This week, Universal Robots A/S announced that its collaborative robot arms will be displayed at more than 30 booths at the Automate 2022 trade show next month in Detroit.
The Odense, Denmark-based company said it cobots provide new opportunities for manufacturers who are plagued by the inability to ramp up production that requires complex tungsten inert gas (TIG) or laser welding processes. It added that its robots are also useful for hard-to-staff tasks such as machine tending, dispensing, labeling, and screwdriving.
“Our application diversity at this year’s Automate speaks volumes,” said Joe Campbell, senior manager of applications development and strategic marketing at Universal Robots (UR). “Attendees visiting us and our partners at the show will have no issue finding a UR cobot automating the task they’re looking for.”
Welding is a hot application for cobots
Coming out of a record revenue quarter, Universal Robots said it is experiencing broad-based growth from many different segments including welding, an application area that grew 300% in 2021 in comparison with 2020 levels.
“Welding is the latest example of an automation frontier now conquered by cobots,” Campbell said. “As we first entered the market, few believed cobots could handle heavy-duty tasks such as welding. Fast-forward to this year’s Automate, and we have numerous welding applications showcased, reflecting the robust market traction we’re now seeing—not only handling MIG [metal inert gas] welding, but also within more complex processes such as TIG and laser welding.”
UR integrator will show off laser welder
At Universal Robots' Automate Booth 1432, Cobot Systems, a UR-certified systems integrator (CSI), is launching the first commercially available IPG LightWELD laser welder to be guided and controlled by a cobot.
“Laser welding enables dramatically faster welding, is easier to learn and operate, and provides higher-quality and consistent results across a wider range of materials and thicknesses with minimal distortion, deformation, undercut or burn-through,” said Brian Knopp, founder of Cobot Systems.
Another new welding systems comes from Melton Machine & Control Co. The Universal Robots CSI will show an enhanced version of what it claimed is the market’s first cobot-powered cold wire feed TIG welder, which enables the cobot to add both fusion and filler material to thinner material as it travels.
“We’re seeing a really phenomenal reception from industries where the weld quality needs to show off the quality of the overall products,” said Glenn Archer, vice president of sales and marketing at Melton. He cited products such as exhaust systems on motorcycles or kitchen sinks.
“Welds that you look at every day need a perfect visual appearance,” Archer said. “Deploying a UR cobot in this process helps our customers achieve just that.”
Live press-brake demo and easy-to-use mill system
For the first time at a North American show, Universal Robots said it will feature a press-brake tending application at its booth. The Press Brake Operator Package from Mid-Atlantic Machinery includes a UR10e on a modular parts cart with a machine tool interface and a zone safety scanner that ensures shop safety.
Manufacturers looking to successfully automate a CNC mill will be intrigued by VersaBuilt’s UR+ certified Mill Automation System with a MultiGrip automation work-holding that allows machinists to easily add new parts, Universal Robots claimed.
“If your CNC parts can be held with a vise, they can almost certainly be automated with a Mill Automation System,” said VersaBuilt CEO Al Youngwerth, stressing that the Mill Automation System is a standard automation system that requires no robot expertise or robot programming to use.
High-torque screwdriving and 360° gluing
Universal Robots' booth, which will show multiple applications, will include zones not only for welding and machine tending, but also assembly and packaging application areas.
In the assembly zone, companies with the need to automate high-torque processes will get a hands-on demo on how UR+ partner Estic’s screwdriving system can handle these tasks. It uses a patented pulse technology, which significantly reduces torque reaction and the wear on cobot joints.
For assembling parts that require an adhesive, Robatech will offer 360° Gluing, a UR+ Integration Kit that connects a UR+ cobot with Robatech’s adhesive application systems. The integration kit includes a holder for the application head and attachments for the heating hose on the cobot arm. Settings for the heating hose, the application head, and the melter can also be made easily using the cobot touch pad.
Inspection, palletizing, and dexterous label applications
The Robot Label Applicator from Universal Robots CSI Kolinahr will showcase a UR10e in a tricky application, applying a label to the inside of a roll core. It said this will demonstrate the dexterity of the six-axis UR cobots, which can reach places that are challenging for their human colleagues.
Also in the packaging zone are UR+ partner Robotiq’s new palletizing system, designed for ease of use, plus the box EZ by Flex-Line powered by the UR5e cobot that erects multiple sizes of boxes.
To ensure that the quality of manufacturing processes never fails, UR+ partner 3D Infotech will show automated robotic inspection products.
UR+ ecosystem rapidly expanding
Universal Robots said its UR+ ecosystem of third-party component and application kits, has grown exponentially since launch.
It now encompasses no less than 318 partners with 359 UR+ products certified for seamless compatibility with Universal Robots cobots, the company said.
One of the UR+ partners, Schunk, will be featuring two EGP-C collaborative grippers on a UR5 in a machine tending application. After loading and unloading parts in the lathe, the UR5 will move the parts through Schunk’s new material-removal tool with a deburring brush, demonstrating higher utilization of the robot by completing deburring tasks between loading and unloading.
Besides the many hands-on encounters at the show, attendees can also learn about cobots at Automate’s conference agenda that includes UR-led presentations on “Top 10 Questions to Ask a Cobot Supplier,” “Cobots & Welding,” and “Connecting Automation to Business Challenges.”
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