Most challenging programming tasks for a welded structure are parts and structures with sharp corners, and curved and double curved welds. For such objects programming time, even offline, tends to become long. Also keeping a part in right welding position constantly during welding increases the difficulty.
Automotive components, like axles, suspension parts or body frames are good examples. Big frames of heavy machinery, like those of loaders, tractors, trucks, and locomotive are also challenging. With the latest offline programming (OLP) software the time to create a program for a curved weld is only a few seconds: creation of a welding path is instant and creating a seam search takes a few seconds. Completing a program for a machine frame of a loader is a work of half day, offline.
Offline programming is getting popular
Since its introduction early 80’s offline programming software has evolved year after year and release after release. More powerful computers with faster graphics and more memory, new CAD technologies, new simulation techniques and algorithms have pushed development forward. Offline programming software, or OLP, are also getting more and more popular. Demand for increased production flexibility, smaller batch sizes – even one-of a kind production, faster ramp-ups, and need to decrease manufacturing costs are questioning traditional programming techniques, like teaching a robot online. Productivity speaks for offline programming, but what do the users think?
Users are favoring ease of use and programming speed
One drawback of many existing OLP software is their cumbersome use. User interfaces have been too complicated and programming is too slow. Slow programming might not be an issue if we think only economy as costs are saved in new product introductions and ramp-ups anyhow, but for users and robot operators the situation is different. A software, which is difficult to use and slow in programming tends to give a reason to stay in robot teaching or even switch back to robot teaching from offline programming if OLP experience is bad.
Introducing the next generation offline programming software
Watch the video of Yaskawa Motoman USA.
A modern OLP software should take full advantage of a CAD model by utilizing effectively the features of the latest CAD software and standards, like new STEP standard. For example edges, holes, curves, splines, and surfaces are features that a modern offline programming software can take the full advantage of. Ability to detect automatically a joint between two plates or tracing a curved seam automatically for example. If a CAD software also supports welding process data, this information is also possible to include as meta data when reading in a CAD model to offline programming software.
New Delfoi ARC 4.0 represents the latest technology in offline programming. The software is for creating robot programs for arc welding, laser welding and cutting applications. The speed to create robot paths and programs for complex parts is unique. Programming an arc welding program for a double-curved weld of a SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) body frame is created with just one mouse click. After this the program is ready for simulation. The software is also able to calculate automatically right axis and welding positions for a robot system with multiple axis. This saves a lot of editing time as a user don’t have to manually adjust where a robot gantry should be located with respect to a welded part. Also keeping a welding positioner in right welding position continuously during welding is automatic. For example, PA position is maintained automatically as welding simulation is executed.
Heikki Aalto, 25.8.2017