traditional five-axis laser cutting machine, and optimizes production layouts.
Recent improvements have been made in diode lasers, making lasers more effective for a wide range of applications. The new fiber lasers and disk lasers have a better beam quality, meaning the user can go deeper and faster.
While manual laser welding is still used in dental labs, medical device manufacturing, jewelry making, and research, most industrial applications like automotive, aerospace, and heavy equipment manufacturing are using robotic laser welding. Regardless of whether it is a hard or flexible automation system, almost every laser welding system is automated. A robot can travel at high speeds with high path accuracy as speed and productivity increase, whereas a human operator cannot.
ABB offers new laser cutting software, RobotWare Cutting and RobotStudio Cutting PowerPac, that makes it easy for users to get their laser cutting applications operational. The new software makes programming complex cutting paths and shapes efficient. Users can create and test programs in their offices, which maximizes up-time and efficiency. The software is equipped with an Iterative Learning Control algorithm that constantly improves performance and accuracy.
ABB’s IRB 4400 robots have been outfitted with a complete laser cutting package including laser source, cutting head, and software. This laser cutting package uses TrueMove, which ensures that regardless of speed, the robot will follow its programmed path for high efficiency and quality.
As technology progresses, remote laser welding, hot-wire laser cladding, and laser additive manufacturing are emerging as prime applications. Lasers allow the user to weld on materials that might not have been weldable in the past, along with greater freedom and flexibility, leading to higher efficiency.
Lincoln Electric is involved with robot remote and scanner-based remote laser welding for automotive and appliance components. Remote laser welding is targeted to replace resistance spot welding in many applications.
Laser cladding uses a focused laser beam as the heat source, resulting in a bond with superior strength and surface properties. It allows for welding with exotic materials. Another advantage of robotic laser cladding is a rapid thermal cycle.
Hybrid laser arc welding couples laser technology with gas metal arc welding. It is an automated process that combines the highly focused laser with the joint filling capability of the metal inert gas process, resulting in thick welds. It allows a true 3-D welding process, proving efficiency in a single pass at a high speed.