Plasma arc welding is a process originally developed in 1953 that is now that standard for use in certain industries. This approach to welding offers faster, reliable welds that limit heat output. Limited heat means that it is more flexible and can be used in more applications than the gas tungsten arc process.
Part of what makes plasma arc welding so popular with commercial welders is the 2-process option. A plasma arc welder uses either a water-cooled flow for a non-transferred arc or a direct to target arc. On the production floor, that makes plasma arc welding a perfect fit for these applications.
1. Manufacturing Steel Tubes
In the automotive industry, steel tubes are a major part of the exhaust system. PAW is often used during manufacture because it:
- Is faster than GTAW systems
- Penetrates nearly as well
- Uses less filler
2. Welding Small Metal Components
The keyhole setting available on PAW systems makes it ideal when working on small parts or making small welds on larger pieces. It can create a solid seal on a single pass, even on thicker steel items.
3. Best for Butt Joints
While laser beam welding is faster than PAW, it has a low tolerance for joint misalignment. GTAW systems make high-quality welds, but they are slow to operate. With PAW, welders get more speed and the ability to create solid welds at joint sites.
4. Welding Thin, Electronic Chips
PAW can be used in a very low current mode, making it a great choice for applications that deal with delicate computer parts. Electronic chips can be sensitive to environmental factors like excess heat, which is why low current is particularly effective in these use cases. GTAW and LBW are also sometimes used, but for precision welds, PAW is the standard of choice.
5. Medical Device Manufacture
Some medical devices have sealed components that can be harmed by too much noise or heat. PAW is ideal for installing these parts due to its high-precision operations and low dba output. While it is still fairly noisy at up to 100 dba during high-current operations, it is nearly silent at low current.