Manufacturing Innovation Center at Rensselaer

The New York Advanced Robotic Welding Lab

Robotic Welding Lab

Cell Description

  • Yaskawa/ Motoman MA2010 6-axis robot arm
  • Fronius TPS 500i Welder
  • Yaskawa/Motoman MotoPos D500 servo-driven 2-axis positioner  and tailstock 
  • Automatic Wire Cutter
  • Octopuz offline programming and simulation software

Cell Description Details

Yaskawa/Motoman MotoPos D500
Yaskawa/Motoman MotoPos D500
The New York Advanced Robotic Welding Laboratory at MIC contains over 200 square feet of some of the most advanced robotic welding equipment available. The welding robot itself is made by Yaskawa; the 6-DOF Motoman MA2010. Designed with welding in mind, the arm has a variety of features specifically designed for welding applications. The arm can support a 10 kg payload, allowing a variety of welding torches to be mounted to it. Additionally, the geometry of the arm is designed to prevent cables and electrode wire from binding while also contouring the arm in such a way that helps it avoid collisions with jigs and fixtures. A six foot horizontal and 12 foot vertical reach makes the arm capable of working on small and large parts in a variety of configurations.

Fronius Welder
Fronius TPS 500i Welder
The MA2010 is accompanied by a TPS 500i Fronius Welder. The welder can be used in  MIG/MAG welding applications. The TPS 500i works to control various welding parameters including voltage, current, wire feed speed, and arc length correction, to name a few. The welder provides power, gas, and electrode wire to the torch attached to the end of the Motoman MA2010 arm. The gas and electrode wire composition can easily be changed between jobs to ensure the highest quality welds. Additionally, an intuitive touch-screen user interface on the TPS 500i allows for settings to be changed quickly and saved to jobs to be used again in the future.

In addition to the six axes in the MA2010 arm, an additional two-axis positioner is located in the cell. A variety of mounting holes on the positioner makes fixturing to its surface easy and provides additional axes motion that can be coordinated with the arm to weld complex parts. The Laboratory also includes a tailstock located 2 meters from the positioner on the opposing side of the cell. When used together, the positioner and tailstock allow for large parts to be fixture between them.

Robotic Welding: Testing and Prototyping

  • Feasibility studies for switching from manual to robotic welding
  • Cycle time studies in simulation and/or hardware
  • Prototyping the weld program for a new part prior to production
  • Fixture design and prototyping
  • Weld process development

Testing and Prototyping Details

The robotic welding cell at MIC offers a unique venue for evaluating the feasibility of robotic welding. Perhaps your company is struggling to find skilled welders, you have a parts order too large for your current capabilities, or you just want to explore robotic welding. We can help you determine if  robotic welding is a viable solution to your manufacturing challenge. In the New York Advanced Robotic Welding Laboratory, we can simulate your welding process using any robot, not just the Yaskawa/Motoman robot that we have in our cell. With the simulation, we can help you estimate your actual cycle time for your particular part and process. We can also help you design and evaluate different fixturing concepts for your part. If the simulation is promising, we can then test the feasibility by producing your part in our laboratory before you invest in a robot, a welder or software. The Laboratory is designed for maximum flexibility to handle the widest possible range of robotic welding applications. This flexibility extends to programming, welding process, part size/configuration and material. Our mission is to help American manufacturers remain competitive by providing this service. We do not endorse any brand of welder, robot or software, but simply serve as an honest broker in providing an economical means for manufacturers to explore the feasibility of applying robotic welding in their manufacturing operations.

Contact MIC for help with:

  • Thinking about robotic welding but not sure if it’s right for you? We can run full simulations of your parts and your process and provide you with actual cycle times.
  • Ready to strike an arc and prototype some parts using robotic welding? We can do that in our lab!
  • Transitioning from a GTAW process to GMAW? We can help you evaluate the parts and process.
  • Need help designing a fixture for your part? We can help with that!
  • Overloaded with work and need some help developing robot programs? We can simulate your robot and cell and develop programs for you.
  • Thinking about Metal Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing and would like a place to run some experiments? We can help with that!


Glen Saunders, Welding Glenn Saunders, PE
Senior Research Engineer

Wire-Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM)

  • WAAM process control research
  • Open-source WAAM programming
  • WAAM Materials research
  • Additive parts development


  • Real time simulation and offline programming of the of the welding cell and its components using Octopuz.
  • Flexible part fixturing using the two-axis positioner either as a rotating base or in a headstock/tailstock configuration. Part sizes up to 1m x 2m.
  • Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW – also called MIG/MAG welding) in a variety of metals and thicknesses.
  • Wire-Arc Additive Manufacturing in a variety of materials

Capabilities Details

Traditionally, robotic arms such as the MA2010 are programmed manually via a teach pendant. The arm is manually moved to a point, and that location is then recorded. The user then specifes the type of motion the arm should perform to reach that point and the speed at which it should do it. This process is then repeated for any desired number of points until the final path is complete. Manually programming the path of the arm in this manner is a long and cumbersome task, making robotic  welding uneconomical for small lot sizes.

To make this process faster and easier, the New York Advanced Robotic Welding Laboratory at MIC includes a software simulator:  Octopuz. The entire cell and the equipment is modeled in a 3D space inside Octopuz with dimensions that are accurate to the real-world welding cell. Octopuz allows the user to generate the path of the arm virtually in a way that is faster, more accurate, and easier than by hand. Additionally, Octopuz supports importing external geometry. This allows CAD models of parts to be inserted into the simulation, wherein the required welds for the part in question are programmed by the user.  Once the user is happy with the simulation, Octopuz interpolates the best path between the specified points to avoid collisions and singularities in the arm. The simulation can then be played in real time to get a sense of how long the process is going to take. When the user is happy with the simulation, Octopuz produces a robot program in the programming language of the robot controller. In the case of the New York Advanced Robotic Welding Laboratory at MIC, the native language of the Yaskawa/Motoman controller is the INFORM language. Octopuz post processes the complete robot program that can then be downloaded to or installed on the Yaskawa DX200 robot controller. Octopuz includes post-processors for all the major industrial robot manufacturers such as Fanuc, ABB, Kuka, Comau, etc.

The fixturing required for a job is likely to change with every job. An advantage to using Octopuz alongside flexible fixturing is that the simulated cell in Octopuz can easily be changed to reflect the real-world changes to the fixturing in the cell. This opens a realm of possibilities for fixturing and arm path planning that is difficult to achieve using traditional programming methods.

Octopuz has proven to be an incredibly user-friendly and intuitive environment. Users with little previous experience using this type of software and machinery have been able to implement basic jobs on the arm within several weeks of testing. The simulation proves invaluable in troubleshooting and testing jobs without posing any risks of damage to the real equipment. Once a job in the simulator has been verified, it is easily uploaded and implemented on the MA2010 arm and TPS 500i welder. When combined with Octopuz, the arm and welder have significantly reduced down-time between job changes. The flexible fixturing also helps alleviate down-time.