Orbital Welding 101

Orbital Welding 101: A Step-by-Step Guide for Newbies

Orbital welding is a vital process for many important applications in modern life. From pipe fittings, regulators to boiler tubes, and the semiconductor industry, there is nothing you can’t achieve through orbital welding. Although it is a beneficial welding method, it requires some skill to master it perfectly. And you can not become a welder without mastering these skills.

If you’re a beginner in the welding field, it is essential to be acquainted with everything regarding orbital welding. We’ve discussed some important facts related to orbital welding to help you learn about it in detail.

What Is Orbital Welding?

Orbital welding is a specialized form of welding that deals with mechanized welding of fastened pipes when the arc rotates around the pipe, making an orbit. It is the most common welding method for connecting pipes or tubes. The electrode or the arc that takes a rotation around the pipe/tube makes an angle of 360 degrees.

And orbital welding allows you to achieve a more significant result compared to manual TIG welding. Since it involves automation and mechanization, the results are more accurate, and the effort is minimal.

So, with orbital welding, you can expect maximum efficiency with minimum attempts.

Benefits of Orbital Welding

There are many welding methods available to create well-defined welds in different applications. But orbital welding is an excellent form of welding due to its multiple benefits. Some of these benefits are-

1. Offers Great Accuracy

An orbital weld delivers a high-quality result with all the appropriate equipment and mounting. The results are more precise and error-free compared to manual welding methods.

Pharmaceutical and semiconductor applications involve processes that require maximum accuracy without any fallacy. This is possible through orbital welding.

2. Versatile

Orbital welding is a versatile method; i.e., it can perform many tasks that are almost impossible through manual welding. Welding required in narrow and tight spaces cannot be achieved manually. This is where orbital welding can help.

3. Avoids Contamination

This welding is carried out in a cleanroom to avoid contamination of the pipes and other materials required in welding. So, the results are not exposed to any contamination that might degrade the welding.

4. Efficient

Automated orbital welding allows the whole process to be documented beforehand to give a clear idea about the time, production cost, etc. So, it is an efficient and productive welding method.

When Is Orbital Welding Used?

Orbital welding is a highly effective welding method. It is mainly used under the following conditions-

  • When manual welding can compromise the safety and well-being of the welder. Although safety equipment like the best welding respirators can minimize the effect, it is better to go for orbital welding. Some welding processes require the handling of complicated situations. In these situations, automated welding or orbital welding is used.
  • When a large number of quantities and customized parts are needed, it becomes difficult on the part of the welder to complete it manually. In that case, orbital welding can be used. Since it is a mechanized welding method, the task gets done smoothly, and large quantities are derived in no time.

Orbital Welding Equipment

Orbital welding requires four vital equipment to conduct the whole process. A programmable power supply, welding head, wire feeder, and coolant system are the leading equipment necessary for this type of welding.

Power Supply

You can use a power supply, usually small, medium, or large, depending on your requirement. Each power supply is built-in to control shielding gas flow, the intensity of the flowing current, pulse rate, head travel speed, and wire feed speed. They are referred to as the axes of settings in welding.

A portable power source can generate a current up to 160 amperes and regulates all the four axes settings.

The advantage of having a portable and compact source is that you can easily carry it and pass it through narrow and tight spaces. A medium-sized source can generate 400 amperes of current, controls the traditional four axes along with oscillation and voltage control.

Large size sources can generate up to 600 amperes of current. It can regulate more than all the axes that a medium one can control.

Welding Head

These are of different types ranging from open and closed weld heads. The open heads can again be classified into U-type and carriage-type. They vary based on diameter.

The heads are particularly used to secure the electrodes and maintaining the heating temperature during orbital welding. They also play some role in fastening the pipes or tubes to be welded.

Wire Feeder

A wire feeder ensures more productive welding. They can vary from basic to advanced, depending on the requirement.

The wire feeder plays a significant role in carrying out the operation, so a durable wire feeder should be chosen carefully.

Control System

Here, a control system mainly refers to a water or air coolant system that controls the equipment from heat injuries.

Air coolant systems are more comfortable to operate and are necessary for extensive volume welding. They also work well in case of higher amperage. On the other hand, a water coolant system is portable and works for small volume and lower amperage welds.

Preparation for Orbital Welding

When you’re a beginner and diving into orbital welding for the first time, it is recommended to have a straightforward plan from beforehand.

Before you start your welding process, it is better to prepare a few things at first-

Preparing the Tube/Pipe End

Preparing tube/pipe ends can make a big difference in your welding process. Your welds’ results will be more durable if you prepare the ends of the tubes/pipes accordingly.

Make sure that the tubes are even when placed side by side. Also, make sure that you have sharpened the cutting blades properly. Such sharpening will not cause any deformity during clamping and prevent further damage to the pipes.

Selection of the Material

It is important to select the accurate metal for your welding projects. The correct metals used will improve the longevity of the welds.

Metallic alloys of similar tolerances will be suitable for the job. Anything with a difference in trace elements and alloy components will result in a poor-quality weld.

Welding Gases

Orbital welding involves the use of a mixture of gases to obtain the best results possible. Usually, a mixture of helium, argon, hydrogen, etc., is used for orbital welding in different percentages.

A mixture of 98 percent argon with 2 percent hydrogen and 75 percent helium with 25 percent argon is commonly used in orbital welding.

Conclusion

Overall, orbital welding is a beneficial and productive welding method for different daily and industrial applications. As a beginner, it can get tough to understand the basics of this type of welding. Our informative guide will be useful enough for beginners to have a clear idea about orbital welding.

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