Welding Automation: Arc Motion vs. Work Motion
The welding world consists of a broad spectrum of technologies suitable for a wide range of use cases, budgets, and levels of complexity. Between the two extremes of entirely manual and entirely automated processes is welding mechanization. Mechanization can be accomplished using devices that move the workpiece, move the arc, or both simultaneously. Regardless of the mechanical device used, the goals are the same: to make a welding operator’s work easier and more productive.
An Introduction to Welding Positions
To better understand the target applications of these devices, a quick refresher on welding positions can be helpful. Both the American Welding Society (AWS) and the International Standards Organization (ISO) use terms and designators to communicate the position of the axis of welding relative to the vertical and horizontal planes for both plate and pipe. The four fundamental welding positions for plate are:
- Flat (aka 1G/1F depending on if the weld joint is a Groove or Fillet weld, respectively)
- Horizontal (aka 2G/2F)
- Vertical (aka 3G/3F)
- Overhead (aka 4G/4F)
The four fundamental welding positions for pipe are:
- 1GR (rolled horizontally oriented pipe)
- 2G (vertically oriented pipe/horizontal welding axis)
- 5G (horizontally oriented pipe, vertical welding axis)
- 6G (~45° inclined pipe)
Welding in the flat and horizontal positions provides the greatest opportunity for the use of high-productivity welding parameters since the influence of gravity on the weld pool is not (or at least less) detrimental. Conversely, welding in the vertical and overhead positions often requires comparatively low amperages and wire feeds to fight gravitational influence, even if an all-position welding electrode or wire is used.
In-position welds are also favorable from an ergonomic perspective; out-of-position welding can be physically taxing, and the ability to mechanize an application provides an opportunity to locate the operator away from the welding arc in a more favorable location.
In a perfect world, every weld could be performed in the flat or horizontal welding positions and, in the case of a pipe, rotated during welding. “Work motion” devices allow the workpiece to be repositioned during or between welds and are also known as “positioners.”
- Weld rotators have a rotating platen that the workpiece can be mounted to using a chuck or fixturing. Often, the platen is designed to tilt approximately 90 degrees so that a workpiece oriented vertically is reoriented horizontally. These positioners are available in sizes ranging from benchtop to multi-ton heavy-duty units. Note that these positioners typically leave the workpiece cantilevered, which may constrain the maximum weight that can be placed on the unit before reaching rated capacity. These positioners are popular for applying flanges to process piping. In some applications, the welding cell can be designed to use a welding rotator to permit welding on one assembly while another is being welded.
Headstock & Tailstock
- Like weld rotators, headstock and tailstock positioners have one powered rotatable platen that allows the workpiece to be rotated about the horizontal axis. However, the workpiece bridges from the powered headstock to the idle tailstock so that the workpiece is supported and not cantilevered. These positioners are excellent for large, unwieldy weldments such as large boom assemblies or even entire railcars. With proper fixturing, the workpieces need not be cylindrical.
- Turning rolls also provide the rotational movement of a workpiece. Unlike weld rotators and headstock/tailstock positioners, the workpiece is not fixtured to turning rolls, it is simply cradled by them. These positioners are popular for performing circumferential welds on very large cylinders or pipes found in the oil, gas, and power generation industries
While work-motion devices such as welding rotators help make welding easier by placing the weld in the ideal position, arc-motion devices serve to make welding easier by mechanizing the actions of the welding operator. Some common arc-motion devices are:
- These devices consist of a vertical mast mounted to a horizontal boom. Typically, the vertical movement of the boom up and down the mast is powered using an electric motor. If the horizontal movement of the boom is powered as well, the device can be used to perform longitudinal welds. However, some manipulators do not have mechanized boom travel and exist primarily to hold the torch at a fixed point in space above a welding positioner. Small manipulators may be mounted to a base having castors or lift points that permit ease in moving the device to the workpiece.
- These devices are typically portable and consist of a track and carriage. The welding torch is mounted to the carriage, and the track is typically affixed to the workpiece using magnets, permitting both in- or out-of-position welding. Specially designed track torches can be affixed to pipes for circumferential welding.
- Seamers are specialized side-beam that has integrated workpiece clamps. The workpiece clamps are cantilevered over the equipment’s base, which allows loading and unloading from a single side. Seamers are especially popular for performing longitudinal welds on smaller-diameter tanks and pipes.
- Oscillators are an important accessory for many of the arc-motion devices described above. These devices can be affixed to a carriage or boom and permit the mounting of a welding torch. The oscillator is then able to finely manipulate the position of the torch—back and forth—similarly to how a welder would perform wide weave weld passes.
The adage “work smarter, not harder” can certainly be applied to the use of welding positioners and arc-motion devices. And because there is such a wide range of equipment types and capacities, finding a device that fits within your budget is not a complex task.
Furthermore, these devices can be rented, allowing you to invest in the best technology for the job when you need it. Sometimes, the best solution may be to integrate both a work-motion and arc-motion device into a single weld cell. Red-D-Arc Welder Rentals has automation specialists who are able to help you identify the best devices for your application.
“Welding Pipe” encompasses many applications ranging from small-diameter sanitary tubing to large-diameter pressure vessels. Some applications are more accessible to automate than others, but many difficult-to-automate applications can still be assisted by some degree of mechanical integration into the pipe welding process (mechanization).
But automation adds complexity to the welding process. Successful automation requires additional equipment, fixturing, and control of manufacturing processes (for example: part geometry and fit-up). In short, automation is not without cost—tangible and intangible.
So why automate?
- Helps improve productivity. Machines can achieve a higher operator factor (more time spent welding versus time spent not welding) and handle higher deposition rates than even a dedicated welder using a handheld semi-automatic welding process.
- Helps improve quality. Mechanization controls the fine motor skills required to produce high-quality welds. This means that fatigue does not become a detractor to weld quality. This also means that newer operators may be able to produce high-productivity high-quality welds.
Both general and specialized methods of mechanization and automation can respond to the challenges of the pipe welding industry with respect to the upfront cost and process control that can be afforded.
Welding Roll Out
Rolling out pipe is one of the first methods commonly employed to help automate the welding process, and doing so can significantly maximize welding productivity. Typical methods of rolling pipe place the pipe “in position ” As with welding plates, welding in position allows the use of high productivity welding parameters since the adverse influences of gravity are minimized.
While evaluating your application, look at pipe-to-flange, pipe-to-elbow, or straight pipe-to-pipe connections, which can be accomplished as subassemblies. Once you have identified these sub-assemblies, consider the following equipment:
- Pipe Stands: The equivalent of jack stands for small-to-medium pipe weldments. Most pipe stands are approximately waist high with adjustments up and down. The stand includes a set of rolls whose distance apart can be adjusted to accommodate pipes of different sizes. Some pipe stands integrate a powered roll into the stand so that a separate welding positioner is not required.
- Pipe Rollers: These are typically used for rolling larger-diameter and heavier pipe assemblies. Much like pipe stands, a single pipe roller features a set of wheels with an adjustable wheelbase. Two or more pipe rollers—at least one of which is powered—are required to cradle the assembly low to the ground.
Achieving the Weave
Oscillation—also known as weaving—is a commonly employed welding technique to achieve wider weld bead width to span a joint, deposit additional weld metal per pass, or combine both. However, weaving properly requires skill to maintain good bead contour and consistency. But even skilled operators can experience fatigue when attempting to maximize welding productivity. Therefore, to recreate the technique of a professional welder, a precision device is required to implement oscillation.
The Process Pipe Cell is a near-turnkey solution for some pipe weldments that implements both work-motion and arc-motion to facilitate welding in-position but with manual welding. Work motion is provided by a welding drop-tilt welding turntable. Arc-motion is provided by an oscillator specially designed for welding. The mechanism of the oscillator is mounted to a welding manipulator so that the torch is supported as it traverses side-to-side across the weld joint. Oscillator, manipulator, and power source controls are mounted at a single location on the welding manipulator away from the weld joint to allow the welding operator to perform many adjustments during and between weld passes without having to leave the control station.
The Small Stuff: Orbital Welding
Orbital welding is true welding automation; with the push of a switch, an operator can fuse two small-diameter pieces of tubing to a level of quality suitable for pressurized and sanitary applications. In addition, automation is attractive for reducing the risk of rework when encountering small diameter pipe/tube since welding becomes increasingly difficult as pipe/tube diameter decreases.
One type of orbital welding system consists of a specialized GTAW/TIG power source and an unconventional welding torch that clamps around the weld joint. After clamping around the joint, a welding head inside the torch performs a full out-of-position revolution around the weld joint to produce a high-quality autogenous weld in an inert atmosphere (note that an internal shielding gas purge may still be required in some applications). The specialized power source simplifies developing a high-quality welding procedure by coming preloaded with parameters (amperage, travel speed, etc.) that can be selected respective to the diameter and thickness being welded.
The Big Stuff: Cladding
The use of welding processes is not limited to simply joining two workpieces. For example, cladding often uses conventional arc welding processes to deposit stainless steel or nickel alloy onto the surface of lower-cost base material to improve the component’s overall performance in corrosive and/or high-temperature environments.
Some systems implement GMAW, SAW, or GTAW. Regardless of the process used, the cladding operation requires making many overlapping passes, sometimes across several weld layers. Low dilution processes and parameters are ideal for minimizing the number of weld layers that may be required. Red-D-Arc supplies a variety of turnkey cladding systems that couple automation with hot-wire TIG. These systems allow the use of high cladding travel speeds, reasonable deposition rates, and low dilution.
While not all applications can be easily automated or mechanized, the variety of equipment available makes it viable for many use-cases in the world of pipe welding. Some options provide great flexibility in how they can be implemented, such as pipe stands and rollers that can accommodate a wide range of pipe diameters.
Other systems are turnkey, such as the Process Pipe Cell. Although more complex, turnkey solutions can automate a more significant portion of the welding process “out of the box.” Contact Us Today to speak with Red-D-Arc’s automation experts. This specialized team is available to assess the needs of your welding application and help you better understand potential solutions for your application.
Tools that Improve Pipe Welding Efficiency
Discovering new equipment is an excellent step in improving operational efficiency. However, the first step of any improvement is changing your thinking about the existing process.
What isn’t working about the “old way” of doing things? How does new equipment address those deficiencies? This article aims to share not just tools used to improve pipe welding efficiency but considerations to make about the welding process before researching equipment.
Portable generators are available in a wide range of sizes, referring both to the physical dimensions and capability—the output—of the unit. Consumer units that are light enough to be lifted or wheeled by hand certainly provide unique benefits to the home and small jobsite. But as demand grows, so must the generator. The next “nominal” footprint is that of the towable diesel generator. These units are a more appropriately scaled solution for large events, busy construction sites, and critical systems in need of emergency power.
Whether you are a professional or amateur gearhead, the automotive shop you work in requires a lot of tools, technology, and know-how to bring a project from start to finish. In that process, welding is one of many critical skills in the world of automotive fabrication and repair. Like all skills, staying sharp on the tools and techniques used in automotive welding can certainly pay dividends by making your work higher quality, faster, and easier.
Welding Processes for Intake and Exhaust Fabrication & Repair
Intake and exhaust components often utilize either Gas Metal Arc Welding (aka MIG) or Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (aka TIG). When comparing the two processes, TIG offers a much greater degree of control at the expense of speed and ease of use while MIG offers improved speed and ease of use at the expense of precision. It is possible to fabricate complete systems using either process, but muffler repair shops working on consumer-grade and OEM components typically employ MIG, while custom fabrication typically employs TIG.
If you’re searching for a welding machine, you may stumble across descriptions such as “transformer” or “inverter.” If you are unsure which is best for your application, at least know this: transformer and inverter welders are perfectly capable of producing high-quality welds. However, keep in mind that most new models produced by industry-leading manufacturers are inverter-based.
Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding—more formally known as Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW)—is well-suited for welding aluminum. Although the process is significantly slower than GMAW (MIG), TIG welding offers unmatched control of weld penetration and profile. This level of control is enhanced by the features available on modern TIG welders.
When it is tough to bring the workpiece to a source of power, it is often necessary to bring the power source to the workpiece. By combining the capability of a welding power source with the functionality of a portable generator, the engine-driven welder generator often becomes one of the most versatile pieces of equipment on the jobsite.
Engine-driven welder generator rentals power all sorts of job sites. The “mobile welding rig”—a work truck outfitted with an “engine drive” welder— is a common sight alongside the spans of onshore pipelines, heavy equipment in need of repair, or structural and bridge construction sites. Of course, equipment trailers are a popular accessory for those who need to free up bed space.
A vast array of equipment power plants and feature sets ensure that both the home hobbyist and professional welding outfit can access the power and processes they need in the field. A home hobbyist unit may start out having a gasoline engine providing a 4.5 kW single-phase maximum output while some of the largest dual-operator units are diesel-powered and offer maximum three-phase outputs of approximately 25 kW.
Induction heating is a modern approach to supporting the welding process with preheat and post-weld heat treatment (PWHT) as well as other industrial tasks such as coating removal and placing or removing shrink-fit components. Although the conventional use of induction heating is limited to magnetic base materials, applications capable of using the process can reap significant operational savings and benefits compared to “conventional” heating processes such as flame/torch or even resistive heating. Could you be a good candidate for implementing induction heating into your welding or industrial maintenance processes? Shown here are just a few target use cases.
Lincoln’s Dual Maverick Diesel Engine Driven Welder
Dual Maverick 450 Engine Driven Welder
How did the Dual Maverick 200/200X get its name? When you glance at the front panel of this diesel engine-driven welder, you might start seeing double: two front panels and two sets of output lugs. As the name implies, the Dual Maverick 200/200X is a dual-operator welding power source. The 24.8 horsepower water-cooled Kubota diesel engine in the Dual Maverick has the capacity to allow two welding operators to weld independently of one another.
The alternative is to supply each welding operator with their own engine-driven welding machine, but this approach has drawbacks. Placing this extra equipment on the jobsite creates additional clutter and requires additional maintenance. Likewise, the one welder/one welding machine approach is less fuel-efficient. Lincoln Electric claims that a multi-user welding machine like the Maverick Dual 200/200X can reduce fuel and maintenance expenses by up to 33% per 1000 hours, which equates to approximately one year of “typical” use.
Aluminum alloys continue to gain popularity in metal fabrication worldwide due in part to the ease with which these alloys can be fabricated—bent, welded, and most importantly, cut. The ease at which aluminum can be cut to shape and size can have a big influence on the cost and quality of subsequent operations and the final component itself. As with steel, the use of plasma arc cutting (PAC) on aluminum alloys is a popular choice for quickly producing high-quality cuts.
Speed is one of the greatest justifications for plasma arc cutting aluminum over mechanical cutting methods. Laser cutting can certainly exceed the speed of plasma but is not without its own process disadvantages. Waterjet cutting certainly has advantages over plasma from a metallurgical and edge quality perspective. Instead, cutting aluminum with plasma provides an excellent balance of speed, quality, and cost. Compared to these other processes, it has a notably lower capital investment and is also simpler to implement as a handheld process for in-service repairs in both the field and shop.
Equipment for Flux Core Welding
Like shielded metal arc welding (SMAW, stick), Flux Core Welding (FCAW) is a popular welding process that uses the assistance of flux within a tubular wire to help produce high-quality welds. Unlike shielded metal arc welding, flux cored welding can be divided into two distinct processes: self-shielded flux-cored arc welding (FCAW-S) and gas-shielded flux-cored arc welding (FCAW-G).
Both the home hobbyist and professional welder will encounter situations where one process is advisable over the other. FCAW-G is most often used indoors, while FCAW-S is typically used outdoors. To maximize productivity and quality, welders should become familiar with the welding tools and equipment of both processes so that they can quickly setup and operate whichever process is best for their application and welding environment.
Aluminum welding is one of the most critical processes in manufacturing. By understanding the challenges of aluminum welding, manufacturers can produce stronger and more reliable products. Aluminum is a unique material that requires special techniques to weld properly. It is valued for it’s lightness and is often used in aircraft construction. This guide will discuss the different steps involved in the aluminum welding process and why you must follow a specific protocol when welding with this material.
With welding, as in many things, having the right tools is crucial. As a beginning welder, the appropriate equipment varies depending on the type of welding work you plan to accomplish. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all option; the proper welder for working in a steel mill or auto shop is often out of place on a construction site or in your personal workshop at home. A welder rental provides the opportunity to find the best fit for your needs.
To put your best foot forward, take the time to learn about the different types of welding and the equipment involved. As a newcomer to the field, you can discover the important facts in the following welder rental FAQ resource.
Selecting the Right Welding Method
When thinking about renting welding equipment, many contractors imagine visiting a local hardware shop with a small selection of soil compactors and other basic items. In reality, today’s rental solutions are nothing like that. You can find high-quality precision machinery maintained in optimal condition, from plasma cutters to TIG rentals
With professional welder rental, companies in countless industries are able to reach their goals on time and within budget:
- Oil drilling
- Industrial pipe welding
- Automotive assembly and repair
- Specialty production and prototyping
Many businesses perform welding tasks every day, including parts manufacturers, vehicle makers, construction businesses and repair shops. People who enjoy do-it-yourself projects can handle automotive tasks or home repairs with a good arc welder. Thanks to welder rental options, you don’t even need to purchase welding equipment to get the job done.
Two popular types of arc welding equipment are metal inert gas (MIG) welding and tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding. What are the differences? How can you decide whether MIG or TIG welding is the right method for your application.
MIG Welding Process
MIG welding utilizes a welding gun with a machine-fed consumable wire. This metal wire serves as the electrode and provides the filler material for the weld at the same time.
While you work, the MIG welder delivers inert gas (usually argon) to shield the weld pool and protect the metal from contamination. The MIG welding gun automatically feeds more wire into the molten pool as you advance, so this option provides “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” welds that are easy to start, direct and control.
There are several reasons you might need to rent a generator in 2021. Perhaps your home has lost power, and you need to keep things running until the electric company makes repairs. As most residents of this area know, this isn’t a far-fetched idea, as millions of people lost power previously this year.
Or maybe you have an event coming up, and you need to have power in a location that currently doesn’t have it, like a large field. Whatever the reason, before you rent a generator, you need to consider the costs.
You can rent various generators, and it’s important to get one right for your needs. Ordering a generator that doesn’t supply enough power can result in safety hazards while ordering a generator that provides too much could waste your resources. Below we’ll help you calculate the costs of a generator rental in 2021 to help ensure you get exactly what you need at the right price.
Southern states find the winter months colder every year, leaving power grids strained as people warm their homes and businesses. Midwestern states continue to battle tornado weather during the spring. Even northern states are seeing an increase in electrical needs as temperatures soar higher in the summer. If you run a business or industrial complex, you understand just how important continued access to electricity is. You also know just how easily grids can become overwhelmed or powerlines can go down, leaving you in the dark; unless, of course, you’ve opted for an industrial generator rental. (more…)
A good generator rental can mean the difference between a profitable and failed project. Generators make it possible for you to source power during natural disasters and in areas without existing infrastructure. When sourcing a generator, you might wonder if buying is better than renting. You might also feel overwhelmed by the many different types of generators you can choose from. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the factors you need to consider. (more…)
Seasonal events like heatwaves increase the usage of power-hungry amenities from HVAC units at homes to buildings to reactor coolant systems in nuclear power plants.
Fluctuations in electric power during summer peaks may cause hardware failures and the cessation of business-critical operations for banks, hospitals, FMCG, refineries, and other sectors that need a continuous supply of power.
This enormous strain on the power grid and unpredictable electricity supply could lead to the loss of investment worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
That’s where electrical power reliability can protect public health and infrastructure.
Industrial generator rentals provide alternative electric sources that offer a steady stream of high-quality power to minimize production losses and operational downtime.
Power plants can rely on diesel generator sets in their job sites as an efficient emergency power backup source to provide capacity in the event of rising demand or fluctuation in supply.