Tips for Mechanical Contractors: Choosing the Right Welding Equipment for Your Projects

October 18, 2023 · Leave a comment · Red-D-Arc
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Mechanical contractors weld everything from HVAC sheet metal to process piping and pressure vessels. Welding mechanical equipment and piping systems requires the utmost precision and quality to meet code requirements and client expectations. At the same time, contractors must be highly efficient and productive to stay competitive and improve their bottom line.

This article will help you choose the best welding and cutting equipment for your mechanical contracting projects. With the right gear, you can be more productive and achieve exceptional results for your clients.

MIG Welding Power Sources

The MIG welding process offers significant productivity gain compared to stick and TIG welding for many applications and gives you additional versatility of using solid and metal-cored wires. In addition, gas-shielded and self-shielded flux-cored wires provide the versatility you need to adapt to almost any metal contracting job with high productivity.

  • Solid MIG wire – Used for standard gas-shielded MIG welding. Provides excellent arc characteristics in short-circuit, spray transfer, and pulsed arc modes.
  • Metal-cored MIG wire – Tubular wire filled with metallic powders, alloys, and arc stabilizers. It offers an exceptional deposition rate and doesn’t produce slag. In addition, it tolerates mill scale and rust better. Metal cored wires excel at welding single-pass welds using the spray transfer mode.
  • Self-shielded flux-cored wire (FCAW-S) – It doesn’t require a shielding gas, making it the best solution for outdoor welding. This wire offers a better deposition rate, travel speed, and efficiency than stick welding. It’s an excellent substitute for MMA to beat time constraints and achieve higher productivity and weld quality. 
  • Gas-shielded flux-cored wire (FCAW-G) – Offers high deposition rates and can be used for out-of-position welding since its slag solidifies faster than the weld metal. But, it requires a shielding gas, just like solid MIG wires.

As you can see, having a MIG welding power source gives you a wide selection of wires you can use, each with their advantages and disadvantages. In addition, you can choose between short-circuit, spray, and pulsed spray arc transfers that best suit your needs, making the MIG welding process highly adaptable for almost all mechanical welding jobs.

Our Miller PipeWorx 400 Welding System is an excellent choice for mechanical contractors who often weld pipes. It’s a multi-process welder that supports advanced MIG modes, DC TIG, stick, and flux-cored welding. PipeWorx 400 is specifically optimized to deliver superior performance when making root, fill, and cap weld passes on pipes. It features the advanced regulated metal deposition (RMD) MIG welding mode, which is a precisely controlled short-circuit metal transfer mode. The RMD reduces the chance of lack of fusion, creates less spatter, and provides a higher quality pipe root pass. In some stainless steel pipe applications, you may even eliminate the need for argon purging when using Miller’s RMD, which can significantly improve your productivity. When applicable, pairing the RMD for root pass and pulsed MIG for fill passes allows you to use one process and one wire for the whole pipe weld.

TIG Welding Power Sources

The TIG welding process is the best choice for delicate welds, and when the weld quality and accuracy are paramount. For example, welding pressure vessel valves and manholes, water manifolds, heat exchangers, fittings, and other mechanical welding applications where maximum precision is required.

Our fleet of advanced TIG welders is ready to help you take on the most delicate mechanical contracting jobs. Using Miller’s Dynasty and Syncrowave TIG machines, you get the best pulsed and standard TIG with advanced adjustability, allowing you to tune your arc perfectly. You can modify the AC balance, EP and EN amperage output independently, output frequency, pulse peak time, pulse background amps, and pulse frequency. The Miller Dynasty 400 allows you to output up to 5000 pulses per second, which is highly beneficial when welding sensitive alloys like stainless steel. In addition, you can use up to four AC TIG waveforms, each with a different puddle action for maximum versatility. 

Plasma Cutters

Plasma cutters are essential tools for any mechanical contractor in the HVAC industry. Computer-controlled (CNC) plasma cutting power sources slice and shape the sheet metal for ducts, brackets, gussets, and flanges. But, plasma cutters also play a major role in demolishing and removing old equipment, piping, and various systems like sprinkler systems. 

Red-D-Arc offers top-of-the-line Hypertherm plasma cutters ranging from small, hand-held cutters you would use on-site, like the Hypertherm Viper 30 XP, to highly powerful cutters, like the Hypertherm Python 85 and Python 125.

Specialized Pipe Welding Equipment

Mechanical contractors who often weld pipes, like process piping, commercial piping, underground distribution piping, and jacketed piping, can benefit from specialized pipe welding equipment. 

Orbital welders are indispensable for making the highest quality welds, often required by strict codes and standards in the petrochemical, food and beverage, semiconductor, and pharmaceutical industries. Orbital weld heads, like the Axxair Fusion closed orbital weld head, rotate the tungsten electrode around the pipe and maintain optimal torch position at all times. As a result, the produced weld has consistent quality. These systems don’t rely on the operator to TIG weld manually, so human error is minimized.

Our process pipe cell (PPC) is an automated MIG/Flux-cored oscillating pipe welding system. It supports a dual wire feeder and can be used with various power sources, including the MIller PipeWorx 400 and Lincoln’s advanced process Power Wave systems, like the S350, S500, and S700. So, you can weld pipes using Miller’s RMD short-circuit MIG or Lincoln’s surface tension transfer (STT) advanced technologies. The PPC allows you to run a root weld with MIG and hot and cap passes with flux-cored or solid wires, automating the welding procedure and producing outstanding results. 

Weld Automation Equipment

Besides orbital TIG welders and process pipe cells, you can use several other weld automation equipment to enhance the productivity and efficiency of your mechanical contracting jobs.

  • Welding positioners – Used for rotating the welded part. The operator stays in one position as they work, which reduces fatigue and improves weld quality and productivity.
  • Welding turning rolls – Allow rotation of large and heavy round components, like large diameter pipe and pressure vessels. Our turning rolls can handle round objects weighing several hundred tons, making welding these massive equipment pieces far safer and easier. 
  • Fit-up bed rollers – Can rotate and translate the large round parts and align them in optimal joint geometry before welding. They are crucial when welding large pressure vessels. The fit-up bed roller aligns the vessel before the mechanized welding head makes a seam weld.
  • Longitudinal seam welders – Irreplaceable tool for making long seam welds on thick materials. Often used for thick plate, pipe, and pressure vessel fabrication. 

BotX™ – Collaborative Robot

Perhaps the most impactful innovation in welding automation is the recent rise of welding cobots. Smart collaborative robots work alongside your welders and multiply their capabilities.

Almost every industry benefits from cobots, and mechanical contracting is no exception. If you often weld medium to large batches of equipment parts, like flanges, brackets, or structural components, our BotX collaborative robot can dramatically increase your operator’s efficiency and time to completion. 

BotX cobot welding system addresses the skilled labor shortage by providing an easy-to-use automation system. Anyone can learn to use BotX in several hours. In fact, BotX is so easy to set that you can quite literally guide its hand and use a highly intuitive app to create the weld path. All you need to do after successful programming is unload the welded parts and load the new ones on the table. As a result, you can skyrocket your productivity, weld accuracy, and joint quality. Contractors who adopt cobots can typically scale their operations and take on more jobs without hiring an additional workforce. Cobots can give you the edge for certain applications and allow you to bid on projects with better time to completion and score more jobs.

Rent or Lease Welding And Cutting Equipment From Red-D-Arc

Whether you want to upgrade to state-of-the-art weld automation equipment, like our BotX or PPC, or expand your MIG or TIG welding fleet, Red-D-Arc is here for you. Mechanical contractors face similar problems as the rest of the welding industry — the need to scale production while maintaining safety and struggling with the shortage of skilled welders. Red-D-Arc allows you to scale in and out with the welding equipment. So, you can allocate your resources as needed instead of investing in expensive equipment that may not provide the ROI for a long time.

Contact us today, and our experts will help you choose the most suitable equipment for your mechanical contracting job. Whether you are working on process piping, HVAC ducts, or anything in between, Red-D-Arc has the equipment you need.

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