Plasma arc welding is an extremely popular process used by commercial welders. In fact, as any professional commercial welder knows, the use of plasma arc welding has quite a wide array of applications.
With plasma arc welding, your engineer can make deep and narrow welds at high speeds.
This process, which is often abbreviated PAW, involves the coalescence (or joining) of metals through heating the workpiece with a constricted arc. This is called the transfer arc. You can also form the between the constricting nozzle and the electrode. This is called the non-transferred arc process, meaning your workpiece doesn’t become part of the electrical circuit.
The way that shielding occurs is directly related to the hot, ionized gas that is issued off the orifice. It's often supplemented by other sources of the shielding gas. In many cases, the shielding gas is composed of a mix of different gases or some type of inert gas.
With this process, pressure can be used (or not be used). It's also possible to supply or not supply the filler metal.
The Purpose of Plasma Arc Welding
The main purpose of this process is to help increase the total energy level in the controlled manner of the arc plasma. This is achieved by using a specialized gas nozzle around the tungsten electrode that operates through a DCEN (direct current electrode negative) power source.
Advantages of PAW
The advantages offered by the plasma arc welding process compared to the gas tungsten arc welding system arises from the fact that the PAW process has a much higher energy concentration. The higher temperature and the velocity of the actual plasma jet creates much higher heat content.
The other advantage relates to the fact that the stiff columnar arc (or the actual form of the plasma) won't cause a flare, which is something that happens with a gas tungsten arc.
Using & Outsourcing Plasma Welding
Being informed is the best way to understand plasma arc welding. It takes specialized training to learn how to handle this process properly, and if you don't have the proper training or experience, it can lead to serious problems and costly mistakes. It may also lead to injuries, so be sure you get the training you need before attempting this type of welding process.
If you don’t have the staff or training available for this welding process, find a sheet metal fabricator who does. Many have AWS-certified welding technicians on staff.
Other Welding Types
Want to make sure you’re specifying the right types of welding for your projects? Check out this comparison of MIG welding and TIG welding. They have tons of useful applications, too!