Robot Assisted Welding
HUMAN + ROBOT COLLABORATION
Welding is a difficult task- comprised of a complex balance of heat, speed, and tacit material knowledge. Zahner utilizes highly skilled craftspersons, some with decades of experience, to create non-repetitive welds of high aesthetic and structural value. In the project Robot Assisted Welding, intern Burcin Nalinci questions whether a collaborative robotic approach to welding could combine the speed and precision of robotics with the knowledge and craftsmanship of our existing welders. Such an approach would both increase what is possible for Zahner to weld while simultaneously removing costly layout and jigging setups required for complex parts.
Zahner R&D intern Burcin Nalinci created a collaborative human + robot workflow for the welding of complex parts. Welder: Keidric Rowe, Operator: Caleb Phillips
Open Source Gripper
The first project task was giving the robot a means of holding parts for welding. A search for low cost (<$1000) robot grippers proved inconclusive, so Burcin designed and 3D printed an air actuated robot ‘gripper’ for handling parts. Burcin’s gripper tool (end effector) provided over 100lbs of grip strength and cumulatively cost under $100. Burcin found the design so helpful that she published it along with the bill of materials as open source and available here.
Once the robot had a means of holding material, the workflow and respective welder/robot tasks were delimited. The process was a coordinated team effort between a robot operator, a welder, and the robot arm itself.
The operation begins with the robot moving to a ‘loading position’ and opening the gripper, queuing the welder that it is time to load parts. The welder then loads the appropriate part per instructions on the robot teach pendant. After loading, the welder signals the robot that it is time to place the tab. The robot orients the part in the exact location along the pipe and holds it in position during welding. Once welding is complete the welder signals the robot to release the part and return to the loading position. This process repeats until all parts are welded.
Burcin conducting positioning tests with V1 gripper.