From Arc to AI: Digital Resistance Welding Technology

Welding has been an essential part of manufacturing for centuries. From aerospace and automotive to construction and infrastructure, welding plays a critical role in the joining of materials across different industries. With advancements in technology, welding – the process of joining two or more pieces of metal or other materials – has become more efficient, precise, and digital.

From traditional forge welding techniques to robotic automation and artificial intelligence (AI), the industry is constantly evolving to meet the demands of modern manufacturers. In this article, we will explore the latest trends in welding technology, their benefits and limitations, and how they are transforming the metal joining industry as we know it.

From Arc to AI: Digital Resistance Welding Technology 1


Traditional vs. New Techniques


While MIG, TIG, Stick and Arc Welding have been predominant in the 20th Century, 21st Century “intelligent equipment” has adopted new techniques and variations of Resistance Welding, Laser Welding, and Friction-Stir Welding. Moreover, resistance welding variations of Butt Welding and Seam Welding remain the preferred welding process in piping systems, automotive, energy, and power industries.


With advances in engineering and material science, welding technology is becoming more versatile and sophisticated. New welding techniques produce less sparks and fumes and consumes far less energy than predecessors. The loud noise or smell of burnt material in traditional welding processes is becoming obsolete among high-tech machinery and equipment. 


Automation and Digitalization 


New processes adopted by welding practitioners also favour automated production. “Automation in welding” involves the use of robots, machines, and computers to perform and handle welding based on a program. For many factory managers, automation is the obvious choice, as it helps reduce labor costs, improves weld quality, and increase production capacity. Other benefits include removing workers from hazardous conditions and tasks, reducing human error, and the need to rework workpieces to correct errors.


Nevertheless, automation also has its limitations, especially when it comes to anticipating or monitoring quality. Human judgment is still needed to acquire a complete overview of the entire production system, to be able to filter out the cause of quality deviations. Insert: Digital tools. Daily, the factory floor generates massive amounts of data from welding and machining operations. The digital transformation in manufacturing has enabled manufacturers to analyze this data from the ground-level. By monitoring operations on the factory floor, industries can better maintain their quality and efficiency.  


Future Advancements 


Overtime, advanced robotics and AI technologies will lead to increased productivity and improved quality with the automated inspection of welds and optimized welding parameters. “AI in welding” involves the use of algorithms, sensors, and machine learning to optimize the welding process. Moreover, digital collection of welding data allows welding parameters to be dialed in to optimize the weld quality. It can help identify defects, adjust welding settings, and predict future welding needs. 


While AI in welding offers several benefits, including increased efficiency, reduced costs and improved quality. Its limitations include the cost of implementation, the complexity of the technology, and the need for specialized training. Many factories are adopting guides to mainstream this practice across factories, including Audi, which developed its AI guide for production. While robot-assisted welding is becoming widespread in automotive, and increasingly home appliance industries, a responsible welding supervisor is still neededRobots don’t have sensor technology, they weld blindly. Therefore, if something moves unexpectedly, a supervisor needs to be there to troubleshoot.


Heron's Takeaway

As industry completes its shift to Industry 4.0, an increasing number of factories are adopting advanced digital and AI solutions to their industrial machinery and equipment. The full benefits of new welding processes and technologies have not been applied equally across factory floors. From advancements in automation and robotics to the increasing use of artificial intelligence, the future of welding promises to be both cutting-edge and highly efficient for early adopters.

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