Pioneer Tool & Die - RapidArc GMAW-P & Automation

Pioneer Tool & Die - RapidArc GMAW-P & Automation

Pioneer Tool & Die is a privately held company in Akron, Ohio. It is a stamping facility with an end-user base that includes air ride suspension manufacturers; parts are stamped, assembled, and joined in the production welding facility located nearby. The owner and CEO, Walter Remen, purchased Pioneer Tool & Die in 1974 and attributes the company’s longstanding growth and success to its loyal customer base, its continuous effort to reduce costs, and its talented employees. A firm believer that a successful and vital organization begins with dedicated employees, Mr. Remen implemented incentive management tools and a biannual employee bonus program as part of the corporate employee development and recognition programs. Remen recognizes that employee development programs and corporate reinvestment is essential to the future growth and success of Pioneer Tool & Die. 


Pioneer Tool and Die
Pioneer Tool & Die Co is located in Akron, Ohio.

 System 20 Robotic Welding Cell
Pioneer Tool & Die utilizes a Lincoln Electric System 20 robotic welding cell.
  Robotic Welding
In the spring of 2010, accompanied by Barry Foore, the VP of engineering, Walter Remen traveled to the Lincoln Electric Company’s Automation Division. Walter and Barry faced the challenge that Pioneer’s fabrication demand was growing, and the current equipment was operating at capacity. Walter and Barry assessed their impending fabrication needs and decided on the Lincoln Electric System 20 robotic welding system. The System 20 met their requirements. However, the customer parts were heavier than the standard weight tolerances allowable for the System 20; so an automated clamping fixture was necessary. With a nearly completed System 20 in stock at Lincoln Electric, Walter made the purchase. To exceed cycle time targets, the System 20 was enhanced by including a Power Wave® 455M power source paired with a Power Feed® 10R wire drive, and extra input/output for automated clamping. Robotic training took place at the Lincoln Electric Automation Division, augmented with a few visits to Pioneer’s production welding facility.

Lincoln Electric’s visits to the Pioneer Tool & Die facility involved the selection of GMAW-P as the welding process and primary mode of metal transfer for joining. The use of the RapidArc® pulsed mode of metal transfer helped to reduce the existing spatter level and improve the cycle times for completed parts. The RapidArc® welding program delivers a very tight arc length, higher travel speed and a lower heat input compared to traditional pulsed wave shapes. The special program features a short-circuit response, which occurs with a high travel speed and tight arc length. The RapidArc® welding program is a standard waveform for .035” (0.9 mm) through 1/16” (1.6 mm) solid wire electrodes on all Lincoln Electric Power Wave® power sources.

  Welded Part
Customer part welded by System 20 robotic welding system.

The selection of the most appropriate specific RapidArc® program depends upon the welding wire required. Pioneer Tool & Die uses the .045” (1.1 mm) and the .052” (1.3 mm) RapidArc® welding programs to meet all of its robotic and hard automation requirements. The use of the RapidArc® program increased productivity on the robotic System 20 up to 50 percent over previous welding operations. For hard automation, welding cycle times were decreased by 33 percent.

The use of the System 20, which features a fast index, FANUC® Servo driven turntable (58” dual zone), helped to decrease the cycle times of production parts. The repeatability of the weld joints and part fit-up was excellent. Combined with the tooling, which featured Pioneer - designed automatic clamping, the FANUC® 100iC ARC Mate® robot excelled at air cut moves and provided consistent delivery of the arc to the weld joints. In addition, the implementation of FAST START with the welding program resulted in an improvement in cycle time. FAST START turns on the power source and locates the exact point of the start of the weld before there is contact with the
part. The result was a six-second reduction in cycle time.

Lincoln Electric SuperArc® L-59, AWS ER70S-6, .045” (1.1 mm) diameter GMAW welding wire, packaged in 500 lb. Accu-Pak® Boxes, provided consistent fillet sizes and excellent appearing finished welds. The faces of the required fillet welds were flat-to-slightly-convex and the weld penetration and side wall fusion met all finished weld requirements. Today, the System 20 utilizes .052” (1.3 mm) diameter SuperArc® L-59 to achieve higher deposition and faster cycle times.


 Pioneer Tool and Die Employees
Walter Remen, Barry Foore and Mickey Remen.

Pioneer Tool & Die Hard Automation
Walter Remen’s engineering team consists of Mickey Remen, Barry Foore, Ross Brooks, Mike Pekarek, Terry Cotton, Dave Gaspar and Scott Dunn. Along with Walter, they work to implement new technology into their manufacturing operations. They are a self-reliant group of individuals who excel not only at the stamping tool & die portion of the business, but also in automating the welding processes.

The successful use of RapidArc® GMAW-P with the System 20 naturally led to a trialed use of the Lincoln Electric Power Wave® 455M and Power Feed® 10M wire drive and control on a dual torch hard automated welding system. Known to the Pioneer Tool & Die personnel as “Box” welder systems, they feature the use of two welding arcs to fabricate the cylindrically shaped pistons found in air ride components. The finished welds are generally circumferential and simultaneously welded in the 2F, horizontal position. The use of the RapidArc® program, in the trialed effort, resulted in a 30% decrease in arc time, significantly reduced spatter loss, and decreased distortion. What was true for the trial Box welder system turned out to be true for the remaining nine systems: the productivity gains enjoyed when employing RapidArc® outstripped any possible reservations about further deployment of Power Wave® systems.

The flexibility of RapidArc® GMAW-P and the hard automation Box welder systems is demonstrated in one particular station where welding occurs simultaneously with one torch in the 2F, horizontal welding position and the other torch, 180 degrees away, in the 4F, overhead welding position.

The latest Box welder systems utilize Lincoln Electric’s new Power Wave® S350, a compact inverter-based power source that operates at 120 kHz, making it the fastest switching welding inverter power source on the market today. Faster microprocessing speeds makes the S350 extremely flexible and definitely responsive to required arc characteristics. With the Power Wave® S350, it has never been easier for Pioneer Tool & Die to meet end-user defined finished welding outcome requirements. Moreover, the Power Feed® 10M and the Power Feed® 10R wire drives, used in hard automation and robotic automation, respectively, are time tested, robust, and very durable.

The newest version of the Box welder, developed by Ross Brooks and others in the Pioneer engineering group, now employs the first HMI (Human Machine Interface) controller for programming the motion of the servo-driven turntable and arc initiation. While the HMI has definite welding procedure control benefits, time and continuous production welding use will provide a long-term real-world test. So far, so good!

Lincoln Electric Equipment
Power Feed® 10M and Power Wave® S350.  

Employees at Pioneer Tool & Die recognize the benefits gained from the use of RapidArc® GMAW-P and are quite pleased with the consistent performance of the Power Wave® power sources and Power Feed® 10M and 10R wire drives. The same is true for the FANUC® ARC Mate® 100iC and the usefulness of the FANUC® ArcTool™ software. All of the benefits of implementing this technology from Lincoln Electric have added to the production capabilities and cost reduction efforts at Pioneer Tool & Die. This is a large portion of the value proposition gained from working together with Lincoln Electric’s Automation Division.    Walter Remen CEO
Walter Remen, owner and CEO, and Jeff Nadzam, Lincoln Electric Technical Sales Representative.

Barry Foore, the Vice President of engineering at Pioneer, emphatically states: “The service is fantastic and the introduction of the newer technology has been a profitable investment for us. We have never had a working relationship like we now have. Lincoln Electric is a very technically savvy company and we have really enjoyed the technology improvements and the reduced cost of welding.” 

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