Pipe Welding Machine

    david - Posted on 22 May 2010

    Pipes are an essential, if often invisible, part of the modern home, factory, vehicle, and storage unit, doing their part to keep devices functioning and moving needed substances from one place to another. Some pipes are small, such as the water pipes and heating pipes in an individual house. Others are gigantic, such as the oil pipelines that snake across the landscape of Alaska, Venezuela, Iraq, and Kazakhstan, or those which carry processed food, oil, gas, grain, and a thousand other substances from one part of a factory to another.

    Pipes, like all other metal objects, have joints where one piece meets another, and these joins are usually sealed and strengthened by welding. Small pipes in the house may simply be soldered, but any more ‘serious’ pipe is certain to be welded wherever one section meets another.

    Welding pipes is a unique challenge because of their round cross-section, because a continuous weld must be made around their entire circumference with enough precision to make all points of the weld equally strong under pressure (or the contents will inevitably seek out the path of least resistance and possibly burst the weld at the weak point), and because the pipes are usually welded in the place where they are installed, without being rotated, meaning that a means must be found of welding all sides of the pipe – even when some sides are inaccessible to a human welder because they are a few inches from a wall or high up near the ceiling.

    To circumvent this problem, pipe welding machines operate on the “orbital welding machine” principle. In an orbital welding machine, a circular track is attached around the pipe, with the welding gun or torch mounted on this track. The hoses connect the ring and welding gun to the main body of the welding machine, as well as a control panel or even a computer used to program the welding job. Once programmed and activated, the welding gun “orbits” in a steady loop around the pipe, welding all sides in a complete circle as it goes, and forming a thorough, complete, solid weld with far more precision than even the most skillful human hands could ever hope to achieve.

    Full size pipe welding machines

    Many pipe welding machines are large, able to handle pipes that may be larger in diameter than the height of a human being, and certain able to weld pipes of a few feet in diameter. These pipe welding machines are meant for the many large-scale pipe welds that are needed in the modern world. Offshore oil platforms, oil tankers, water pipes supplying drinking water to millions of people in a city, pipes at food processing plants, sewage systems, and many other pipes are all welded by means of orbital welders – although oil pipelines are actually an exception to this rule.

    An orbital welding machine of this size usually has an intricate control computer to allow great precision in welding. These welding jobs are huge, but they also have very exacting requirements because pipes of this size generally see massive daily use and are subjected to constant weight and pressure. For this reason, the orbital welder must be programmed by a skillful, experienced operator who will be able to set the welder up to obtain the best possible weld.

    Portable pipe welding machines

    Thanks to the miniaturizing technology of the modern era, portable pipe welding machines no larger than ordinary portable welding machines are also available. These pipe welders use an orbital welding arrangement as well, so that they can weld pipes that are fixed in place and cannot be rotated for welding. These small, lightweight pipe welding machines put orbital pipe welding not only within the reach of employees of major corporations and government agencies, but individual welders, independent plumbers, and other people interested in welding pipes. Such portables as the PipeMaster can handle pipes as small as 1” in diameter, as well as those several inches larger.

    Pipe welding is one of the more difficult welding tasks that may confront the worker in steel and aluminum, but human ingenuity has devised the tools necessary to handle pipe welding tasks large and small with efficiency, effectiveness, and a good deal of precision.