The Evolution of Motoman Arc Welding Robots


Motoman Robotics has been building robots since 1977. Over the last 35+ years, they have done everything they can to improve upon those welding robots to ensure that their customers have the best robotic welding system available. As Motoman arc welding robots have evolved, they have definitely become more spectacular.

The Beginning

Let’s go back in time to the late 1970s – disco was in full swing, hair was sky high, and Motoman Robotics released its first welding robot (also its first robot ever), the Motoman L-10. While it was not as easy to program as a Motoman robot of today, the L-10 was revolutionary for Motoman, and its five axes of movement was a breakthrough for the company – leading to larger accomplishments down the road.

Moving into the fast-paced 1980s and 1990s, robotic automation really began to pick up, and so did the evolution of the Motoman welding robot. From 1982-1985, Motoman released three new welding robots – the L10W, the L10WA, and the L106. The 1990s brought the K-series, the SK-series and the UP-series of robots, all with improved workloads, axis movement and controllers. However, it was the 2000s that really started to bring expert arc welding to the Motoman Robotics forefront.

From 2001 until today, Motoman has evolved their arc welding robot automation more than ever before. Expert, Super Speed, Versatile and Master – these are the names of this improved generation of Motoman arc welder.

Expert Arc

Considered Motoman's first application-specific robots, the "Expert Arc" EA1400 and EA1900 robots arrived in 2001.

These arc welding robots had sleek 6-axis builds and integrated through-arm cabling. They were capable of exact, speedy movement. Their 3kg payloads and +/- 0.08mm repeatability were well-suited for arc welding. (These design features and performance capabilities remained Motoman arc welding standbys, even as the manufacturer continued to develop other aspects.) The EA1400 provided a reach of 1388mm, the EA1900 a reach of 1893mm. They were designed to work with the XRC controller.

In 2004, Motoman reintroduced the EA Series with a brand new controller. The new and improved EA1400N and EA1900N now worked with the NX100 controller.  The reach of the EA1400N and EA1900N was extended slightly to 1390mm and 1904mm and a couple of the main axis speeds increased. The EA1800N, a heavier-payload (15kg) model, was also added to the series.

Super Speed Arc

A few years later, Motoman came out with the SSA "Super Speed" arc welding robot. At first glance this robot seems much like the EA1400N. After all, it has a 3kg payload, 1,390mm reach, NX100 controller, and six axes of flexibility. But looks can be deceiving. The SSA2000 is capable of 15% faster welding cycle times than its predecessors.

How is this achieved? The SSA2000 is equipped with powerful gear reducers which increase axis speeds by as much as 40%. Motoman specially designed this robot to provide faster "air cut" times. The welding itself does not speed up, but the movement between welds does.

Versatile Arc

Speed wasn't enough. The next robot needed to be super flexible as well. With the VA1400 "Versatile Arc" robot, Motoman challenged the basic tenets of industrial robot design. This arc welding robot has seven (not six) axes of movement.

This seventh, E-axis, gives the robotic arm an elbow-like joint. Not only does the VA1400 have better part accessibility, it has the flexibility to always keep the welding torch in the optimal position. Plus, the VA1400 boasts axis speeds that are even faster than the SSA2000.

Master Arc  

Motoman introduced the MA "Master Arc" robot series towards the end of 2009. A return to 6-axis design, the MA series provides more options, with five standard robot models: MA1400, MA1650T, MA1800MA1900, and MA3100, as well as a ceiling/wall versions.

This large robot family offers axis speeds faster than the SSA2000, two extended reach versions (MA1900 and MA3100), a large payload model (MA1800), as well as slimmer profiles and unbeatable dexterity.

Looking into the Future

While the Master Arc series seems hard to beat, it is unlikely that Motoman's quest for the perfect arc welding robot is over. In the meantime, if you're interested in purchasing any of the Motoman arc welding robots mentioned here, contact RobotWorx online or at 740-251-4312.

Get our newsletter | Stay on top of the latest news