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Getting Started with Welding on Beacon
Getting Started with Welding on Beacon

Overview of Welding on Beacon

Rob Goldiez avatar
Written by Rob Goldiez
Updated over a week ago

Before we can get started teaching our first part it's important that we cover a few topics so that you understand how the system works. When we discuss parts and operations in Beacon the terminology that you will hear is Teaching the flow. What we mean by this is you will not be programming your cobot you will be teaching it what you want it to do. Welding on Beacon has predefined tasks that it is able to complete such as welding, moving and reporting production. These items will be combined in a flow to form the map of all the tasks that the robot will need to complete to create the part or operation.

Operation Flow Components

The way the Beacon works is you will have weld points, move points, operator interactions and production reporting.

Weld Point Types

Weld points are the main building block of welds. Welding points can be configured to be one of several types and the type is always changeable. The type of a point always refers to the type of motion that will follow after the point is reached. For example if you have two weld points in the flow, the first point will dictate the type of motion that is used to get from point 1 to point 2, so if point 1 is of type Linear then linear motion will be used to move from point 1 to point 2. Also, the welder settings that are assigned to point 1 are the settings that will be used to weld to point 2, once the system reaches point 2 if there are further points then the settings assigned to point 2 will apply until point 3 is reached, so on through the remaining points. A weld can be made up of as many points as required to accurately depict the motion that is required. There are some limits on the minimum number of points required which will be discussed in each of the following sections.

Other than tack welds, any weld points that are contiguous in the flow will represent a continuous weld segment. To break points up into multiple weld segments it is necessary to have some step come between the weld points, this could even be a tack weld. You will see a different icon in the app for the weld points that represent the start and stop points of a weld segment.

Tack Welds

Tack welds are a specific type of weld where the robot will approach the point, move in and then start the arc. Once the arc is started the system will hold at the point for the tack hold time and will then perform any crater fill time and then depart the point.

Tack welds are a single point type of weld and each point will be a unique weld.

Linear Weld

Linear weld types will use linear motion to move from point to point. At a minimum a linear weld must have two points defining the line, but as many points as are required to complete the weld are allowed. The robot will approach the start of the weld, start the arc and then proceed in a linear motion to the next point in the list. Linear motion will continue so long as the motion type of subsequent points is linear.

Linear Stitch

Linear stitch welds are a special type of linear weld where the motion will be in a straight line but the system will weld stitch welds as dictated by the parameters Number of Stitches and Stitch Length. You must have a minimum of 2 stitches per weld as these will be placed at the start and end of the weld. Any additional stitches will be placed such that the distance between the center of the stitches is consistent through the entire weld. If the system determines that the total length of stitches -- Stitch Length * Number of Stitches -- exceeds the actual length of the weld an error will be displayed on the screen and the program will halt.

Radial Weld

Radial welds allow you to define circular motion between points. They require at a minimum of 3 points, the first two points must be radial motion type, the last point can be of other types such as when welding around a corner with a radius.

It is recommended that small radiuses, ~1/4" or smaller, be performed using a series of linear steps versus a radius as small radius welds tend to be problematic due to the nature of the calculations required to determine the motion path.

Move Point Types

Move type points allow you to move the robot around fixtures, parts, etc. These are often referred to as Air Cut moves and with Beacon you will only need to use them sparingly as compared to other systems on the market. One of the things you may notice about the system is the ability of the robot to navigate itself around welds without any Air Cut motion steps being added. This is because the robot is automatically calculating approach and depart motion for each of the weld segments that it is performing. When you are adding Move points you will need to choose the motion type associated with the move. The default motion type is joint motion, but you can also choose linear motion anytime joint motion causes an issue or if you need to move the tip of the torch in a precise path.

Wait for Operator Input

This step will cause the blue button on the operator push button to light up and the robot will wait until the button is pressed. At the same time a message will be displayed on the teach pendant instructing the operator what task the robot needs the operator to perform. This is generally used for tasks such as removing tooling, adding parts to the fixture or flipping parts over.

Report Production

This step will cause the system to report production to the cloud so that production metrics can be tracked in the dashboards and data. You can add as many of these to the flow as you want, for instance you have a fixture that holds six parts to weld. You could choose to send 6 production events, 1 after each part is welded, for 1 part produced or you could wait until the end of the flow and send 1 event with 6 parts produced. The advantage to sending after each part is produced is you will get cycle times per part made individually, if the program is stopped after only making a few parts you will not miss the production report. These steps add no real time to the flow so there is no reason not to use them as often as you want.

Return to Home

This step is useful anytime you want to get the arm out of the way as you can adjust the home waypoint to be in a place that is convenient to the operation that is running. At the end of each flow, the robot will automatically return home, no need to add one at the end of the flow. If you do, there will be no added time as the robot will just skip the last return to home automatically.

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