The metalworking industry will continue to be characterised by comprehensive digitisation in 2022. “Industry 4.0” is no longer just a buzzword, but it is fundamentally changing manufacturing strategies, production processes and even customer relationships. In the third part of our blog series on current technological innovations in metal working, read about the current technological trends in welding technology
Welding technology is under pressure. Shortages of raw materials, disruption within supply chains, and high energy prices have taken their toll on the industry in recent years. For companies, 2022 began with a slight increase in orders – and is characterised by digitisation. This is because welding technology is lagging somewhat behind other industries when it comes to Industry 4.0 – after all, it is considered to be particularly conservative. The "race to catch up" in the area of digitisation will therefore be particularly exciting this year, bringing with it many innovative solutions.
Trend 1: Integration of devices into a large, digital network
All manufacturers of welding technology are currently developing systems and higher-level interfaces to network welding equipment and peripherals with and among each other or to integrate them into a large network. The goal: to obtain data as comprehensively as possible along the entire welding process, which can then be analysed and used for optimisation measures. With suitable, digital welding management solutions, the entire manufacturing process, as well as quality management and administration, can be made more efficient. We consider, smart "lean welding" is one of the very big trends in 2022.
Trend 2: Digitally controlled power sources
Stable arcs even under extremely poor conditions or with very long power cables: the digitisation of welding technology does not stop at the control of power sources. Currently, the technology is at a stage of development that enables an almost freely programmable energy supply – and, above all, brings arc welding into fields of application that were previously reserved for other welding processes. Optimising power source control through software and electronics is clearly one of the most interesting trends this year!
Trend 3: Integration of welding into automated production
What is recognisable as a trend in other metalworking industries is also spreading to welding technology in 2022: the demand for complex, interlinked manufacturing systems is rising continuously. What is needed above all are self-sufficient production cells set up in parallel, which process welding tasks automatically via intelligent data links. In contrast to classic, linear production lines, the probability of failure can be significantly reduced – and productivity increased at the same time.
Trend 4: Laser cleaning for high-quality welded joints
Thorough cleaning of workpieces is an extremely important – as the quality-determining process step in welding technology. In order to produce high-quality welded joints, impurities such as cooling lubricants, preservatives or even surface coatings must be removed in a process-safe manner before welding. In the past, aqueous cleaning agents were used for this purpose – an accepted but far from optimal approach. Laser cleaning is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative process. 2022 is all about automated laser ablation processes. In this process, the surfaces of workpieces are exposed to short laser pulses, thereby removing adhering contaminants in an energy-efficient and residue-free manner. Lasers remove both inorganic and organic build-up and optimally prepare the surfaces for subsequent welding.
Trend 5: Improved health protection
Welding is still, in large parts, real manual work. New materials and increased complexity of components challenge welders – and make improved health protection indispensable. In 2022, innovations will focus on all of the welder's senses, from the eyes to hearing and the respiratory tract to smell and touch. New material combinations in the area of personal protective equipment and ergonomic adjustments to hard hats, gloves and outerwear will make welding in 2022 safer and more comfortable than ever before.
We hope to have given you a first, brief insight into the current trends in the Welding industry. Do you have any questions about this article or our offer? Or would you like to discuss a specific manufacturing project with our experts? Then get in touch with us right away!