ROBOTS MAJOR USES
Industrial robots perform both spot and electric arc welding. Cnc machining Welding guns are heavy and the speed of assembly lines requires precise movement, thus creating an ideal niche for robotics. Parts can be welded either through the movement of the robot or by keeping the robot relatively stationary and moving the part. The latter method has come into widespread use as it requires less expensive conveyors. The control system of the robot must synchronize the robot with the speed of the assembly line and with other robots working on the line. Control systems may also count the number of welds completed and derive productivity data.
Industrial robots also perform what are referred to as pick and place operations. Cnc machining Among the most common of these operations is loading and unloading pallets, used across a broad range of industries. This requires relatively complex programming, as the robot must sense how full a pallet is and adjust its placements or removals accordingly. Robots have been vital in pick and place operations in the casting of metals and plastics. In the die casting of metals, for instance, productivity using the same die-casting machinery has increased up to three times, the result of robots' greater speed, strength, and ability to withstand heat in parts removal operations. In 1992, CBW Automation Inc. of Colorado announced the development of the world's fastest parts-removal robot for plastics molding. Their robot moves through a four-foot stroke in under one-fifth of a second.
Assembly is one of the most demanding operations for industrial robots. A number of conditions must be met for robotic assembly to be viable, among them that the overall production system be highly coordinated and that the product be designed with robotic assembly in mind. The sophistication of the control system required implies a large initial capital outlay, which generally requires production of 100,000 to 1,000,000 units per year in order to be profitable. Robotic assembly has come to be used for production of printed circuit boards, electronic components and equipment, household appliances, and automotive subassemblies. As of 1985, assembly made up just over ten percent of all robotic applications.
Industrial robots are widely used in spray finishing operations, particularly in the automobile industry. One of the reasons these operations are cost-effective is that they minimize the need for environmental control to protect workers from fumes. Most robots are not precise enough to supplant machine tools in operations such as cutting and grinding. Robots are used, however, in machining operations such as the removal of metal burrs or template-guided drilling. Robots are also used for quality control inspection, to determine tightness of fit between two parts, for example. Cnc machining The use of robots in nonindustrial applications such as the cleaning of contaminated sites and the handling and analysis of hazardous materials represent important growth markets for robotics producers.