ARC Specialties: Welding the Future of Manufacturing at FABTECH 2019

Fusing technology, equipment and insights, North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event, FABTECH 2019, closed with record attendance this year, hosting 48,278 attendees from 95 countries – a 7% increase over the previous year.

Boasting three exhibit halls packed with more than 1,700 exhibitors and over 500 new products, FABTECH highlighted emerging trends and technologies that are improving productivity, increasing profits and shaping the future of manufacturing.

ARC Specialties was on hand both in Booth #B31019 and in FABTECH’s hospitality room, not only showing off their most recent innovations and product updates, but networking with partners new and old and creating alliances that allow companies of disparate origins to discover collaborative solutions.

“We work very closely with our partners. Our goal is not to reinvent the wheel,” ARC Specialties Dan Alford said. “That’s the cliché, and that’s something you never want to do.”

Instead, he said, “You want to buy the stuff that already works (and) combine it with other stuff that works to solve someone’s problems.”

Four Technologies: A Collaborative Effort

ARC Specialties exhibited four different products, each a ground-breaking innovation made possible through collaboration.

First up was the Kuka LBR iiwa Surface Finishing Polisher, a seven-axis, force-controlled, collaborative robot incorporating force sensors into each axis with a resolution of less than one pound of force. Together with superior abrasives from 3M and belt sanders and polishing spindles from Burr King, ARC assembled the robot and created the code, resulting in a cell that performs force-controlled polishing on the belt sander slack side and wheel with final finishing on the disk, enabling a new approach to surface finishing.

Also on deck was the FlexFab 3D Robotic Plasma Cutting System, a collaboration between ARC, Kuka, Hypertherm and RobotMaster. Converting CAD models into a 3D, plasma-cut steel part, the FlexFab utilizes RobotMaster’s CAD/CAM software to generate the robot path, the Hypertherm Process Selection to automatically generate cutting parameters and ARC FlexFab software to maintain the optimal torch to part distance. With robot axes that use vector torch motion perpendicular to the part, ensuring precision control in intricate 3D part cutting, the FlexFab is a fully integrated system that saves both time and labor hours.

Next up was the launching of the next generation of ARC Specialties’ GTAW Hot Wire Systems—the ARC 5 Infinity—a turnkey cladding solution that solves corrosive sour gas issues plaguing the oil industry. Combining a Fanuc robot with ARC’s proven seven axes infinite rotation head, along with ARC’s programming software that generates the torch path and streams data to the robot, the ARC 5 is purposely engineered to do what competitive products can’t—weld complex internal bores along any axis without rotating the part.

Last, but certainly not least and developed specifically for tricky, non-repeatable full-penetration, single-sided V-butt pipe welds typically only performed by welders with the highest skills, ARC Specialties’ AI Pipe Welding System (AIPW) made its debut at FABTECH. Incorporating AI, sensors, a 2D laser, Universal Robots A/S’ six-axis UR5 CoBot arm and Miller’s Auto Continuum welding power supply and Regulated Metal Deposition (RMD), the AIPW utilizes a combination of Gas Metal Arc Welding techniques to both maximize welding productivity and produce X-ray quality full-penetration pipe welds without the need for human labor. The AIPW is small enough to be portable while allowing for full laser scanner and welding torch freedom of motion.

ARC Specialties Beyond FABTECH 2019

While many fret about the potential loss of jobs to robotics or digital automation, one of the key takeaways from the event centered upon the redefinition of the human’s role in manufacturing.

Rather than replacing jobs, these technologies will enable workers to move out of repetitive and often dangerous tasks into more distinctively human positions like developing new products, strategizing marketing plans, leading workforces and more.

ARC Specialties is proud to design, create and collaborate closely with other innovators, generating excellent products that meet and exceed production needs while enabling valued workers to move into safer positions more suited to their talents.

A special thanks to everyone who stopped by the ARC Specialties’ booth or visited with the team at FABTECH. To stay abreast of new product updates and launches and learn more about the company, tune into ARC’s podcast, “The Robotocist Chronicles,” or visit our website.