Pipe Welding Machines


    Pipes run through the modern world like veins, carrying water, fuel, and occasionally other substances from one place to another, feeding the massive urban conglomerations that house an increasing percentage of the planetary population. Pipes are used in everything from food processing, where massive agribusiness factories churn out endless rivers of cheap cookie dough and processed milk, to pipelines which carry oil for hundreds or even thousands of miles and transfer it to the fuel tankers that will bear it around the world. Ships, power stations, chemical plants – all make use of massive piping systems, and all are crucial to the survival of the modern infrastructure.

    Smaller pipes are just as important, carrying clean water to and waste away from human dwellings. However, most pipe welding machines are large and automated, designed to join large pipes together or repair their joints while the pipes are still in place. The proper name for these pipe welding machines is “orbital welding machines,” because the huge pipes they usually weld remain immovable in the place where they are meant to stay, and the welding machine’s arc is rotated completely around the circumference of the pipe.

    Characteristics of pipe welding machines

    An orbital welding machine contains largely the same basic components as most other welding machines. There is a main body that houses the power equipment and controls, as well as spools of wire to use as filler metal. This is connected to a welding head that “orbits” the pipe that is being welding, generally moving on a ring-like track. The welding head, like all welding heads, emits an inert gas to shield the welding pool from oxygen – an absolutely crucial factor in welding pipes, where the slightest contamination weakening of the weld can potentially cause a massive, dangerous rupture.

    Manual welding is basically impossible when welding pipes, because even a tiny flaw can lead to a rupture in the future. Pipe welding jobs are often in inaccessible areas, also, making manual welding even more difficult. Instead, the orbital welding machine operates both automatically and with the supervision of a human welder. The machine is pre-programmed with great care, so that all the parameters for the size, thickness, metal type, intended purpose, usual operating temperature, and so on of the pipe will be met in the weld that is applied. Everything from the pulse frequency of the arc to the welding speed must be calibrated exactly.

    The pipe welding machine is then turned on and begins to operate. The human welder watches the progress of the welding closely and makes any adjustments needed to ensure the job turns out correctly, based on his observations. Almost all pipe welding machines are TIG (tungsten inert gas) welders – one of the few exceptions to the general rule that TIG machines are mostly used for manual welding. The TIG welding method makes the welding more precise.

    Orbital welding machines are not commonly encountered even by most welders, since they are almost exclusively used for specialized projects, but their effects are felt indirectly by most people every day. Oil rigs are built and maintained with orbital welding machines, and in the contemporary petroleum-powered society, this means that they are ultimately the single most important tool in keeping the fabric of modern life from unraveling.