The product Ceramishield RobotIQ is made by the Industrial Member Henkel. It is a system devised to apply a dry film coating to protect welding torch components from welding spatter for extremely long periods of time compared to typical anti-spatter products on the market and it was to be used in an automated robotic configuration. The application of a good protective coating can increase the life of costly torch components, particularly MIG/MAG shrouds, many-fold. Henkel developed this innovation where the overall objective was to give customers the opportunity to have a contactless method for spatter control. This would in turn bring productivity, quality and cost improvements.
TWI validated the solvent based aerosol product in 2007 when the manufacturer asked TWI to test it under manual application. Now the client has developed a water based product and a system for automated application onto robotic MIG/MAG welding torches. Henkel asked TWI to install a pre-production version at its Cambridge headquarters for laboratory trials and performance assessment.
The objectives were to establish the equipment settings needed to achieve a good coating on the torch components for a reasonable length of time. It had to carry out comparative trials to assess the performance of the coating, and lastly it was asked to comment on the coating's impact upon the weld quality, productivity and cost savings.
The system was delivered and installed at TWI for assessment. It was interfaced with a robotic welding system, an air cooled MIG/MAG torch and a compatible power source.
Spraying conditions were optimised for the welding torch geometry. Trials were carried out to assess the capability of the coating to prevent spatter build up when used in conjunction with a magnetic torch cleaner. For calibration purposes comparison trials were carried out without applying the anti-spatter spray.
The unit was easily interfaced to the robot used for the trials. Once the operator had become familiar with the procedures, carrying out a test run and setting up spraying parameters were straightforward. The spray coating performed well and the magnetic torch cleaner removed most of the spatter. During these trials re-spraying after 90 to 120 minutes was required. Welding was carried out for up to four hours without needing to replace the shroud or contact tip.
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