by Tim Wilson
New power sources make welding easier, faster and better
Power applications for welding have come a long way, yet we continue to see innovative developments. These tend to focus on robotics, mobility and reliability, with new advances as well to ensure that maintenance and upkeep are as simple as possible. Miller Electric, for example, has its multiprocess XMT ArcReach systems, which has remote control.
“The remote control capabilities of this system are ideal in industries where portability is valued and where welding occurs in an area that is not conveniently located near the power source,” says Ken Stanzel, product manager, Miller Electric. “Construction and shipbuilding are examples, as the welding on these jobsites can sometimes take place hundreds of feet away from the power source.”
With this technology, voltage can be set at the weld joint without the use of control cables, because the power source and
feeder communicate down the weld cable using high-speed digital serial communication. These advantages can also be brought to the Miller SuitCase X-Treme 12 VS or 8 VS ArcReach feeders.
“All SuitCase X-Treme wire feeders are voltage sensing. They get the power to operate from the welding output, eliminating the need for a heavy, easily damaged control cord,” says Stanzel. “The ArcReach technology provides voltage control at the feeder, whereas in non-ArcReach systems, making voltage adjustments would require a trip back to the power source.”
When welding, a MIG process requires two parameters: voltage and wire feed speed. In non-ArcReach equipped power sources, those parameters can be hundreds of feet apart. ArcReach technology places both parameters on the face of the wire feeder, providing point-of-use control at the weld joint.
“This capability increases productivity by eliminating trips back to the power source to change settings,” says Stanzel. “It also improves weld quality since welding operators don’t have to ‘make due’ with less-than-optimal weld settings, and it reduces maintenance costs and downtime associated with diagnosing and/or repairing control cables. Lastly, it helps improve safety by reducing trips to the power source and, with it, potential tripping or falling hazards.”
Robotics is also changing the world welding power supply. Lincoln Electric, for example, has four power sources designed to integrate with robotic systems: Power Wave i400, PowerWave 455M Robotic, PowerWave 455M/STT Robotic, and PowerWave 655 Robotic. These all come with Waveform Control technology that allows for fine tuning for wire type, dimensions, and shielding gas, as well as for travel speed, bead shape, and penetration and appearance. They are versatile power sources that can work with MIG, Pulsed-MIG, Tandem MIG, and Flux-Cored or Metal-Cored applications.
And having a power source that is constant and reliable is critical, which means having an intelligent system that can adapt to changing conditions. In this regard, Fronius is embarking on what it calls its “intelligent revolution,” which has as its focus a welding system that can adjust to changing conditions in real-time.
“Our focus is to provide a highly intelligent welding system which adapts nearly instantaneously to changing conditions in order to keep the arc stable, achieve constant penetration, and fastest travel speeds for the best possible weld,” says Shaun Relyea, Fronius’s technical support manager for North America. “With the intelligent revolution, the user can focus on the job at hand and not worry about constantly adjusting the equipment for changing conditions.”
Specifically, Fronius has the CMT Twin and the Time Twin process. This is a tandem process using two wires in the same puddle. With Time Twin, the power sources are synchronized so that when welding in pulse mode, the pulse phases are 180 degrees apart.
“The advantage of this is low risk of arc blow, very low spatter, and high arc stability,” says Relyea. “CMT Twin utilizes the Fronius CMT process on both wires for thin materials to increase travel speeds. It is also common to use pulse on the lead wire for deep penetration, and the CMT trail wire to eliminate undercutting, as well as for best seam appearance.”
Relyea says that CMT Twin provides the highest travel speeds possible using two wires, while also keeping the heat input very low. There are no extra maintenance issues with using a twin wire process, but there are restrictions on torch access and torch angles, as the torch is larger than it is with single wire systems. Overall, inverter systems tend to require low maintenance.
“It is recommended that the inside of the machine is cleaned with dry compressed air once a month,” says Relyea. “This will keep metallic particles in ambient air from collecting in the machine to a point which can cause a premature failure. The systems should also be allowed to have proper airflow around the machine to keep them from getting over heated.” SMT