Resistance spot welding is a process commonly used for joining a stack of two or three metal sheets at desired spots. Such welds are accomplished by holding the metallic workpieces together by applying pressure through the tips of a pair of electrodes and then passing a strong electric current for a short duration. This kind of welding process often suffers from two common drawbacks, namely, inconsistent weld quality and inadequate nugget size. In order to address these problems, a new theoretical approach of controlling resistance spot welding processes is proposed in this paper. The proposed controller is based on a simplified dynamical model of the resistance spot welding process and employs the principle of adaptive one-step-ahead control. It is essentially an adaptive tracking controller that estimates the unknown process parameters and adjusts the welding voltage continuously to make sure that the nugget resistance tracks a desired reference resistance profile. The modeling and controller design methodologies are discussed in detail. Also, the results of a simulation study to evaluate the performance of the proposed controller are presented. The proposed control scheme is expected to reduce energy consumption and produce consistent welds.
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