How to successfully program your welding robots off-line

Published on 27/10/2021

Programming of robots with an off-line programming software can be up to 10 times faster than programming by teaching pendant, not to mention the time gained by not immobilizing the robot. Because of the flexibility it brings to manufacturing, off-line programming enables you to robotize small series. However, implementation of this programming method cannot be improvised. This approach has repercussions for the entire design and manufacturing process. So what are the requirements for successful integration of off-line programming? Here are the keys to a successful off-line programming project.

robot de soudage à l'arc

1- Take off-line programming into account from the start of the robotization project

Digital modeling can be used to carry out a feasibility study and obtain a reliable estimate of the cycle time.

By working together, the robot integrator and the OLP software vendor will be able to optimize configuration of the robotized cell as soon as it starts up.

The tools must be high quality to guarantee repeatability of part positioning.

2- Guarantee precise mechanical and software calibrations

The mechanical calibration of the robotic cell must be validated by the robot integrator to guarantee excellent Cartesian precision.

Software calibration creates a digital twin of the cell in order to guarantee the positions of all the external axes and ensure no reworking will be required after off-line programming.

3- Be able to customize the software solution according to need

A perfect digital twin of the robotized cell avoids all collisions thanks to the simulation functions.

It must be possible to modify the available welding parameters according to the welding source and the robot brand.

It must be possible to customize the post-processor to take account of the specificities of each robotized cell.

4- Be able to count on competent and responsive technical support

In the pre-project phase, good technical and commercial support will enable you to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study and choose the right equipment.

At start-up, the installer of the off-line programming solution must have expertise in welding and robotics. They must also be capable of customizing their software.

Finally, once the software is installed, an efficient and responsive hot-line will enable you to ramp up capacity quickly to create robotized programs.

5- Train and motivate programmers

It is interesting and empowering to program a robot using modern efficient tools. Nevertheless it is important to support off-line programmers as they learn to use a new CAD/CAM tool combining welding and robotics, because they have a crucial role to play in making it effective.

Customized training of future programmers of the robotized installation needs to be envisaged, also providing assistance for programming of the first parts.

Alma, the pioneering specialist in off-line programming of welding robots

Alma became involved in developing an off-line programming solution for welding robots in partnership with the “Institut de Soudure” as early as 1994, after being contacted by a Grenoble company. On the basis of its expertise in robotics and its know-how in calculating robot trajectories to avoid obstacles, Alma developed a comprehensive high performance solution incorporating all the functionalities of the welding profession. Today the Almacam Weld off-line programming software is used by many industrial companies in more than 10 countries. Alma has also established partnerships with several robot integration and construction companies. Alma’s teams take great care to support their customers through all the stages of their project to deploy off-line programming, from defining needs to transferring skills and providing user support.