The robotic welding system developed at the Center for Advanced Technology of Equipos Nucleares S.A., S.M.E concluded the work of the first Splice Plate set of the 1/1 model that represents the Vacum Vessel of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor , which is being developed in the workshops that the company has in Maliaño, as part of the order received from Iter Organization at the end of 2012.
The main objective in this phase of the project is to design and verify that the equipment and developments carried out are suitable for the work that will later be done in the installation phase in Cadarache. One of the key activities is welding, and for this reason the validation of the robotic welding system has begun, welding the first set of splice plates that act as joining pieces between the two sectors of the 1/1 model. The method used is based on an integrated robotic system conceived in the Automatic department of the CTA for the tracking of trajectories generated from 3D scans of the pieces.
In the case of ITER, the 3D model of the splice plates is used together with the data provided by the dimensional control of the robot positions. All this information is previously loaded into the system at the disposal of the welders at the operation station, which allows the joint to be selected by its reference as well as controlling and recording the operation parameters throughout the process.
Another important aspect of the system designed, has to do with the protection gas, since the particular characteristics of the sectors, the backup gas system can only provide protection in a very localized way, so a module was included in the control system that allows to coordinate the movement of the robot with that of the backup system and thus achieve that the area covered by the gas is always below the zone of incidence of the current.
Once the first batch of splice plates has been completed, a second batch will continue which, if necessary, will allow new functions to be added to the system and new improvements to be introduced that could be identified with the aim of continuing to improve the process.