What You Must Know About the Wire Feeder: Unsung Hero of the Welding World
Modern wire feeders remove the guesswork that leads to inconsistent welding results. They can simplify the welder’s job and improve productivity. If it has been some time since you last upgraded your welding equipment, Bob Bitzky of ESAB recommends that you examine these five areas of advancements before purchasing your next wire feeder.
Modern wire feeders remove the guesswork that leads to inconsistent welding results. They can simplify the welder’s job and improve productivity. If it has been some time since you last upgraded your welding equipment, examine these five areas of advancements before purchasing your next wire feeder.
Improvements can and have been made to power sources, guns and filler metals, but the piece that brings them all together and has the greatest potential to help the welder is the wire feeder.
Modern wire feeders do much more than simply feed wire to a gun. With the help of sophisticated computer technology, the wire feeder can monitor and control the welding arc to help even the beginner welder create reliable, high performance welds time after time.
The mechanical design of wire feeders has not changed much in the past 10 to 15 years. Most improvements are found in the control panels. Wire feeder manufacturers have been able to leverage advancements in software capabilities to add more features, while keeping the panels relatively simple and easy to use.
As a result, today’s welders can achieve better welding performance with less training and experience. Here are five areas of wire feeder advancement that you should know about if you are purchasing a wire feeder in the near future:
(1) Reduced Bird-Nesting.
The one area in the physical design of wire feeders that has improved in recent years is new guide tube technology to prevent bird-nesting. These new designs better capture the wire and reduce gaps between rolls and at the entrance to the gun to prevent wire slippage.
Any unsupported wire can buckle. Better guide tube technology attempts to provide support for the wire at all times so that it will not buckle and bird-nest.
(2) Simplicity of Use.
Wire feeder manufacturers have invested much of their time and money into creating user-friendly panels that simplify the welding job. The average age of today’s welder is 55. Within a decade, the industry will lose a large percentage of its work force to retirement.
With those welders goes many years of experience and technique that cannot be easily replaced with new, green recruits to the industry. Manufacturers, therefore, are working to leverage the functionality of computer controls to provide the expertise in controlling the weld arc that more experienced welders developed through years of experience.
As a result, today’s motor controls have become pretty sophisticated. Micro-controlled systems monitor digital feedback from the motor to accurately control welding speed and current. These systems can self-adjust within a certain range to maintain optimal performance.
If the speed and current begin to fall outside the specified range, the control sends an error code to the digital display to alert the welder of the problem. Simplicity of set up is a key factor in most of today’s welding panels, with the panel doing much of the work for you.
For example, our QSet function automatically sets the voltage when you set the wire speed in short arc mode. The panel monitors the arc and automatically corrects for any change in the gas or gun distance, giving you more reliable welding performance.
The panel optimizes your welding arc for you, so you no longer have to listen and adjust the voltage manually – a skill that often takes years to acquire. Setting up the control panel is as easy as using a cell phone.
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