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In robotics a manipulator is a device used to manipulate materials without direct contact. The applications were originally for dealing with radioactive or biohazardous materials, using robotic arms, or they were used in inaccessible places. In more recent developments they have been used in diverse range of applications including welding automation, robotically-assisted surgery and in space. It is an arm-like mechanism that consists of a series of segments, usually sliding or jointed called cross-slides, which grasp and move objects with a number of degrees of freedom.
In industrial ergonomics a manipulator is a lift assist device used to help workers lift, maneuver and place articles in process that are too heavy, too hot, too large or otherwise too difficult for a single worker to manually handle. As opposed to simply vertical lift assists (cranes, hoists, etc.) manipulators have the ability to reach in to tight spaces and remove workpieces. A good example would be removing large stamped parts from a press and placing them in a rack or similar dunnage. In welding, a column boom manipulator is used to increase deposition rates, reduce human error and other costs in a manufacturing setting.
Additionally, manipulator tooling gives the lift assist the ability to pitch, roll, or spin the part for appropriate placement. An example would be removing a part from a press in the horizontal and then pitching it up for vertical placement in a rack or rolling a part over for exposing the back of the part.
One of the types of manipulators is balanced manipulator type MSP-250, controlled by the operator's hand. Such manipulators are used in various industries. Where there are special requirements to protect against fire and explosion, they may be driven by compressed air.
A welding manipulator can be either open arc or submerged arc. A welding manipulator can be used to weld horizontally and vertically and is ideal for job shops as they are robust, have high production volume capacity and a greater degree of flexibility in product engineering. Welding manipulators are commonly used in pipe and vessel fabrication but can be used in a cladding procedure with the aid of a proper welding fixture.
Examples of robotic manipulators are:
- Automation, LJ Welding. "Welding Manipulators | Subarc Welding & CMT Manipulators". www.ljwelding.com. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
- Automation, LJ Welding. "Cross Slides". www.ljwelding.com. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
- "Thinking about submerged arc welding? - The Fabricator". www.thefabricator.com. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
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