Welding is a slightly more complicated process than simply applying a blow torch to two pieces of metal and watching them meld together. There have been a number of welding technologies and techniques developed over the years, with one that is used in the highest quality work: orbital welding.
Anything you can think of that really needs to be able to stay together- trains, planes, rockets, gas pipes- needs top-quality welding techniques. TIG (Tungsten inert gas) welding is a common application for these, while orbital welding is of crucial importance in both tubes and pipes, as well as tube-to-sheet operations. The circular nature of these pieces mean that a more precise and well-suited method of joining must be used- and this is where the orbital factor comes into play.
How it Works
The actual function of TIG welding works by way of electrical currents. Positioned upon the welding device are non-consumable tungsten electrodes. These are placed around the circular workpiece- two tubes held together, for example- and an electrical arc is activated between the electrodes and the tubes, which heats up and melts, forming the molten substance known as the ‘weld puddle’. Meanwhile, argon gas serves as a shield against the oxygen in the atmosphere, which can interfere with the process. This way, the two tubes will be cleanly welded together, and the process will be made even by the orbital welding shape.
Orbital Welding Advantages
The most obvious advantage of orbital welding is that the work is carried out in a circular shape that mimics that of the workpiece. This ensures an even weld all the way around. The circle shape isn’t the only way in which orbital welding can be customised; the voltage can be adjusted to any level, as can the length and width of the weld.
The orbital welding method works on almost every type of metal, from gold and aluminium all the way to far tougher metals, such as brass, and nearly any type of metal can be joined. Due to the electrical nature of the welding, the process is much healthier to the immediate environment, with no chance of slag or fumes.
In terms of tube-to-tube sheet welding, orbital welding is also applicable. This includes butt welding and t-fittings, despite these not having a strictly circular shape.
Increased Safety and Efficiency
Overall, welding of the orbital variety is a far greater option than traditional methods when joining pipes and tubes, and will complete the job in a far more efficient fashion, hence its use in multiple major industries.
The aircraft industry is a heavy user of orbital welding technologies, as a plane can potentially require thousands of tiny tubes to be connected. Aircraft need to be created with maximum efficiency, hence the use of an efficient system of welding. The food, beverage and dairy industries also rely on precise welding for pipes and tubes designed to carry consumables. As bacteria can grow in even the smallest of gaps, orbital welding is used to ensure that the weld leaves an entirely smooth surface, with no gaps. The same applies for pharmaceuticals, as pipes transferring goods must be completely free of contamination and corrosion.
Perhaps the greatest strength of orbital welding is the fact that it can be completed competently from a distance. While it is not as dangerous in operation as manual welding, it’s by no means less efficient. Under competent supervision and control, orbital welders complete a job in far less time and with much greater precision than if the job was completed manually. As orbital welding is completed by machine, this greatly increases productivity as well as quality.
A Guaranteed Job Well-Done
There a few reasons for orbital welding not being the sole option when it comes to pipe and tube welding; as it is a more advanced technology, the cost is greater and the training required therefore more intensive.
However, the benefits of the method far outweigh the costs, as they guarantee a clean, efficient welding job every time.