Got a call from Bob who is the welding engineer at a plant in Georgia that manufactures interior and exterior automobile parts (seat recliners, window regulators, door locks, door frames and molding). This is a super high volume production line and as part of the manufacturing process, in addition to roll forming and stamping, they TIG weld utilizing 4 robotic work cells with 4 TIG robots in each cell.
Bob graduated from Ferris State University where he learned about TIG welding, but the bulk of his real world experience to date has been in resistance welding. He’s been working in the plant for the past year, learning more hands-on TIG and one aspect of the job has been to make improvements. The plant has been having some consistency problems from arc starting problems to inconsistent arcs. Plus, they have been and going through quite a bit of tungsten– changing tungsten electrodes once for every 12 parts.
“I did some research on the internet and found your site,” he said. He told me he read our articles about tungsten electrodes and the first thing he realized was that even though they have a dedicated tungsten sharpener, it is set up to grind radially, not longitudinally.
I suggested they get two new dedicated tungsten grinding machines. This is an easy improvement, allowing the grind angle to be pre-set in order to maintain consistency in tip geometry, and ensure the grind marks follow the length of the tungsten for improved arc stability.
In this case, if they improve their tungsten longevity just a little when multiplied across 16 TIG robots it will add up quickly in terms of tungsten savings, and more importantly the downtime for changing out the tungsten will be minimized.
Another improvement I am suggesting is that they switch to our high-performance ICE-T tungsten electrode. This is a thoriated tungsten, but it has been cryogenically treated which results in a denser blend of tungsten and thorium which performs really well in automated TIG applications. This tungsten blend has excellent arc starting properties and long tip life.