The ability to customize waveform output and to choose a weld program with the use of microprocessor controls that manage the welding output is known as Waveform control Technology. The advances in waveform control technology have not only offered the ability to weld tough materials, but the other stunning and significant benefit of using waveform control technology
is that the welder need not possess high skills that are required to make certain welds. Therefore, big players in the welding industry
spend millions of dollars in R&D to continue to improve their waveform technology.
Improved welding power source and waveform technology
Today, since most of the enterprises are looking for methods and technologies to optimize productivity with a lesser number of employees, they are implementing the waveform technology as it not only renders higher speeds and quality, but also provides more throughput, and consistency. Therefore, these advancements serve as huge advantage for enterprises affected by the skilled labor shortage.
A technology is known to be powerful not only when it helps in easy operation of machines but is also specifically designed to help welders of various skill levels. It also helps in saving and reducing money on training costs and time. The waveform technology not only helps in meeting the aforementioned constraints but has also made it possible to weld applications that were difficult with robotic welding, earlier.
Intelligent waveform control system
Intending to resolve the issue of bad weld formation and heavy spatter in high-speed CO2 arc welding, an intelligent waveform control system with a micro-controller is built for robotic high-speed CO2 arc welding. While this is a new method of welding, the current waveform control is investigated that controls the short-circuit current and its rising rate in short-circuit period. Not just that, to adjust the arc energy in the arc period the waveform control also adopts the two-step constant current control.
Although, the electric arc welding existed for a long time since 1880s, and the methodology followed to join the two pieces of metals was also the same such as creating an arc by applying a voltage between the electrode and the workpiece. However, for most of that time, the GMAW was highly limited mainly in terms of controlling the welding process and many of the Gas Metal Arc Welding power supplies modulated the output to obtain constant voltage. This led to limited evolutionary gains in the power source development.
Later in the early 2000s, the manufacturing sector in the United States was amidst of trying to stay more relevant in the face of globalization and manufacturers that were nominated to maintain domestic operations required improvements in productivity in order to stay competitive and stay ahead with organizations in the countries with lower labour costs.
This is where development of an enhanced pulse arc transfer came into the picture. This enhanced pulse arc featured a shorter arc length than that of the usual/traditional pulse.
Therefore, this resulted in faster travel speeds and higher productivity. Due to the higher travel speeds, a greater amount of reduction in the heat input was achieved. Not just that, the spatter was also reduced when compared to that of the traditional pulse.
Trends in the welding technology
Laser welding technology: While Laser welding is one of the most unique types of welding in the industry, this type of welding utilizes extremely high-powered laser light to instantly melt metals and weld them together. Also, as per an article from Canadian Metalworking, laser welders in lab settings have been able to develop power exceeding 100 kW, which can instantly weld together 50 mm of steel in a single pass.
Robotic & automated welding
An automatic welder that was implemented by General Motors in the year 1962, was the first-ever robot in the world. Although this technology isn’t exactly “new”, it's continuing to grow in importance, particularly as Artificial Intelligence and a lower cost of computing makes the automated welding more cost-effective and, in fact, as per the international federation of Robotics, there were over 2 million operational industrial robots as of the end of 2017 and it is estimated that by 2021, this number would reach 3.8 million. This is nearly an 80 percent overall growth rate.
While the largest markets expected to grow are the Asia Pacific region, with countries such as India, South Korea, and increasing investments from Japan in robotics, the overall value of the robotic welding market worldwide is anticipated to reach USD 5.95 billion by 2023.
Advanced Protection technology
Welding technology should never leave workers behind. And, in the past few years, more information has been unveiled about the health hazards faced by welders and workers who may breathe harmful levels of welding gases and fumes.
An IARC report in 2017 showed that UV radiation from welding and welding fumes are categorized as “Group 1 Carcinogens,” it means that they are categorized under cancer-causing elements in humans.
Waveform control technology will continue to evolve and improve the quality and reduce rework.
Therefore, most companies that are into the manufacturing of welding PPE are taking measures to create more advanced protective gear. This is because these can filter out fumes as well as extremely light, ultra-fine dust particles that can be manufactured when welding and may pass through most filters. And, by using advanced filters and positive pressure respirators, welding supply enterprises can manufacture PPE which will allow welders to eliminate most common carcinogens.
SMEs sourcing their requirement through merchant suppliers
Deploying medical oxygen supplies that has been stopped for industrial use, but are used in hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients owing to its surging demand amidst the 2nd wave of the pandemic would impact small and medium enterprises. While the hiccup seems temporary for now, however it will be faced by SMEs in metal fabrication, automotive components, shipbreaking, paper, and engineering, as per the rating agency Crisil. It also added that the demand for medical oxygen is likely to have jumped five-fold in April – second week in comparison to pre-pandemic levels.
“The disruption in the supply of oxygen for industrial use would temporarily impact the revenues of small and mid-sized companies into metal fabrication, automotive components, shipbreaking, paper, and engineering. These (SMEs) typically do not have captive oxygen plants and source their requirement through merchant suppliers for operations such as welding, cutting, cleaning, and chemical processes,” said Gautam Shahi, CRISIL Ratings.
The Future of Waveform control technology
Waveform control technology will continue to evolve and improve the quality and reduce rework. However, it will never be able to completely compensate for the lack of skill from a welder, but can certainly help. And lastly, even with these advancements, the need for highly skilled welders will continue to increase since waveforms can only help so much.