Category: News

Explore How You Can Introduce Robotics into Material Testing Laboratories

Consistency and productivity are the ultimate goals of every material testing laboratory, and thanks to technological innovation, robotics can help facilitate these objectives. In the informative whitepaper “Introduction of Robotics to Material Testing Laboratories,” robotic and automation integrator ARC Specialties explains how robotics were used to optimize two different applications, maximizing the effectiveness of lab testing processes.

Led by automation visionary and President Dan Allford, ARC Specialties specializes in custom automated welding, cutting and machining systems. Looking to both improve throughput and separate ARC’s subsidiary—Welding Consultants LLC (WC LLC), a material testing laboratory specializing in weldment testing—from its competition, a welding and cutting robot designed by ARC was integrated into WC LLC’s infrastructure.

There are many complex variables and specifications in welding filler metal qualification testing; thus, it’s imperative to have testing that truly represents the product. With the introduction of the ARC robot, WC LLC now has the capability to simply program start and stop points and repeat the same weld on each new test plate with no risk of error or inconsistency. Guaranteeing repeatable and accurate test results, it is anticipated that robust robotics will become an integral part of how material testing labs operate, ensuring better operations and bottom lines.

The ARC cutting robot was also applied in another WC LLC application—the mechanical testing of pipeline samples, which are studied to identify failure or performance issues. Prior to using robotics, this was a cumbersome task requiring thermal cutting by hand, saw-cutting to specific sizes and machining for the final test specimen. Now, using a plasma arc cutting (PAC) torch which extends from the ARC cutting robot, sawing processes are eliminated, and test areas can be removed in precise locations with accuracy that was previously impossible, allowing samples to go directly to final machining.

These two specific case studies strengthen the case for robotics in material testing labs, offering an innovative solution to deliver increased productivity, consistency and quality in unconventional, low-volume applications for a wide variety of industries.

To find out more about how robotics facilitated precision and throughput in these scenarios, read the complete whitepaper.

Download PDF.

Why the World’s Largest Supplier of Robots Attends Fabtech

Matt Gresens, Sr. District Manager at FANUC America Corporation, joined MarketScale at Fabtech 2019 to talk about why the show is valuable for robotic integrators.

“We’re always making sure we have the best robots out there in the world that have the best options available to make a project successful,” Gressens said.

He explained how shows like Fabtech help companies connect and solve problems together, building symbiotic business relationships that move the industry forward.

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.

Why Collaboration is King at Fabtech 2019 with Dan Allford

It takes multiple companies to make robot automation come to life in metal forming, fabricating, welding or finishing. At Fabtech 2019, Dan Allford  of Arc Specialties provided a picture of why collaboration and cooperation between companies in different segments of the industry is so important.

“People that come to this show typically come with a problem to solve,” Allford said. He went on to explain the role of a robot integrator in the process of creating a robot for a specific purpose.

“A robot integrator takes that robot arm and then adds the tooling, adds the software, and also adds the tooling to hold the part,” he said. “As you can see on this Fanuc robot, Fanuc built the robot, we added the seventh axis, we wrote the software. So we work very closely with our partners.”

Shows like Fabtech allow companies to stay up to date with what their partners have developed and find new ways to collaborate on putting these creations into practice.

ARC Specialties Will Demo Four Game-Changing Products at FABTECH 2019

FABTECH is North America’s largest trade show, bringing together technology, equipment, and insights for the metal applications industry. Providing a convenient ‘one-stop-shop’ venue where attendees can meet with world-class suppliers, see the latest industry products and developments, discover new solutions, and find the tools to improve productivity and increase profits, FABTECH is the premier event for metal forming, fabricating, welding, and finishing,

And at FABTECH 2019, ARC Specialties will be showcasing four of our latest innovations, offering attendees the chance to see these systems live and in use.

Why FABTECH Matters to the Metals Industry

Co-sponsored by SME, the American Welding Society (AWS), the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA), the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA), and the Chemical Coaters Association International (CCAI), FABTECH is the industry show for any entity that utilizes metal products. Along with a vast exhibition hall, the event has educational sessions and presentations that provide the latest information on what’s happening in the industry. Innovations will be shared, new products will be launched, and attendees will take home a wealth of knowledge that can applied in their businesses.

Scheduled for November 11-14 in Chicago, FABTECH will host over 1,700 exhibitors and over 48,000 participants, making it the ideal opportunity for vendors like ARC Specialties to network with and educate end-users on the efficiencies and productivity that can be gained with our products.

Get a Preview of What to Expect from ARC Specialties at FABTECH 2019

ARC Specialties’ customers depend on us for the best in automated manufacturing systems and custom equipment for joining, cladding, and other applications. So, at FABTECH, we’ll be spotlighting four innovative products.

Surface Finishing Polisher

Robots have been in use for decades to move to fixed positions; however, some applications, such as surface finishing, require force control as well. We’ll be demonstrating our new approach to surface finishing at FABTECH, an inventive system which includes multiple components:

The Kuka LBR iiwa is a seven-axis force-controlled collaborative robot (cobot) that incorporates force sensors into each axis with a resolution of less than one pound of force. Combining superior 3M abrasives with Burr King belt sanders and polishing spindles, along with an experienced robot integrator that puts it all together and creates the code, the result is a cell that demonstrates force-controlled polishing on the belt sander slack side and wheel, with final finishing on a disk.

FlexFab™: Flexible Fabrication 3D Robotic Plasma Cutting Cell

ARC collaborated with KUKA, Hypertherm, and RobotMaster to create the FlexFab™: Flexible Fabrication 3D Robotic Plasma Cutting Cell, an integrated system that converts CAD models into a 3D plasma cut steel part, saving time and labor hours via precision control:

First, the RobotMaster CAD/CAM software generates the robot path. Then, cutting parameters are automatically generated based on part thickness via the Hypertherm Process Selection System. And with our proprietary touch work technique, part registration is accomplished before cutting. During the actual cutting, the ARC FlexFab software maintains the optimal torch to part distance, regardless of the torch angle, eliminating the need for a dedicated torch height control axis. And all robot axes use vector torch motion perpendicular to the part—a unique capability essential in the 3D cutting of complex parts. 

AI Pipe Welding System

Considered the most difficult welds to make, ARC Specialties previously declined jobs requiring full-penetration, single-sided, V-butt pipe welds since the joint fitup was never repeatable. A real challenge, these welds have traditionally only been completed by the most skilled human welders. However, labor such as this is depleting, so ARC decided to develop a product that could make these tricky welds, resulting in the Artificial Intelligence Pipe Welding System (AIPW):

Small enough to be portable while still allowing for full freedom of motion for both the laser scanner and welding torch, the AIPW incorporates the six-axis UR5 collaborative robot arm from Universal Robots A/S. Using a 2D laser, the AIPW pre-scans the root opening (gap), then uses the data to generate the robot path and welding parameters. Gap variations are compensated for with changes in oscillation, torch position, travel speed, and welding conditions. The UR5 positions the torch over a tack weld to start the arc, ensuring 100% root weld acceptance. Fill and cap pass programs are optimized to fill the groove using user-selectable weave or stringer bead welding techniques. Then, the AIPW uses the Miller Auto Continuum welding power supply to weld the root with Regulated Metal Deposition (RMD), and switches to pulsed spray for the fill and cap passes. This combination of Gas Metal Arc Welding techniques maximizes welding productivity while producing X-ray-quality, full-penetration pipe welds—all without the need for human labor. 

ARC 5 Infinity: Infinite Rotation Robotic Cladding System

If oil has a Sulphur content of 5%, it’s considered sour. Toxic to humans, this biodegradation produces hydrogen sulfide (H2S), generating atomic hydrogen than migrates into the steel matrix, causing sulfide stress cracking—a form of hydrogen embrittlement. The conventional solution has been to clad weld overlay all internal surfaces of valves and pipes with nickel-based alloys low in iron. Enter the ARC 5:

The ARC 5 Infinity is the next generation of ARC Specialties’ GTAW Hot Wire Systems, which can be found in hundreds of businesses around the world. While the first systems were simple turntables rotating the part while the welding torch clad the inner surface, as parts became bigger, we opted to leave the part stationary and rotate the torch instead. The ARC 5 combines our infinite rotation head with a Fanuc robot, resulting in a superior design purposely engineered to weld complex parts with intersecting bores.

Experience ARC Innovation at FABTECH

Be sure to visit ARC Specialties at FABTECH in booth B31019 where we’ll be demonstrating our Surface Finishing Polisher and Flex Fab 3D Robotic Plasma Cutting System, debuting the AI Pipe Welding System for the first time, and launching the next generation ARC 5. We look forward to seeing you in Chicago and ensuring you have the right equipment for all your metal needs. And if you’d like to learn more about ARC Specialties before the show, visit https://www.arcspecialties.com/about-us/ today.

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