Category: News

The Roboticist Chronicles: Talking Tariffs, Subsidies, and Free Market Capitalism

Tariffs and subsidies are a hot topic at the moment, with global trade affecting the market each day. But who exactly are tariffs hurting and helping? Dan Allford, president and founder of ARC Specialties, delivers his perspective on this episode of The Roboticist Chronicles.

Allford, a proponent of a global free market, described how his boyhood job of selling papers ignited a deep appreciation for free market capitalism.

“Very early on I saw the connection between effort and reward,” Allford said, describing the beauty of America’s self-made-man economy. But when tariffs and subsidies make their way into the free-market Dan explained, “creative destruction,” occurs, upending the natural homeostasis of who survives in a free and fair marketplace.

“If you have an unlevel playing field, and that’s either subsidies or tariffs, either one distorts this field. And so what you’re doing is rewarding people that truly should have failed,” Allford said.

He elaborates with historical examples of trade between Brazil, France, Germany, and of course, China, giving examples of how tariffs and subsidies have handicapped industries that are now unable to survive without aid.

“We don’t need protection, we need opportunities to innovate,” Allford said, pointing to America’s naturally scrappy, competitive nature. At the heart of a growing economy is innovation, the natural push that keeps humanity at the forefront of technology, robotics, and mechanization.

Get to know Dan’s Darwinian economic point of view in this timely episode of The Roboticist Chronicles.

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Consulting in the Welding World

What is consulting in the welding world? It can be figuring out the requirements of welding codes, training, or even lab testing according to Matt Brinkman, Welding Consultants VP of Operations. Tyler Garland, NDE Technician, adds that safety is critical, as shipping subpar products can create dangerous situations. The team aims to increase weld quality along with durability and cost effectiveness.

Welding Consultants LLC is unique in the welding and quality assurance industry because it is the first organization directed by degreed and licensed welding engineers. ARC Specialties want to produce the best welding equipment in the world, and Welding Consulting works by their side to make that possible.


Welding Consultants LLC, a division of ARC Specialties, strives to provide a full range of quality related services, not limited to the following:

  • Welding Inspection and Nondestructive Examination
  • Mechanical Testing of Welds
  • Procedure and Performance Qualifications
  • Welding Engineering

As a premier welding, engineering, materials testing and inspection company, WC’s engineering efforts are performed by top-of-the-line NDE technicians who are fully trained and qualified to provide these services—and all from a single source. Our team believes in a “Practical Approach to Quality,” and we aim for fast and accurate results at a reasonable cost. One of our goals is to act as fast and efficient problem solvers with a focus on quality and safety.

So, think of your welding or quality-related need as an opportunity to call on the experience and knowledge of WC’s engineers and technicians.

ARC Specialties Holds Class on Submerged Arc Welding

On September 10, 2019, at the weldingAcademy hosted by Bohler Welding in Sugar Land, Texas, ARC Specialties delivered a course on Submerged Arc Welding (SAW). The program was organized into three sections by Dave Hebble, ARC Specialties Technical Services Manager: Welding Process, Process Variations, and Wire / Flux Selection.

Although this process has been around for 80 years, SAW is still one of the most misunderstood welding processes. Dave began this class by discussing how this process works and how changes in welding parameters affect the shape of the weld bead. He dove into the influence of the welding current, welding voltage, travel speed, wire size, and wire extension.

View the presentation here!

Dave then discusses the common process variations: single wire, twin wire, tandem, multiple electrodes, one-sided welding, narrow gap welding, and electroslag strip overlay. By providing a recap of each process, he explains their details and different applications.

The class ended with wire and flux selection. With so many wires and fluxes available, it can be difficult to make the correct material selection. Dave discussed the selection criteria to help narrow your choices: application, parent metal chemistry match, weld performance, mechanical properties, AWS classification, code requirements, and third-party witness (ABS or DNV).

ARC Specialties is proud to share their knowledge of SAW and help welders expand their skills in the field. From the original specification, to the delivery and setup of a custom system, ARC Specialties works to generate excellent products that meet and exceed production needs. Our experience includes metal welding and cutting applications, material handling, pick-and-place machinery, and test equipment. ARC Specialties designs machinery that transforms your manufacturing process into a high-quality, high-production, and high-profit operation. To learn more about our services, click here.

The Roboticist Chronicles: Lockheed’s “Skunk Works” Business Philosophy in Practice

Every business approaches how they work in a unique way. Each has a philosophy and culture, and each approach has it’s merits; some more successful than others. But why? On this episode of The Roboticist Chronicles, we talked business philosophy with Dan Allford, president of ARC Specialties.

ARC Specialties has sound technology, but they still need a corporate structure to execute it. Allford, who had years of technical training but only one business class, wanted to create something that worked at ARC Specialties. Instead of reading books on the latest fads, he followed people. And one that inspired him the most was Lockheed Martin’s founder Kelly Johnson and his Skunk Works philosophy.

What is Skunk Works? It is the name of Lockheed’s Advanced Development Program and has become a business philosophy applied to many, many industries. It’s based around creating groups within an organization and allowing them a high degree of autonomy.

“What I appreciate about Johnson and Skunk Works is that it’s about empowering project managers and giving them the ability to control their destiny,” Allford said.

While working in automation and robotics, you might assume that it isn’t people-centered. The human portion, or the “team,” is the most significant part according to Allford.

“We reward people based on what they create, not who they manage,” he said. “A good manager hires the right people, gives them a task, tools, resources and lets them do what they do best.”

That’s how ARC Specialties runs, stripping out layers of bureaucracy and focusing on the task. It also allows the company to remain nimble in the marketplace and exchange ideas. It even allows Allford’s employees to tell him when he’s wrong!

“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

What is the Best Method for Preheating 4130?

Widely used in the oil and gas industries, AISI 4130 steel is quenched and tempered for strength and other specific properties. However, once the material has been welded, the properties of the heat-affected zone are adversely affected. To lessen the effects of welding on 4130, preheating is an essential requirement of the welding procedure.

ARC Specialities conducted a study using a single valve body to compare induction, resistance, and direct flame preheating methods to determine the most effective and efficient preheating technique for 4130 steel. Maintaining the industry minimum of 500˚F for one hour, as well as the temperature drop for one hour with no additional heat input, the test also recorded the amount of time required to setup and tear-down each heating method, the time to preheat to 500˚F, and the time difference between inside and outside reaching 500˚F.

The Results

  • Preheat Time – Induction produced the best results with both the inside and outside of the valve reaching 500˚F in 0.6h, with resistance heating requiring the greatest amount of time to achieve through-thickness preheating.
  • Setup and Tear-Down Time – The flame method required the least amount of setup and tear-down time, only taking 0.25h for each, with resistance requiring the longest time cumulatively.
  • Energy Efficiency – Based on energy generated and consumed and total energy used, recording kilowatt-hours (kWh) for resistance and conduction and pounds of propane used for flame, the induction method was the most efficient, using 21.5 kWh and 73,000 BTU with the smallest temperature drop once heat was removed. Flame preheating was the least efficient.
  • Safety – Based on the amount of handling and potential hazards, induction was found to be the safest method of the three, while propane was found to be slightly more dangerous than resistance.
  • Cost – Based on the cost of labor ($65/h), electricity ($0.064/ kWh), propane ($0.652/lb) and personnel usage, induction heating was found to be the most efficient use of the operator’s time, using the least electricity and having a very fast uniform heating pattern, costing $150.34. Resistance heating was found to be the most expensive, costing $287.57.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Based on the study, the induction method was found to be the best in most categories. While the cost of induction heating equipment is greater than that for either the resistance or direct flame method, the efficiencies offered will offset the added investment and create a safer working environment, optimizing both productivity and quality.

Click here to learn more about this exclusive ARC Specialties study.

From a Small Garage to Big Success: The Story of Arc Specialties

From its inception in 1983 to now, ARC Specialties has become a case study in the growth of an American entrepreneurial endeavor. Company President Dan Allford took the business out of a garage and has since turned the automated manufacturing systems provider into an international enterprise.

On the first episode of The Roboticist Chronicles, host Tyler Kern sat down with Allford to explore the history of ARC Specialties and analyze how its trials and tribulations reflect growth and challenges within the industry.

Continuity and steady growth kept ARC on an upward trajectory over the decades, and Allford said that sometimes it is not about what a company does, but what it does not do.

“As long as you keep your mistakes commensurate with the size of your business, you’ll survive. So, while we were small, we made small mistakes, and we survived,” Allford said.

ARC has endured the globalization of manufacturing which has seen jobs leave the United States, but Allford said the industry is entering a renaissance in America today. Certainly, that is a welcome sight to Allford, who after almost forty years still has an unwavering passion for welding and manufacturing.

“I still like building things,” he said. “The only thing better than building something is building something that builds something.”

After creating jobs in more than 20 countries, Allford’s greatest build may not be a product but an exemplary company.

ARC Specialties | Robotic Drill & Tap System with Automatic Part Registration

Drill and Tap

ARC Specialties features a robotic drill & tap system with automatic part registration. The process occurs in 5 stages. In stage 1, the part is randomly placed near the robot, a Fanuc Robot with ARC software integrated. A Renishaw touch probe is used for automatic part registration, and then probing begins. Stage 2 is the drilling stage. Here a custom drilling spindle is used to drill the hole pattern. During the inspection stage, the FARO coordinate measuring machine confirms hole pattern and placement accuracy. This machine features an advanced user interface that streamlines and simplifies registration and machining. Tapping is stage 4, and in this stage, a floating tap performs the tapping operation using the robot’s 6th axes. And finally, in stage 5, the Vermont Gage Go/NoGo Thread Gage inspects the tapped hole for accuracy.

This innovative approach allows robots to replace machine tool operations with increased flexibility and reduced cost. Integrated solutions by ARC specialties are the product of our unique experience and commitment to excellence.

Walking the Cobot

Recent advancements in AI computer processing and 2D lasers allows us to consider flexible automation for pipe welding. Up to this point, simple systems have been manufactured which can produce high-quality fill and cap welds using transverse slides to create a weave oscillation. But here at ARC Specialties that just wasn’t good enough. We have taken it to the next level by adding a 2D laser that can scan the weld joint and determine the configuration and then transfer the information to a robotic arm that can perform the weld from the root to the cap.

Utilizing a 6 axis UR Robot we can create virtually any type of oscillation desired. For this application, we created a pendulum type of oscillation that mimics “Walking the Cup”. By directing the energy of the arc, we can improve sidewall fusion, reduce the tendency for undercutting, and create a slight concave bead profile which has less potential for silicates to become trapped in the toes of the weld.

ARC’s AI Pipe Welder combines the Miller Continuum Power Supply with new modified short circuit (RMD) and advanced pulsed MIG/GMAW technology connected to a UR collaborative robot controlled by proprietary software that our team of programmers have created to make consistent, quality welds repetitively on pipe. The software creates an optimized path with preprogrammed welding parameters handling joint variations with adjustments in the torch path, oscillation, and travel speed. By increasing quality and productivity we have decreased the need for rework and created a solution for a growing problem in the fabrication industry.



Parametric Programming

Over the last 37 years, I’ve worked as a roboticist. Much has changed. It is my opinion that robot programming techniques and teach pendants have not advanced as quickly as the robots themselves. Quite simply programming robots is still not easy. There are several ways to program a robot. Point teaching and offline programming are two extremes. Teaching is the most basic technique. Using the teach pendant the programmer jogs the robot to the desired positions and saves or “teaches” the point. This is a slow process, robot positions are only as accurate as your eye and you must stop production to create new programs. The other extreme is offline programming which allows you to keep the robot in production while you write code but you need good solid models of your part as well as your robotic cell. You also need an additional level of programming skills and software. In my experience skilled offline programmers are even rarer than teach pendant style programmers. Finally, since robots are more repeatable than accurate programs generated offline frequently need to be touched up. Offline works well is it fits your shop’s skill set and part mix.

Parametric programming is a another option. It allows the programmer to simply enter a few key pieces of dimensional and process data into the ARC Specialties Expert System which then generates the entire program. At ARC our goal is to minimize or eliminate the time spent using the teach pendant.

Parametric programming is a good option when your parts have similar features, your dimensional data is known and you need to change programs on the shop floor quickly and easily without a highly skilled programmer. Think: third shift, 3AM in the morning, one batch of parts are finished and the operator needs to reprogram for a different part.

The ARC Expert System simplifies programming by handling as much of the welding process control as possible including welding conditions, travel speeds and step over.

We try to tailor our solutions to fit the shop and the products being manufactured. Sometimes parametric programming is the best approach.

“ARC Specialties thrives on problems, send us yours.”

Dan Allford

#ParametricProgramming #ARCSpecialties #Kuka #Miller #Robot #Xiris #Plasma