Although Kuopio, Finland-based Savonia University of Applied Sciences (SUAS) is a multidisciplinary school, its common theme amongst all areas of study is developing real-world solutions based on creative experiments. In mid-2015, engineers in the school’s Innovative Engineering and Energy Industries department undertook an 18-month experiment to study how laser, arc and hybrid welding methods affect seam quality in cold-temperature machinery.
According to Kari Solehmainen, project engineer at SUAS, four local midsize companies that perform welding worked with the Savonia team during the study. The goal was to help make it easier and more cost-effective for Finnish manufacturers to incorporate robotic laser-hybrid welding into their assembly processes.
Before bidding on the welding station to be used in the experiment, the Savonia team clearly defined all of the station’s numerous functional requirements. Solehmainen, R&D manager Esa Jaaskelainen and engineer Aku Tuunainen carefully determined welding seam and groove parameters, the welding materials to be cut (construction steel, high-strength steel and aluminum), as well as the welding thickness and maximum dimensions of each workpiece.
Several welding equipment suppliers bid on the project, and the team closely reviewed all proposals. The winning bid was an advanced laser-hybrid welding station from Pemamek Oy Ltd. (PEMA) that met all of the technical requirements and was the most economical. SUAS paid for the station from the European Regional Development Fund, which invests in technological research designed to help companies located in underdeveloped regions of Europe.
“We had good proposals from multiple technology companies that met our expectations,” explains Solehmainen. “But, we decided to go with PEMA due to the company’s references, solid solutions and our previous cooperation.”
Components of the PEMA station include Yaskawa Motoman handling and welding robots, head and tailstock HS 1500R-1 positioners, a laser welding head, the CellControl 700 PC controller, the ScanTracker laser-scanning tool from Precitec Inc., the WeldControl 300 offline-programming control system, a protective cover and fume extraction.
The positioners secure long, large parts for welding and move in tandem along a floor-mounted rail. ScanTracker uses a high-frequency pendulum motion to ensure that weld spot size and seam width accurately match the joint. The WeldControl 300 enables end-users to integrate all power systems to a single system and program all basic functions at start-up to limit the risk of human error.
All testing was performed in the engineering department’s state-of-the-art automated welding laboratory. A final report on the seam-quality study was compiled in 2017, but SUAS has yet to release details to the general public. Besides this project, the lab regularly works with manufacturers to perform welding tests, weldability and cost studies, and development planning of complex workpieces.
“Our target is to reach new levels of welding technology with the PEMA station,” notes Solehmainen. “We have always done our studies with [real-world] applications in mind because companies need to benefit from them. Companies are keen on participating in our projects because the benefits are so clear.”
Pemamek specializes in the design and manufacture of automated welding and production systems, as well as workpiece handling equipment. The company serves the heavy engineering, mobile machinery, shipbuilding, industrial boiler, wind energy and nuclear industries worldwide.
For more information on robotized welding cells, call 214-662-8812 or visit www.pemamek.com.