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Welding purge control using electronic flow control

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Welding purge control using electronic flow control


A purging arrangement for a welding system uses automatic flow control function, such as an MFC, to control purge gas flow rate and/or pressure at the weld site.
Related Terms: Flow Control Control Function

Browse recent Swagelok Company patents - Solon, OH, US
USPTO Applicaton #: #20140034619 - Class: 21912155 (USPTO) -
Electric Heating > Metal Heating (e.g., Resistance Heating) >By Arc >Using Plasma >Control Systems >Gas Supply

Inventors: Kevin Silk, Richard A. Ales, William Ponikvar, Michael Mussig, David N. Stafford

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20140034619, Welding purge control using electronic flow control.

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RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a continuation application of U.S. Ser. No. 12/445,586, filed Apr. 15, 2009 titled WELDING PURGE CONTROL USING ELECTRONIC FLOW CONTROL, which is the U.S. national phase entry of PCT/US2007/081903, filed Oct. 19, 2007, titled WELDING PURGE CONTROL USING ELECTRONIC FLOW CONTROL, which claims the benefit of pending U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 60/862,233 filed on Oct. 20, 2006, for WELDING PURGE CONTROL USING MASS FLOW CONTROL, the entire disclosures of which are fully incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND

In arc welding, such as for example an orbital welder, a welder power supply is used that produces a low voltage high current power source to maintain a stable arc. The arc is initiated or struck by a high voltage breakdown across the gap between the electrode and the workpiece. Once the arc is struck, the voltage across the gap is much lower than the breakdown voltage and the current increases substantially. An arc start circuit may be used to strike the arc, and then the welder power supply is used during the welding operation.

One type of welder that is commonly used today is an orbital welder, in which an electrode revolves around the weld site during a welding operation. The electrode movement occurs within a weld head that generally surrounds and generally encloses the weld site. An orbital welder, for example, is commonly used for butt welding two tubes or pipes together. During some types of welding such as for example TIG welding used for stainless steel tubing, it is important to provide an inert purge gas at the weld site. The purge gas prevents oxidation and other deleterious effects during the welding operation The purge gas is provided within the tubing (ID purge) and around the outside of the tubing (OD purge).

SUMMARY

In accordance with one inventive aspect of the present disclosure, a purge system or arrangement is provided that uses an automatic flow control function, such as for example, a mass flow controller (MFC), to control the flow and/or pressure of the purge gas. In one embodiment, an automatic flow control function may be used for dynamic OD (outer diameter) purge control, in another embodiment an automatic flow control function may be used for dynamic ID (inner diameter) purge control, and in still another embodiment a first automatic flow control function may be used for dynamic ID purge control and a second automatic flow control function may be used for dynamic OD purge control.

In accordance with another inventive aspect of the disclosure, one or more automatic flow control devices, such as for example an MFC, may be used for dynamic purge control which may be incorporated into or integrated with a welder power supply. In one embodiment, MFC dynamic purge control is incorporated into a welder power supply for an orbital welding system.

In accordance with another inventive aspect of the disclosure, dynamic purge control may be used to carry out a dynamic purge sequence that includes an increased purge flow rate during a pre-weld purge operation and optionally an increased purge flow rate during a post-weld purge operation, or both a pre-weld and a post-weld high flow purge operations, wherein the pre and post weld flow rates are higher than the purge flow rate during a welding operation. In one embodiment, one or more automatic flow control devices such as MFC devices are used to control flow rate and/or pressure of the purge gas. The use of MFC type devices, for example, permits both a dynamic purge sequence as well as an automatic purge sequence. An automatic flow control function in another embodiment may be use to confirm that purging begins before a welding system is enabled for a welding operation.

In accordance with another inventive aspect of the disclosure, methods for dynamic purge control are provided, including dynamic ID purge control, dynamic OD purge control and optionally both during a welding operation. In one embodiment, an automatic flow rate control function may be used to compensate ID purge pressure variation during a welding operation.

These and other aspects and advantages of the disclosure and inventions herein will be readily understood and appreciated from a reading of the following detailed description in view of the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an exemplary functional block diagram of a welding system;

FIG. 2 is an exemplary flow chart of a purge function that may be implemented, for example, in the system of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 3 is a simplified schematic of an embodiment of an orbital welder power supply that includes a purge flow control in a common housing.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

Although the inventive aspects and exemplary embodiments are described and illustrated herein with reference to an orbital welder and tubular workpieces, such examples are not to be construed as limiting the scope of the inventions set forth herein. Various inventions described herein will find applications beyond orbital welding or tubular workpieces. Furthermore, although a mass flow controller (MFC) is illustrated for use with the exemplary embodiments of an automatic flow control function and automatic purge control, it is well known that automatic or electronic flow control may be realized in many ways other than just an MFC, and the present disclosure is intended to cover all such alternatives, whether known or later developed.

While various inventive aspects, concepts and features of the inventions may be described and illustrated herein as embodied in combination in the exemplary embodiments, these various aspects, concepts and features may be used in many alternative embodiments, either individually or in various combinations and sub-combinations thereof. Unless expressly excluded herein all such combinations and sub-combinations are intended to be within the scope of the present inventions. Still further, while various alternative embodiments as to the various aspects, concepts and features of the inventions—such as alternative materials, structures, configurations, methods, circuits, devices and components, software, hardware, control logic, alternatives as to form, fit and function, and so on—may be described herein, such descriptions are not intended to be a complete or exhaustive list of available alternative embodiments, whether presently known or later developed. Those skilled in the art may readily adopt one or more of the inventive aspects, concepts or features into additional embodiments and uses within the scope of the present inventions even if such embodiments are not expressly disclosed herein. Additionally, even though some features, concepts or aspects of the inventions may be described herein as being a preferred arrangement or method, such description is not intended to suggest that such feature is required or necessary unless expressly so stated. Still further, exemplary or representative values and ranges may be included to assist in understanding the present disclosure; however, such values and ranges are not to be construed in a limiting sense and are intended to be critical values or ranges only if so expressly stated. Moreover, while various aspects, features and concepts may be expressly identified herein as being inventive or forming part of an invention, such identification is not intended to be exclusive, but rather there may be inventive aspects, concepts and features that are fully described herein without being expressly identified as such or as part of a specific invention, the scope of the inventions instead being set forth in the appended claims or the claims of related or continuing applications. Descriptions of exemplary methods or processes are not limited to inclusion of all steps as being required in all cases, nor is the order that the steps are presented to be construed as required or necessary unless expressly so stated.

With reference to FIG. 1, a welding system 10 is schematically represented, and in this exemplary embodiment includes a weld head 12 having an electrode 14. The inventive aspects that are part of this disclosure may be used with many kinds of welder power supplies and weld heads, for example, a weld head such as model SWS-5H-C available from Swagelok Company, Cleveland, Ohio. The weld head 12 may be manual or automatic and typically includes or is associated with a fixture 13 that holds or positions a workpiece WP near the electrode 14 for a welding operation. For example, an orbital welder may include a weld head 15 that holds the electrode 14 (and motor to rotate the electrode) and interfaces with the fixture 13 or holder that supports two tube ends. The tube ends are typically clamped in end to end abutting engagement with the abutting ends being the weld site W proximate the electrode 14 for welding.

The welding system 10 further includes a welder power supply 16, for example, model SWS-M100-1-1 available from Swagelok Company, Cleveland, Ohio. The power supply 16 provides the appropriate voltage and current profiles to carry out each welding operation. The welder power supply 16 typically provides the power needed after the weld arc is struck, and may also include or be operable with an arc start circuit. A control system 20 carries out overall control of a welding operating including control of the power supply 16, electrode drive motor of the weld head, purge control and so on. An exemplary control system 20 may be model M100 available from Swagelok Company, Cleveland, Ohio. Any suitable control arrangement may be used for the control system 20, including but not limited to software based microprocessors or microcontrollers, PLC type systems, discrete circuits and so on to name a few examples. Functionally, the arc start circuit provides high voltage, low current power, such as a pulse, that breaks down or ionizes the gap G between the electrode 14 and the workpiece WP. Once the arc is struck, the arc start circuit may be disabled and the power supply 16 used to provide low voltage, high current power to maintain the arc during a welding operation. The supply 16 may be connected to the electrode 14 and a negative reference or ground for the workpiece using electrical cables 17.



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Previous Patent Application:
Asymmetric consumables for a plasma arc torch
Next Patent Application:
Clamping device and laser welding apparatus using the same
Industry Class:
Electric heating
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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20140034619 A1
Publish Date
02/06/2014
Document #
13962993
File Date
08/09/2013
USPTO Class
21912155
Other USPTO Classes
219 60/A
International Class
/
Drawings
4


Flow Control
Control Function


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