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A new high-speed robotic weld cladding system for higher productivity

A new weld cladding process being used to increase wear and corrosion resistance on components made from inexpensive materials such as carbon and mild steel is proving to be faster, more efficient and more cost-effective than previous systems.

Known as High-Speed Robotic Cladding, the patent-pending welding process developed by Technical & Automation Help Corp. (TAH), Brampton, ON, is currently being tested by the National Research Council Canada’s (NRC) Energy Mining and Environment portfolio in Vancouver, BC. NRC is using it to develop weld cladding processes for various components such as the inside of slurry transportation pipelines to make them more wear-resistant. Sheng-Hui Wang, a research council officer, is overseeing the project.

“Our purpose is to develop weld cladding processes to improve wear and corrosion resistance of components and equipment used in mining and mineral processing sectors. We’re using the high-speed robotic cladding system to develop customized weld cladding processes for our industrial clients. These companies want to reduce maintenance, repair and operation costs of equipment and systems. The high-speed robotic cladding technology is one way to achieve the high productivity and cost-effectiveness.”

According to TAH, the majority of clad products use carbon steel as the substrate and aluminium, nickel, nickel alloys, copper, copper alloys, and stainless steel as bonded clad materials. Cladding metals is a complex process. There are several processes used to clad metals including MIG and TIG welding, but these processes tend to be slow and labour intensive. “For example, with MIG welding, the operator is compelled to stop the machine and clean it between each pass, which increases the risk of error and defects,” says Kevin Lewis, business development manager with TAH. He adds that the process is considerably faster than previous cladding processes.

The high-speed robotic cladding system consists of a KUKA KR 60 L30 HA robot with a KUKA KL 1000-2 slide and a KUKA DKP 400 two-axis positioner and a Fronius Cold Metal Transfer (CMT) Twin system, a tandem welding process. KUKA Robotics also integrated the welding system with the robot.
“The benefit of tandem welding is that by having two arcs share the same puddle, you achieve higher deposition rates,” says Brian Ronan, technical support national manager for Fronius. “You can achieve 15 to 35 lb/hr deposition rates. What’s unique about this system is that we’re able to achieve a high deposition rate at less amperage because the wire movement is integrated into the process and due to the unique wire movement, it requires less amperage during the dip transfer process of a weld droplet.”

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