One of the most important keys to success in designing and building automated welding systems is the ability to properly hold pre-tacked assemblies or capture multiple components for welding. It’s best that an integrator design and build both the automation and the work-holding. MWES is one of those integrators.
The infinite variety of possibilities for a weldment’s shape, size, and weight requires unique, custom-engineered fixturing solutions for each application. Midwest Engineered Systems’ in-house technical capabilities give us the ability to design robust fixtures for the automation projects we build for our customers, no matter how complicated and deliver a turnkey production line integrated solution.
What are Automated Welding Fixtures?
Automated Weld fixtures do more than just clamp down on metal components. They also locate workpieces to a predetermined acceptable tolerance and generally can be modified to work well within precise dimensions. Using automated weld fixtures lowers overall production costs and makes the work environment safer for the operator. They can make it easier to rapidly-produce welded parts on a regular basis and with consistently high standards of quality for the entire welding process.
Applying automation to welding fixture systems offers a number of potential benefits when designing a robotic system. The main benefits of integrating automation into weld fixture designs include:
- Greater precision in placing components to be welded
- Allowing machines to take on physically demanding, hazardous or repetitive tasks
- Robots can go beyond human limitations in terms of load-bearing, processing speed, endurance, size of materials and in strict adherence to a set of task directives
There are a number of ways welding fixtures can be controlled in an automation system including hydraulically, with pneumatics as well as the more common servo drive systems. Our highly experienced engineering team understands the benefits and drawbacks of each type and uses this extensive knowledge base to determine the best control technology for the automated weld fixtures we install in our new automation integrations.
Hydraulic Welding Fixtures
Hydraulic welding fixtures use hydraulic fluid to power clamps or grippers to reliably hold machine parts and other metals that will be welded together. Using hydraulics with welding fixtures permits a level of robotic precision and highly-repeatable part positioning that just isn’t possible with manual welding fixtures. Automated hydraulic welding fixtures run dependably and are capable of holding parts without causing metal distortions while offering trustworthy repeatability.
Pneumatic Welding Fixtures
Pneumatic welding fixtures work through air-actuated cylinders that provide the holding pressure a fixture uses to clamp the components to be welded down. These types of clamps are well-suited for repetitive, high-speed operations. Sealed clamps are the pneumatic welding fixtures of choice for heavy welding jobs that require a high degree of clamping capability. Pneumatic welding fixtures are used to weld parts in the food, aerospace and automotive industries. It also has applications in CNC machining, fixturing, testing and welding.
Manual Welding Fixtures
Manual welding fixtures are designed to allow welders to manually handle weld components. Manual welders with the proper training and certification can work with different types of stainless steel, carbon steel and aluminum materials. To maximize efficiency, welding workstations should be ergonomically designed and possess sufficient spacing and other safety features to minimize the chance of workplace accidents or equipment damage. Robotics combined with manual welders can productively split the welding-related labor: automated processes can handle repetitive and/or physically strenuous welding tasks, while manual welders can handle highly specialized tasks. Both types of welding are used in utility-scale racking systems, construction, the automobile industry, and the field of renewable energy.
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