PRODUCT UPDATE – Tregaskiss® BA1 Cobot MIG Gun Online Configurator
May 3, 2021
Today we launched our new online configurator and reverse lookup for the BA1 cobot air-cooled MIG gun!
This new mobile-friendly online configurator allows you to build a gun part number for an entire cobot system or just the MIG gun. You can also input an already configured gun part number into the reverse lookup tool to easily access replacement parts information.
Both the configurator and reverse lookup tool provide access to a detailed replacement parts list with diagram and additional resources such as spec sheets, owner’s manual and more. Resources can be printed, saved in PDF format, or shared via email.
Visit the Configure My Gun page for other product online configurators.
New Tregaskiss BA1 Air-Cooled Cobot MIG Gun Increases Uptime and Throughput
WINDSOR, Ontario. (March 31, 2021) — Tregaskiss has incorporated its well-known and dependable performance into the new BA1 cobot air-cooled MIG gun. The gun’s simple and durable design helps operators stay focused on welding, not troubleshooting, to help increase uptime and throughput. The BA1 cobot MIG gun also uses long-lasting AccuLock™ R consumables — a combination that minimizes downtime, improves weld quality and further drives productivity.
Users can depend on the BA1 cobot MIG gun for its durability in manufacturing environments. The gun features metal-to-metal keyed connections that hold it in place in the mounting arm and keep the strong, aluminum-armored neck firmly in place in the gun body. The BA1 cobot MIG gun has a user-friendly, easy-to-grip mounting arm and free-drive options to simplify and speed programming. It offers 385 amps of power at a 100% duty cycle using mixed gases.
Tregaskiss delivers the BA1 cobot MIG gun fully assembled, including AccuLock consumables. This, along with minimal fasteners and a precision-machined keyway mounting system, makes installation of the gun and mounting arm quick, easy and accurate. Adding to the ease of installation, Tregaskiss has made power pins available for an assortment of wire feeders and offers insulating discs that are designed to match various brands of cobots.
Less frequent, easier maintenance
The BA1 cobot MIG gun uses QUICK LOAD® liners that maintenance personnel or welders can replace from the front of the gun without disturbing it, the wire or the feeder connection, for faster changeover. AccuLock contact tips are also fast and easy to install.
High quality and versatility
AccuLock contact tips prevent the cross-threading that can lead to weld-quality problems. The tip’s long tail concentrically aligns within the diffuser before coarse threads engage, making the contact tips virtually impossible to cross-thread.
The consumables are part of a Common Consumables Platform™ and are also compatible with Bernard® semi-automatic MIG guns and Tregaskiss fixed automatic and robotic MIG guns. The platform minimizes inventory and simplifies its management, so more time is spent on welding.
For more information about the BA1 cobot air-cooled MIG gun, visit Tregaskiss.com/product/ba1/.
NEW PRODUCT – Tregaskiss® BA1 Cobot Air-Cooled MIG Gun
March 31, 2021
We are pleased to announce the launch of the Tregaskiss BA1 cobot air-cooled MIG gun.
Tregaskiss has incorporated its well-known and dependable performance into the new BA1 cobot MIG gun. The gun’s simple and durable design helps operators stay focused on welding, not troubleshooting, to help increase uptime and throughput.
Tregaskiss delivers the BA1 cobot MIG gun fully assembled, including AccuLock™ R consumables. The optional free drive button can seamlessly communicate with your cobot and is simple to install via a single plug. This, along with minimal fasteners and a precision-machined keyway mounting system, make installation of the gun and mounting arm quick, easy and accurate.
Designed for increased tip life, AccuLock consumables virtually eliminates contact tip cross-threading issues. Helping minimize downtime, improve weld quality and further drive productivity.
AccuLock consumables are part of a Common Consumables Platform™ and are compatible with Bernard® semi-automatic MIG guns, and Tregaskiss fixed automatic and robotic MIG guns.
Download the new BA1 Spec Sheet
How to Prevent 5 Common Welding Gun Failures
Having the right equipment in the welding operation is important — and making sure it works when it’s needed is even more so.
Welding gun failures cause lost time and money, not to mention frustration. Like with many other aspects of the welding operation, the most important way to prevent this problem is education. Understanding how to properly choose, set up and use a MIG gun can help optimize results and eliminate many of the problems that lead to gun failure.
Learn about five common reasons MIG guns fail and how to prevent them.
Reason No. 1: Exceeding the gun rating
The rating on a MIG gun reflects the temperatures above which the handle or cable becomes uncomfortably warm. These ratings do not identify the point at which the welding gun risks damage or failure.
Much of the difference lies in the duty cycle of the gun. Because manufacturers can rate their guns at 100%, 60% or 35% duty cycles, there can be significant variances when comparing manufacturer’s products.
Duty cycle is the amount of arc-on time within a 10-minute period. One manufacturer may produce a 400-amp GMAW gun that is capable of welding at 100% duty cycle, while another manufactures the same amperage gun that can weld at only 60% duty cycle. The first gun would be able to weld comfortably at full amperage for a 10-minute time frame, whereas the latter would only be able to weld comfortably for 6 minutes before experiencing higher handle temperatures.
Choose a gun with an amperage rating that matches the necessary duty cycle required and the length of time that the operator will be welding. It’s also important to consider the materials and filler metal wire that will be used. The gun should be able to carry enough power to melt the filler metal wire cleanly and consistently.
Reason No. 2: Improper setup and grounding
Improper system setup can increase the risk of welding gun failure. It’s important to pay attention to not only all consumable connections within the gun, but also all connections in the entire weld circuit to optimize performance.
Proper grounding helps ensure the operator isn’t sending too much power to a restricted window for the power to travel through. Loose or improper ground connections can increase resistance in the electrical circuit.
Be sure to put the ground as close to the workpiece as possible — ideally on the table that holds the workpiece. This helps provide the cleanest circuit structure for the power to travel where it needs to go.
It’s also important to place the ground on clean surfaces so there is metal-to-metal contact; do not use a painted or dirty surface. A clean surface gives the power an easy path to travel rather than create obstructions that create resistance — which increases heat.
Reason No. 3: Loose connections
Consumable connections play an important role in gun performance. Consumables should be tightly secured to the gun, and all threaded connections should also be secure. It’s especially important to check and tighten all connections after a gun has been serviced or repaired.
A loose contact tip or gun neck is an invitation for gun failure at that spot. When connections aren’t tight, heat and resistance can build up. Also, be sure any trigger connect being used is working properly and provides constant power.
Reason No. 4: Damaged power cable
Cables can be easily damaged in the shop or manufacturing environment; for example, by heavy equipment or improper storage. Any damage to the power cable should be repaired as quickly as possible.
Inspect the cable for any cuts or damage; no copper should be exposed in any part of the cable. An exposed line of power in the weld system will try to jump the arc if it touches anything metallic outside of the system. This can result in a wider system failure and a possible safety concern.
Re-terminate the gun and make the cable shorter if necessary, removing any cable sections that have nicks or cuts.
Also be sure the power cable is the proper size for the power that the feeder is supplying to the weld gun. An oversized power cable adds unnecessary weight, while an undersized cable causes heat buildup.
Reason No. 5: Environmental hazards
The manufacturing environment can be harsh for tools and equipment. Take care of tools and equipment to help extend their useful life. Skipping maintenance or treating tools poorly can result in failure and reduced life.
If the welding gun is connected to a boom arm above the weld cell, make sure there are no areas where the gun or cable can be pinched or damaged. Set up the cell so there is a clear path for the cable, to avoid crushing the cable or disrupting shielding gas flow.
Using gun anchors helps keep the gun in a good position and the cable straight — to avoid excessive strain on the cable — when the gun isn’t being used.
Additional thoughts on MIG gun failures
Gun failures in water-cooled welding guns typically happen more frequently than failures in air-cooled gun models. This is primarily due to improper setup.
A water-cooled welding gun requires coolant to chill the system. The coolant must be running before the gun is started because the heat builds quickly. Failure to have the chiller running when welding starts will burn up the gun — requiring replacement of the entire gun.
Welder knowledge and experience regarding how to choose between these guns and maintain them can help prevent many of the issues that result in failures. Small issues can snowball into larger issues within the system, so it’s important to find and address problems with the welding gun when they start to avoid bigger troubles later.
Following some basics tips for preventive maintenance can help extend the life of the welding gun and keep it operating smoothly. It also helps reduce the chances of reactive emergency maintenance that can take the weld cell out of commission.
Regularly inspecting the MIG gun can be an important part of reducing costs and gaining good welding performance. Preventive maintenance doesn’t have to be time-consuming or difficult.
Check the feeder connection regularly. Loose or dirty wire feeder connections cause heat to build up and result in voltage drops. Tighten connections as needed and replace damaged O-rings as necessary.
Properly care for the gun liner. Gun liners can often become clogged with debris during welding. Use compressed air to clear any blockages when wire is changed. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for trimming and installing the liner.
Inspect the handle and trigger. These components typically require little maintenance beyond visual inspection. Look for cracks in the handle or missing screws, and be sure the gun trigger isn’t sticking or malfunctioning.
Check the gun neck. Loose connections at either end of the neck can cause electrical resistance that results in poor weld quality or consumable failures. Ensure all connections are tight; visually inspect the insulators on the neck and replace if damaged.
Inspect the power cable. Regularly checking the power cable is important to reduce unnecessary equipment costs. Look for any cuts or kinks in the cable and replace as necessary.
DISCONTINUED PRODUCTS – ACC and ACD Series Automatic Air-Cooled MIG Guns
February 26, 2021
Tregaskiss® will discontinue the sales of ACC and ACD series automatic air-cooled MIG guns (formerly branded Bernard®) and parts as of August 31, 2021. These are in addition to the ACA and ACB series that were discontinued in January.
Replacement Gun Option
Tregaskiss MA1 Fixed Automatic Air-Cooled MIG Guns are available as replacements.
Please reach out to your ITW Welding sales representative for assistance.
If you have any questions regarding these changes, please kindly contact your local representative.
PACKAGING CHANGES — Changes to
TOUGH GARD Anti-Spatter Liquid Containers
January 26, 2021
Customers will begin to notice Tregaskiss® TOUGH GARD® anti-spatter liquid packaging is arriving in different containers. This is because we recently refreshed the design and labeling of these containers, but no change was made to the TOUGH GARD anti-spatter liquid product.
The 5-Gallon and 55-Gallon containers remain compatible with the TOUGH GARD anti-spatter multi-feed system.
Affected Part Numbers:
|TG-101-55||55 U.S. Gal. / 208 L||No change to container volume|
|TG-101-05||5.28 U.S. Gal. / 20 L||Formerly 5 U.S. Gal. / 18.92 L|
|TG-101-01||1 U.S. Gal. / 3.78 L||No change to container volume|
|TG-101-32SP||32 fl. oz. / 946 mL||Formerly 25.36 fl. oz. / 750 mL|
|TG-101-14S||16.9 fl. oz. / 500 mL||No change to container volume|
PRODUCT UPDATE — Select AccuLock Heavy Duty (HD) Copper Contact Tips Now Available in Quantities of 1000
AccuLock™ contact tips for 0.030” (0.8 mm) to 0.052” (1.4 mm) wire sizes are now available in packages of 1000.
Affected Part Numbers:
|T-A030CH-1000||0.030″ (0.8 mm)|
|T-A035CH-1000||0.035″ (0.9 mm)|
|T-A039CH-1000||0.039″ (1.0 mm)|
|T-A045CH-1000||0.045″ (1.2 mm)|
|T-A052CH-1000||0.052″ (1.4 mm)|
2022 Holiday Schedule
Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season!
Please refer to the following schedules below for days and times Bernard and Tregaskiss will be closed around the holidays.
Bernard Holiday Schedule
Please note that Bernard will be closed and there will not be shipping on the following dates:
~ December 23, 2022 and December 26, 2022 ~
~ December 30, 2022 and January 2, 2023 ~
All business and shipping will operate as usual on the following dates:
~ Until December 22, 2022 ~
~ December 27, 2022 through December 29, 2022 ~
~ January 3, 2023 and after ~
Tregaskiss Holiday Schedule
Please note that Tregaskiss will be closed and there will not be shipping on the following dates:
~ December 26, 2022 through December 28, 2022 ~
~ January 2, 2023 ~
All business and shipping will continue to operate as usual on the following dates:
~ Until December 23, 2022 ~
~ December 29 and December 30, 2022 ~
~ January 3, 2023 and after ~
From Semi-Automatic to Automatic: Tips for Selecting a Welding Gun
Choosing the right equipment for a welding operation is critical to achieving high weld quality and productivity while also eliminating costly downtime. And that includes welding guns.
In many cases, companies may have a mix of welding processes and guns. For example, in heavy equipment and general manufacturing, it’s common to have semi-automatic welding along with robotic welding. In oil and gas and shipbuilding applications, semi-automatic welding and fixed automation are prevalent. The combination of welding processes and equipment allows companies serving these industries to weld a variety of part volumes and sizes.
These process mixes, however, can pose challenges in terms of gun selection. That’s why it’s important to know the best welding gun features to look for to achieve the desired weld results — and the best efficiencies.
The Importance of Cutting a Welding Gun Liner Properly
Cutting a welding gun liner correctly is, first and foremost, a matter of proper training. For traditional systems, it’s critical that welding operators understand how to measure and cut the liner to the required length for the gun.
A MIG gun liner that has been cut either too short or too long can lead to a host of issues, most often poor wire feeding. That, in turn, can lead to weld quality issues and rework — both factors that contribute to unnecessary and costly downtime.
The Bernard® AccuLock™ S Consumable System can help eliminate installation issues. First, however, it’s important to understand the pitfalls of standard liner installation to understand the value of this solution.
The problem with welding gun liners
The position of the gun and power cable factors significantly into whether liner installation is successful. If the gun and power cable are twisted or coiled before the welding operator trims the liner, the liner can end up either too long or too short, due to how the cable is constructed.
The copper inside the power cable is wound around a central conduit in a helix or spiral. If the cable is twisted or coiled, it will grow or shrink based on how the copper helix is also twisted. Think of a spring — if it is twisted one way, it grows; if twisted the other way, it shrinks.
For this reason, it’s important to lay the MIG gun and cable straight to avoid any kinks that would lead to an incorrect reading when trimming the liner. Generally, longer power cables are more prone to twisting, so welding operators must take even more care when installing liners in them.
Welding operators may experience the following due to an improperly trimmed liner:
- Poor wire feeding
- Erratic arc
- Wire chatter
A new solution for welding gun liners
The Bernard® AccuLock™ System eliminates the need to measure when cutting the welding gun liner for replacement. The liner is locked into place by the power pin cap. It is then trimmed flush with the power pin at the back of the gun and power cable. It is still important to lay the gun and cable flat, avoiding twists.
The welding operator can conduct a visual check to determine the liner is in the proper place. This check isn’t possible with a traditional liner if it has been cut too short; the welding operator simply can’t see it under the nozzle and gas diffuser.
The AccuLock System reduces wire feeding issues through the gun, as well, since the liner is locked and concentrically aligned at both the power pin cap and contact tip. This dual lock helps ensure the liner won’t extend or contract as the welding operator changes positions and the power cable naturally bends. The result is the elimination of gaps or misalignments at the front and back of the gun for a flawless wire-feeding path.
As an added benefit, the concentric alignment of the liner reduces mechanical wear on the contact tip that could lead to burnbacks or keyholing, both of which shorten the contact tip life.
For more information please visit the AccuLock S consumables product page.
Bernard Expands Power Pin Offering for AccuLock S Consumables System
BEECHER, Ill. (November 10, 2020) — Bernard announced that its AccuLock™ S consumables system now includes Lincoln®, Tweco® #4 and Tweco #5 power pins. These are in addition to the power pins for Miller® equipment previously available.
All power pins are configurable options for the company’s BTB semi-automatic air-cooled MIG guns using the online configurator.
The AccuLock S consumable system addresses errors in liner trimming by locking and concentrically aligning the liner between the contact tip and power pin — no fasteners required. This system provides a flawless wire feeding path to minimize downtime associated with issues like burnbacks and birdnesting. Installing and replacing the liner is an error-proof process that requires no measuring. Users simply load the liner and trim it flush with the power pin.
Contact tips in the AccuLock S consumables system last two to three times longer due to optimized wire feeding. The contact tips also simplify inventory as part of a common consumable platform; they share the same contact tip with Tregaskiss® AccuLock R consumables.
The AccuLock S consumables system requires all AccuLock components: contact tip, diffuser, nozzle, liner, neck insulator, power pin and power pin cap.
AccuLock R Consumables Now Available on Fixed Automatic and Robotic Water-Cooled MIG Guns
WINDSOR, Ontario (October 27, 2020) – Tregaskiss announced its fixed automatic MIG guns and robotic water-cooled MIG guns are now available with AccuLock™ R consumables. This consumable system has been designed to increase contact tip life and virtually eliminate cross-threading issues, leading to a reduction in both planned and unplanned downtime for changeover.
AccuLock R consumables are compatible with the Tregaskiss MA1 fixed automatic air-cooled MIG gun, as well as the Tregaskiss MW1 and AW2 fixed automatic water-cooled guns for hard tooling automation applications. They are also available on the Tregaskiss 600-amp robotic water-cooled MIG gun, which is designed to improve productivity on demanding applications, such as welding thick plate or running prolonged duty cycles. Customers currently using TOUGH LOCK® consumables on their 600-amp robotic water-cooled gun can convert to AccuLock R consumables with no impact on Tool Center Point (TCP).
The consumables, including contact tips, gas diffusers and nozzles, are an option to select when customizing any of the guns using the Tregaskiss online configurators.
AccuLock R contact tips feature coarse threads that are responsible for virtually eliminating cross-threading, along with a long contact tip tail. The tail concentrically aligns inside the diffuser before engaging to ensure quick and accurate contact tip replacement, reducing time spent troubleshooting.
The AccuLock R contact tip has an increased mass at the front of the tip; plus, 60% of the tip is buried in the diffuser so it is protected from the arc’s heat. Tapered mating surfaces provide excellent electrical conductivity and also keep the consumables locked in place.
DISCONTINUED PRODUCTS — Various Part Numbers
October 23, 2020
Effective December 31, 2020, we will be discontinuing a variety of part numbers due to low demand and sales volume. A majority of these items are configured MIG gun part numbers and special products.
Please refer to the appendix for the list of affected part numbers.
Tips for Improving MIG Welding
Maintaining quality, productivity and cost savings is important in any semi-automatic MIG welding operation, but the steps companies take to achieve those goals vary. Still, there is one constant: the value of skilled welders. They are at the heart of the operation and help ensure its success.
Having the right equipment and understanding how to care for it are also important, as is
revisiting the welding process regularly to ensure its efficiency. Companies should take care to watch for common pitfalls that could negatively affect their progress toward streamlining and improving their operation.
Consider these tips to help along the way:
With the industry facing an anticipated welder shortage of 400,000 by 2024, providing training to new welders is critical to supporting a productive and profitable MIG welding operation. In many cases, employees being hired are entirely new to welding or only have limited experience. Learning best practices early on is necessary to achieve the best performance and avoid excessive downtime for troubleshooting.
Gaining good weld quality depends on welders knowing proper techniques like gun angle and gun travel speeds and the impact of welding parameters on the process. Even if a company sets lockouts that keep welding parameters within a specific range, it’s valuable for welders to understand the impact voltage, amperage, wire feed speed and shielding gas have on the application.
It’s also important to provide training on other best practices in the MIG welding operation, such as:
- Consulting a checklist for maintenance or equipment checks at the beginning and end of each shift. This can include items like securing weld grounding and checking for gun or cable damage.
- Understanding proper ergonomics to prevent repetitive stress injuries. Having welder input on gun handle types can help with this, too.
- How to correctly install consumables and at what frequency, along with how to identify the signs of contact tip wear.
- Keeping the gun uncoiled and untwisted while using it to help avoid liner movement, which typically leads to wire feeding problems.
- As part of training, encourage welders to be open to asking questions and offer refresher courses to keep skills in top shape.
Assessing the process
To support the long-term efficiency of a MIG welding operation, it’s a good idea to regularly assess each aspect of it.
Time studies, for example, offer excellent insight into the entire workflow and allow companies to record the amount of time each task takes to complete. These studies include a breakdown and analysis of parts handling, welding and more. By recording every activity in the operation, it is possible to see whether each one is adding value. If not, adjustments and re-sequencing can be made.
Analyzing the operation can also help identify the need for more welder training. For instance, if a significant amount of time is spent grinding after welding, it can indicate that there are issues contributing to overwelding or poor weld quality. The company can then take proactive steps for additional welder training to improve quality and reduce or eliminate the need for grinding and rework.
Similarly, if welders are spending more time transferring parts than they are welding or there are bottlenecks of parts entering the welding cell, that indicates the workflow needs to be adjusted. The goal is to minimize the amount of time welders spend handling or double handling parts and helps avoid parts from backing up or having welders sit idle waiting for them.
Improving the organization of the workstation as part of a general assessment can also help improve welding productivity. This could include adjusting welding tables and part racks to be more ergonomic so welders are more comfortable and can weld longer.
Welding gun selection and use
Having the correct MIG welding gun for the application can help enhance performance in a MIG welding operation.
One of the first things to consider is cost. Quality MIG welding guns carry a higher price, but they are worth it in the long term. A better gun (when used properly) lasts longer and can help improve weld quality and efficiency over time. Guns that feature mechanical compression fittings, as opposed to crimped fittings, are a good choice. They typically last longer from wear and tear and can also be repaired if damaged, which saves money on replacement guns.
Be certain to choose a gun with the appropriate amperage rating and duty cycle for the application to prevent overheating. A lower amperage MIG welding gun may be appealing to a welder due to its lighter weight and flexibility; however, it will not be able to withstand an application requiring higher amperages and long arc-on times.
Effectively grounding the weld circuit is another way to gain weld quality and productivity in a semi-automatic welding operation. It can also protect the welding gun from overheating and from wearing out consumables too quickly. Installing the ground clamp as close to the weld as possible and limiting the amount of connections can help to prevent one or more from coming loose over time or creating electrical resistance.
Always choose correctly sized ground cables for the weld circuit and the right type of ground clamp. A C-clamp is a good option as it is a tighter connection versus a spring clamp, which helps prevent arcing at the ground that could lead to an erratic arc. As with other quality components in a MIG welding operation, C-clamps can be more expensive, but they offer a connection that can better protect the gun and save on replacement or repair costs.
Lastly, take care to inspect the welding gun cable regularly for damage and replace as necessary. Nicks or cuts in the cable can expose bare copper, causing a safety hazard of electrical shock, as well as erratic welding issues. Adding a cable jacket cover is a proactive step in avoiding these problems.
The role of consumables and wire
Contact tips, nozzles, gas diffusers and liners all affect MIG welding performance. Ideally, select consumables and wire designed to complement one another as a system. These can help maintain solid connections that provide the best electrical conductivity and arc stability.
Always trim the liner properly — per the guns owner’s manual — to avoid erratic arcs and burn backs or look for liners that lock into place and require no measurement to avoid trimming them too long or too short.
For semi-automatic MIG welding, copper contact tips work well; however, if more tip life is desired or needed, chrome zirconium tips are an alternative to better resist physical tip wear (also known as keyholing). It helps to monitor how often contact tips are being changed to avoid straying too far from the originally planned frequency of tip changeover. If tip changes begin to increase drastically, then this points to incorrect installation of consumables, a liner being cut too short or other damage in the system. Monitoring consumables usage can also help identify when contact tips could still have life left in them. If contact tips are changed too early, this results in unnecessary downtime.
Also consider the wire being used. Quality is key here, too. Less expensive wires often have an irregular cast or helix or an inconsistent layer of lubricant. All of these factors can lead to weld quality issues and additional wear on the contact tips.
Keeping on track
Maintaining an efficient MIG welding operation takes time and resources, but it’s worthwhile to make an investment in welders and equipment to achieve the best results. Continue to monitor the process for improvement opportunities and engage welders whenever possible. Since welders are responsible for moving quality and productivity forward, their ideas can be a valuable asset.
Selecting Contact Tips for Robotic Welding
Contact tips are often referred to as the smallest fuse in the fuse box that is your robotic welding cell. But this small fuse can have a big impact on productivity. In terms of overall efficiency, the contact tip is key.
Contact tips depend upon repeatability to be effective in the welding process. Learn more about the different types of available — and how choosing the right one for your application can improve results and save money.
How do contact tips affect efficiency?
The job of the contact tip is to transfer the welding current to the arc and guide the welding wire as consistently as possible. If either of these two factors degrade, the overall welding process also degrades, affecting quality.
When an operation changes contact tips every few hours, there is an obvious effect on productivity. It requires the weld cell to be shut down, and the operator may have to enter the cell to change out the tip. If the robot is buried inside the welding line, contact tip changeover takes even longer.
Not only are these changeovers inefficient, but they also introduce the potential for mistakes. Every time a human interacts with the robot, there’s a risk of incorrect consumable installation or other improper adjustments that can lead to poor quality welds and costly rework.
Choosing the right tip depends on the results you’re looking for and the needs of the application. In the automotive industry, for example, choosing a quality contact tip is critical since unplanned downtime is the enemy of a high-volume multi-robot operation. Contact tips in these applications need more wear resistance.
A high-quality contact tip provides a longer life and a more consistent and stable arc. Longer tip life results in more robot uptime, less time wasted on non-value-added labor for tip changeovers and reduced human interaction with the robot that could lead to error. But the contact tip itself isn’t the only factor impacting tip life — the welding wire, part fit-up, robot programming and grounding also contribute.
Types of contact tips
There are several types of contact tips available. Understanding the differences can help you select the best choice for your operation.
1. Copper contact tips: Contact tips made from this material are the most conductive to transfer welding current. But copper is also the softest option and will keyhole (or wear the bore unevenly) much faster. If keyholing is a pain point in your operation, this may not be the best choice. The initial cost of copper contact tips tends to be cheaper than other options.
2. Chrome-zirconium contact tips: This alloy provides better wear resistance and longer life than copper tips, holding up better to the demands and increased arc-on time of robotic welding. They are slightly less conductive than copper tips, but they are still sufficient for most robotic applications.
3. HDP contact tips: HDP tips can last 10 times longer than copper tips — and up to 30 times in some cases — depending on the application and waveform being used. Operations may be able to go from changing contact tips every two hours to only changing tips once a week. HDP contact tips are engineered to endure wear better, providing increased resistance to arc erosion in pulsed welding, as well as spray transfer and CV MIG. The precise fit between the tip and the wire also results in good arc stability to help produce high-quality welds. Because HDP contact tips reduce the impact of the welding current decline over time, they can provide a more stable and consistent arc over the life of each contact tip. These tips work best in applications that use high-quality copper-coated solid wire.
Common pitfalls with contact tips
Once you understand the types of contact tips available, there are numerous factors to consider when choosing the right tip for your application. Here are some common mistakes operations make when choosing contact tips so you can avoid the same pitfalls:
1. Only considering price: Many operations may look only at the price per tip when they purchase contact tips. But it’s important to look beyond the initial price and consider the big picture, which includes the downtime and labor required for changeover, along with any quality issues that may be happening in the weld cell. If a contact tip lasts three times as long, the robot can continue to weld instead of being down for a tip changeover — and there is less human interaction inside the cell .
2. Ignoring ID tolerance issues: The size and cast of the welding wire are important in making a decision about contact tips. Some tips need to be undersized for the welding wire used, while some tips need to match the wire size. And the same exact wire will vary in the necessary contact tip size depending on if the wire comes in a small spool or a 1,000-pound barrel. For most copper and chrome-zirconium tips, it’s recommended to undersize the contact tip by a single wire size when using a 500-pound barrel or greater of wire due to the wire cast. With smaller sizes of wire packaging, use contact tips that match the wire size. The goal is to maintain a clean, consistent contact between the wire and the tip so the weld current is conducted as efficiently as possible.
3. Using poor quality wire: In most cases, poor quality welding wire will lead to poor results from your contact tips. This is due to the lubrication on the wire, as well as the consistency of the wire diameter; inconsistent wire diameter wears the tip faster. Choosing a higher quality wire can improve tip life and produce better results. Also, be aware that wires without a copper coating and cored wires wear tips much faster. Using copper-coated solid wires typically slows contact tip wear.
4. Not being open to change: Some companies think the status quo is fine because they aren’t experiencing issues. They change tips in the robotic welding cell every couple of hours, even if those tips don’t need to be changed. Looking at the true length of their current tips or investing in higher-quality tips could optimize efficiency and the overall process — saving unplanned downtime and reducing the need for non-value-added labor hours.
Analyzing the robotic operation
If contact tips are being removed proactively even when there is no keyholing, burnbacks or erratic arcs, there could be potential to get more life out of contact tips.
So how can companies best analyze their robotic welding operation to determine when to change to a different type of contact tip?
Contact tips react differently to different applications, so an important first step is to run trials with varying quality levels of tips. This will provide an accurate comparison and a level set for expectations. Run each tip to failure, including the current brand, rather than proactively changing the tip on a set schedule. Be sure to log the time each part lasted. Ideally, run multiple contact tips in any trial to eliminate any outliers.
This type of trial can help to identify how much labor time is spent on tip changeovers, how much robot uptime can be achieved and what failures are occurring with each type of contact tip.
If an operation previously experienced 10 burnbacks a day and reduces that to zero by using a higher quality contact tip, this can help eliminate unplanned downtime.
Optimizing contact tip efficiency in robotic welding
It’s important to look beyond the purchase cost and consider the big picture to best evaluate the potential productivity, as well as weld quality and efficiency gains of certain contact tips. The benefits can be especially significant in robotic welding applications, where regular contact tip changeovers can be greatly reduced.
How Robotic Welding Supervisors Can Improve the Operation
Gaining a good return on investment (ROI) from a robotic welding system doesn’t happen by chance. It’s a matter of optimizing the robot and the robotic welding cell to operate at peak efficiency. And while this task is a team effort, it is led by the robotic welding supervisor.
So, what can the supervisor do to guide the way, while looking at more advanced considerations? Pay close attention and collaborate.
Find opportunities for improvement
Even if a robotic welding system is meeting production and quality requirements, it’s important that robotic welding supervisors commit to a continuous improvement process. Regularly looking for ways to increase efficiencies could provide the ability to produce more parts. It can also help identify issues within the robotic welding cell before they become problematic and cause downtime.
Robotic supervisors should pay close attention to details such as cable and consumable management, parts handling and workflow to pinpoint areas that could be streamlined. The goal is to avoid settling for less than optimal work practices to realize the full potential of the system. Doing so can provide companies with higher productivity and profitability and can set them apart from their competitors.
Rely on available resources
While the robotic welding supervisor may oversee the overall health of a robotic welding cell, the robot operator works hands on with the system daily to load and unload parts. For this reason, they are an excellent resource to rely on for insight into potential or existing problems, such as:
• Excessive spatter
• Poor joint configurations, or
• The need for tooling adjustments
Quality technicians are another internal resource to help the robotic welding supervisor identify any issues and drive performance improvements. In conjunction with welding engineers, they can help rectify issues like overwelding or part distortion.
External sources, such as a robotic welding integrator or equipment manufacturer, can help troubleshoot and offer advice to gain efficiencies. In many cases, they can also offer ongoing training that helps everyone improve their interaction with the robotic welding cell.
This article is the second in a two-part series focused on key information welding supervisors should know to help ensure robotic welding success. Read article one, Best Practices for Robotic Welding Supervisors.
Best Practices for Robotic Welding Supervisors
With careful planning and attention to detail, companies that invest in a robotic welding system can gain advantages, such as:
• Increased productivity
• High weld quality
• Cost saving
• Parts consistency
The welding supervisor managing the robotic welding cell plays a key role in achieving these results — and with some best practices in mind, can help ensure long-term success. There are some basics that provide a good starting point.
Understand the robotic welding system
To maximize uptime in a robotic welding system, welding supervisors need to look beyond the administrative and operational duties often involved with this position and consider the actual components in the system. Maintenance personnel can often help.
It’s important for welding supervisors to understand how to quickly troubleshoot issues and how to adjust the weld programs, as needed.
Having a solid understanding of the functions of the robotic welding gun, welding consumables, power cables, and their impact on quality and productivity is also important. It makes it easier to identify problems and provide the best solution.
Establish documentation and maintenance
Keeping an accurate, detailed log of all activities in a robotic welding cell can help welding supervisors maintain control over changes that could impact performance of the robotic welding system. Information to document includes:
• The names of all employees who enter the weld cell, when they entered and why
• Parts that have been cleaned
• Consumable changes
• Drive roll tension adjustments
• Installation of a new welding wire drum
This documentation provides insight into changes in the robotic weld cell, making it easier for maintenance staff to troubleshoot any issues. It can also help the welding supervisor and maintenance personnel determine the appropriate frequency for a preventive maintenance schedule, which helps reduce unexpected downtime.
This article is the first in a two-part series focused on key information welding supervisors should know to help ensure robotic welding success. Read article two, How Robotic Welding Supervisors Can Improve the Operation.
Understanding Fixed Automatic Welding Guns
When it comes to automating the welding process, many companies opt for robotic welding systems due to the flexibility they provide and their ability to reach and weld multiple joints. These systems provide the advantages of speed and accuracy and can be reprogrammed to manage new projects.
But these robotic systems aren’t right for every application. In industries such as oil and gas, railcar, structural steel fabrication and shipbuilding, joint configurations are often less complex, consisting of a single part to be welded as opposed to full assemblies. In this case, fixed automatic welding is generally preferred.
About fixed automation welding
Fixed automation welding, sometimes called hard automation welding, is commonly used for welding pipes, structural beams, tanks and vessels in a shop environment prior to them being moved to the jobsite where they will be placed into service. It can also be used for welding steel plates for the general fabrication industry or in the manufacturing of hot water heaters and propane tanks.
Common Factors for Suitable Applications
One common factor in these applications is the need for either longitudinal or circular (inside or outside diameter) welds that require repeatability as opposed to versatility. Other factors that make applications suitable for fixed automation welding include:
1. A high volume of similar parts with low variety
2. Large parts with very long welds or several similar welds
3. Large parts that would be difficult to weld manually
In some cases, fixed automation welding can help companies meet high production goals at relatively low cost. And it is easy for a single operator to oversee and load parts, making it desirable from a labor perspective — particularly given the shortage of skilled welders the industry is facing.
A fixed automation welding cell can be set up in two ways. The first option requires tooling that holds the part in place, while a fixed automatic gun moves along the weld joint by way of a mechanized seam welder or a track and carriage that holds the gun in place. This option would be viable for a long structural beam, for example.
In the second scenario, the welding gun may be fixed in a single place by tooling while the part, such as a pipe, rotates on a lathe or circumferential fixture during the welding process. In today’s marketplace, there is equipment that can rotate parts in a wide range of diameters and weights.
Tooling for fixed automation welding offers minimal flexibility and can be expensive to adjust for new parts. This is true particularly in comparison to a robotic welding system that can be reprogrammed to articulate and weld in different positions along the X, Y and Z axes.
When investing in the tooling for fixed automation welding, it’s important for companies to determine upfront what their long-term applications will be. Will they continue to weld parts that are straight or circular for the foreseeable future?
Avoiding pitfalls in the process
One very important part of the fixed automation welding system is the welding gun. It is not uncommon for companies to take a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to this piece of equipment. Namely fixturing a semi-automatic gun in place with various components to mimic the performance of a fixed automatic gun. Sometimes this is done out of convenience, due to the shop having an abundance of semi-automatic guns, or because of a perceived cost savings.
Unfortunately, a DIY gun assembly for this process can be time-consuming to set up and maintain, which adversely affects productivity. It also is not optimized for fixed automation welding. Quality may suffer due to off-seam welds or other inconsistencies, leading to rework that further reduces throughput and increases costs. Also, if replacement parts are needed there could be variations in the assembly since it is not set up for this process. Again, this can lead to quality issues.
Instead, it is important to invest in a fixed automatic gun that is designed for the process. These guns have consistent components that can be sourced from manufacturers so that the welds are repeatable. And the gun manufacturers can provide service and technical support.
Looking at the choices
Guns need to be specified or customized for the application according to the available space, taking into account the distance between the gun and the part and also how far away the wire feeder is. These factors impact neck length and bend or angle, as well as cable choices.
Necks are typically available in the marketplace in varying lengths, from approximately 4 to 12 inches. Available with either a straight neck or 22-, 45- and 60-degree bends. Companies need to determine the reach required to meet the weld joint, as well as the necessary angle for completing a sound weld.
Cable lengths vary from as short as 3 feet to as long as 25 feet. Longer cables are ideal for reaching a wire feeder placed further away from the part, including on a boom. In other situations, a company may mount the feeder directly on the tooling or nearby. In that case, a cableless gun is an option for air-cooled operations. These guns plug directly into the wire feeder via a power pin and do not require a cable. Amperage and duty cycle also need to be factored into the selection of a fixed automatic gun, and both depend on the thickness of the material being welded and the amount of arc-on time required.
Air-cooled fixed automatic guns are typically available from 300 to 500 amperage models, offering either 60% or 100% duty cycle. Duty cycle is defined by the amount of time within a 10-minute cycle the gun can weld without becoming overly heated.
The necks on these guns are particularly durable since they have fewer internal channels than a water-cooled gun and rely on the ambient air to cool them. They are also more resistant to bending, and replacement parts are less expensive.
For higher-amperage fixed automation welding applications that require longer periods of welding on thicker material, a water-cooled gun may be a better choice. These models are typically available in amperages ranging from 450 to 600 amps and offering 100% duty cycle.
Hybrid water-cooled guns are another option. These fixed automatic guns have a sturdy neck similar to an air-cooled model with water channels running external to it. These channels make the guns easier to maintain than water-cooled guns.
Along with selecting the appropriate components for a fixed automatic gun, it’s also essential to choose high-quality consumables — nozzles, contact tips and gas diffusers. This helps minimize downtime for frequent changeovers and supports production goals. They can also reduce quality issues that could require rework later in the welding operation.
Consumables are available that can be used across different types of welding guns, including semi-automatic ones and fixed automatic guns. This compatibility can be beneficial to simplifying inventory and preventing errors when installing new consumables on either type of gun.
PRODUCT UPDATE — Tregaskiss® 600 amp Robotic Water-Cooled MIG Guns Now Available With AccuLock™ R Consumables
September 23, 2020
We are proud to announce new AccuLock R consumables are now available for Tregaskiss 600 amp robotic water-cooled MIG guns. Convert your existing gun from TOUGH LOCK® to AccuLock R consumables with no impact to Tool Center Point (TCP), or configure your new Tregaskiss 600 amp robotic water-cooled MIG gun with AccuLock R consumables today!
The 600 amp robotic water-cooled MIG gun is ready to take on your most demanding welding applications. Its rugged design is tough and dependable enough to maximize productivity when welding thick plate or running prolonged duty cycles.
AccuLock R consumables are designed for increased tip life, and virtually eliminate contact tip cross-threading issues to help reduce both your planned and unplanned downtime.
Spec Sheet: English
PRODUCT UPDATE — Tregaskiss Fixed Automatic Series MIG Guns
September 23, 2020
Tregaskiss is pleased to announce updates to our fixed automatic series MIG guns:
Now available with AccuLock R consumables
AccuLock™ R consumables are designed for increased tip life, and virtually eliminate contact tip cross-threading issues to help reduce both your planned and unplanned downtime.
New Online Configurators and Reverse Lookup Tools
Part number change to MW1 fixed automatic water-cooled MIG guns
Tregaskiss® MW1 fixed automatic water-cooled MIG gun part numbers have been changed from the 46 and 64 series part numbering convention. Customers can look up legacy part numbers using the new Tregaskiss MW1 MIG gun part number conversion tool.
New Spec Sheets
Get more information for all consumables and replacement parts for your Tregaskiss fixed automatic MIG guns:
- SP-MA1 | Tregaskiss MA1 fixed automatic air-cooled MIG guns spec sheet
- SP-MW1 | Tregaskiss MW1 fixed automatic water-cooled MIG guns spec sheet
- SP-AW2 | Tregaskiss AW2 fixed automatic water-cooled MIG guns spec sheet
Learn more about our fixed automatic MIG guns or AccuLock R consumables.
PACKAGING CHANGES —
Formatting Changes to Owner’s Manuals
August 18, 2020
Customers may notice that some Tregaskiss® and Bernard® MIG welding product owner’s manuals look different than previous versions. This is because we recently refreshed the design and format of these product manuals, but their contents remain the same. No changes to the important installation, maintenance, troubleshooting, parts lists and other information and instructions have been made.
Bernard Owner’s Manuals
Tregaskiss Owner’s Manuals
The most current version of these newly formatted owner’s manuals, along with other product manuals and spec sheets, are available for download from our website from the respective product pages as well as the Spec Sheets and Owner’s Manuals page.
Printed inventory will be replaced as a running change.
DISCONTINUED PRODUCTS – ACA and ACB Series Automatic Air-Cooled MIG Guns
August 12, 2020
Tregaskiss will discontinue the sales of ACA and ACB series automatic air-cooled MIG guns (formerly branded Bernard®) and parts as of January 31, 2021.
Replacement Gun Option
Tregaskiss® Auto Head Fixed Automatic Air-Cooled MIG Guns are available as replacements.
Please reach out to your ITW Welding sales representative for assistance.
If you have any questions regarding these changes, please kindly contact your local representative.
Learn more about our Tregaskiss Fixed Automatic MIG Guns
NEW PRODUCT – Expanded AccuLock™ S Power Pin Offering
August 11, 2020
We are pleased to announce that the AccuLock S consumables system has been expanded to include new Lincoln®, Tweco® #4 and Tweco® #5 AccuLock S power pins. These three new power pins are also configurable options in our online BTB MIG gun configurator.
|Feeder Manufacturer||AccuLock S Power Pin||AccuLock S Power Pin Cap||AccuLock S Power Pin Cap||AccuLock S Power Pin Cap|
The AccuLock S consumables system is designed to address liner trim length errors and erratic wire feeding. The AccuLock S liner is locked and concentrically aligned to both the contact tip and the power pin without the use of fasteners, which provides a flawless wire-feed path that guarantees smooth, uninterrupted delivery of the wire to the weld puddle. Plus, the liner replacement process has been error-proofed so you can trim your liner accurately and easily every time, with no measuring.
The AccuLock S consumables system requires all AccuLock components: contact tip, diffuser, nozzle, liner, neck insulator, power pin and power pin cap.
Reduce troubleshooting, production downtime and rework with AccuLock S Consumables.
Bernard and Tregaskiss Release New MIG Welding Guns & Consumables Catalog
BEECHER, Ill./WINDSOR, Ontario. (August 4, 2020) — Bernard and Tregaskiss have announced the availability of a joint MIG Welding Guns & Consumables catalog.
The 46-page, full-color catalog includes a consumable comparison chart to compare contact tip, nozzle and diffuser types across the brands’ available consumables offerings, along with a consumables and MIG gun series compatibility chart to guide users in their selection.
The catalog offers easy-to-read key features and part numbers for its products and is organized by product category, first highlighting the brands’ exclusive AccuLock™ S and AccuLock R Consumables — both designed to reduce downtime and improve welding performance.
Also included in the catalog are product details and configurator overviews for customizing Bernard® Semi-Automatic MIG Guns, Tregaskiss® Robotic MIG Guns, Clean Air™ Guns and more. Tregaskiss Fixed Automatic MIG Guns for hard tooling applications are also featured.
Each page includes website QuickLinks with URLs users can visit to learn more about a specific product, plus service and support contact numbers and directions to explore online resources, such as videos and product configurators.