General Industry: OLRP Insights

Episode Five: Nucleo

Nucleo: Attaining the Welding Trifecta

In episode five of General Industry: OLRP Insights, we sit down with Nucleo. Nucleo accelerates your welding processes by creating jigs & fixtures faster. OCTOPUZ programs robot functions in a virtual, offline environment. OLRP eliminates the need for robots to be taken off production, improving productivity and the bottom line.

OCTOPUZ and Nucleo have come together up again to host an insightful discussion around how manufacturers can attain the welding trifecta. In this 30-minute webinar, we uncovered:

  • Why OLRP software and rapid fixture design are critical to the welding trifecta.
  • How to effectively build a fixture, live demo with Nucleo.
  • How to program a welding robot offline, live demo with OCTOPUZ.

Jon House
Today I have the privilege to be joined by three talented individuals who will lead the conversations and demonstrations related to fixture design and Offline Robot Programming. From Camtek, we have CEO Rob Thompson leading the Nucleo demonstration portion, and before the demonstration COO, Alan Weeks will educate us on who Camtek is and what Nucleo does. My colleague Chris Heit is an Application Engineering Specialist at OCTOPUZ. Application Engineers work with our customers on critical services that include training, implementations, and support. Chris will be running the OCTOPUZ demonstration today. We also have Rob House on the webinar, who will be keeping an eye out for questions in the chatbox. We will spend most of our time demonstrating our respective software. Before that, we have a brief presentation to learn about Nucleo and OCTOPUZ and how we work together.

Alan Weeks
Nucleo weld fixture design software was developed, specifically for the welding and fabrication industries. Nucleo provides an easy-to-use automated solution for creating inexpensive weld fixtures. These fixtures are formed from interlocking blades and base plates that are manufactured from flat sheet metal material. Many times, this is just extra material that you might have laying around your shop. This material can be used to create a weld fixture. What Nucleo does is drastically reduces the design time the complexities associated with the design and the cost that is typically associated with traditional weld fixture designs. We also offer weld fixture design services for those customers that might not have the design resources in-house. Customers can try out a Nucleo-style weld fixture to see how it works for their facility without having to purchase the Nucleo software.

Jon House
OCTPUZ is an industry-leading offline robot programming software that enables robot functions to be programmed on a computer. Programs are done in a virtual cell as a replica of your real-world robot cell using built-in machine logic to identify the optimal paths or toolpath trajectory. OCTOPUZ programs the required code for a multitude of industrial tasks or applications and outputs the code in the specific language used by your robot brand. While new jobs are being programmed, your robots can continue operating with limited disruption to productivity. Today, OCTOPUZ is a global team with representation in North America, Europe, and Asia. And we are hyper-focused on making the programming of industrial robots as easy as it can be.

Alan Weeks
What problems do both Nucleo and OCTOPUZ solve? With Nucleo software, you can produce a simple fixture quickly, in some cases five minutes or less. Training is easy too, typical training taking two hours or less. When it comes to robotic welding, this is where you can see the advantage of using the Nucleo style fixtures over traditional style fixtures. What Nucleo does is helps make short-run high mix robotic welding more cost-effective and attractive to bid for. You now have the ability to go after jobs that you typically would not be able to do due to the high cost associated with traditional weld fixtures. Everyone is concerned about their return on investment. Nucleo can cut down on design time and reduce costs by utilizing low call sheet metal. Manufacturing the fixture with Nucleo can provide enough savings to pay for itself in a short period of time. We have documented customer case studies where they paid for the software after using it in just one quarter.

Jon House
Historically, industrial robots have been programmed one of two ways the teach pendant or via the robot manufacturer proprietary software. Both methods can be time-consuming and or difficult for more complex applications. We often hear from prospects that it takes them on average one, two, three plus days to program their robot. Enter OCTOPUZ. For those customers who were programming by the teach pendant, we drastically reduced their robot downtime. For every second you are teaching the robot with the teach pendant the robot is not in production. By programming offline through your PC, your robots can stay working for you while you're programming your next batch of jobs. This can be a massive driver for our customers. OCTOPUZ drastically reduces the amount of time it takes to program. We consistently see 70-to-90%-time savings over teach pendant programming or OEM software programming. OCTOPUZ is an easy tool to use, it's sophisticated, and we program your part in minutes instead of days. Lastly, OCTOPUZ is agnostic, meaning we support all popular brands of robots. Instead of juggling multiple robot languages and OEM software's use OCTOPUZ as that single platform for all your robot brands. Finally, how do Nucleo and OCTOPUZ work together, and why are we, partners? In a high-mix low volume robot production environment, there are often two bottlenecks. The first is fixture design, and the second is robot programming. Our mutual customers will import the CAD model of their parts into Nucleo, design the optimal fixturing, and export G code to cut and assemble the fixtures. You will then import that CAD fixturing into OCTOPUZ to create the robot program and output the code to load onto the real-world robot for production. So, in a couple of minutes here, you'll see that workflow by the two demonstrations.

Rob Thompson
Hi, everyone. I'm Rob Thompson. I'm the CEO of Camtek software and the main developer of the Nucleo product. Let's explore Nucleo and the capabilities it has. In essence, with the software, you import the solid model we support Parasolid and 3DIGs standards. We also have translators for other CAD systems. You import the solid model of the weldment, and then you follow the wizard. The wizard brings you through the whole process by selecting your steps from 1 to 18.
The first step would be to orient the part correctly. You can rotate, translate, center the part over the data. You set them as part material, thinking about how thick are the blades and the base plates? You can specify these values here. You can also set this up as a template for your favorite way to do things. The next step is setting how much bigger the fixture is on the part. If I go to a plan view, you can see these extend by default a little bigger than the part itself. This step is defining the base plate and how much bigger the part or fixture blades are. There are a few options available, draw your own base plate, import the DXF base plate, and use a weld table it will place the fixture on top of the table. You now have a visual for where it's going to sit on the table for when you come to use it in OCTOPUZ. You can also create what we call a parametric base plate so you can reuse the base plate repeatedly. You have a myriad of different options available.

On this page, we define the boundaries that control the Z level of the fixture. If you have a sweeping surface, you can draw boundaries to prevent the fixture from going any higher than a given user-defined height. Turning the boundaries on you can see there is a couple of flat boundaries that are defined. You can make them a 3D shape or a swept surface and have the ability to move them up, move them down, tilt them whatever you need to do. This step is if you wanted to do a grid i.e., 16, four rows, four columns, and the gap in X and gap in Y so you can do multiple parts the same type in one fixture. You also can do dissimilar parts in the same fixture. This step is the definition of where the blade lines are going and where these blades are going to be defined. If I hide the fixture, you will see that there are purple and green lines, which define where it's going to build upwards in Z. I can move them, add them, stretch them, shrink them, step them around, and snap them to use and find positions like the center point or the midpoints. You will need to spend a little time getting this step done.

The next step is for the blade tabs to go in the baseplate. Underneath the fixture, there are some level times that match the blades to the base plate. You can define them in the thickness of the base plate, where you can make them a locking mechanism. That means the blades go through the base plate and are shifted to the left. You then lock the purple blades to the base plate now, making this a collapsible fixture. You can define the size, width, and depth of those in this dialog box. This processing is called clamping. You can import your favorite clamp, then place them on the model, and it will produce these towers to place the clamps on. This step is used to manage your access. You can put a solid model and torch on there and see if it fits at a given position, and it will do a collision check with the fixture when you build it. It will go red, which will tell you there's a collision between the fixture and the nozzle. This one we don't use very often, but if you draw the weld into the part behind a weld body, and it had a naming convention we could use.
The step is setting up the offset between the part and the fixture to ensure there is some clearance between the parts and fixture. There's a small offset, which is around 20 thousandths of an inch around here. You can also put these bumps on the edge which is good for things like boxes. This is good for things with lots of surface area. You can follow them down giving you less frictionless heat transfer to pull the part out, so the part isn't the same as the 3D model.

Weight reduction will tell you when to put holes in the fixture for ventilation, access with the torch, and weights you can add to the base plate including the blades themselves. These little Mickey Mouse ears define some clearance in the corner. Pinto is not often used however you can select a feature in the fixture in the part and it will produce a little tower to poke up through that feature in the path. It's like an alignment position. Bolt holes we could say we want them on corners and on the periphery all over the base plate. Your weld table bolt pitch can be put in here where you can input user-defined positions and then we'll put them wherever you need them.
This step is colors, translucencies, and geometric things like tolerances, etc. Then lastly, this is your part number providing you details for your base plate and annotation, so you know which one goes in which position.

You end up with this fixture. You can export it to CAD and import it into OCTOPUZ to complete the process. You have options to direct edit by importing features or changes to the periphery of the fixture play. In the end, you will produce the Xs Parasolid STL file, which is a 3D printed triangulated file that you can look at on any windows 10 PC without a CAD system to get an idea of what the fixture will look like.

Chris Heit
Once you've created the fixturing for your part in Nucleo, you can import that fixturing and part directly into OCTOPUZ. We have got a fixture on that pressure vessel that we just saw. We'll create some welds on this, this part right here.

We will start by clicking on our create path button here in the top ribbon. That's going to open up our path creation menu here on the right-hand side of the screen. The first thing you need to do is decide where my first weld is going to be located. We'll start on this feature that we see right here. We will use our Edge and Curve tool and select the edge on the CAD model where I would like to create a weld path. It'll generate that weld path from me right along the edge. The location looks good, we need to make a few more adjustments to it. For starters, we are going to change the starting position towards the 12 o'clock position. If you wanted to make any other fine-tuned adjustments to the location, we could do that as well. For example, if you wanted to restrict things to only use linear or circular motions, it's a simple checkbox. It makes changes that right away including any kind of offsets your welding or additional wire stick out. Similar idea for making changes to the tool orientation throughout the path. If you wanted to change the tilt or add a push or pull on the weld, these are all easy things to make changes in OCTOPUZ.

Now that you have your welding path laid out. You can start changing the more advanced configuration options of this path. The first thing we want to change, for example, is the air moves leading into and out of the path. Let's go ahead and jump into my leads menu right here. We can change everything we want about these air moves. We can change the number of points, the direction, the points, the distance, the speed, anything like that. For example, if you reduce the distance on the first and last point to bring them a little bit lower down, make them a little bit shorter it will provide you with less airtime, reducing the cycle time as best as possible here. You don't want to need to have to confront every single time you create a path. What you can do is save it as a template to these settings, which we will call "my leads". In the future, when creating more paths, rather than having to go into this menu at all and set any of these settings to set here in the main menu, you can select the template of settings right away. It makes creating more subsequent paths quite a bit faster and easier. You can make use of these templates not just on leads motions, but also with things like stitch welding parameters, multi-pass welding parameters, or for the entire path altogether with all of its different settings. The last setting before we go ahead and create this is to set what the external axes are doing throughout the path. In this case, we just have one to consider. You've just got the headstock, tailstock that's holding the spine and the sixth string apart. We are going to tell this headstock tailstock to move and use coordinated motion as it sees fit and as needs throughout the path in order to achieve kind of a one F welding position as best as possible throughout that path. We're going to have the torch pointing directly downwards and the weld bead cradled upwards the entire time as best as we can. We'll go ahead and hit Create on that, and that's going to create that path.

We haven't gone in and solved any errors yet, but at first glance, we do have a collision that needs to be addressed. Let's go ahead and address the errors in this program right now, we will start by running my Analyzing Tool. The Analyzer is going to look through and look for any kind of errors. It's looking for collisions, joint limits, singularities, unreachable positions, things like that. It is letting us know that we do have three points that are in collision. It's also highlighted for us exactly which points are in collusion. We'll take a closer look but before we do anything, we are going to get the solver to try and fix this for us automatically. We could touch these up one by one, however, the most efficient choice would be to get the software to make these errors go away on its own. My Solver has found six errors. If we take a look at that path, you can see that it's adjusted the tool orientation and those errors are gone.

Let's take a look at another weld over here. We'll spin our rotary axis like that and zoom in underneath to this weld under here. So I'll click Create. We'll use that edge and curve tool. We will select this edge here, and you can see the path that it wants to create. It's automatically trying to flare itself out of a collision. We could go ahead and use kind of the same settings and produce it from scratch. However, I think would be more efficient would be to take the path that we've created here and just copy it over to the side. We will select transform and it will mirror it from this side of the part here on that cap over to this side of the part. We are going to go ahead and hit transform, that is going to copy that path over.

The final step is to post the code out to the robot itself. We will select your robot and hit the code button up here in the top ribbon, that'll open the file explorer. You will notice it's prompting you already to write it out as a dot JVI file for a Motoman Yaskawa robot using a DX controller. This highlights that the process for programming is the exact same regardless of which brand model of robot you're using. It's only now at the end that it's going to determine the post files you need. We will go ahead and save that. You now can see the program that we just created in OCTOPUZ. OCTOPUZ has written out a job file for a Motoman Robot. The next step is to upload this program on a USB stick, plug it into the back of my Motorman Robot controller and go ahead and run that program.

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