Robotic Pipe Welding
Pipe welding uses heat to join multiple sections of pipes together in order to create a single piece of metal. It requires finesse and flexibility as it deals with different pipe dimensions, materials, and fittings that all call for different welding applications, torch angles, etc.
Radial friction welding is a common method for pipe welding. It uses rotation and radial compression of a solid beveled ring into a V-preparation provided by the pipe ends. No additional filler material is used as welding takes place in the solid phase. The pipe ends are butted together and clamped securely to stop them rotating or moving apart. In order to prevent collapse of the pipe ends or penetration of upset metal formed during the weld sequence, a mandrel is located in the bore of the weld location. To promote metal flow from the base of the weld preparation, a ring made from a compatible material is more sharply beveled than the pipes. In addition, this decreases the initial torque demand normally associated with the start of a friction cycle when cold surfaces come into contact. See the diagram below. This needs to be a very meticulous process as the pipes that are created can sometimes be used to transport hazardous materials. If a connection or repair was not properly executed, this could pose a big safety threat. Even erroneous pipes that don’t transport dangerous substances could be problematic when not carried out correctly. For these reasons, manual welders are required to take multiple tests and get a professional certification that ensures the knowledge of different pipe linking methods and the factors that could affect the quality of the connections.
These rigorous tests alone prove that pipe welding is a complicated and serious task not to be taken lightly. Let alone the fact that a trustworthy manual pipe welder is not easy to find; so let us recommend a consistent worker who produces incredibly consistent welds and never needs a lunch break or holiday...a robotic pipe welding system!
Why you should automate your pipe welding?
Automated pipe welding provides a reliable, flexible, and consistent solution while also offering higher deposition welds and greater fusion. A 6-axis robotic arm is capable of quick, efficient torch positioning. It produces exceptional and consistent weld quality as the EOAT gives extraordinary control over a task that can be grueling for manual welders. In addition, there is never variation in quality that can sometimes occur with manual welding, the results are always consistent and repeatable. This results in fewer do-overs which equates to less wasted product material and better throughput.
This ultimately saves time and provides unbeatable flexibility while maintaining optimal weldment quality. Click here to continue reading about why you should automate your pipe welding process.
What pipes can be welded with automated systems?
Pipe Welding automation accommodates straight cut pipe welds as well as several odlet fittings such as a Sockolet, Threadolet, or Elbolet.
A Sockolet has a socket for welding that makes a 90° branch. It is available in full size or reducing for a straight piece of pipe and offered as Class 3000, 6000 and 9000 for high pressures.
An Elbolet can be used on 90° long radius elbows, shortradius elbows, and 180° returns. It is available with buttweld, socketweld, or threaded connections and can be used for Thermowell, instrumentation connections, and as a drain connection when there is not sufficient room for a Weldolet.
A Threadolet has a female threaded connection to mate to the branch connection that creates a 90° branch and comes in full size or reducing for a straight piece of pipe. It is typically welded over a hole drilled or burned in the pipe and sizes can range from 1/2" to 2.” No matter the size of the pipe, there is an olet to do the job.
Technical Advances Available in Pipe Welding
With the integration of advanced technology, every element of the process can now be monitored and controlled offline - from voltage, current and wire feed speed, to torch angle and weld penetration. Adjustments to work piece positioners, torch orientation, welding power source, robotic arm movements allow for fine-tuned, precise results. Through-the-Arc SeamTracking (TAST) is also available and enables the integration of current as the welding torch oscillates across the joint. This is beneficial as the controller can then alter the path and correct for joint misalignment. TAST can also be setup to allow the robot to modify its path as it weaves across the weld joint based on any joint location shift caused by distortion or part spring back.
When sensors, through-the-arc tracking, and even vision software are combined, robotic pipe welding is a force to be reckoned with.
Pipe Welding Offers Huge ROI
Depending on the complexity, parts needed, and your learning curve, you can expect to see your ROI on a pipe welding system within 6-24 months; the quality in the products can be seen immediately. Don’t delay your pipe welding automation ROI any longer, get started today!