German welding manufacturer, Lorch Schweißtechnik, develops new cobot solution for TIG welding

Powerful partners – Cobots and the Lorch Welding Package

German welding manufacturer Lorch Schweißtechnik is continuously setting new technological standards in the market. This is evident in the electric arc welding systems it manufactures for industrial applications, as well as for use in collaborative robot systems. Lorch has established itself as the leader in this area in recent years.

Collaborative robots, also known as vobots, are characterized by their exceptional price-performance ratio, ease of use, and outstanding versatility across a wide-range of applications. Cobots can perform tasks in the immediate vicinity of workers, but ensuring a safe and injury-free collaboration between humans and robots can be challenging.

With its latest cobot application, Lorch is now extending its expertise to the field of TIG welding. Lorch’s solution comprises of a Universal Robotics UR10 Cobot, a welding system  that includes a high-performance torch, suitable software, additional accessories, and a sophisticated safety package incorporating the nanoScan3 from SICK. The MIG-MAG version of the UR10 Cobot is already being used for the fast and efficient series production of small and medium batches, and is being employed with great success by its users. Lorch has now further optimized the system for the demanding application of TIG welding.

The handy and mobile Cobot allows companies to weld even smaller batches of challenging components with the utmost speed, reliability, and TIG quality. Overall, this application provides a great example of the impact a highly intelligent safety sensor technology can have on efficiency.

Simple learning leading to perfection

The cobot solution from Lorch can be used to perform welding tasks on thin sheets with and without filler metal. For welding applications that require the use of filler metal, an optional automated cold wire feeder can be integrated into the Cobot Welding Package. This option provides a quick and effective way of reliably delivering the filler metal during the welding process. To increase the speed of TIG welding, the system is equipped with a high-frequency pulse process operating at 20 kHz. The torch holder also guarantees a reproducible track accuracy.

The Lorch Cobotronic software used to control the Cobot is intuitive to use and can therefore be operated without any special programming skills. The welding Cobot learns the exact path of the weld seam by means of a “teach-in.” During this process, a Free Drive function, which is attached in the ergonomic position directly at the torch holder in the TIG solution, guides the torch to the various waypoints such as the start and end point. Once set up, the Cobot welds each product in the batch with consistent quality and absolute perfection.

Creating a safe environment

The collaboration of humans and robots poses risks. This is where SICK and its special expertise as a partner comes into play. The integrated safety concept is an important component of Lorch’s Cobot solution. The nanoScan3 safety laser scanner monitors the work area with a protective field at a distance of 1.5 m from the work surface as well as an additional warning field at a distance of 0.5 m, guaranteeing the highest level of safety for users. When entering the activated warning field, the operator is warned with an acoustic signal and the Cobot reduces its speed. If the operator reaches the protective field, the Cobot immediately executes an emergency stop and this prevents any collisions between the operator and the system during the welding process. Depending on the size of the workstation, the monitored area can be expanded by installing a second scanner. Another benefit: The new safety concept ensures an extremely high transfer speed between the individual points of the weld seam. This significantly boosts the productivity of the system, especially for jobs that involve many small welds or even tack welds.

This benefit is also emphasized by Paul Spronken, Head of Automation Solutions at Lorch Schweißtechnik, “Lorch’s latest Cobot edition enables companies to substantially increase the productivity of their TIG welding operations. Thanks to the easy-to-use system, the Cobot edition can not only weld small to medium batch sizes significantly faster but also guarantees a consistently high welding quality.”

Lorch and SICK are working hand in hand to make this possible, ensuring that the increased speed becomes a measure for improved efficiency. Their successful partnership is opening the door to the future of collaborative systems wide open.

Want to learn more about the nanoScan3? Contact a SICK representative today.