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Mechanised TIG welding equipment cuts fabrication time in half

ESAB Group : 25 November, 2003  (New Product)
Oxford Magnet Technology Ltd designs and manufactures some of the world's most advanced magnetic resonance imaging body scanners used in making medical diagnoses. Nonetheless, the company has to keep control of its costs, which is why it recently instigated a project to halve the time taken to weld one of the critical fabrications, a large extended toroidal vessel.
These stainless steel fabrications have an inner and outer diameter of approximately 1 m and 2 m, with the wall thickness ranging from 4 to 8 mm. Welding was previously carried out manually, but the decision was taken to mechanise the process to cut the welding time by 50 per cent.

Following a review of the suppliers and systems available on the market, Oxford Magnet Technology decided to place an order with ESAB for two programmable Protig 450 microprocessor-controlled, inverter-based power sources, together with a pair of A25 welding heads, 250A water-cooled torches and associated wire feed equipment. The Protig units provide the control capability for all of this equipment plus the roller bed, with one of ESAB's GMD guidance systems used to position the two torches that are arranged in series, one making the first pass and the other filling the joint 150 mm behind.

Oxford Magnet Technology selected only standard products from ESAB's range, but the configuration has been carried out by ESAB to the customer's specification. All of the initial programming for the Protig power sources was undertaken by ESAB's engineers, and the installation and commissioning was also ESAB's responsibility.

In addition to the hardware, ESAB supplied its Weldoc WMS 4000 (weld monitoring system) software for weld parameter monitoring and documentation. It is envisaged that this will ultimately be used as part of the quality control process but, meanwhile, it proved extremely valuable during commissioning for setting-up and fine-tuning the welding process.

Training was also included in the contract so as to ensure that the operators are able to make the best possible use of the sophisticated equipment, and this is backed-up by ESAB's technical support service that provides advice relating to both the equipment and the welding process.

Over 25 vessels have now been welded using the mechanised Tig equipment, the performance of which has been in line with Oxford Magnet Technology's high expectations. With the vessel welding time reduced to half what it was before, the ESAB equipment is making a significant impact on the company's manufacturing process.
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