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Trajectory generation in robotic shielded metal arc welding during execution time

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Purpose ‐ Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) is a typical manual process with many important but dangerous applications for the welder. The purpose of this paper is to present a methodology developed for execution time trajectory generation for robotic SMAW which offers greater safety and improved weld quality and repeatability. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The study presents a methodology developed for execution time trajectory generation for the robotic SMAW. In this methodology, while the electrode is melted the robot makes the diving movement, keeping the electric arc length constant. The trajectory is generated during execution time as a function of melting rate and independent of the welding speed, given by the welding parameters. The proposed methodology uses a variable tool center point (TCP) model where the covered electrode is considered a prismatic joint, whose displacement is determined by the melting rate. Findings ‐ The proposed methodology was implemented in a KUKA robot. The electrode melting rate was determined by measuring the arc voltage and the electrode holder trajectory was determined during the weld, keeping the arc length and the welding speed constant. All the obtained weld beads have the same aspect, showing the process repeatability. Research limitations/implications ‐ Owing to its low productivity, robotic SMAW is only suitable to certain applications. Practical implications ‐ With this methodology, the TCP will always be located at the tip of the electrode (melting front), allowing one to program the welding speed independently of the electrode diving speed. The diving movement is automatically performed by the robot during the welding. Originality/value ‐ Robotic SMAW allows dangerous applications such as underwater welding and hot tapping of pipes without human intervention during the weld.
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Keywords: Metal-arc welding; Robotics; Welding

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 9, 2009

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