A CAD-Based Programming System for arc welding robots was developed in an international project with German and Hungarian participants. The basic goal of the system is to assist robotized arc welding in Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SME) mostly for small and medium lot sizes. The product of the development is such an interactive offline robot programming system that gives assistance to easily design and then perform arc welding tasks. Commercially available offline robot programming systems are either too expensive or cannot provide all required functionalities. The system (PROARC: EC COPERNICUS Project 7831) is implemented on the world-leading PC-based CAD system, AutoCAD, by using its new object-oriented interface ARX. However beside these platform related attributes of the system, PROARC provides a number of efficient functionalities for the seam programming. In order to allow the system to be integrated into a CIM environment, standardised OSI (Open System Interconnection) interfaces have been chosen.
However, the application of arc welding robots is mostly limited to the production of big lot sizes. The classical way to program a robot is still the teach-in method in which the robot has to be led to the various points, which afterward will be connected by a manually generated program. This programming method is highly insufficient and not economical for small or medium lot sizes. Therefore offline-programming systems have been developed to decouple the process of program generation from the actual robot in the workcell.
Out of this motivation the AutoCAD system has been chosen as the development platform for the PROARC system. It meets the precondition of a frequently used software in SMEs and it provides the required functionalities to develop a user friendly programming environment. E.g. the user should be freed from complicated input sequences and should be able to provide his knowledge of a welding expert for the system in a simple way. There is a flexibility of the seamís programming in PROARC. No system is known, which allows a flexible restructuring of the welding sequence and the unconstrained back (modelling) and forth (simulation) stepping within a single programming session.
The basic requirements of the PROARC system defined by the consortium were the following, grouped in three categories:
University of Veszprém,
Nacsa, J., Kovács G.L.: An Integrated CAD/CAM System for Robotized Arc Welding, Proceedings of the 27th International Symposium on Industrial Robots (ed. Prof. D. Fabrizi), 6-8 Oct. 1996, Milan, Italy pp. 287-292.