Tornadoes and hail can’t keep our robots away from FabTech 2013

It's one of the world's largest trade shows devoted to metal fabrication technology, and it always serves up interesting news.

Severe weather across the middle of the US may have shut down a Sunday Night Football game (American style, that is) and closed O’Hare–one of the busiest airports on the planet–but it didn’t stop the crowds from converging on FabTech 2013, held annually in Chicago, Illinois.

After all flights into O’Hare were canceled on Sunday, many–including myself–chose to drive from Detroit to Chicago into the tail end of the storm to make it in time for the show opening Monday morning. In the end I was treated to a spectacular sunset as I arrived into the outskirts of Chicago and the weather cleared up. And now that I’m here, all that extra hassle was completely worth it.

The ABB Booth at FabTech 2013 is full of robots, but it also contains plenty of other demos supporting the metal fabrication industry, as well as some fun “Easter eggs” that will make stopping by the booth a must (if you’re attending the show too).

Of particular note this year is the North American debut of the IRB 6700–which we launched globally just a couple of weeks ago at the 2013 International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo. As you can see in the video below, one of the main features of the IRB 6700 is how the dressing (the attached cables and such) is securely fastened close to the robot and hardly moves even under vigorous and speedy motion. This feature is called Lean ID (Integrated Dressing) and it is built into every model of the IRB 6700 we sell (currently 4, but we’ll be adding 4 more over the course of the next year). Lean ID provides a host of benefits, including making programming on a PC using our RobotStudio software much easier. Watching this video you get a true sense of how well Lean ID works.

In addition to Lean ID, the IRB 6700 has been given enhanced speed, payload and accuracy compared to its predecessor. Power consumption has also been lowered by 15%, total cost of ownership has been reduced by 20%, and maintenance has been optimized, doubling the time between service intervals. If you can’t tell, we’re very proud of this robot.

Perhaps the centerpiece of the booth is a three headed RoboScreen display (lovingly referred to as “The Hydra”). This monster is viewable from almost anywhere in the North Hall, and is constructed from an IRB 7600, ABB’s largest robot, with three IRB 140 robots attached to the top, each holding 32” video screens. The 24-axis, four-robot, three-screen spectacle will be moving throughout the presentations, providing attendees in all corners of the booth an entertaining and educational experience. You can see it for yourself in the timelapse movie below.

Beyond the IRB 6700 and The Hydra, our ArcPack U2 is on display. It’s a modular, cost-effective welding cell equipped with an IRB 1520ID robot and Fronius welding equipment. In the other corner of the booth, an IRB 140 with a Precitec YW30 laser welding head also simulates the motion of laser welding, and is accompanied by two additional laser heads on adjacent tables. Safety demos from ABB-Jokab and an impressive set up from our friends at Wolf Robotics round out the rest of the booth.

This year we also decided that we had too much good stuff for one booth, so we added a second booth in the South Hall devoted to our paint robots. That booth features an IRB 580–a compact, fast and accurate paint robot with excellent reach and agility. The short arm variant (1220 mm reach) on the booth floor features an interactive demo that allows show attendees to program the robot by manually moving a handheld spray gun, complete with laser fan patterns that simulates paint, in any unique painting motion.

Whatever your interests at FabTech, we’ve got you covered. The North American team did a great job this year delivering a fantastic booth. If you’re at the show you can find us at booths N1436 (welding & cutting) and S5455 (painting). See you there!

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About the author

Stephanie L. Stanton

I’m the Trade Show and Event manager for ABB Robotics US. I joined ABB in 1995 and have been with the Robotics team my entire career. I have held a variety of roles within the business prior to joining the communications team in 2006 and have greatly enjoyed every one of them. I’ve grown up here and I love this business. When I’m not planning an event or travelling for a show, I spend my time with my family and friends and pursuing my hobby of photography.
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