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Maximize Stud Welding System Up-Time with Routine Maintenance

There are three main components in today’s drawn arc stud welding equipment:

  1. Power Source - Today’s power sources (excluding doors and storage compartments) typically only have a few mechanical components:
    1. Cooling Fans
    2. Contactors
    3. Switches / buttons /knobs

  2. Cabling - There are 4 main cables involved with stud welding systems:

    1. Incoming Power – provides electrical power to the stud welding system
    2. Weld Cable – carries the welding current from the power source to the stud gun
    3. Ground Cable – carries the welding current from the work back to the power source
    4. Control Cable – carries the trigger and lift signals from the power source to the stud gun

  3. Stud Gun - This part of the system holds the fastener to be welded, automatically strikes the arc and is critical to the success of the weld.

These components have various maintenance needs. The power source, since it has few mechanical components, rarely needs maintenance. Recommended maintenance would be to blow out the inside of the power source annually. Dust and dirt can be drawn into a power source and land on electronic components. This dust and dirt traps heat in the components. Heat causes the majority of problems with power sources. By blowing out the dust annually it is not unusual to get 20 years of life from a stud welding power source. Some power sources have demand fans; this is a fan that only operates when internal components are hot enough to require it. Other power sources have fans that run all the time. Power sources that have fans that run all the time will require more frequent cleanings as they draw in more dirt and dust. It is also a good idea to locate power sources away from grinding and other debris generating operations.

The cables can quickly be visually inspected. While simple to maintain, they are critical in the success of the drawn arc stud welding process. If any cuts are noticed or any bare cable or fraying is evident then the cable should be replaced. Each operator should quickly inspect his/her own cable set up to ensure safe operation. Exposed incoming, weld or ground cables can be life threatening. The best policy is to replace those cables immediately. Control cable damage is a common source of stud weld system failure. Replacing the control cable at the first sign of damage will ensure maximum system up time.

Finally, the stud Gun is the system component that should receive the most frequent maintenance. The gun is primarily mechanical. Those mechanical systems and the ease and speed at which they move are critical to the success of the weld joint. Too often tools (guns) are not maintained and components bind or drag and cause poor welds. For heavy users (500,000/year), I recommend a quarterly tear down clean, inspect and replace maintenance program. For normal use (250,000/year), I would recommend every six months tear down and for lighter users I would recommend a minimum annual tear down.

If these simple maintenance steps are followed, your stud weld system will operate reliably for many, many years.

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