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Orbital Welding Concepts

written by: Asheesh • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 6/12/2010

Orbital welding technology is required in various industries. This article describes the concept and parameters of orbital welding.

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    Orbital welding is an advanced welding process that is used for welding circular objects such as tubes and pipes in sensitive industries. This technology simplifies the process of welding circular objects having good advantages such as high finishing, low time consumption, high accuracy, etc. Therefore, this welding technology is different from normal flat welding and used for highly sensitive areas such as aerospace, nuclear piping, and boiler tubes.

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    History of Orbital Welding Technology

    The requirement for a high quality and high accuracy welding process in various important fields was the cause of inventing this technology. The aerospace industries needed a joining technology that could be used for joining hydraulic lines and joints of aircraft. Hence, they started developing the new technology and introduced it in the 1960s. The basis of this technology was the rotation of an arc using a tungsten electrode around the tubing weld joint.

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    Equipment used in Orbital Welding

    The orbital power system is based upon two components- the power source and the orbital welding head.

    Power Source

    The power source is used for the control of the entire welding system for a particular job. The important applications of power source are given below:

    • It controls the parameters of welding.
    • It controls the arc welding current.
    • It controls the power that is required for driving the motor inside the orbital weld head.
    • It controls the flow of shield gases according to the requirement.

    Orbital Weld HeadOrbital Weld Head  

    The structure of the orbital weld head is of enclosed type and it is used to provide an inert atmosphere chamber that surrounds the place of joint. It can be used for welding tubes having size 1.6 mm to 152 mm, and having thickness up to 3.9 mm. If weld heads for high size tubes are required, then open-style weld heads are used.

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    The Process of Orbital Welding

    Orbital welding is based upon the mechanism in which the arc is rotated around the place of joining, and this work is done by a tungsten electrode. The current required for welding is controlled automatically by the power source. Due to the automation of the flow of current, this welding is much better than manual welding in terms of accuracy. A high voltage signal is supplied from the power source to generate the electric arc. Actually, the high voltage signal ionizes the shield gas having insulating properties so that the gas changes to an electric conductor and supplies a small amount of current. The high voltage signal is then reduced by a capacitor that reduces the voltage so that the power source can supply the current to generate arc. That generated electric arc then melts the tube material and forms the weld.

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    Uses of Orbital Welding

    Orbital welding technology is used in various important industries. Some of the important uses are given below:

    • In aerospace industries, orbital welding is used for welding joints present in a plane and is also used for joining hydraulic lines in the plant.
    • Orbital welding is used for welding pipes and tubes in the food and beverage industries.
    • Orbital welding is used for welding boiler tubes. This technology is mainly used for welding heat exchanger tubes in the boiler because it is very difficult to weld heat exchanger tubes accurately by manual welding methods.
    • Orbital welding is an essential requirement of the nuclear industries because it is very important to weld nuclear pipes accurately so that there will must be no chance for leakage of radiated particles.
    • Orbital welding is required for welding hydraulic pipes. These hydraulic pipes are constructed by materials in which the properties are affected by the application of heat. However, this technology is so good that the properties of the materials remain the same.
    • Orbital welding is used for welding pipes and tubes in the pharmaceutical industries. They require high quality and pure water for their medical usage. Due to this, they need high quality welding so that there will be no accumulation of impurities at the joints of the pipe.
    • This technology is also used in the semiconductor industries to avoid unwanted pollutant buildup on the tubing walls.

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