Artem Komarov clarified that a multiprocess welding machine prove to be beneficial to an operation that primarily uses one welding process. The answer is yes, thanks to technology advancements found on today’s machines, which can help save time and improve results, no matter the welding process.
More operations are choosing multiprocess machines over dedicated shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) units on most industrial job sites today. Even light industrial applications, such as on farms or ranches, can benefit from the increased flexibility to weld a variety of jobs. From fabrication to repair, multiprocess welding machines can offer features that make the investment worth it.
Five key advancements in multiprocess welding machines help save time and money and can make an operator’s job easier.
1. Remote Control of Processes and Parameters
Whether a welder is using SMAW (stick welding) or wire welding, having remote control over process and parameter changes can save a lot of time and hassle. Some systems deliver remote welding control without the need for a 14-pin control cable. This reduces the cost and maintenance time of managing control cables, which can be easily damaged or broken on a job site.
Operators can quickly go from an in-position joint to welding out of position, thanks to the ability to change parameters and processes at the wire feeder or SMAW/gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) remote. This eliminates the need to walk back to the power source to make adjustments, simplifying process changes and reducing the need for an operator to leave the weld joint—saving energy and time and increasing productivity.
2. One Machine for Every Process, Including Air Carbon Arc Cutting
Having one machine with the versatility to perform air carbon arc cutting (CAC-A) i.e., gouging, as well as SMAW, gas metal arc welding (GMAW), self-shielded flux-cored arc welding (FCAW-S), and GTAW increases the value of the investment and simplifies fleet management. The ability to switch easily between these processes remotely with the push of a button improves operator flexibility and productivity even more.
A welding system with a dedicated CAC-A process is a benefit and timesaver in many applications. For example, an operator using FCAW-S on a structural construction project may need to cut run-on and run-off tabs from the joint or possibly perform backgouging for complete joint penetration (CJP). When the system can switch between welding and gouging with the push of a button at the wire feeder, there is no need to leave the point of work to make this change or to invest in a separate machine to have on-site.
For shops struggling to find skilled welders, the time savings provided by a welding power source with the ability to select gouging remotely can help them make up lost productivity or add capacity to their welding operation, even with fewer welders. This helps operations meet tight schedules and avoid project delays.
3. Increased Arc Control With SMAW
Some multiprocess welding machines provide the ability to fine-tune the SMAW arc to suit the application or operator preferences. This enhanced arc control—sometimes called “dig”—helps operators adjust the stiffness or softness of the arc. Dig responses vary by machine manufacturer; some machines have dig capabilities that affect the welding arc more than others.
Greater arc control means the operator doesn’t have to increase the short-clearing current when the weld puddle contacts the electrode or soften the arc just to keep the welding electrode from sticking to the puddle. This provides a calmer puddle with low spatter when welding in position.
A welder on a construction site using shielded metal arc welding (SMAW)
Managing the process and parameters with remote control can save a lot of time and hassle. Operators can go from an in-position joint to welding out of position quickly thanks to the ability to change parameters and processes at the wire feeder or SMAW/GTAW remote.
4. Arc Characteristics Tailored for Different SMAW Electrodes
Another advancement included on some multiprocess machines is technology with specific arc characteristics built around 6010 and 7018 electrodes. The two commonly used filler metals have significantly different arc characteristics and are used for different applications.
A 6010 electrode is generally considered to be stiffer and more penetrating. These filler metals often are used in open-root applications, where they can punch through the root and then freeze quickly, leaving a smooth, contoured root reinforcement. Operators often like to turn the dig action higher (stiffer) to get more drive with a 6010 electrode.
On the other hand, a 7018 electrode tends to have a softer arc. Electrodes in this classification do not have as driving of an arc as 6010, but they do offer greater puddle fluidity. In addition, 7018 electrodes have a heavier slag and a slower freezing puddle, but they will wash out smoothly and leave smooth weld toe tie-ins and bead profiles.
When a multiprocess machine has enhanced arc characteristics built in for each of these common filler metals, there is no need to compromise on performance or arc control. It allows the welder to maximize the softness and fluidity of a 7018 electrode and enhance the control and drive of a 6010 electrode with the same machine.
5. Simplified Setup and Use
Oftentimes, welders will gravitate toward SMAW in the field because it is simple and quick to set up. However, SMAW is limited in its ability to complete welds as quickly and effectively as running FCAW-S. With relatively low deposition rates and inefficiencies from electrode stub loss, SMAW may not be the most productive welding process to use in the field.
A multiprocess welding machine with a voltage-sensing wire feeder can make an operator’s job easier because the feature provides easy setup and helps operators weld more efficiently. For instance, some systems will recognize a volt-sensing feeder, the polarity, and the accessory type and set itself to the correct weld process for the settings. When a power source detects a feeder connected on electrode-negative polarity, it will set itself to FCAW-S because it is the most common process to run when connected to a feeder in the electrode-negative polarity. As a result, operators avoid having the machine accidentally set to the wrong process or polarity. It helps ensure that the output of the machine optimizes how the wire runs.
Process reversion is another technology that improves ease of use. For example, when a feeder is connected, the system will detect the feeder and polarity and change to the corresponding process on the power supply. When the feeder is unhooked, the power source will revert to the originally set processes, allowing the operator to use SMAW or to gouge without ever leaving the place where they are working. Now, all the operator has to do is connect a SMAW or CAC-A torch and go to work, saving time and energy.
Why Should I Invest in a Multiprocess Machine?
Technologies and features available with today’s multiprocess welding machines can help operations improve productivity significantly and make an operator’s job easier with greater customization of the arc. The bottom line? Better results, no matter which welding process is being used.
A welder on a construction site using shielded metal arc welding (SMAW)
A welding system with a dedicated CAC-A (gouge) process is a benefit and timesaver in many applications. When the system allows operators to switch between welding and gouging with the push of a button, there is no need to leave the point of work to make this change or to have a separate machine on-site, said Artem Komarov.