ABB Industrial Robots Weld Big Bang Accelerator

Sep 21, 2008

The ABB IRB 140 robot helped to build the big bang accelerator, also known as the Large Hadron Collider. Two ABB IRB 140 robots helped to weld the stainless steel alloy tubing assemblies that make up the LHC's two accelerator rings. The ABB robot was perfect for this job as it performs with extreme precision and accuracy.


The Large Hadron Col­lid­er (LHC) is the biggest and most sophis­ti­cat­ed par­ti­cle accel­er­a­tor ever made. It took 20 years, $10 bil­lion dol­lars, 10,000 sci­en­tists, and sur­pris­ing­ly enough, two stan­dard indus­tri­al robots to build.

The sci­en­tists could have cre­at­ed a high-tech spe­cial­ized machine to do the work, but they decid­ed the ABB IRB 140 indus­tri­al robot was up to the chal­lenge. Two ABB IRB 140 robots were cho­sen to weld the stain­less steel alloy tub­ing assem­blies that make up the LHC’s two accel­er­a­tor rings.

The LHC’s pur­pose is to smash togeth­er two par­ti­cles mov­ing at 99.99% the speed of light. This huge par­ti­cle physics exper­i­ment sim­u­lates the state of things right after the Big Bang occurred. It is locat­ed under­ground at the Swiss-French border.

The LHC weld­ing job required incred­i­ble pre­ci­sion and repeata­bil­i­ty. The two 6‑axis robots per­formed 54 mil­lion laser welds — some as small as 30 microns in diam­e­ter spaced 10 – 15 microns apart. Each tub­ing assem­bly is 15 – 18 meters long and the two rings are each 27 kilo­me­ters long. Laser weld­ing was cho­sen to help main­tain the strin­gent parameters. 

These par­tic­u­lar 6‑axis ABB robots offer 5kg pay­loads, incred­i­ble flex­i­bil­i­ty, and a hor­i­zon­tal reach of 810mm. For the LHC project each IRB 140 robots were placed on a lin­ear tracks. They were mon­i­tored via CCTV and per­formed the laser welds with Luxs­tar 100WND: YAG laser weld­ing guns.

The con­trollers for the two ABB indus­tri­al robots were linked with stan­dard ABB soft­ware. ABB’s World Zone soft­ware was also used to coor­di­nate the two robots — mak­ing sure they did­n’t collide.

The rig­or­ous LHC appli­ca­tion demon­strates the capa­bil­i­ties of the ABB IRB 140 robot. Inter­est­ed in an ABB indus­tri­al robot? Browse Robots​.com’ col­lec­tion or call the sales depart­ment online or at 8777626881.

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