Air-Cooled Versus Water-Cooled Torches
Wondering what the key differences are between an air-cooled and water-cooled robot welding torch? Do you seek guidance in better understanding your welding process needs? Than this article is for you! For optimal performance and cost, it is always good to have the correct torch in place and the goal of this article is to help you arrive at that place.
In a water-cooled torch, the cooling solution comes through the hoses and circulates through the body and consumables of the torch and then back to the cooler where the heat is absorbed. This cools the torch off so you can weld at higher amperages for longer periods of time. These torches typically use less copper in their power cables as the cooling solution removes the resistive heat before buildup and damage.
Water-cooled torches do an exceptional job working for long stretches and running continuously. This enables production at higher temperatures and faster paces.
Depending on the amperage load, water cooled torches can get back to a cooled state in 30 seconds- 2 minutes because of the efficient external cooling system.
It is important to note that water-cooled torches are more expensive as there is more equipment (such as a water cooler) to purchase.
Air-cooled torches are cooled by air; they use the ambient air and shielding gas to dissipate the heat. Thicker copper cabling is used to enable the cable to transfer the electricity to the gun without excessive heat build-up.
These systems are simpler and more rugged, ultimately requiring less maintenance. If there were a collision to the system, there would be less damage as there is less over-all equipment.
Deciding Which is Right for You
Deciding which is right for your business will require consideration of your amperage requirements, duty cycle, work site location, material, gas mixture, and budget.
The amp range for water-cooled torches is between 300 – 600 amps. The amp range for air-cooled torches is between 150-600 amps.
Welding process that require an extremely high amperage with a high duty cycle, such as repeatedly welding at 800 amps, the water-cooled torch is the way to go. An air-cooled torch just wouldn’t hold up to the high amperage stress and would eventually affect the quality and consistency of the welds.
On the contrary, if your company will be welding sheet metal a few minutes every hour than a water-cooled system may be unnecessary. have a low duty-cycle requiring low-amperage and thinner material, than an air-cooled torch will suit your needs.
A duty cycle is the amount of time during a 10-minute cycle that the gun can operate at its rated capacity without getting too hot. Typically, an air-cooled torch can perform at a duty cycle below 50%. Anything above would be more successful with a water-cooled torch. It is also important to note that two guns both rated at 400 amps can have different duty cycles, so it is important to consider the amperage and duty cycle together to form an accurate assessment.
Water-cooled guns require more equipment so they take up more space. Air-cooled guns can be used in remote locations with no access to water and are more easily transported from site to site.
Also knowing the type of material, you will be using is helpful or if your your production line has tight spaces (which are more easily tackled by a water-cooled torch). Shiny metals such as aluminum and thicker metals lend better to a water-cooled torch.
The gas mixture and pulsing both affect the welding torch as well. CO2 gas on its own can achieve full amperage however when it is mixed with Argon, Helium, or Oxygen, there is more amperage capacity lost. For instance, a 75/25 mix of CO2 and Argon would bring your torch from 500 amp to 400 amp in rating and would continue to change with a mixture change. This is also the case with pulsing. Pulsed arc welding can reduce the rating of the torch by up to 35%.
Finally, it is important to look at the price of the torch, maintenance costs, downtime costs, and overall productivity.
As mentioned, there are higher costs associated with the purchase of a water-cooled system as one has to purchase an entire system that includes a radiator, pump, hose lines, and more. There are also more extensive maintenance costs associated with the additional equipment.
However, the coolant in the system also helps to extend the overall service life of the consumables which leads to less downtime.
Considering all of these factors and then choosing the right tool for your welding process will help save you time and money.
If you seek to get the most out of your robotic cell for as little investment as possible contact RobotWorx experts today. RobotWorx experts have over 25 years of experience in automated welding solutions. We are ready to discuss your welding needs to provide you with an optimal welding process. We look forward to working with you; contact experts online or at 740-251-4312.