Orbital Welding is an automated process where the electrode orbits (or circles around) the pipe or tube while the object to be welded remains stationary. An experienced and certified welder programs the welding machine which stores the welding schedule in its memory.
The machine can be programmed for a specific travel speed, amperage, voltage, and arc length. The process specifically automates TIG welding for pipes and tubing but can also be used with MIG welding processes. This allows for the production of a large number of identical welds.
What Industries Use Orbital Welding?
Although the process was developed by the aerospace industry in the 1960s when it realized the need for a more precise welding process, orbital welding is now being used by many industries. Just a few of those are:
- Aerospace. Orbital welding was invented by North American Aviation in response to fluid leakage from pipes. Additionally, a single aircraft may need more than 1,500 welded joints. The automated orbital system has streamlined this process and resulted in consistent, high-quality welds.
- Food, dairy, and beverage. The welds must be consistent and precise. Any problems with the welds could result in trapping the fluid inside the tubing allowing for the growth of dangerous bacteria to flow into the consumable products.
- Pharmaceutical. The manufacturer of pharmaceuticals often requires the delivery of high-quality water to its processes. This requires high-quality welds to protect the integrity of the water to be sure it is not contaminated by bacteria or other harmful matter.
- Pipe welding. Round pipes make welding difficult. Orbital welding, which moves around the pipes is one of the most common orbital welding applications.
What Are the Advantages of Orbital Welding?
When manual pipe welding is performed, the pipe is divided up into four quarters with the welding machine stopped at the end of each quarter. The pipe is then rotated, and another quarter is welded. Since the arc is repeatedly stopped and started, inconsistent welds are created. This does not occur in orbital welding where the arc orbits around the pipe and the machine is not stopped and restarted.
There are several benefits to orbital welding. Some of those are:
- Increased productivity. The automated process can produce far more welds than manual welders in the same amount of time.
- Quality and consistency. Because all the welds are created with the same automated program, they are consistent and of superior quality. The margin for human errors is no longer a factor when the machine is not stopped and restarted.
- Skill level for operating the machine. The machine is programmed by a skilled, certified welder. It only needs to be operated by a skilled mechanic who has some welding training, not by a certified welder.
- For use when the pipe or tubing cannot be rotated, so the welding process rotates around the pipe or tubing.
- It is the method of choice when large quantities of welds need to be produced.
- It protects the safety of the welder.
All these advantages taken together result in welds that are consistently of high quality and identifiable as a machine weld over a manual weld. It has been said that, from an engineering standpoint, orbital welding should be replacing manual welding.
Are There Disadvantages to Orbital Welding?
The main disadvantage to orbital welding is the cost of the equipment, the need for a certified welder to program the machine, and the necessary training for the operator of the machine. These disadvantages quickly turn into advantages when the welding required is for a large number of repetitive pipe welding projects.
Consult With Vern Lewis Welding Supply for All of Your Welding Needs!
Vern Lewis Welding Supply offers high quality welding equipment, training and professional guidance from our highly trained staff. If you have any questions regarding your next welding project, please reach out today!
We have eight locations in Arizona and have been helping welders with their projects for more than 50 years. You can be sure to find a Welding Supply location near you. Contact us for more information or call 602-834-5900.