Category: Industry News

Changes In Robotics for 2021

As the world reopens, the accelerated pace of automation will likely not only pick back up in the United States – it could begin to move even faster.

Robots, which have long filled a niche in America in taking on more complex tasks, may actually begin to be leveraged more often for the dull, dirty, and dangerous. Robots have always been capable of performing simple, previously manual tasks more consistently and effectively than humans, but these jobs will need to return to the forefront for America to catch back up in the world of manufacturing and allow humans to focus on innovating.

Dan Allford, President of ARC Specialties, said the pandemic and the ensuing shutdown has allowed companies across the U.S. to see that certain strategic items really should be made at home.

That includes medical supplies, green energy solutions, such as solar power and wind energy equipment, food, automobiles, and more.

“To effectively and efficiently manufacture this stuff, you need robots,” Allford said. “Robots are just another labor-saving device. In America, if we want to maintain the standard of living that we’ve grown to enjoy, we must be more efficient than the lower-wage economies of the world.

“And one way to do that is with machines and robots.”

Electrons are Cheaper than Photons (by the watt)

plasma welding overlay

My first job was in the Hughes welding research lab and I loved it. But my lab experience started as a youngster going to my mom’s radiation mutation genetics lab at UT Austin. My job was pipetting mutated drosophila (moving fruit flies from one test tube to another by sucking them up in a straw). Laboratories are in my blood.

We built our lab at ARC Specialties years ago so we could determine project feasibility and optimize process parameters BEFORE we build a machine.

In our lab, we have answered questions such as can you weld MoRe? Pure Tungsten? Make bullet-resistant coatings on Ti? Clad pipe 40′ deep? Use ESW for additive? Create wear-resistant coatings for aluminum? Maintain bond line flatness +/- .005′”? Too much fun!

This week’s challenge was to make .02″ thick metal to metal wear-resistant coatings for mud motor transmissions with a metallurgical bond, minimal cracking, and useable in the as-welded condition without a laser. With a little help from our friend Jean-Marc Tetevuide we succeeded.

If you have a manufacturing problem you would like for the ARC team to investigate contact me. If it is interesting we won’t even charge you!

At ARC Specialties we thrive on problems, send us yours!

– Dan Allford

Most Folks Don’t Take the Time…

To write notes when they experience exemplary or poor service. So I was pleased to receive the note below from John Whelan about his experience with Dave Hebble, Michael McDonald, and Wes Wilkerson. My autobiography will be titled “How I Overcame Mediocracy by Surrounding Myself with Exceptional People” 😊

With guys like this on my staff, I can’t lose.

– Dan Allford

Plasma University

Plasma welding is a wonderful process for welding automation. Plasma torches protect the tungsten, collimate or focus the arc plus allow to use powdered filler materials rather than just wires. These features make plasma the welding process of choice for overlay and joining in many applications. But it is not widely understood and not taught in depth in schools. I was fortunate to have several excellent mentors Chip ArataRod Webber, and Dave Hebble who taught me the nuances of the process.

When we build and install plasma welding systems we are asked to teach the process to operators and engineers. I developed this 1-hour class and have presented it to my customers in the US and around the world. We decided to video Plasma University and post it. Watch the class, successfully complete the quiz, and we will send a certificate!


Our plan is to add other processes and other classes, tell us what you are interested in seeing in the future.

Be Narrow Minded


I’m a long time advocate of narrow gap welding. The advantages are tremendous, but the challenges are too. A 5″ thick standard V Butt weld with a 75 degree included angle has five times the weld volume of a 1″ wide 5″ Square Butt. This means a narrow gap joint would have five times less weld wire, five times less arc time, much less distortion. And fewer defects because every inch of weld that you don’t make is an inch you don’t have to inspect and possibly repair.

Why isn’t narrow gap the standard technique for welding heavy sections? Because the technical challenges of welding vertical walls in confined spaces are huge. For good sidewall fusion, the arc must impinge on the walls. Otherwise, you risk lack of fusion defects at the bond line. Our new Narrow Gap Hot Wire Torch features a servo tungsten electrode oscillator to point directly at the sidewall. That is only half the battle. The wire must follow the tungsten. We did just that using a second independent servo this allows us full control of arc and the filler wire position. Finally, we use our HOT ONE AC constant voltage hotwire system to double the deposition rate, which cuts weld time in half.

To see a video including Xiris Automation Inc. arc monitoring click:

Robots in Business

One of my hobbies is teaching. I have been blessed with many great teachers over my life and feel obligated to share what I have learned. I teach kayaking, self-defense, welding, race track driving, and robotics, which is today’s topic.

I was fortunate that the field of industrial robotics started and grew just around the time I graduated in ’79. It has been a wild ride but I would not have missed it for anything.

Terry O’Connell is our partner at MarketScale our B2B marketing company which helps us with all forms of media. Terry offered to make an online training course on Robots in Business. His video team spent two days at ARC shooting the class as well as the robotic systems we had on the floor.

We focus is on how, where, and why robots are used in business. Robots are simply another labor-saving device that is essential for businesses to remain competitive particularly now that we are all part of the global economy.

I talk about history, and applications while Kevin Sevcik gets into the details of the technology which makes it work.

See: and tell me what you think. We are working on additional segments that delve into the technical details.

Next Week: Plasma Welding University
#automation #robotics #roboticintegration

The Engineer & Gentleman We Should All Strive to Be

Ron Whitman, Welding Engineer LeTourneau University 1956 passed away last year and we miss him. He was the most inspiring teacher I have ever known. My success is due in no small part to the knowledge and passion he instilled in me. To honor Ron, we created an endowed scholarship in his name. The American Welding Society matched and administrates the Ron Whitman scholarship which is awarded each year to a LeTourneau University student enrolled in the joining program. Ron wrote the criteria for applicants which stresses hands-on welding skills. You can’t engineer what you can’t do yourself. This year’s recipient is Kendra Murphy a rising Junior. After reading her application, I feel sure that Kendra is precisely the type of student that Ron would have wanted the scholarship to go to. She should be graduating in 2021 and I expect great things from her.

Dan Allford
#scholarships #letourneauuniversity #americanweldingsociety #aws #weldingengineer

Robots VS Robotic Systems


In my 40 years as a roboticist, I have seen robots become simpler, cheaper, and more capable. They have evolved to the point of nearly being a commodity. But a robot needs tooling, software, fixturing, and ancillary process equipment to become a good robotic system. The process is called system integration, and a whole industry exists to handle it. Poor integration creates most robot system problems. I contend that the biggest use of robots in the world is dust collection. The robot fails to perform, and the system is moved to the back of the shop to collect dust. After end users have one of these experiences, I have to explain that it was the integrator, not the robot, which failed. I recommend that before you buy any robotic system, you do two things. First, make sure your integrator is certified by Robotic Industries Association see: Second, check references and ask to see similar systems in operation in the real world.

We are currently retrofitting three robots we removed from failed systems purchased elsewhere. We appreciate the work, but it is better and cheaper to do it right the first time.


“Collaborative Robots: What are they and when to use them.” AWS Houston

On Wednesday, October 16th at 7:00 pm, Dan Allford lead a session at AWS Welding Houston.

Collaborative robots or cobots are designed to be safe to work near people.

This unique feature opens up new applications for robots. One of these areas is welding and plasma cutting. Using case studies, Dan discusses where cobots might be applied and where they should not.

Download the Presentation

“Why Robotics: How to Ensure Your Project Makes Economic Sense” – 2019 AWS Welding Summit


On Thursday, August 30th at 11:00 am, Dan Allford lead a session at AWS Welding Summit 2019.

“When correctly applied robots save money and improve quality. When misapplied the robot becomes an expensive dust collector. Using case histories Dan will discuss how to determine when and if a project is economical to automate. Topics include initial robot cost, programming costs, filler material savings, safety, part accuracy, joint configuration, production volumes and technological competency necessary to succeed.”

Download the Presentation