Orbital welding is a specialized area of welding whereby the arc is rotated mechanically through 360° (180 degrees in double up welding) around a static work piece, an object such as a pipe, in a continuous process. The orbital welding process was invented over 50 years ago.
The main components of every orbital welding system are the power source and controller, the welding head, water cooler and, where required, a wire feed mechanism. There are a large number of factors that can have an influence on the welding result. These aspects include the arc length, magnitude and pulse frequency of the welding current, welding speed, inert shielding gas, parent material, filler material, weld preparation, and thermal conductivity. Ultimately, a high quality weld is achieved through detailed knowledge of how to precisely adjust all these parameters for each individual welding task.
An orbital welding system will drastically outperform manual welders, many times paying for the cost of the orbital equipment in a single job.
The quality of a weld created by an orbital welding system (with the correct weld program) will be superior to that of manual welding. In applications such as semiconductor or pharmaceutical tube welding, orbital welding is the only means to reach the weld quality requirements.
Once a weld program has been established, an orbital welding system can repeatedly perform the same weld hundreds of times, eliminating the normal variability, inconsistencies, errors, and defects of manual welding.
Certified welders are increasingly hard to find. With orbital welding equipment, you don't need a certified welding operator. All it takes is a skilled mechanic with some weld training.
Orbital welding may be used in applications where a tube or pipe to be welded cannot be rotated or where rotation of the part is not practical. In addition, orbital welding may be used in applications where access space restrictions limit the physical size of the welding device. Weld heads may be used in rows of boiler tubing, where it would be difficult for a manual welder to use a welding torch or view the weld joint.
Many other reasons exist for the use of orbital equipment over manual welding. For example, applications where inspection of the internal weld is not practical for each weld created. By making a sample weld coupon that passes certification, the logic holds that if the sample weld is acceptable, that successive welds created by an automatic machine with the same input parameters should also be sound.