Ann Arbor’s Universal Robots Take Center Stage at FABTECH 2021

Welding and plasma cutting are now one of Universal Robots’ fastest growing markets as UR and its partners will exhibit at FABTECH 2021 in Chicago. // Courtesy of Universal Robots
Welding and plasma cutting are now one of Universal Robots’ fastest growing markets as UR and its partners will exhibit at FABTECH 2021 in Chicago. // Courtesy of Universal Robots

The familiar blue cobots of Ann Arbor’s Universal Robots will be featured in more than 20 booths, including its own, at the FABTECH 2021 trade show at McCormick Place in Chicago Sept. 13-16.

OEMs and UR+ partners are actively selling MIG, TIG, and plasma welding and cutting solutions at the show using Universal Robots as demonstrators, making it one of the fastest growing market for UR cobots.

“For 40 years, robotic arc welding evolved incrementally,” says Joe Campbell, senior manager of applications development and Strategic Marketing at Universal Robots. “Collaborative arc welding is the first disruptive technology to hit the robotic arc welding market since the introduction of DC servo powered robots.”

He attributes the rapid market traction to several key drivers including significant shortage of welders, increase in high mix/low volume production, and the fact that cobot welders are easy to deploy, quickly producing parts with improved quality and consistency.

FABTECH attendees who visit the UR booth will discover that if one can operate a smartphone, one can program a cobot welder.

“We show attendees how easy it is to program a Universal Robot for fabricating applications, and we’ll hand out show maps featuring our partners exhibiting welding, cutting, grinding, press brake, and machine loading solutions and components that exemplify this,” says Campbell.

Among the solutions UR is hosting in its booth is Hirebotics’ new Cobot Welder, a complete, user-friendly cobot welding system that enables painless automated MIG welding deployments.

The UR booths also will host new solutions for automated machine tending, featuring the new VersaBuilt CNC Mill Application Kit for manufacturers seeking a plug-and-play approach to CNC milling automation.

Versabuilt’s UR+ Application Kit comes with all components pre-assembled and designed to successfully get the CNC mill and the UR10e cobot working together, automating the loading and unloading of parts into the mill. The VersaBuilt Kit requires no programming experience with easy-to-use automation software that allows the machinist to simply enter part dimensions and CNC milling program numbers to get the application up and running.

Heavy-duty welds now are possible to perform with cobots as Vectis Automation becomes the first UR partner in North America to develop a water-cooled cobot-based welding system in a new version of its Cobot Welding Tool. Showcased at FABTECH, the Cobot Welding Tool now comes with MultiPass Software Feature and ArcPilot Through-The-Arc Seam Tracking. The solution is compatible with Miller welding equipment and can be integrated with Lincoln and Fronius welding equipment.

Vectis Automation also pioneers the use of a UR cobot for hardfacing, the metalworking process where harder or tougher material is applied to a base metal. At Vectis’ FABTECH booth, the company will debut new UR cobot powered plasma cutting featuring Vectis’ Cobot Cutting Tool with Hypertherm PowerMax able to perform complex cuts on 3-D shapes and large structures for a fraction of the cost of a tube laser.

FABTECH attendees looking for flexible, intelligent machine loading solutions for unstructured parts in bins, can look to UR’s ActiNav, a new system showcased at the UR booth combining intelligent vision and real-time autonomous motion control with Universal Robots’ e-Series cobots. Before ActiNav, solutions for unstructured picking and placing of parts into machines were solely focused on the vision aspect, often requiring complex programming to bridge the gap from “pick” to “place” – especially if the “place” is not just dropping into a box but accurately inserting parts into fixtures for further processing.

ActiNav combines real-time autonomous motion control, UR cobots, vision, and sensor systems in one seamless application kit that solves the bin picking challenge in machine tending applications, according to the company.

At FABTECH, ActiNav will pick metal parts randomly jumbled in bins and correctly insert them into a machine. Powering ActiNav is an enhanced version of UR’s UR10e cobot now featuring 25 percent more payload capacity with the ability to lift 12.5kg (27.55lbs), providing customers with new deployment capabilities.