Choosing the Best Arc Welding Robot System | Spool Welding Robot FAQ

By Joel Armstrong

We tested one of the best spool welding robots currently on the market to help better understand the added value of robotic welding.

Red Ball customers testing the Novarc Spool Welding Robot

Nowadays, a welder’s average day can feel a lot like a video game. Head into today’s fabrication shop and you’ll find that a joystick and a video screen are the new go-to welding tools. Enter robotic welding – the answer to labor shortages, inefficiency and inconsistency. 

As fun as it sounds, robotic welding is meant to improve the ROI for high production shops. So, industrial fabricators typically find the most value from robots. For those operations, it means a significant increase in output, an improvement in weld quality and a boost in cycle times. 

To help you better understand the added value of robotic welding, we tested one of the best currently on the market. Whether you’re new to the concept or need guidance on equipment, we’re confident you’ll walk away with resources that can transform your operation.

The Novarc Spool Welding Robot at the Red Ball Oxygen Welding Lab


What is robotic welding

Robotic welding automates the welding processes using programmable tools to perform a weld while simultaneously handling the part. As a result, it's the perfect solution for low productivity and safety risks. These machines tend to improve another issue, too: a shrinking workforce. According to an 2017 report, “Manufacturing Is Not Dead, over 45% of the manufacturing workforce is age 45 and older.  How do we think the industry is handling this impending crisis?  Not well.  

We continually see a push for trade school enrollment and training at the high school level.  These are both noble ideas the industry needs. However, we might have an easier time encouraging the younger workforce to trade in screen time for the opportunity to learn a hands-on craft if we made the welding process look like something they are used to: screens. Cue Novarc Technologies' Spool Welding Robot – aka the joystick and video screen.

The Novarc Spool Welding Robot in action


Collaborative welding robots

Novarc Technologies, based in Vancouver, Canada, has developed the “World’s First Collaborative Robot.”  Designed for welding pipe, it welds root to cap without stopping. A perfect fit for industrial fabricators. Let’s get into why.

What makes this different than a normal robot? 

This is a collaborative robot, meaning the operator and the welding robot work together.  There is no prior programming of the tool path required.  Once the pipe has been tacked and presented to the welding torch, the operator controls the welding with a pendent while watching the welding in real time on an HD screen.  

As the joint fills and the weld goes from a root to a fill pass, the cobot automatically switches to a pulse setting.  If the layer needs to be split, the cobot automatically makes an adjustment on the fly.  Imagine welding an 8” sch 80 pipe in 15 minutes or less.  Compare that to your current weld out time.

The Novarc Spool Welding Robot Screen


The benefits of the Spool Welding Robot

Besides finding a way to help close the impending skills/labor gap, Novarc’s Spool Welding Robot (SWR) provides the following benefits:

  • Increase production capacity by 50% or more;
  • Perform full penetration X-ray quality welds in record time;
  • Reduce your reject rate to less than 1%;
  • Collect all welding parameters, including a video of the weld;
  • Meet or exceed all ASME B31.1, B31.3, or Section IX;
  • Work on carbon or stainless steel;
  • Payback can be in as little as 6 months;
  • Small footprint that allows for maximizing arc on time.



What are the main features of the collaborative Spool Welding Robot? 

Designed for welding pipe, the Novarc SWR welds root to cap without stopping. Also, no prior programming of the tool path is required.  

What are Collaborative Robots?

Collaborative Robots are a form of automation that allow an operator to simultaneously work alongside a robot in a workspace.  

How much does a collaborative robot cost?

The price depends on the size and desired application.


Editor’s Note: This is a series spotlighting demo equipment found in the Red Ball Oxygen Welding Lab.

Posted on February 23, 2021 at 9:52 AM

Joel Armstrong

Joel Armstrong

Sales Engineer at Red Ball Oxygen Co. Inc. Joel Armstrong is a Senior Certified Welding Inspector and has been in the welding industry since 1998.