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Advancements in Multiprocess Welders Can Help Address Numerous Challenges

Miller Electric Welder

In the welding industry, companies are always looking for ways to create a more efficient operation and maintain – or better yet, increase – profitability.

There are many challenges that can play a role in reaching those goals, including deadlines, quality and code requirements, power or space limitations, equipment durability and – for some operations – the need for a versatile power source that can address the demands of different applications.

Gaining the best results is all about having the right equipment for the job, so it’s important to assess the application and choose accordingly. For some operations, a single-process power source is enough to meet the job’s requirements. However, for companies that have applications with varying needs, a multiprocess power source can offer significant benefits in terms of quality, productivity and cost by providing the capacity to TIG, MIG and/or Stick weld, as well as carbon arc gouge.

The demand for these power sources is highest in industries including construction, shipbuilding and heavy fabricate, and recent advancements in technologies are helping to improve performance and durability, and maximize space savings of this equipment.

High quality multiprocess performance

In the past, the older technology associated with multiprocess power sources may have meant compromising the quality of one welding process in order to maximize a different welding process. That is no longer the case with newer power sources. Improved and reliable current technology ensures that employing Stick welding capabilities does not mean giving up something in GMAW (wire) welding capabilities, or vice versa, for example.

Having a power source that is capable of multiple welding processes, as well as carbon arc gouging, also provides the ability to complete a variety of jobs without the purchase of additional equipment, which can result in cost savings. Multiprocess capabilities can further help companies be more competitive by completing jobs faster — there is less downtime for changing over power sources to address a new application.

Additionally, newer multiprocess power sources have a much smaller footprint than older technology based ones. Technology advancements have reduced the internal components, so some are as much as 40 percent smaller than the previous models and significantly lighter. Having compact equipment is important on many jobsites and in many fabrication shops, especially those where space is limited or the applications may require portability of the machines.

Even with the reduced size and weight, newer multiprocess power sources still provide plenty of power when applications require it. Some offer up to 800 amps of usable power for heavy carbon arc gouging and as much as 650 amps of welding power at 100 percent duty cycle, as an example.

While offering enough power to weld and gouge thick metals, many new multiprocess power sources still provide a precise enough arc to weld thin materials, so operators have the ability to meet multiple welding needs for many different types of jobs — from small to large.

Designed to withstand harsh environments

In addition to consistent and reliable arc performance, newer multiprocess power sources are designed to face the harsh environments of some jobsites. They can withstand not only inclement weather and extreme hot and cold temperatures, but also the power limitations that companies sometimes face.

On many jobsites, environmental factors such as heat, cold, rain, dirt and mud require a rugged power sources that is also corrosion resistant, to improve durability. Internal airflow technology in newer power sources further protects electrical components from dirt, dust and debris, helping greatly improve reliability.

In many cases, there might also be issues of power limitations, since on many outdoor sites (like those in the construction or shipyard industries) power is a precious commodity. It’s important to have a welding power source that ensures the majority of energy consumed is being used to heat the arc. That helps save energy and costs, and also maximizes the limited power that may be available on the site.

Technology advancements in newer multiprocess power sources help address these issues, since they are engineered to be very power-efficient, ensuring there is not wasted energy in the welding process or that the power source is drawing more current than necessary.

The bottom line is the ability to get more welding done using less power.

Problems with "dirty power" are also addressed by the technology in newer multiprocess power sources. Dirty input power refers to the spikes in power that can be generated when multiple loads are on the same line, such as when motors, compressors, heaters and chillers turn on and off. When this happens, power may spike very high or drop very low.

Newer multiprocess power sources include technology that is similar to a shock absorber, which lets these spikes go by without harming the electronics of the machine. With power sources that don’t have this technology, power spikes can sometimes exceed the voltage limits of the components inside, negatively impacting performance and reliability.

Lower energy consumption

In addition to utilizing the available power on a jobsite and addressing dirty power, having a more power-efficient power source can also lower energy consumption. In turn, that means lower energy costs, which is important for any company.

Another benefit of having a power source that uses less power is that it keeps the equipment cooler inside, which can help prevent problems with overheating or shutdowns.

There are technologies in some of today’s multiprocess power sources that regulate the fan that cools the equipment internally, so the fan operates only when required. This operation reduces noise, power consumption and the amount of airborne contaminants pulled through the power source, creating cleaner and better performance.

A versatile option for many applications

While some operations can meet their needs with a power srouce that offers a single welding process, there are other jobs where multiple welding processes are necessary to complete the variety of jobs. In these situations, today’s newer multiprocess power sources provide the additional versatility needed.

Technology advancements in newer multiprocess power sources make them more durable and energy-efficient, while also reducing the footprint to save space. These advancements help address the common challenges faced on many jobsites and in many fabrication shops.

As with any welding job, having the right equipment can help improve quality, productivity and cost savings. Multiprocess power sources have the ability to address the needs of multiple welding environments, making them an ideal option for many applications.

By Ken Stanzel, product manager, Miller Electric Mfg. Co.