Laser Probe 2000 to change the face of welding

Assembly Automation

ISSN: 0144-5154

Article publication date: 1 September 2000




(2000), "Laser Probe 2000 to change the face of welding", Assembly Automation, Vol. 20 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Laser Probe 2000 to change the face of welding

Laser Probe 2000 to change the face of welding

Keywords: Laser welding, Laser sensors

Laser Probe 2000 promises to transform the economics of automating welding machines. In a nutshell the system enhances the performance of the original system at a cost that results in a payback of under 12 months.

The system, which includes a two-axis slide to carry the welding torch and sensor, costs around £15,000. The major benefits are improved productivity, typically 10-20 per cent, enhanced quality with scrap and re-work virtually eliminated. Also operator requirements are reduced by about 80 per cent. The only operator involvement is to load and unload fixtures.

Once the button is pressed the Laser tracking system automatically monitors the weld not the operator; he/she is freed up for other activities. With overheads, skilled welding operators cost around £25,000 a year. Taking a conservative view that the operator is only released for 60 per cent of the time, that gives a payback period of 12 months on labour cost alone. This ignores the savings resulting from other benefits such as improved productivity and reduced scrap.

Major enhancements to the system includes real-time adaptive control of the welding process. The seam gap can be continuously measured. The gap measurement can then be used to regulate welding speed. This real time adaptive control makes a significant contribution to weld quality. In addition, the maximum welding speed that can be handled has been increased from 4 to 8m/min.

At the heart of the system is a sensor head already proven on hundreds of systems in the field (see Plate 8). The sensor is mounted directly in front of the welding torch. The fact that there are no moving parts in the sensor plays a significant part in achieving maximum reliability in the harsh environment of the welding process.

Plate 8The sensor which is at the heart of Laser Probe 2000

On a welding machine the torch and sensor are mounted on two-axis cross-slide that corrects for position both at 90ú to the seam and vertically for height. Software within the control compares the actual position with the reference position and generates correction signals that move the two slides.

The concept behind the new system is to combine the ease of set-up of the established Laser Probe with the flexibility of the more sophisticated MTX II computer based system. Laser Probe 2000 replaces both systems.

The original Laser Probe used a simple pendant with just two toggle switches to set up. But it could only be used for a single weld type at any one setting. More complex assemblies were the province of the MTX II system but this required higher skill levels to programme. Laser Probe 2000 uses a windows-based programming system with a fully interactive, menu driven approach, and the user is led through all the options. This greatly simplifies the selection and optimising of different weld types and sizes and gives a performance comparable with the PC controlled version while retaining the ease of programming that was the hallmark of the original Laser Probe.

With Laser Probe 2000, users will be able to automate the most complex assemblies, which contain multiple-weld types and require adaptive control to handle variations of gap along the seam caused by component tolerance or distortion.

For further information contact: Andy Pryce, Meta Vision Systems Limited, Oakfield House, Oakfield Industrial Estate, Eynsham, Oxfordshire OX8 1TH. Tel: +44 (0)1865 887900; Fax: +44(0)1865 887901; E-mail:

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