Extending the Life of Welding Guns and Consumables

Mastering preventive maintenance, timely consumable replacements, and proper liner trimming are key to prolonging the lifetime of MIG welding equipment. Discover proactive measures to follow for enhancing durability and performance while decreasing downtime, boosting productivity, and cutting operating costs by reading our full article in the March featured in the March 2024 issue of MetalForming Magazine.

Bernard® and Tregaskiss® offer welding solutions at FABTECH 2023

Bernard® and Tregaskiss® offer welding solutions at FABTECH 2023

Tregaskiss and Bernard, manufacturer of semi-automatic, fixed automatic, cobot and robotic MIG welding guns, consumables and peripherals exhibited at FABTECH 2023, September 11-14 in Chicago. FABTECH is North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event that brings over 1,500 world-class suppliers worldwide together in one place.

This year Bernard and Tregaskiss presented its latest technology and cost-effective welding solutions to help manufacturers and fabricators improve weld quality and productivity. This year’s product showcase included:

  • AccuLock™ Consumables: Enjoy more efficiency, less downtime and better weld quality in all of your semi-automatic and robotic welding operations with AccuLock S and AccuLock R Consumables. AccuLock S consumables for semi-automatic welding work to maximize productivity by reducing issues that lead to costly rework and downtime and increasing life. The available dual-locked liner system allows error-poof liner installation without measuring and is locked and concentrically aligned to both the contact tip and power pin to ensure optimized wire feeding. For welders looking to increase throughput and efficiency in their robotic welding operations, AccuLock R consumables help ensure your equipment continues to operate at its highest efficiency by reducing both planned and unplanned downtime. When used with AccuLock nozzles and diffusers, you will see no impact to Tool Center Point (TCP). The longer lifespan of AccuLock™ contact tips means fewer human interactions within your welding cells and fewer accidental errors. When AccuLock R users upgrade to AccuLock HDP contact tips they can increase contact tip life by an additional 6-10x longer in pulse welding applications.
  • Bernard® Clean Air™ Fume Extraction Gun: Works to provide a cleaner, compliant work environment by reducing smoke at the source. The gun is designed with an adjustable vacuum chamber that can be adjusted to four different positions to optimize fume capture and gas flow. Welders can also benefit from the its  360-degree swivel to provide flexibility and reduce wrist fatigue when working in large weldment and confined spaces. 
  • Bernard® Self-Shielded Flux-Cored Guns: Bernard offers two self-shielded flux-cored welding guns, one with a fixed power cable liner and the other with a replaceable power cable liner. The Dura-Flux™ Self-Shielded Flux-Cored Gun is built for harsh and demanding environments. Its replaceable liner allows for quick and easy power cable maintenance; and the trigger is protected from dirt and dust to promote a long-lasting work life. Welders like this gun because it is extremely durable and comfortable to hold. The NEW Bernard IronPro™ 450 Self-Shielded FCAW Gun is designed for Miller® XMT® 650 ArcReach Miller® Systems this gun is ideal for outdoor environments. Its short handle and maneuverability make it an excellent choice for hard-to-reach weld joints. The gun’s sealed trigger remains slag and spatter free and is a contributing factor to the extended life of the gun.
  • Bernard® Semi-Automatic Air- and Water-Cooled MIG Guns: Designed specifically to accommodate a variety of welding styles, preferences and applications, while keeping related parts and consumables to a minimum. BTB Air-Cooled Guns optimize productivity, welder ergonomics and weld access. Operators can customize this gun line with a variety of necks, handles and trigger styles. Its industrial-grade performance and reliability withstands demanding and abusive environments. TGX® XS Series Air-Cooled Gun is perfect for low volume, light- to medium-duty welding. TGX MIG guns are durable, and ideally suited for lower amperage welding applications and shorter arc-on times.BTB Water-Cooled Guns are engineered for superior performance in production environments requiring extremely high-heat applications. W-Gun Water-Cooled Gun offers heavy duty necks in multiple length and bend configurations to allow for optimal weld accessibility and improved operator comfort. A flexible cable assembly with reinforced synthetic rubber hoses prevents water leakage, provides increased water flow, and reduces gas leakage. T-Gun™ Water-Cooled Gun features a straight handle, and an insulated and armored stainless-steel neck to withstand abuse.
  • Tregaskiss® BA1 Cobot Air-Cooled MIG Gun: Designed for Miller® Copilot™ and other collaborative welding systems the cobot gun is fast and simple to install and consistently delivers high-quality welds. The BA1 cobot MIG gun is built for exceptional durability and uses long-lasting AccuLock™ R consumables — together, they minimize downtime, make maintenance easier, and increase productivity.
  • Tregaskiss® TOUGH GUN® TA3 Robotic Air-Cooled MIG Gun: TheTOUGH GUN® TA3 robotic air-cooled MIG gun feeds through the robot arm and provides outstanding precision and reliability, featuring a unique and durable LSR+ (low-stress robotic) unicable with SmoothTurn(TM) technology

  • Tregaskiss® TOUGH GUN® TT4 Reamer: Power through the toughest spatter with the TOUGH GUN TT4 reamer. Available in analog and Ethernet models, this robotic nozzle cleaning station is a reliable solution with superior cleaning performance and high durability components that allow for quick and easy maintenance. The reamer offers the following standard features:

    • Anti-spatter reservoir with increased fluid capacity, featuring a tethered cap, removable easy-to-clean filter, and a low fluid level indicator
    • Dedicated motor lubricator
    • Spray containment unit

Additional options include nozzle detect and wire cutter, and installed on the TOUGH GUN® reamer stand. , plus all TOUGH GUN TT4 reamer robotic nozzle cleaning stations come with an industry-leading 2 year warranty that can be extended to 3 years with exclusive use of TOUGH GARD anti-spatter liquid.

    Upfront Cost vs. Total Cost of Ownership of MIG Guns and Consumables

    Upfront Cost vs. Total Cost of Ownership of MIG Guns and Consumables

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    While it may be tempting for companies to purchase MIG welding guns and welding consumables based on price, lower upfront costs don’t always add up to savings. Less expensive products often lack in quality and bring risk to the profitability of the welding operation. This can come in the form of:

    Closeup of welding operator holding MIG gun with sparks flying
    Stakeholders should look at the total cost of ownership MIG guns and consumables. Those with a higher upfront cost can help reduce risks and save money in the long term.
    • Downtime for troubleshooting
    • Shortened product life span
    • Missed production goals
    • Poor MIG gun and consumable performance
    • Poor quality welds and associated rework

    For these reasons, it’s important to look at MIG guns and consumables as more than simple commodities. Welding engineers, production managers and purchasing agents, along with other stakeholders, should instead look at the total cost of ownership of these products. Those with a higher upfront cost can help reduce risks and save money in the long term. 

    A look at MIG welding guns

    When considering the total cost of ownership of a MIG gun, there are several factors to keep in mind. For example, less expensive guns may require more maintenance and repairs over the life span of the product. Parts like necks, handles and triggers may need frequent attention, resulting in increased expenses for replacement and downtime for changeover. With labor being the largest expense in a welding operation, time spent on activities other than welding come at a price. 

    Lower quality guns may also require more downtime for troubleshooting issues like poor wire feeding. This not only stops production, preventing parts from moving out the door, but it also keeps welding supervisors or others from more important tasks. When an employee’s job is to keep the weld cells running smoothly, any distraction for troubleshooting can negatively affect the productivity and profitability of the welding operation. 

    To lower the total cost of ownership of a MIG gun, companies should look for quality products with a long life span. Guns that offer the ability to repair the power cables are a good option. In this case, the downtime and cost for replacement is a benefit. It is less expensive to repair the cable than to buy a brand-new gun. Companies should also look at a gun’s warranty. 

    With heavy industrial use, a high-quality MIG welding gun typically lasts one to two years and those, like Bernard® BTB guns, include a one-year warranty. Some Bernard guns also have a lifetime warranty on triggers, switches and handles. 

    Considerations for consumables

    Poor quality, cheaper consumables — contact tips, gas diffusers, nozzles and liners — can lead to a host of problems that increase downtime and costs. These include an erratic arc, burnbacks, birdnests and a short life span (particularly for contact tips) that can lead to rework. Such issues also increase instances of troubleshooting and make less expensive consumables pricier in the long term. 

    Cheaper contact tips can be prone to keyholing, or an uneven wear of the bore, and may not be as consistent in terms of electrical conductivity. Both can affect welding performance and shorten product life. 

    Conversely, premium consumables can lower the total cost of ownership in a welding operation. The longer they last, and the easier they are to install, the less downtime for changeover and the less expense for replacement. AccuLock™ contact tips feature a coarse thread that eliminates cross-threading and 60% of this consumable is buried in the diffuser, so it is away from heat during welding. As a result, these contact tips last two to three times longer than competitive ones. For robotic applications, AccuLock HDP contact tips last six to 10 times longer. This extended life can help increase production by reducing the number of scheduled changeovers. 

    QUICK LOAD™ liners are also a good option for robotic applications, as they load from the front of the robotic welding gun — safely out of the weld cell — in less than half the time needed for a conventional liner. The liner in the AccuLock S consumable system offers error-proof liner trimming without measuring, to prevent issues with wire feeding. 

    MIG gun and consumables trials

    When it comes to MIG guns and consumables, time is money. Repairs, replacements and rework all add up and affect the total cost of ownership of these products — not to mention the company’s bottom line. Making a conversion to higher quality options can yield good results and the benefits can be verified with a MIG gun and consumables trial prior to implementation. These trials help establish a baseline for improvements and provide data that allows companies to assess the upfront cost of products compared to the cost of downtime. With this information in hand, companies can make an informed decision about alternative MIG welding guns and consumables. 

    Employee Training: Best Practices for Preparing New Welders

    Employee Training: Best Practices for Preparing New Welders

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    Given the industry statistics regarding the number of experienced welders who are retiring from the field, many companies are likely training more new welders than ever before. By 2023, the nation’s workforce will need over 375,000 welders to satisfy the demands of several industries. [1]

    Close up of welder's hand holding a MIG gun to weld on part
    Welding is obviously a hands-on skill, but the best type of welder training for new employees may vary based on their learning style.

    Proper new welder training is essential to help companies meet quality and productivity goals. Consistent, thorough training also helps get welders onto the production floor as quickly as possible, allowing operations to meet throughput targets and customer timelines. Underscoring the importance of employee training, a study by the National Center on the Education Quality of the Workforce shows a 10% increase in workforce education can lead to an 8.6% increase in total productivity. [2]

    There are various techniques and solutions for training new welders and resources available once training is complete. 

    3 primary learning styles

    Welding is obviously a hands-on skill, but the best type of welder training for new employees may vary based on their learning style. Understanding the differences in learning styles can help companies tailor their training to best fit the way each individual learns. The three main learning styles are: [3]

    Visual learning

    People who have a visual learning style prefer to absorb new information by seeing the material being presented. They tend to remember things that are written down. Tips for reaching visual learners include turning notes into pictures, charts or maps; color coding parts of new concepts in any notes; focusing on learning the big picture first before drilling down to the details; and avoiding distractions. 

    Auditory learning

    Learners who fall into this category prefer to learn through listening; they retain information best through hearing and speaking. Tips for reaching auditory learners include having them repeat the material out loud and in their own words; discussing the material in small groups; and having them read any new information or instructions out loud. 

    Kinesthetic learning

    This type of learner prefers to learn by hands-on training. They would rather have a demonstration of how something works than a verbal explanation. Tips for this style of learner include taking frequent training breaks; have them learn new information while doing something active; and focus on hands-on demonstrations or lab work. 

    Covering the basics of welding training may differ for each type of learner. For example, a visual learner may want charts and graphics showing the different welding processes or parameters they will be using, while an auditory learner may want the trainer to explain those processes and parameters to them out loud. A kinesthetic learner may want to use a virtual reality or augmented reality welding training system to learn the skills in a hands-on manner. 

    Post-training tips

    No matter what learning style is used in training, there are many solutions and welding technologies available that can help reinforce the information with welders once they are on the production floor. 

    Many of today’s welding power sources include technologies such as automatic presets and parameters windows that help ensure operators are using the best settings for the application. Weld data monitoring technology is another solution that can provide guidance to welders who have less experience. For example, some systems guide welders through the weld sequence in real time and will provide alerts if a weld is missed or outside of acceptable parameters.  

    Choosing welding equipment and consumables that are easy to install and use is another step companies can take to help welders of all experience levels produce high-quality welds. AccuLock™ welding consumables are designed to address common challenges in semi-automatic and robotic MIG welding applications. Simplified welding consumable replacement helps increase accuracy and reduce employee training requirements. 

    Resources for support

    Many welding manufacturers also provide resources that companies can use to support welders after the training process. These resources include training manuals and welding guides found online, and how-to videos for welding equipment and consumables that are available on manufacturer websites or YouTube channels. QR codes on the welding equipment itself can be used to access how-to guides, training or machine updates.  

    These resources, coupled with the capabilities and ease-of-use engineered into today’s welding equipment and technologies, can help companies train new welders faster and support them once they are in production. 

    [1] American Welding Society:

    [2] National Center on the Education Quality of the Workforce
    [3] Missouri State University:

    Using Root Cause Analysis to Address Welding Consumable Issues

    Using Root Cause Analysis to Address Welding Consumable Issues

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    Troubleshooting problems with welding consumables can be time-consuming and expensive. From the associated downtime to the cost of replacing contact tips, diffusers, nozzles and liners, companies stand to lose productivity and potentially miss production goals. 

    Side view of welding operator welding part with sparks flying
    Applying root cause tools can help expedite the process of consumable troubleshooting. These are structured methods to narrow down the true cause of a problem and determine an exact solution.

    Applying root cause tools can help expedite the process. These are structured methods to narrow down the true cause of a problem and determine an exact solution. 

    At a high level, root cause analysis follows several key steps:

    • Defining the problem
    • Collecting information 
    • Identifying issues that are contributing to the problem
    • Determining the root cause
    • Recommending and implementing the solution

    To successfully implement root cause tools, it’s important to keep an open mind about possible causes that are contributing to welding consumable problems and to be patient, as it may take time to determine a cause and solution. Analytical thinking, along with being thorough and unbiased in the assessment, is a must. 

    The 5 Whys

    The 5 Whys is a common and simple root cause tool to apply to welding consumable issues. It involves asking “Why?” five times, and providing answers, to drill down to the root cause. In some instances, the solution may become apparent after fewer than five questions. Other times, it may take more. It is also possible that the questioning may become circular and require branching off into another line of questions. Once the root cause is identified, companies can home in on the right solution and determine ways to prevent further problems.

    For example, companies may ask the following if there are issues in a semi-automatic welding operation:

    1. Why do we have an erratic arc? Because the welding wire is feeding poorly.

    2. Why is the welding wire feeding poorly? Because the wire feeding path is blocked. 

    3. Why is the wire feeding path blocked? Because the liner is kinked up. 

    4. Why is the liner kinked up? Because it was trimmed incorrectly.

    5. Why was the liner trimmed incorrectly? Because welding operators didn’t measure it properly

    Knowing this information, companies may determine they need to train welders to use a liner gauge during trimming and installation. AccuLock S consumables are another option, as these have a liner that eliminates liner trim length errors without the need to measure. The liner locks and aligns at the front and back of the gun to provide a flawless wire feed path. 

    To gain the best results from The 5 Whys, engage employees who have hands-on experience with the welding process. Quality engineers are also great resources to include. 

    Failure Modes & Effects Analysis (FMEA)

    FMEA assesses how a failure could occur, its causes and what the potential consequences of a failure would be. FMEA follows the same logic as The 5 Whys to drill down to a root cause. Engineers use this tool proactively during the design of components like welding consumables. Companies can also use FMEA over the course of using these products as a troubleshooting method.

    Keeping with the example of welding consumables, a FMEA for troubleshooting may look like this in a robotic welding operation:

    • Failure mode: Off-location welds.
    • Potential consequence: Non-conforming parts.
    • Potential cause: Cross-threaded contact tip.
    • Current process controls: Train employees to install contact tips correctly.

    Potential solution: Use a contact tip that can’t be cross-threaded. These can be found in the AccuLock R consumables system.

    When using FMEA or The 5 Whys to troubleshoot welding consumables issues, it’s important to look at all aspects of the situation to accurately determine the root cause. While it may seem time-consuming, investing in the use of these methods can actually save time in the long term — not to mention frustration and costs. 

    Welder Training Tips to Help Improve Productivity

    Welder Training Tips To Help Improve Productivity

    Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

    Improving productivity in semi-automatic operations isn’t simply about welding faster and working harder. Instead, there are ways to create consistency in the process and support quality so that companies can avoid downtime that adversely affects throughput. 

    When training new welders, it’s important to provide a solid foundation of knowledge to achieve the best results. Taking the time to establish and expand welders’ skill sets shows welders companies are invested in them, and as welders gain more experience, they become more confident. The aim is to empower them and provide all the information necessary to be productive. 

    To instill good habits from the start, consider some key training tips.

    Side view of welder welding out of position
    When companies commit to providing thorough new welder training, the aim is to establish skills that lead to consistency in quality and reduce downtime.

    Put safety first

    A safe welder is a productive welder. By training new welders to follow welding safety protocols, there is less risk of lost productivity due to injury. Wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is important. This includes a properly fitted helmet, safety glasses, flame-resistant jacket or sleeves, welding gloves and steel-toed, rubber-soled boots. If the process is prone to higher levels of fume generation, correct use of a respirator is necessary. Train welders to read and follow all equipment labels and their owner’s manual carefully before operating welding equipment. Training also includes checking the power source ground, securing workpieces in the best possible manner and keeping their heads out of the weld plume when welding. 

    Establish consistent weld prep

    Following best practices for weld prep supports high weld quality, reduces rework and scrap, and improves productivity. As part of new welder training, welders should understand their power source settings, type and levels of the shielding gas being used, and how to clean the base material. Checking that all welding consumable connections are tight can minimize electrical resistance that could lead to burnbacks (the formation of a weld in the contact tip) and downtime for tip changeover.  

    Install welding consumables correctly

    Downtime to address liner issues is common in semi-automatic welding operations and is typically caused by incorrect installation. This can lead to bird-nesting (a tangle of wire in the drive rolls), poor wire feeding, an erratic arc, wire chatter, burnbacks and more. Always use a liner gauge when trimming a liner; or consider a consumable system like AccuLock™ S, which provides error-proof liner installation without measuring. The liner locks and is aligned to the power pin and the contact tip to ensure proper wire feeding. New welders should also learn to install and tighten contact tips according to the consumable manufacturer’s recommendation. 

    Focus on comfort

    Training welders to pay attention to their posture and the angle they hold their MIG welding gun can help reduce fatigue and the risk of welding-related musculoskeletal disorders that lead to lost productivity. Whenever possible, welders should position themselves so they are welding the workpiece in the range between their waist and shoulders. This may require a work stool or adjustable chair. Welders should also keep their hands and welding gun at or slightly below elbow height. Gaining good visibility to the weld joint can encourage proper posture. 

    Side view of welder welding on a part with sparks flying
    Taking the time to establish and expand welders’ skill sets shows welders companies are invested in them, and as welders gain more experience, they become more confident.

    Follow welding procedures

    Welding procedure specifications (WPS) are a means to create consistency in the welding operation by taking the guesswork out of the process. This document outlines welding parameters, filler metal type and diameter, wire feed speed (WFS), weld pass sequence and more. Training new welders to follow the details in a WPS can help ensure that they produce quality welds and remain productive. 

    Use the right equipment

    New welders should be trained to use the best equipment and tools for the job — and ones that best suit them. A MIG welding gun that fits the welder’s hand comfortably will help maximize their time when welding. Using a hammer for repositioning a part, as opposed to the MIG gun itself, can prevent damage to the gun that leads to downtime for repairs or replacement. 

    Likewise, having the correct wrench for installing gas diffusers or welpers for tightening contact tips helps ensure snug connections and lessens the opportunity for issues. Using the wrong tools or not tightening parts properly leads to loose connections that cause electrical resistance. This, in turn, increases heat and wears out the equipment prematurely. 

    Employ proper techniques

    Welding techniques vary according to the process, the welding position and the thickness of the base material. For example, when MIG welding with solid or metal-cored wire, welders need to learn to use a push technique, while a flux-cored process requires a drag technique. Train welders on the proper gun angles for flat, horizontal and out-of-position welding applications so they are able to fill the joint with the appropriate amount of weld metal and avoid issues like lack of fusion.

    Recognize signs of trouble

    Training new welders to quickly identify issues in the welding process can minimize downtime for troubleshooting. They should be given the guidance to identify the causes of common problems like porosity, burnbacks, poor deposition and more, along with their solutions. Welders should also be able to recognize signs that equipment needs to be repaired or replaced — for example, a welding contact tip that is keyholing (wearing at the bore unevenly) or a gun that has nicks in the power cable. Companies can provide troubleshooting cards with quick checklists to keep in the weld cell as reminders. 

    Keep communication open

    Clearly communicating expectations to new welders and having supervisors who are responsive to questions are vital parts of training. It is about both learning and listening. As training continues and welders grow their skill sets, it’s important to establish two-way feedback. This way everyone can find common ground on what best practices could be. In some cases, new welders may identify a way to improve the operation based on experience they have from another job. 

    Successful new welder training

    When companies commit to providing thorough new welder training, the aim is to establish skills that lead to consistency in quality and reduce downtime. The more they can avoid secondary work or additional processes, the better productivity will be. Plus, supporting the comfort and safety of welders can help make sure they perform their best every day, build confidence and help retain them as employees

    At a Glance: Cobots and the BA1 Cobot MIG Gun

    At a Glance: Cobots and the BA1 Cobot MIG Gun

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    Companies today continue to face a shortage of qualified welders, but the demand for product has stayed the same — or in many cases, increased. Turning to new solutions to keep up with production can help keep the welding operation running smoothly and quickly. 

    Side view of Tregaskiss BA1 cobot air-cooled MIG gun
    Tregaskiss designed its BA1 cobot welding gun to help companies gain the most from their cobot.

    For many companies producing a high mix and low volume of parts, investing in a cobot can be a smart business decision. A cobot, or collaborative robot, relies on interaction from a welding operator but provides faster speeds than semi-automatic welding. Cobot welding is also a less expensive alternative to robotic welding and takes up less space. 

    To operate the cobot, the welding operator uses a tablet to program the desired weld and moves the cobot welding gun to the beginning of the joint. While the cobot is welding, the welding operator can work on other activities, helping companies make the most of the available labor. 

    Tregaskiss BA1 cobot air-cooled MIG gun

    Tregaskiss designed its BA1 cobot welding gun to help companies gain the most from their cobot. It provides several key benefits.


    The BA1 gun is designed and engineered with the same trusted and robust components as other Tregaskiss guns and is proven to last in high-volume welding operations. 


    Combined with AccuLock™ R consumables, the BA1 welding gun can help ensure greater productivity. The contact tips last longer so there is less downtime for changeover. When routine changeover is necessary, it can be done quickly and easily so the cobot and welding operator spend more time producing parts. 


    The BA1 cobot MIG gun has metal-to-metal keyed connections to hold it in place in the mounting arm. These also keep the aluminum-armored neck firmly connected to the gun, so users can depend on the gun to perform consistently.


    The gun is easy to maintain when needed — necks can be changed with one tool by loosening a small number of fasteners. Operators can also easily install QUICK LOAD® liners from the front of the gun. For operations that have semi-automatic welding, companies can streamline inventory by using the same AccuLock contact tip on their MIG guns. 


    The BA1 cobot gun is compatible with cobots from FANUC®, Yaskawa® Motoman® and Universal Robots (UR) and most welding power sources. Power pin options are available for machines from Miller®, Lincoln®, Fronius®, Tweco®, Panasonic® and more. 

    Tregaskiss offers customizable options according to style and neck, consumables, cable length, wire size and power pin through the online configurator

    Cobot welding best practices

    Along with having a reliable cobot MIG gun, there are some best practices to consider for cobot welding. 

    • Provide welding operators with proper training. Programming is relatively easy using a simple tablet interface, and training can be done quickly. In many cases, welding operators are able to share their knowledge with other employees to expedite training. 

    • Follow safety precautions and use proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Read and follow the cobot and cobot gun owner’s manuals. The cell where the cobot is located should be surrounded by welding curtains to protect the operator and others from arc flash.

    • Tooling, fixtures and other equipment added to the robotic cell after delivery may change the type and number of hazards present in and around the cobot system.  Conduct a safety review and perform another risk assessment after the installation of any additional equipment to the robotic cell.

    • Understand the rating of the gun and make sure that it is appropriate for the application and prevent overheating. The BA1 cobot gun offers 385 amps at 100% duty cycle with mixed gases.

    • Be sure the robot and gun can move freely and that the power cable doesn’t interfere. Operators should also stand clear of the moving cobot. 

    • Understand the tool center point (TCP) and how far the cobot and cobot gun can reach to ensure quality. 

    As with any welding application, contact a trusted cobot welding gun or cobot manufacturer with questions or reach out to a local welding distributor.

    5 Tips for Improving Weld Quality

    5 Tips for Improving Weld Quality

    Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

    Establishing consistent levels of weld quality is important for attaining production goals and a better bottom line in semi-automatic welding operations. However, there are many factors that can negatively impact those efforts, including a lack of skilled labor, inadequate or aging equipment or using the wrong welding consumables. 

    Side view of welder welding on square part with sparks
    Supervisors and managers overseeing semi-automatic welding operations should regularly consult with welding operators to make sure they are following best practices.

    To avoid costly rework associated with poor weld quality, it’s critical to implement proper welder training. Evaluating the welding operation on a regular basis for issues can also help, along with following these key tips. 

    No. 1: Size contact tips correctly

    Welding contact tips are available in a range of diameters — typically 0.023 to 1/8 inches — to accommodate different welding wire sizes. The wire packaging, in part, determines what size contact tip is appropriate to support good weld quality. 

    Welding wires in larger drums — 500 pounds or more — have a larger cast and are flatter so there is less degree of arc. This means there is less opportunity for the wire to make consistent contact when feeding down the bore of the contact tip, resulting in an erratic arc and weld quality issues. To avoid problems when using copper and chrome zirconium welding contact tips (with Bernard and Tregaskiss consumables), undersize them for the diameter of wire. For example, match an 0.045-inch wire to a 0.039-inch contact tip. For other manufacturers’ contact tips, request recommendations. 

    Copper and chrome zirconium contact tips can be matched size for size with wire on spools or in drums less than 500 pounds since the wire has a tighter cast. 

    For AccuLock™ HDP contact tips, the wire and tip size can be matched regardless of the welding wire drum or spool size. 

    AccuLock S frontend consumables with liner
    The AccuLock™ S consumable system provides error-proof liner replacement. The liner loads through the neck at the front of the gun and is locked and trimmed flush with the power pin at the back of the gun, which eliminates the need to measure.

    No. 2: Size and change over liners properly

    As with contact tips, welding liners are available in various diameters and ranges, from 0.035 to 0.045 inch or from 0.045 to 1/16 inch. To avoid issues like burnback (the fusing of a weld in a contact tip), poor wire feeding and an erratic arc that can be detrimental to weld quality, match the diameter of welding wire to that of the liner. This supports the wire as it feeds through the liner. 

    It’s equally important to trim the liner properly. A liner that is too short can create wire chatter, an erratic arc and bird-nesting (a tangle of wire in the drive rolls). If the liner is too long, it can cause the wire to weave. Both situations can cause poor welds and, potentially, rework. 

    Always use the gauge provided by the manufacturer to ensure that the liner is trimmed correctly. The AccuLock S consumable system is also a good option, as it provides error-proof liner replacement. The liner loads through the neck at the front of the gun and is locked and trimmed flush with the power pin at the back of the gun, which eliminates the need to measure. 

    No. 3: Keep electrical resistance low

    Electrical resistance — or interference with the flow of electricity in a semi-automatic MIG gun’s circuit — generates heat and can impede weld quality by negatively impacting the gun’s components. There are several causes that can be rectified to prevent issues such as inconsistent weld appearance or an erratic arc. 

    Through ongoing use, connections begin to wear and loosen, leading to electrical resistance. Address this problem by tightening connections between the gas diffuser, gun neck and handle, as well as the connections from the power cable to the power pin and wire feeder. 

    Power cable wear that results in hotspots can also lead to electrical resistance. This wear may not always be visible, so as a course of troubleshooting, operators should consider this problem as a cause of poor weld quality. Replace the cable as necessary to prevent issues. Likewise, increased electrical resistance can occur in the gun handle, since it is an area of high use and bending. Look for signs of wear and replace as needed. 

    Nozzles with contact tip in gas diffuser covered with spatter
    Weld spatter buildup in the nozzle or in the ports in the gas diffuser can hinder shielding gas coverage, which also leads to porosity. Clean or replace these consumables when excessive spatter is evident.

    No. 4: Be mindful of cleanliness

    There are various aspects of cleaning and weld prep that can help support good weld quality. Always follow proper procedures for cleaning the base material to prevent defects like porosity that can be caused by welding through dirt, oil and debris.  

    It’s also important to be proactive about cleaning consumables. For example, weld spatter buildup in the nozzle or in the ports in the gas diffuser can hinder shielding gas coverage, which also leads to porosity. Clean or replace these consumables when excessive spatter is evident. Operators can also apply anti-spatter compound to the consumables by dipping the front inch and a half of the nozzle into the liquid. Use the anti-spatter compound sparingly to avoid damaging the nozzle insulator. 

    Storing consumables in a clean area minimizes the opportunity for dust, oil or other contaminants to adhere to the surface of the welding contact tip, nozzle and diffuser and adversely affect weld quality. A covered container with compartments for each welding consumable is a good option to protect them. 

    Power pin with two black O-rings
    Check O-rings on the power pin, gas diffuser and liner during routine preventive maintenance and replace these components as needed.

    Also consider how to handle the welding liner during changeover. Be careful not to drag the liner on the floor while feeding it into the gun, since doing so can cause debris to collect on it and be pulled into the gun. 

    No. 5: Plan for inspection and maintenance

    Preventative maintenance and ongoing care of the MIG gun and consumables can go far in supporting high weld quality. Set a schedule to inspect, maintain and repair the components.

    Although often overlooked during regular inspections, the O-rings found throughout the gun are important to assess. If they start to degrade or break, they can cause shielding gas leaks that lead to porosity and potentially extra costs for shielding gas if the operator increases gas flow to compensate for the leak. Check O-rings on the power pin, gas diffuser and liner during routine preventive maintenance and replace these components as needed. 

    Look for damage to the power cable, such as nicks or tears that can impede gas flow. Visually inspect the gun handle for cracks or missing screws and the trigger for sticking or malfunction. Repair or replace as necessary. 

    Last, inspect the welding contact tip for keyholing (an oblong wear of the bore); this can cause drifting wire and arc start failures that affect weld quality. 

    Long-term results

    Improving weld quality is a matter of ongoing evaluation. Supervisors and managers overseeing semi-automatic welding operations should regularly consult with welding operators to make sure they are following best practices. Ongoing training and quickly troubleshooting issues can also support good weld quality and prevent costly downtime and rework. 

    Is a Water-Cooled Robotic Welding Gun Necessary?

    Is a Water-Cooled Robotic Welding Gun Necessary?

    Robotic welding operations can be tough on equipment. The heat from the welding arc, along with reflective heat from the base material and resistive heat from the electrical components, can wear on consumables and the robotic welding gun. In some cases, implementing a water-cooled robotic MIG gun is the answer, but many times an air-cooled model can handle the job. 

    Closeup of Tregaskiss air-cooled robotic MIG gun on a yellow robot
    The goal of investing in robotic welding is to increase productivity, improve quality and reduce costs. Using an air-cooled robotic welding gun, when possible, can help companies gain these benefits.

    Water-cooled robotic welding guns are designed to handle high amperage applications, typically above 400 welding amps at 100% duty cycle. They are used for longer welds and multiple passes on thicker material with larger welding wire diameter (above 0.052 inch), such as those found in heavy equipment manufacturing. 

    That said, water-cooled guns are more expensive upfront compared to their air-cooled counterparts and require the additional expense of a water cooler. These guns operate by circulating a coolant from the water cooler through hoses in the power cable to the gun and neck, then returning the coolant to the cooler to release the absorbed heat. Due to the complexity of this design, there are more potential failure modes, so maintenance and repairs cost more over the life of the gun. Given the current shortage of skilled labor, it can be difficult to find welding operators who can take on these tasks. That can lead to downtime and lost productivity. 

    For these reasons, companies need to ask: Is a water-cooled welding gun necessary? Often, companies may be using this type of gun because it’s what’s always been on the plant floor, or they think they need the extra protection from the heat of the application. They may even be trying to protect the consumables from overheating. That doesn’t mean that a water-cooled welding gun is the best option. 

    When air-cooled makes more sense 

    Air-cooled robotic welding guns use the ambient air, shielding gas and arc-off time to dissipate heat. Their design is simple and easy to maintain since they have fewer parts than water-cooled models. A lower upfront cost and less expense to care for the guns make them an appealing alternative to a water-cooled gun. And, in several instances, these guns are a better option for a welding operation. 

    Duty cycle factors into using an air-cooled robotic welding gun. Duty cycle refers to the number of minutes a welding gun can operate at full capacity in a 10-minute period without overheating.  If the gun can operate the full 10 minutes, then it offers 100% duty cycle. However, many applications do not require 100% duty cycle and therefore wouldn’t benefit from a water-cooled gun that offers that capacity. In this case, it is possible to use a 350-amp air-cooled gun and run it at a lower duty cycle: for example, 50%. An air-cooled robotic MIG gun will heat up and plateau at a certain temperature. The operator overseeing the application will need to be cognizant of the duty cycle and welding duration and adjust the application accordingly. 

    In applications with shorter weld requirements, it’s also possible to configure a robotic welding cell to use air-cooled robotic welding guns. On a robotic line, there are often multiple robots welding at the same time. If one robot only welds for one minute and a second robot welds for two minutes, then the air-cooled gun on the first robot has time to cool down as it waits for the other robot to finish its weld. In essence, the robotic welding gun on the first robot would be working at 50% duty cycle as compared to the second robot.  

    For companies using a water-cooled robotic MIG gun to keep consumables from overheating, a simple change of consumable type combined with an air-cooled gun is a better, and less costly, option. Consider changing from a copper contact tip to a chrome zirconium, since it can withstand heat better. Also, high-performance consumables like AccuLock™ HDP contact tips can significantly extend tip life, even in hard pulsed robotic welding applications. They can last six to 10 times longer than copper and chrome zirconium tips. While these contact tips have a higher upfront cost, the lower expense of an air-cooled robotic welding gun means the reduction in downtime and higher productivity saves money in the long term.

    Simplifying the robotic welding operation

    The goal of investing in robotic welding is to increase productivity, improve quality and reduce costs. Using an air-cooled robotic welding gun, when possible, can help companies gain these benefits. The lower upfront cost and total cost of ownership of this equipment means a better bottom line. 

    From Consumables to Communication: Reducing Human Error in Welding

    From Consumables to Communication: Reducing Human Error in Welding

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    Human error can take its toll on welding operations, leading to downtime and lost productivity, poor quality and increased costs. It can result from a variety of factors.  An operator may know how to manage a process, but periodically misses a step or forgets to complete a task. Or an operator may believe he is conducting a task in the correct manner, but it is wrong.

    Side view of welder welding a square part on a table
    Preventing errors in a welding operation requires attention to detail, a commitment to making improvements, and collaboration among welding operators and management.

    To reduce problems, it’s important to provide proper training to semi-automatic and robotic welding operators. This includes not only training on the welding process, but also on how to spot errors when they occur. 

    Companies may want to rely on principles of poka-yoke to help. These principles could be applied in several ways in a welding operation. 

    • Elimination: Remove or change parts of the welding process that cause problems
    • Prevention: Investing in equipment or processes that prevent errors
    • Replacement: Substitute consumables with ones that are more consistent
    • Facilitation: Streamline operations to reduce the risk of a welding operator causing an error
    • Detection: Identify errors early and correct them before they lead to costly rework
    • Mitigation: Find ways to reduce the impact of errors on the welding operation

    With these high-level, error-proofing ideas in mind, it’s possible to put them into action in several specific ways. 

    Color-coded parts

    Investing in welding consumables with color-coded parts can help eliminate confusion during installation. AccuLock™ S liners and power pin caps are color coded to make it easy to identify which power pin cap is compatible with which liner. For example, power pin caps with red washers are compatible with liners that have red shrink tube and so on.

    Welding procedures

    Implementing a welding procedure specification (WPS), and training operators to follow it, can help ensure consistent, high-quality welds. A WPS outlines details on the welding process and parameters, weld pass sequences, filler metal type and size, and more.

    Error-proof consumables design

    For operations with a mix of welding arcs or for all automated welding operations, AccuLock R consumables are designed to prevent errors associated with cross threading during installation. They feature a long contact tip tail that aligns in the diffuser prior to the thread engaging. This allows operators to install the tip easily and accurately. The AccuLock S welding gun liner also offers error-proof liner trimming with no measuring required for semi-automatic welding operations. 

    Long-lasting consumables 

    Consumables that last longer require less changeover, which means less interaction by the welding operator in the welding cell and less potential for errors. AccuLock contact tips offer a longer lifespan, particularly the AccuLock HDP tips. These last up to ten times longer than standard contact tips and are designed for use in pulsed MIG welding applications, where waveforms tend to be harsher on tips.

    Inventory reduction 

    Taking steps to simplify inventory by having a lower variety of consumables can help prevent errors during changeover. The AccuLock S and AccuLock R consumable systems share a common contact tip, so the tip can be used in Bernard semi-automatic MIG guns and Tregaskiss robotic and fixed automatic guns.

    Communication and reporting

    Keeping open lines of communication among welding operators and with management is an important way to minimize and rectify errors. Knowing what is expected in the welding process is a good start, as is reporting errors when they occur so that they can be fixed and don’t lead to further complications.

    Preventing errors in a welding operation requires attention to detail, a commitment to making improvements, and collaboration among welding operators and management. Everyone needs to take a vested interest in the process, knowing that it will help improve quality and productivity — and ultimately make everyone’s job easier. 

    MIG Welding Glossary: Terms To Know

    MIG Welding Glossary: Terms To Know

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    Welders use MIG welding in many industries — fabrication, manufacturing, shipbuilding and rail to name a few. While it is a common process, it requires attention to detail, and it is helpful to know some key terms associated with it. As with any process, the better the understanding, the better the results. 

    Closeup of MIG gun welding on part on table
    The better the understanding of the MIG welding process and its key terms, the better the results.


    The tangling of welding wire in the drive rolls of the wire feeder. This typically happens when the wire doesn’t have a smooth feeding path due to a liner being cut too short, the wrong size liner or tip being used, or incorrect drive roll settings. Resolve this issue by trimming the liner properly and ensuring that the feed path of the wire is as smooth and straight as possible.  


    Occurs when the wire melts inside the contact tip before reaching the workpiece. It results from incorrect contact-tip-to-work distance (CTWD) — the distance between the end of the tip and the base metal — or a too-slow wire feed speed (WFS). It can also be caused by incorrectly trimmed liner and incorrect parameters. Remedy the problem by increasing WFS, adjusting CTWD, trimming the liner according to the manufacturer’s recommendation and modifying weld parameters. 

    Deposition rate

    Refers to how much filler metal is deposited into a weld joint over a specified period of time, measured in pounds or kilograms per hour (lbs/hr or kg/hr).


    A flaw in the structure of a weld that does not pose a risk of failure. It differs from a weld defect that can affect the integrity of a weld once in service. 

    Duty cycle

    Refers to the percentage of time in a 10-minute period a gun can be used at a specific amperage (arc-on time) without becoming too hot to handle or overheating. A gun’s duty cycle is affected by the type of shielding gas being used for welding. For example, a MIG gun may be rated at 100% duty cycle with 100% CO2 shielding gas, meaning it can weld the entire 10 minutes without issues; or it could have a gun rating of 60% duty cycle with mixed gases. 

    Electrode extension

    The distance the welding wire extends from the end of the contact tip to where the wire melts. As electrode extension increases, amperage decreases, which reduces joint penetration. Also commonly referred to as tip-to-workpiece distance. 

    Heat-affected zone

    Often referred to as HAZ, it is the portion of the base material surrounding the weld that hasn’t melted but has had its properties changed at a microstructure level due to the heat input. Cracking can occur here.

    Incomplete fusion

    Also called lack of fusion, it occurs when the weld fails to fuse completely with the base material or a previous weld pass in multi-pass welding. Typically, it is the result of an incorrect MIG gun angle. 


    A cavity-like discontinuity that occurs when gas becomes trapped in the weld upon solidification of the molten weld pool. It is most often caused by poor shielding gas coverage or base material contamination. 

    Weld penetration

    Refers to the distance the weld fuses below the surface of the base material. Incomplete weld penetration occurs when the weld doesn’t completely fill the root of the joint. 

    This is the second article in a three-part series on welding basics. Read article one, MIG Welding Basics and article three, MIG Welding Techniques: What to Know.

    Solving Common Causes of Welding Porosity

    Solving Common Causes of Welding Porosity

    Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

    Porosity, cavity-type discontinuities formed by gas entrapment during solidification, is a common but cumbersome defect in MIG welding and one with several causes. It can appear in semi-automatic or robotic applications and requires removal and rework in both cases — leading to downtime and increased costs. 

    The major cause of porosity in steel welding is nitrogen (N2), which gets involved in the welding pool. When the liquid pool cools down, the solubility of N2 is significantly reduced and N2 comes out of the molten steel, forming bubbles (pores). In galvanized/galvanneal welding, evaporated zinc can be stirred into the welding pool, and if there is not enough time to escape before the pool solidifies, it forms porosity. For aluminum welding, all porosity is caused by hydrogen (H2), by the same way as N2 works in steel.

    Environmental shot of welding operator welding on part
    Knowing how to identify some key causes of porosity and how to quickly solve them can help improve quality, productivity and the bottom line.

    Welding porosity can appear externally or internally (often called sub-surface porosity). It can also develop at a single point on the weld or along the entire length, resulting in weak welds.

    Knowing how to identify some key causes of porosity and how to quickly solve them can help improve quality, productivity and the bottom line.

    Poor Shielding Gas Coverage

    Poor shielding gas coverage is the most common cause of welding porosity, as it allows atmospheric gases (N2 and H2) to contaminate the weld pool. Lack of proper coverage can occur for several reasons, including but not limited to poor shielding gas flow rate, leaks in the gas channel, or too much air flow in the weld cell. Travel speeds that are too fast can also be a culprit. 

    If an operator suspects poor flow is causing the problem, try adjusting the gas flow meter to ensure the rate is adequate. When using a spray transfer mode, for example, a 35 to 50 cubic feet per hour (cfh) flow should suffice. Welding at higher amperages requires an increase in flow rate, but it’s important not to set the rate too high. This can result in turbulence in some gun designs that disrupts shielding gas coverage.

    It’s important to note that differently designed guns have different gas flow characteristics (see two examples below). The “sweet spot” of the gas flow rate for the top design is a lot larger than that of the bottom design. This is something a welding engineer needs to consider when setting up the weld cell.

    Images of welding nozzles with turbulent shielding gas flow
    Design 1 shows smooth gas flow at the nozzle outlet
    Images of welding nozzles with turbulent shielding gas flow
    Design 2 shows turbulent gas flow at the nozzle outlet.

    Also check for damage to the gas hose, fittings and connectors, as well as O-rings on the power pin of the MIG welding gun. Replace as necessary. 

    When using fans to cool operators or parts in a weld cell, take care that they are not pointed directly at the welding area where they could disrupt gas coverage. Place a screen in the weld cell to protect from external air flow. 

    Re-touch the program in robotic applications to make sure there is a proper tip-to-work distance, which is typically ½ to 3/4 inch, depending on the desired length of the arc.

    Lastly, slow travel speeds if the porosity persists or consult a MIG gun supplier for different front-end components with better gas coverag

    Base Metal Contamination

    Base metal contamination is another reason porosity occurs — from oil and grease to mill scale and rust. Moisture can also encourage this discontinuity, especially in aluminum welding. These types of contaminants typically lead to external porosity that is visible to the operator. Galvanized steel is more prone to subsurface porosity. 

    To combat external porosity, be certain to thoroughly clean the base material prior to welding and consider using a metal-cored welding wire. This type of wire has higher levels of deoxidizers than solid wire, so it is more tolerant of any remaining contaminants on the base material. Always store these and any other wires in a dry, clean area of similar or slightly higher temperature than the plant. Doing this will help minimize condensation that could introduce moisture into the weld pool and cause porosity. Do not store wires in a cold warehouse or outdoors. 

    Closeup of welding porosity on a weld coupon
    Porosity, cavity-type discontinuities formed by gas entrapment during solidification, is a common but cumbersome defect in MIG welding and one with several causes.

    When welding galvanized steel, the zinc vaporizes at a lower temperature than the steel melts, and fast travel speeds tend to make the weld pool freeze quickly. This can trap zinc vapor in the steel, resulting in porosity. Combat this situation by monitoring travel speeds. Again, consider specially designed (flux formula) metal-cored wire that promotes zinc vapor escape from the welding pool.

    Clogged and/or Undersized Nozzles

    Clogged and/or undersized nozzles can also cause porosity. Welding spatter can build up in the nozzle and on the surface of the contact tip and diffuser leading to restricted shielding gas flow or causing it to become turbulent. Both situations leave the weld pool with inadequate protection. 

    Compounding this situation is a nozzle that is too small for the application and more prone to greater and faster spatter buildup. Smaller nozzles can provide better joint access, but also obstruct gas flow due to the smaller cross-sectional area allowed for gas flow. Always keep in mind the variable of the contact tip to nozzle stickout (or recess), as this can be another factor that affects shielding gas flow and porosity with your nozzle selection.

    With that in mind, make sure the nozzle is large enough for the application. Typically, applications with high welding current using larger wire sizes require a nozzle with larger bore sizes.

    In semi-automatic welding applications, periodically check for welding spatter in the nozzle and remove using welder’s pliers (welpers) or replace the nozzle if necessary. During this inspection, confirm that the contact tip is in good shape and that the gas diffuser has clear gas ports. Operators can also use anti-spatter compound, but they must take care not to dip the nozzle into the compound too far or for too long, since excessive amounts of the compound can contaminate the shielding gas and damage the nozzle insulation. 

    In a robotic welding operation, invest in a nozzle cleaning station or reamer to combat spatter buildup. This peripheral cleans the nozzle and diffuser during routine pauses in production so that it does not affect cycle time. Nozzle cleaning stations are intended to work in conjunction with an anti-spatter sprayer, which applies a thin coat of the compound to the front components. Too much or too little anti-spatter fluid can result in additional porosity. Adding in air blast to a nozzle cleaning process can also aid in clearing loose spatter from the consumables. 

    Maintaining quality and productivity

    By taking care to monitor the welding process and knowing the causes of porosity, it’s relatively simple to implement solutions. Doing so can help ensure greater arc-on time, quality results and more good parts moving through production.  

    Employee Retention: Best Practices for Keeping Welders Engaged

    Employee Retention: Best Practices for Keeping Welders Engaged

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    The welding industry, like many others, is challenged by a labor shortage — and one that is growing. By 2023, the American Welding Society (AWS) anticipates the welder shortage to reach approximately 375,000, as an increasing number of experienced welders reach retirement age and leave the field.[1] With those statistics in mind, it’s more important than ever for companies to take steps to retain the welders they have. 

    Closeup from the side of welder welding out of position
    Staying involved and creating a sense of community in which everyone is contributing to the well-being of the company can go a long way in keeping welders interested and engaged.

    Employee retention is critical for several reasons. It helps support quality and productivity initiatives, which in turn makes it easier to meet customer demands. It also prevents overworking welders — an issue that can lead to low morale and a poor company culture. In addition, retaining welders helps maintain the bottom line. Turnover can cost companies significantly in terms of recruiting and retraining new welders, as well as for downtime in production due to lack of a full workforce. [2]

    Fortunately, there are some best practices that can help companies create a positive environment and keep welders interested in the job. 

    Provide proper welder training

    Empowering welders is important to instill a sense of interest and pride in the job —and that process should start from the very beginning. It’s reported that strong onboarding and training can help companies retain 82% of new hires. [3]

    With proper training, welders can feel confident in their ability to do the job and help train new welders. Start with establishing good welding habits and creating a familiarity with the welding process. This includes training new welders on how to set up their power source accurately and safely and on what welding parameters to use. Equally important is providing guidance on the best technique for the process and application to minimize weld defects. Establishing a comfort level with following welding procedures is also a valuable part of welder training. [4]

    For more experienced welders, offering more advanced training opportunities can help keep them engaged. This could include training to weld on more complicated applications or complex parts, robotic welding programming and more. 

    Create a clean, safe environment

    Along with providing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as helmets, gloves, safety glasses and jackets, it is also important that the environment is safe. That means ensuring the welding cell and surrounding areas are free of clutter and any tripping hazards. It also entails proper ventilation. Companies can achieve that by removing weld fume at the source with a fume extraction gun, or with a mobile, wall-mounted system or a centralized fume extraction system. A clean, safe welding environment is more appealing for welders to work in — and it can provide an edge over competitive companies when it comes to employee retention. Additionally, be certain to train employees on all company safety protocols and welding equipment manufacturer’s safety precautions. Doing so can help create a culture of safety in which everyone is contributing. [5]

    Offer easy-to-use welding equipment

    Complicated equipment can be difficult to use, especially for inexperienced welders, leading to frustration about errors and downtime. This holds true not only for power sources, but also MIG guns and consumables: contact tips, nozzles, gas diffusers and liners. Liners, in particular, can be troublesome to install since it’s easy to trim them too long or too short, the latter of which happens more often. When the liner is too short, it can cause burnbacks, an erratic arc and poor wire feeding. Look for a consumable system that offers error-proof liner replacement for easier installation. This leaves welders more time to hone their welding skills while spending less time on troubleshooting. In automated welding operations, it is important to have equipment that is easy and intuitive to maintain and program after the proper training. This includes teach pendants with easy-to-use controls for inputting new parameters and requirements for the application. 

    Provide growth and advancement opportunities

    Offering welders a chance to advance and learn new skills can be a good way to retain those who are interested in those opportunities. Growth can take many forms, whether it’s stepping into a new role or shouldering additional responsibilities within a current position. Certifications are another avenue for growth. The American Welding Society (AWS) offers its AWS Certified Welder performance-based program so welders can expand their knowledge and technique — from plate to pipe welding with a variety of processes. There are additional programs that support advancement, including one for a certified welding supervisor. [6] 

    Along with these best practices, keeping open lines of communication with welders is key — as it is in any work environment. Staying involved and creating a sense of community in which everyone is contributing to the well-being of the company can go a long way in keeping welders interested and engaged. 

    The Value of Welding Consumables Trials

    The Value of Welding Consumables Trials

    In both semi-automatic and automated welding cells, the upfront cost of welding consumables is low compared to the overall expense for equipment, materials and labor. Yet when companies accrue downtime for excessive welding contact tip changeover or troubleshooting poor wire feeding associated with liner issues, costs can quickly compound. 

    AccuLock consumable systems including contact tips, nozzles, gas diffusers, liners
    Welding consumables trials can bring benefits by uncovering opportunities for improvement.

    At times, companies may try to mitigate consumable problems without a true sense of the root cause, implementing a solution without data to back up the decision. However, conducting a welding consumables trial can provide insight into whether an operation is using the best consumables for the application. 

    Welding contact tips are the baseline for these trials since they are the most frequently changed consumable. Nozzles and diffusers that are compatible with the contact tip are included in a trial but not monitored in the same way since they last much longer. 

    This article has been published as an exclusive with The Fabricator. To read the entire article, please click here.

    Understanding the Impact of Time Sinks in Robotic Welding

    Understanding the Impact of Time Sinks in Robotic Welding

    Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

    No robotic welding cell operates at 100% capacity. Parts handling, fixturing, periodic rework and even employee breaks all affect a robot’s ability to be completely efficient. However, there are common time sinks that can further hinder productivity — and they can easily lead to increased costs and lower quality. 

    Time sinks are activities that consume a lot of time for little benefit. So why do these happen? It could be a lack of training or lack of skilled labor. Or it could be simply out of habit; some activities may fall into the “we’ve always done it this way” category. 

    Closeup of through-arm robotic MIG gun welding with sparks
    Time sinks are activities that consume a lot of time for little benefit in a robotic welding operation. They may occur due to lack of training or skilled labor, and even out of habit.

    The key is to take steps to rectify these issues quickly, as they can easily escalate. That is especially true on large production lines. If one robot has an issue, it may result in having to stop an entire line of robots to solve the problem, compounding downtime. 

    Streamlining the process

    Downtime for certain activities in a robotic weld cell is unavoidable, but they become time sinks when they aren’t streamlined. Welding contact tip changeover is a prime example.

    While regular changeover is imperative to producing quality parts, it is not uncommon for operators to replace a contact tip before it is necessary. It can become a habit to change the tip every few hours, during breaks and before and after shifts without truly knowing whether there is still life left in the consumable. This frequency interrupts production, resulting in fewer parts being made and increased costs for the tip itself. 

    Conducting a time study to determine the true life of a contact tip — from installation to the point of failure — can help companies avoid excessive changeover and costs. The study may be time-consuming initially, but it can be conducted in one robotic welding cell to establish a baseline and then applied to similar cells.

    Operator replacing power cable on a through-arm robot
    It’s important to remember that changes and improvements aren’t one-time occurrences. They must be monitored regularly and adjusted as needed

    It’s also recommended to try different types of contact tips to ensure that the best option is in place. For example, pulsed MIG welding applications are especially harsh on tips, so it’s essential to have an option for that waveform, like the AccuLock™ HDP contact tips, to extend product life. There is a higher upfront cost for these tips, but also a significant increase in productivity and throughput due to significantly less-frequent changeover.

    Reaming too often can also become a time sink in a robotic welding cell. A nozzle cleaning station (or welding reamer) is necessary to clear spatter from the front-end welding consumables and ensure smooth gas flow, but it’s important to determine the optimal frequency for the application. For example, if a robot completes a 2-inch weld and then spends 10 seconds to ream, spray anti-spatter, nozzle-check and wire-cut, that is likely too often. Instead, it may be possible to weld 10 to 20 parts between reaming cycles. Again, a time study can help determine the appropriate frequency. 

    Common time sinks and tips for avoiding them

    True time sinks may not be immediately obvious and the activities themselves may appear benign, but they can have consequences that result in extra time, labor and costs for welding troubleshooting. Fortunately, there are options to rectify these issues. 

    Product image of AccuLock R consumables including nozzles, contact tips, gas diffusers
    Welding supervisors and operators should schedule time to perform preventive maintenance, such as checking connections and visually inspecting consumables for spatter, during routine pauses in welding.

    1. Poor wire conduit management

    Due to the high volume of parts that pass through a robotic welding cell, most companies employ large welding wire drums to minimize changeover of these packages. Poor management of the conduit leading from the drum to the robot can lead to time sinks. If this conduit is too long, has been placed around the corner or snakes and bends along the floor, the wire won’t feed properly. Poor wire feeding can lead to burnbacks that require downtime for welding contact tip changeover. It can also cause the arc to become erratic, which causes quality issues and potential rework. The best way to resolve this issue is to keep the conduit as straight as possible and use the shortest run feasible. 

    2. Incorrect robot positioning and neck selection

    Many large companies, such as tier-one automotive suppliers, measure their efficiency based on available square footage, so placing many robots in an area is common. This helps meet high production goals. However, if a company positions the robot incorrectly in relation to the tooling, it can increase robot articulation and lead to premature cable failure. The same holds true when using the wrong robotic MIG gun neck. While companies often like to standardize on one neck angle throughout the operation, it may not allow the robot to articulate properly to reach the weld joint. 

    As a best practice, the robot riser should be sized to minimize the amount of joint articulation when accessing the tooling. This reduces stress on the robotic MIG gun and the power cable. Select the appropriate neck angle to achieve the best joint access. 

    Robotic welding supervisor programming conventional robot
    When there are jobs to be done, it’s easy for companies to focus on moving production along and sending parts out the door. In the process, time sinks can occur that may be overlooked for long periods of time, compounding their severity.

    3. Troubleshooting on the line

    When something goes wrong in a robotic welding operation, often the first instinct is to try to troubleshoot the issue on the spot. Doing so yields little benefit since it stops production: not just because the robot isn’t working, but also because multiple personnel may be stepping away from their jobs to address the problem. That adds up to unnecessary time and money spent. 

    A better option is to remove and replace the component causing the trouble, whether it be the robotic MIG gun or a welding reamer. That allows the robot to go back to work producing parts, while maintenance troubleshoots and repairs the equipment issue offline. 

    4. Overlooking preventive maintenance (PM)

    Like troubleshooting on the line, reactive maintenance can be a significant time sink. Addressing unexpected problems keeps the robot from its job of producing parts. Also if something goes wrong within the weld cell because PM wasn’t performed, it can lead to poor quality parts, rework or costly repairs. 

    Instead, welding supervisors and operators should schedule time to perform preventive maintenance, such as checking connections and visually inspecting consumables for spatter during routine pauses in welding. More time-consuming PM activities, like replacing a gun liner, a robotic MIG gun or cable, or cleaning the robot, can happen between shifts or during other planned downtime. 

    Making a difference

    When there are jobs to be done, it’s easy for companies to focus on moving production along and sending parts out the door. In the process, time sinks can occur that may be overlooked for long periods of time, compounding their severity. 

    However, pausing to look at the robotic welding operation and setting plans in place can help create efficiencies in the long run. In addition to time studies, conducting a process failure mode analysis (PFMA) can help by considering anything that could go wrong in the robotic welding cell. These situations are then ranked by potential frequency and severity and a plan put in place for addressing them. 

    It’s also important to remember that changes and improvements aren’t one-time occurrences. They must be monitored regularly and adjusted as needed. Coordinating a continuous improvement team to spearhead the process can help, as can working with a trusted welding equipment or robot manufacturer.

    How to Reduce Welding Gun Wear and Extend Gun Life

    How to Reduce Welding Gun Wear and Extend Gun Life

    Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

    Knowing the common causes of MIG gun wear — and how to eliminate them — is a good step toward minimizing downtime and costs for addressing issues. 

    Like any equipment in a welding operation, MIG guns are subject to routine wear and tear. The environment and the heat from the arc, along with other factors, impact their longevity. When operators follow best practices for their use, however, most quality MIG welding guns can last at least one year in a manufacturing environment. Routine preventive maintenance can also help extend product life. 

    Closeup side view of welder welding on a part
    Knowing the common causes of MIG gun wear — and how to eliminate them — is a good step toward minimizing downtime and costs for addressing issues.

    What causes MIG gun wear? 

    The welding environment and application can affect MIG gun life. Some of the most common causes of gun wear include: 

    Temperature changes

    Extreme temperature fluctuations can affect the condition and expected life of the MIG gun jacket, which is typically a rubber-type composite material. If temperatures fluctuate from high to low, the jacket material will react differently — becoming softer or harder — which eventually leads to wear.

    Environmental damage

    Whether you’re welding inside a facility or on an outdoor jobsite, dirty conditions can introduce abrasives and debris into the MIG gun circuit and consumables. Guns can also be damaged if they are dropped, run over, walked on, or caught in a lift arm or boom. These actions can damage the cable or cause disruption of the shielding gas flow. Welding on or near abrasive surfaces can cause cuts to the gun jacket or cable. It’s not recommended to weld with a MIG gun that has a damaged jacket. Always replace worn, damaged or cracked guns or cables.

    Lack of proper maintenance

    When dirt and debris build up within the gun liner or on the contact tip, it increases resistance and causes additional heat buildup — the enemy of gun life. A wire feeder that isn’t feeding properly can also cause damage elsewhere in the gun. 

    A broken handle or noticeable chips or cuts in the gun jacket or cable are common indicators of MIG gun wear. But other signs aren’t always visible. 

    If a burnback, erratic arc or poor-quality welds are an issue during welding, these could be caused by inconsistent power being delivered to the weld circuit. Worn connections or components in the welding gun can cause these power fluctuations. To avoid downtime and additional wear on the gun, it is important to troubleshoot weld or arc issues and fix them as quickly as possible. 

    Shot of Bernard gun offering in a row with each being held by a different gloved hand
    Keeping an eye on MIG gun wear and changing consumables as necessary can help prolong gun life and deliver better performance for longer.

    Tips for preventing MIG gun wear 

    Consider these five tips to help optimize gun performance and longevity. 

    1. Don’t exceed the duty cycle. Manufacturers have the option of rating their guns at 100%, 60% or 35% duty cycle. Duty cycle is the amount of arc-on time within a 10-minute period. Exceeding the gun’s rating can result in excess heat that wears gun components more rapidly and can potentially damage them to the point of failure. If an operator feels the need to increase parameter settings to achieve the same weld they previously completed, this could be a sign that the gun has begun to fail or something is wrong with the weld circuit. 

    2. Use a quality jacket cover. To protect the cable from gashes or sharp objects in the welding environment, use a gun jacket cover made from a material that offers a higher abrasion resistance. Jacket covers are available in various lengths to suit many gun styles and sizes. Be sure to replace the jacket as needed for maximum protection. 

    3. Check consumable connections. Any loose connection in a weld circuit will increase heat and resistance, which in turn will increase wear on the gun and components. When changing consumables, be sure threads are clean and tight. Inspect the gun regularly, tightening any loose connection — whether it’s the diffuser, neck or contact tip. Loose connections inhibit power transfer within the circuit for the weld. It’s also important to check all connections after servicing the gun or changing consumables.

    4. Properly manage the cable. The best condition for any weld cable and gun is to keep them as straight as possible during use. This provides better wire feeding and power transfer down the length of the gun. Avoid kinking the cable or using a gun and cable that are too long for the space. When the gun isn’t in use, be sure to coil the cable properly. Keep the gun and cable off the floor or ground and out of harm’s way — ideally on a hook or shelf. Keep guns out of heavy traffic areas where they could be run over or damaged. Also, if the gun is on a boom, don’t pull the gun cable to move the boom or cart. This can damage the connections and wear them down faster. 

    5. Conduct preventive maintenance General maintenance and upkeep will help MIG guns perform as expected and prolong gun life. Pay attention to any signs of wear on the gun or consumables. Check all connections each time the gun is used and look for spatter buildup in the nozzle. Troubleshoot any gun or wire feeding issues as soon as possible. Also, be sure to use the correct parts when servicing or repairing a MIG gun. MIG gun manufacturers typically have a parts guide that indicates which parts go into a specific position on the gun. If the wrong parts are used, they will change the way power transfers through the gun as well as affect overall performance. This can increase wear over time. 

    Optimizing MIG gun life

    Getting the most life out of your MIG welding gun involves numerous factors, from proper maintenance and care to using best practices when welding. Keeping an eye on MIG gun wear and changing consumables as necessary can help prolong gun life and deliver better performance for longer. 

    8 Manufacturing Cost-Reduction Strategies for Welding Operations

    8 Manufacturing Cost Reduction Strategies for Welding Operations

    Cost overruns in a manufacturing welding operation can come from many places. Whether it’s a semi-automatic or robotic weld cell, some common culprits of unnecessary costs are unplanned downtime and lost labor, consumable waste, repairs and rework, and lack of operator training. 

    Image of welder from behind adjusting settings on a Miller power source

    Many of these factors are tied together and influence each other. A lack of operator training, for example, can result in more weld defects that require rework and repair. Not only do repairs cost money in additional materials and consumables used, but they also require more labor to do the work and any additional weld testing.  

    Repairs can be especially costly in an automated welding environment, where constant progression of the part is crucial to overall throughput. If a part isn’t welded correctly, it may still continue through all steps of the process. If the defect isn’t caught until the end of the process, all the work must be redone. 

    Companies can use these eight tips to help optimize consumable, gun and equipment performance — and reduce costs in both semi-automatic and robotic welding operations. 

    This article was published as an exclusive on Read the full article here.

    Cobots and Cobot MIG Guns: What To Know for Manufacturing Welding Operations

    Cobots and Cobot MIG Guns: What To Know for Manufacturing Welding Operations  

    Traditional robotic welding systems can deliver many benefits, but they aren’t always the right solution for every manufacturer. In applications where implementing a robotic weld cell isn’t the answer, some companies are turning to collaborative robots, or cobots.

    While not new to the industry, cobots are currently a fast-growing and still-developing technology. They can help operations save time, improve part quality and deliver consistency — all at a lower investment cost than a robotic welding system. 

    Knowing the basics of cobots goes beyond just the equipment itself. It’s also important to understand how the welding gun and consumables selection play key roles in optimizing this technology. (Photo courtesy of Hirebotics)

    Knowing the basics goes beyond just the equipment itself. It’s also important to understand how cobot welding gun and consumables selection play key roles in optimizing this technology. 

    Why cobots?

    Cobots are still industrial robots, but they are designed to operate safely alongside workers and enable human collaboration with the robot. As an example, a cobot may be welding a workpiece while the nearby operator inspects and cleans a weld that was just completed by the cobot — essentially turning one worker into two. 

    Manufacturers with high-mix, low-volume production (those that make smaller numbers of a wide variety of parts) are a good fit for cobots, making general manufacturing and job shops common adopters. 

    Product shot of a Tregaskiss BA1 cobot MIG gun ready to weld a flat part
    A gun like the Tregaskiss BA1 cobot MIG gun features metal-to-metal connections that hold it in place in the mounting arm and keep the aluminum-armored neck firmly connected in the gun body to ensure accurate, quality welds.

    There are several benefits that can help operations save time and money while improving part quality. These include: 

    1) Lower total cost

    Cobots are typically less expensive for operations to adopt compared to a fully automated welding cell. This includes the initial cost of the equipment and the training required to get operators up to speed for programming and using it. In addition, many companies that provide robot integration offer leasing options for cobots, making it easy for manufacturers to try out the solution before making a purchasing decision.

    2) Ease of use and training

    Cobots have intuitive touch-screen user interfaces and are significantly easier to use than traditional robotic welding cells. Operating a cobot requires some training, but little welding or programming experience is necessary to successfully operate it. Compare that to a traditional robotic welding cell, which typically requires more extensive welding or programming experience. The reduced level of training with cobots can be a plus for operations that struggle to find and retain skilled labor. 

    3) Reduced safety risks

    Because cobots are designed to be operated with human interaction, they have many built-in safety measures. They are limited in how fast they can move, are very sensitive to collisions, and they do not have pinch points. They will stop movement in the event of a collision. And because of these design parameters, the cobots will not be moving very fast if they do collide with something. Cobots can be programmed to move faster when they are not working alongside a human. 

    4) Portability

    Many cobots are portable — essentially a table with a robot on it. They can be moved elsewhere in the facility to be used where they are needed. This allows operations to easily change which production line is using it.

    Implementing cobots 

    Close up of a Tregaskiss BA1 cobot MIG gun on a UR cobot model
    The Tregaskiss BA1 cobot MIG gun (shown here on a UR model) has minimal fasteners and a precision-machined keyway mounting system, making installation of the gun and mounting arm quick, easy and accurate. 

    Cobots are designed to offer a low barrier to entry — with fast setup and high ease of use. The programming required and specifics of the user interface will vary based on the integrator, but often the cobot is controlled by a tablet or cell phone app — making training and programming very easy. Some cobots are assembled before they are shipped, so setup only takes 30 minutes to an hour. 

    Once set up, operators can move the cobot to exactly the spot they want to start the weld and push a button to save that point. Then they can move the cobot to the end point of the weld and save that point. This can be easily repeated for each weld.

    Some cobots allow the addition of different features to the programming, such as seam welds or stitch welds. 

    Choosing a welding gun and consumables 

    While it’s easy for the selection of a welding gun and consumables to be an afterthought in the process, these play an important role in the performance and efficiency of any welding system, including a cobot. 

    Choose a high-quality gun and consumables to optimize results, provide longer product life and reduce the time and money spent on troubleshooting. Reducing consumable changeover and potential issues is especially important for companies with less-experienced operators. 

    Product shot of AccuLock R gas diffuser, contact tips, nozzle with liner
    Look for consumables, like AccuLock™ R, that are designed to maximize production uptime through long service life and quick replacement. 

    MIG guns for cobots are tested and rated using the same standards applied to traditional MIG guns. Be aware of what the rating means when selecting a MIG gun for cobot welding, as it helps prevent overheating when guns are used as they are rated. 

    A gun like the Tregaskiss BA1 cobot MIG gun features metal-to-metal connections that hold it in place in the mounting arm and keep the aluminum-armored neck firmly connected in the gun body to ensure accurate, quality welds. It also has minimal fasteners and a precision-machined keyway mounting system, making installation of the gun and mounting arm quick, easy and accurate. 

    To simplify maintenance, consider a front-load liner, since these can reduce downtime for changeover. The liners are replaced from the front of the gun without disturbing the gun, wire or feeder connection. Liner issues and challenges with liner replacement are a common cause of troubleshooting with both cobot MIG guns and traditional robotic ones. Having an easier liner replacement process helps reduce or avoid problems. 

    Look for consumables, like AccuLock™ R contact tips, nozzles and gas diffusers, that are designed to maximize production uptime through long service life and quick replacement. Since contact tip cross-threading issues can be a source of downtime in welding operations — especially with less experienced welding operators — these consumables feature coarse tip threads that help to eliminate the problem. They also feature increased mass and are buried within the diffuser, away from the weld, to increase tip life. 

    Cobots in welding 

    In the right manufacturing operation, cobots can help improve productivity and efficiency and lessen the strain on operations having difficulty finding skilled welders. 

    However, users expect a quick-to-implement and easy-to-use solution that keeps their operations agile and profitable. Choosing durable, high-quality cobot MIG guns and consumables for a cobot system can keep operators focused on manufacturing quality parts instead of troubleshooting or maintenance. This helps operations achieve their productivity and quality goals — and get the results they want. 

    Creating a Smooth Wire Feeding Path for MIG Welding

    Creating a Smooth Wire Feeding Path for MIG Welding

    In MIG welding applications, having a smooth wire feeding path is critical. The welding wire must be able to feed easily from the spool on the feeder through the power pin, liner and gun and up to the contact tip to establish the arc. This allows the welding operator to maintain consistent levels of productivity and achieve good weld quality, while also minimizing costly downtime for troubleshooting and potential rework. 

    Side view of a welding operator MIG welding with Miller machines in the background
    In MIG welding applications, having a smooth wire feeding path is critical. The welding wire must be able to feed easily from the spool on the feeder through the power pin, liner and gun, and up to the contact tip to establish the arc.

    However, there are several issues that can disrupt wire feeding. These can cause a host of problems, including an erratic arc, burnbacks (the formation of a weld in or on the contact tip) and birdnesting (a tangle of wire in the drive rolls). For new welding operators who may not be as familiar with the MIG welding process, these problems can be especially frustrating. Fortunately, there are steps to easily prevent problems and create a reliable wire feeding path. 

    Welding liner length has a big impact on how well the wire will feed through the entire path. Too long of a liner can result in kinking and poor wire feeding, whereas a liner that is too short won’t provide enough support to the wire as it passes through. This can ultimately lead to micro-arcing within the contact tip that causes burnbacks or premature consumable failure. It can also be the cause of an erratic arc and birdnesting.

    Trim the liner correctly and use the right system

    Unfortunately, welding liner trimming issues are common, particularly among less experienced welding operators. To take the guesswork out of trimming a welding gun liner correctly — and achieve a flawless wire-feeding path — consider a system that eliminates the need for measuring the liner for replacement. This system locks the liner in place at the back of the gun, allowing the welding operator to trim it flush with the power pin. The other end of the liner locks at the front of the gun at the contact tip; it is concentrically aligned between the two points, so the liner won’t extend or contract during routine movements. 

    Illustration of nozzle cutaway showing an AccuLock S contact tip
    A system that locks the liner in place at the back of the gun and at the front provides a smooth wire feeding path — all the way through the neck to the consumables and the weld — as illustrated here.

    When using a conventional liner, avoid twisting the gun when trimming the liner and use a liner trim gauge when provided. Liners with an interior profile that imparts less friction on the welding wire as it goes through the liner are a good choice for achieving efficient wire feeding. These have a special coating on them and are coiled out of a larger profile material, which makes the liner stronger and offers smooth feeding. 

    Use the right contact tip and install correctly

    Matching the welding contact tip size to the diameter of wire is another way to maintain a clear wire feeding path. For example, an 0.035-inch wire should be matched to the same diameter contact tip. In some cases, it may be desirable to decrease the contact tip by one size to gain better wire feeding and arc control. Ask a trusted welding consumables manufacturer or welding distributor for recommendations.

    Look for wear in the form of keyholing (when the contact tip bore becomes worn and oblong) since this can cause a burnback that prevents the wire from feeding. 

    Be sure to install the contact tip correctly, tightening it past finger tight to avoid tip overheating, which can hinder wire feeding. Consult the operations manual from the welding contact tip manufacturer for the recommended torque specification. 

    Illustration of wire feeder drive wheels with a birdnest of wire
    An improperly trimmed liner can lead to birdnesting or a tangle of wire in the drive rolls, as illustrated here. 

    Choose the right drive rolls and set tension properly

    Drive rolls play a significant role in ensuring a MIG welding gun has a smooth wire feeding path. 

    The size of the drive roll should match the size of the wire being used and the style depends on the wire type. When welding with solid wire, a V-groove drive roll supports good feeding. Flux-cored wires — both gas- and self-shielded — and metal-cored wires work well with V-knurled drive rolls. For aluminum welding, use U-groove drive rolls; aluminum wires are very soft, so this style won’t crush or mar them. 

    To set the drive roll tension, turn the wire feeder knob to one half turn past slippage. Pull the trigger on the MIG gun, feeding the wire into a gloved hand and slowly curling it. The wire should be able to feed without slipping. 

    Understand the impact of welding wire on feedability

    The quality of welding wire and the type of packaging it is in both affect wire feeding. High-quality wire tends to have a more consistent diameter than low-quality ones, making it easier to feed through the entire system. It also has a consistent cast (the diameter when a length of wire is cut off the spool and placed on a flat surface) and helix (the distance the wire rises from the flat surface), which add to the wire’s feedability. While higher-quality wire may cost more upfront, it can help reduce long-term costs by minimizing the risk of feeding issues. 

    Illustration of a nozzle cutaway showing a contact tip burnback
    Inspect the contact tip for keyholing, as it can lead to burnbacks (the formation of a weld in or on the contact tip) as shown in this illustration. 

    Wire from large drums typically have a large cast when dispensed from the packaging, so they tend to feed straighter than wires from a spool. If the welding operation’s volume can support a larger drum, this may be a consideration for both wire feeding purposes and for reducing downtime for changeover. 

    Making the investment

    In addition to following best practices to establish a clear wire feeding path — and knowing how to quickly troubleshoot problems — having reliable equipment is important. The upfront investment for a high-quality wire feeder and durable welding consumables can pay off in the long term by reducing issues and the costs associated with wire feeding problems. Less downtime means more focus on producing parts and getting them out to customers. 

    5 Tips for Robotic Welding Process and Project Planning

    5 Tips for Robotic Welding Process and Project Planning

    Robotic welding projects can arise in a number of ways — from a smaller shop expanding its capabilities to a large original equipment manufacturer (OEM) awarding new business or even a new company establishing itself within the competitive landscape. 

    Closeup of robotic MIG welding gun with sparks
    It’s critical to implement a well-thought-out and thoroughly researched plan to ensure a successful robotic welding operation.

    Regardless of the circumstances, it’s critical to implement a well-thought-out and thoroughly researched plan to ensure a successful robotic welding operation. The plan should cover both the details related to the welding process and the specific project at hand. This helps companies meet quality and productivity goals while maintaining their cost margins and achieving profitability.

    Being proactive is the key with planning. Doing so helps minimize the opportunity for unforeseen risks that could be detrimental to the welding operation. Some basic tips can help along the way.   

    Tip No. 1: Ask questions

    To determine the desired outcome for a robotic welding operation, it’s important to define the welding process — in terms of how efficient and quick it needs to be — and to consider all details related to the project’s budget. Asking some fundamental questions can help stakeholders define the scope of the process they are using and the project they are undertaking.

    1. What efficiencies do we need from the welding process? 
    2. How labor-intensive will the process be? 
    3. Is there adequate staff for loading/unloading fixtures?  
    4. What training will staff need to keep the robot welding effectively? 
    5. How many robots do we need? And how hard or long do we want the robots to work?
    6. What should we consider about the weld cell ergonomics? 
    7. How should the robots be configured?
    8. What capital is available and how fast do we want our return on investment (ROI) to be? 

    Answering these questions can help companies as they plan out their project and conduct cost analysis.

    Tip No. 2: Set realistic goals

    Along with asking questions to set the foundation for solid process and project planning, it’s also important to set realistic goals. These goals should relate to general processes in the robotic weld cell along with desired quality outcomes. 

    For example, when considering the capabilities of the welding process in a robotic cell, a 75% to 80% efficiency rate may be a realistic goal. No welding process is 100% efficient, so it’s important to account for equipment downtime (planned or unplanned), consumable changeover, welding wire drum changeover and more. 

    The same holds true for quality goals. Having 100% quality isn’t necessarily true to life since weld defects like porosity can occur, tool center point (TCP) can shift and stampings can become misaligned. Each of these instances is possible (and probable) in an everyday robotic welding operation. 

    Setting realistic goals allows time for unexpected occurrences once the robotic welding system is at work. 

    Product photo of the TOUGH GUN TT4 reamer with anti-spatter reservoir
    Reamers clean spatter from the welding gun nozzle and gas diffuser to ensure smooth shielding gas flow that in turn supports good weld quality.

    Tip No. 3: Look at the long term

    While it may be tempting for companies to look for ways to reduce upfront costs during process and project planning, this doesn’t ensure that the long-term results are always positive. For example, neglecting to consider (and purchase) supplemental equipment, such as reamers (also called nozzle cleaning stations), can lead to greater expenses over the lifetime of a project. 

    Reamers clean spatter from the welding gun nozzle and gas diffuser to ensure smooth shielding gas flow that in turn supports good weld quality. Reamers are available in analog or ethernet models.

    It’s important to consider reamer quality, especially for heavy-duty, higher-volume applications. While reamers with heavy-duty construction generally cost more, they also last much longer than light-duty models. Be sure to size the reamer appropriately for the project because reamers vary in the amount of torque they provide when removing spatter. Heavy-duty reamers provide more torque and have cutter blades that can reach deeper into the nozzle for a more thorough spatter cleaning. 

    Companies should also determine how much human interaction with the reamer is necessary to keep the welding process at target efficiency levels. For example, implementing a multi-feed anti-spatter sprayer system reduces time and labor for refilling the small sprayer reservoir on the reamer. It can feed multiple reamers from a large drum of anti-spatter solution outside the weld cell.

    Tip No. 4: Pay attention to the small details

    When it comes to identifying equipment for a robotic welding cell, it may be easy to overlook the importance of robotic MIG guns and consumables. While small in investment compared to a robot, each can have a significant impact on the efficiency of a welding process and the quality of the project. 

    Frequent changeover due to poor-quality MIG welding consumables or ones that aren’t appropriate for the application can add up. Be sure to select those that will be compatible with the heat inputs. Brass nozzles are strong and better able to resist spatter adhesion than copper nozzles. However, brass can be brittle at high temperatures, so they are best for lower-heat applications. Copper nozzles are better for high-heat applications but tend to allow greater spatter adhesion. For pulsed applications, where waveforms can be especially harsh on contact tips, an HDP tip can last longer, reducing the frequency of downtime caused by tip changes. The same holds true for contact tips that offer coarse threads to reduce the risk of cross-threading during replacement. When possible, standardize consumables throughout the entire welding operation to bring greater efficiencies. 

    Like consumables, the robotic MIG gun selected needs to match the duty cycle of the application to withstand the resistive heat and avoid overheating. The gun should also have an appropriate size of neck for the application to enable access to tooling and the weld joint.

    Tip 5: Look for opportunities to optimize

    Finding ways to maximize robot uptime is an important part of process and project planning. Robots are expensive, so companies want to be sure that they will get as close to 100% optimization as possible. 

    Having a high-quality welding wire, like a metal-cored wire, that supports faster travel speeds is one option to help optimize the robotic welding system. Look for wires with a consistent cast and helix to support smooth wire feeding. 

    Preventive maintenance (PM) programs help ensure that a robotic welding system operates efficiently, avoids unplanned downtime and supports more arc-on time. With a preventive maintenance schedule, companies can proactively check and change welding gun liners and MIG welding consumables during planned downtime, while also assessing the power cable and robot for damage. 

    It’s also important to plan for the ways that employees can support robot optimization. Training is critical. Properly trained robotic welding supervisors or technicians can be more effective at understanding the process and adjusting equipment as needed. Appropriate training can also help them run the equipment longer and more efficiently. 

    Putting everything to work

    Once a company considers the key tips for process and project planning, they should be sure that everything works. Trials can help flush out unforeseen problems before starting full production and save money by preventing budget overages to fix issues. 

    After a project has been put into motion, take time for reflection. Revisit all aspects to see what worked and what didn’t. Continuing to learn from projects can help companies achieve future success.

    AccuLock Consumables Save Time and Money in MIG Consumable Changeover

    AccuLock™ Consumables Save Time and Money in MIG Consumable Changeover   

    Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

    They may seem like small pieces of a welding operation but when consumables aren’t properly installed or maintained, big problems can result — from poor wire feeding to weld quality issues. Related troubleshooting and rework cause costly downtime and lost productivity. 

    Consumable changeover can also be a time-consuming part of the welding process, especially if it’s necessary to do it frequently or if less experienced welders install consumables incorrectly. 

    Choosing the right consumables can help reduce or eliminate these hassles. Learn how AccuLock consumables can be used for Bernard® BTB MIG guns and Tregaskiss® fixed automatic and robotic MIG guns to help operations save time and money and improve efficiency. 

    Family product photo of AccuLock S, AccuLock R consumables systems

    Although small in size, both AccuLock R and AccuLock S consumables can deliver sizable time- and cost-saving benefits by reducing troubleshooting and downtime in industrial welding applications. 

    The benefits of AccuLock consumables 

    AccuLock consumables are designed to address common challenges faced in both semi-automatic and automated MIG welding operations. A switch to AccuLock consumables can help operations: 

    • Increase consumable life while reducing costs and improving productivity. 
    • Reduce consumable replacement errors and the time and money spent on troubleshooting, rework and downtime.
    • Simplify consumables replacement, improving accuracy and reducing employee training. 

    The AccuLock consumable family for industrial welding applications includes AccuLock R and AccuLock S systems, two options that are designed to deliver timesaving benefits and optimized performance in automated and semi-automatic welding applications. 

    Load and lock for increased productivity and throughput 

    The AccuLock S (Semi-automatic) consumables system features liners designed to resolve issues and errors with liner trimming and installation as well as erratic wire feeding problems. Because AccuLock S liners are locked and concentrically aligned to both the contact tip and the power pin, they offer a flawless wire-feed path and error-proof liner replacement every time. In addition, a steel retaining ring on the diffuser helps keep the threaded nozzle in place during use and cleaning. 

    The AccuLock R (Robotic) consumables system offers front-loading QUICK LOAD® liners that require less than half the time and effort to replace compared to conventional liners and can be changed from a safe zone in a robotic weld cell. Upgrading to AccuLock HDP contact tips can extend life by 10 times or more in pulsed welding applications. In addition, operations currently using TOUGH LOCK® consumables in robotic and fixed automatic MIG guns can easily upgrade to AccuLock R consumables without affecting TCP or requiring programming changes. 

    Choose according to your needs 

    When deciding between the two types of AccuLock consumables for industrial welding applications, there are several key factors to consider. It’s important to think about the type of welding being done in the operation and what current issues or challenges need addressing. 

    Subscribe to the Amperage enewsletter to have more articles like this on delivered to your inbox.

    AccuLock S consumables are best suited for operations with the following issues or characteristics:  

    • Primarily focused on semi-automatic welding with little to no automation. 
    • Dealing with decreased productivity due to liner installation errors, burnbacks, bird-nesting and erratic arc.
    • Wanting to reduce the time and costs of troubleshooting, downtime and rework. 

    AccuLock R consumables are best suited for operations with the following issues or characteristics: 

    • Primarily focused on robotic or fixed automatic welding with few semi-automatic guns.
    • Having a complicated and costly consumables inventory that may be the root cause of frequent consumable replacement errors. 
    • Experiencing issues with contact tip cross-threading and want increased tip life. 

    Choosing between AccuLock S and AccuLock R on semi-automatic MIG guns  

    Customers who are currently using TOUGH LOCK consumables on Bernard BTB MIG guns can upgrade their guns with either AccuLock S or AccuLock R consumables. Although AccuLock S consumables offer many benefits specific to semi-automatic welding applications, in some cases it can make more sense for these welding guns to be upgraded to AccuLock R consumables instead. For example, if a complex inventory of MIG gun consumables is the primary root cause of high carrying costs and consumable replacement errors in a given facility, AccuLock R consumables may offer a better ROI.

    Switching existing Bernard BTB MIG guns to AccuLock R consumables is an easy change to make, requiring only an AccuLock R diffuser and an AccuLock contact tip — with no need to switch the liner, power pin, power pin cap or nozzle. 

    Successful welding operations simplify inventory 

    Both AccuLock S and AccuLock R systems share a common contact tip to simplify inventory management for facilities that choose to use both. AccuLock contact tips last longer due to increased mass and being buried within the diffuser, away from the heat of the weld. Coarse threads work in tandem with a long contact tip tail to concentrically align the tip within the diffuser prior to thread engagement, ensuring quick, accurate replacement without cross-threading.

    Getting the most out of MIG gun consumables 

    AccuLock S consumables solve many of the issues that can be traced to MIG gun liners that have been trimmed to an incorrect length or that pull out of position inside the MIG gun, creating gaps along the wire feed path. They are a good fit in most semi-automatic applications. 

    In fleets with a lot of automated welding, AccuLock R consumables can extend contact tip lifespan (especially in pulsed welding applications), eliminate contact tip cross-threading issues, alleviate excessive downtime for consumables replacement and limit safety issues related to climbing up to access robots or wire feeders for gun liner changes. 

    Although small in size, both AccuLock R and AccuLock S consumables can deliver sizable time- and cost-saving benefits by reducing troubleshooting and downtime in industrial welding applications. 

    Improve Productivity by Preventing 5 Common MIG Welding Problems

    Improve Productivity by Preventing 5 Common MIG Welding Problems

    Downtime and rework can be costly for manufacturing operations. The last thing any production team wants to do is the same work twice. If you add to that any time spent troubleshooting issues in the weld cell — the lost production time can start to accumulate quickly. 

    There are several steps operations can take to reduce the time lost to these common issues in MIG welding — and many of them start during weld setup and selection of consumables. Read on to learn more about five common causes of lost productivity in the weld cell and how to prevent them. 

    Cause 1: Poor fit-up or weld prep

    Before welding even starts, pay attention to proper fit-up and joint design, as well as base material preparation and cleaning. Good fit-up means avoiding large or inconsistent gaps between the parts. Choosing the right wire size and gas mixture and matching those in advance can help optimize performance and provide proper gap filling capabilities. 

    Closeup of welding operator welding on a square part on a table
    There are several steps operations can take to reduce lost productivity in MIG welding — and many of them start during weld setup and selection of consumables

    Certain welding wires, such as metal-cored wires, are usable on less-prepped base material by offering the ability to weld through mill scale or other surface impurities. They also offer good gap bridging. If operations are often getting parts that aren’t thoroughly cleaned, it may be worth testing a metal-cored wire. Otherwise, changes to the weld prep stage of the operation may be necessary to achieve better material condition prior to welding.   

    Cause 2: Incorrect parameters or system setup

    Using the wrong parameters or setting the wire feeder up incorrectly are common causes of lost productivity. Having the wrong settings can greatly affect the weld, sometimes without the operator even realizing the impact that a setting change can make. It’s important to have a thorough understanding of the wire feeder and all of its functions to set it up for optimal performance. 

    When properly set up, there should be very few issues with the performance of the MIG welding gun. However, if the system is set up incorrectly or there is a poor weld circuit, it can lead to contact tip failure, since the contact tip is the smallest fuse in the weld circuit. This can result in money wasted on frequent contact tip changeover. 

    Cause 3: Improper liner installation

    Product shot of AccuLock S nozzle, contact tip, gas diffuser, power pin, liner
    With Bernard® AccuLock™ S consumables, 60% of the contact tip is buried in the gas diffuser to protect it from heat damage.

    MIG gun liners can wear out over time and must be changed periodically, like other consumables. However, replacement liners are often longer than necessary and must be precisely trimmed according to the style and length of the gun. If a liner is cut too short, it can result in issues like burnback, an erratic arc and wire chatter. When liners are cut too long, it can cause the wire to weave and curve as it feeds through the gun. 

    With either too-long or too-short liners, the result is often poor wire feeding and downtime spent troubleshooting these problems. Maintenance and troubleshooting for liner issues can be costly, resulting in multiple hours per week lost for an operation. 

    The more that liner movement within the gun can be minimized, the better your wire feedability will be. To avoid the guesswork and hassle, look for a solution that makes liner installation and trimming easier. The Bernard® AccuLock™ S consumable system affixes the liner at both ends of the gun, so welders are assured the liner won’t pull back or push into the contact tip, allowing for smooth, uninterrupted delivery of the wire to the weld pool.

    It’s also important to occasionally check to make sure the liner is clear and not blocked by debris or buildup. 

    Cause 4: Loose connections or neglected maintenance  

    When MIG welding consumables aren’t properly installed and maintained, it can result in wire feeding issues and weld quality problems that lead to lost time for troubleshooting.  

    For example, a loose connection in the weld circuit means you’re not getting the power you expect from the power source. In that case, the operator may keep adjusting the parameters, causing an increase in resistance that leads to shortened consumable life. These issues tend to show up first in the contact tip. This is often the first thing the operator changes if they think they have a problem with their MIG gun. Changing the contact tip — even when the real source of the problem is a loose connection or improper setup in the circuit — drives up consumable costs and wastes time. 

    Be sure to periodically check and tighten all connections and cables. Tight connections help optimize performance and reduce the chance of issues occurring in the system. 

    Cause 5: Cutting corners with contact tips 

    Another cause of lost productivity is using low-quality contact tips. Some contact tips are designed for ease of use and high performance. They provide better arc starts, less spatter, more consistent welds and longer life.  

    With Bernard AccuLock S consumables, 60% of the contact tip is buried in the gas diffuser to protect it from heat damage. As the shielding gas flows through the gun, it cools the contact tip tail inside the gas diffuser. This helps reduce heat and wear. This also differs from traditional tips that screw onto the gas diffuser with little to no portion of the tip exposed directly to the shielding gas as it exits the diffuser to the arc. The tapered design of the consumables tightly locks the conductive parts together to minimize electrical resistance and further reduce heat buildup. The contact tips also feature coarse threads, making them less likely to become cross-threaded. 

    Troubleshooting common welding problems 

    Common problems in the weld cell — from poor fit-up or wire feeding issues to using the wrong consumables for the job — can cost the operation significant time and money. Addressing the causes of lost productivity often starts with proper weld prep and setup, as well as making sure the chosen consumables are right for the application. Optimizing setup and efficiency in the weld circuit makes troubleshooting that much faster when issues do arise. 

    Manufacturer Cuts $45,000 of Costs With New MIG Welding Guns and Consumables

    Manufacturer Cuts $45,000 of Costs With New MIG Welding Guns and Consumables

    General Kinematics — a premier manufacturer of vibrating equipment for processing bulk materials — has been providing consistent, on-time and innovative solutions to its customers for more than 60 years. The company prides itself on offering rugged, cutting-edge equipment to manage difficult-to-process materials across the mining, resource recovery, bulk processing and foundry industries. 

    Welding operator welding on large piece of vibrating equipment with another person grinding
    Ensuring that the welding operators liked the Bernard guns and AccuLock S consumables was a critical part of the testing General Kinematics conducted.

    A reputation for design leadership and creating tailored technical advancements sets the company apart from the competition, as does its commitment to providing excellent service. 

    This 200-person, Crystal Lake, Ilinois-based company doesn’t have time for slowdowns, especially in the welding operation. In recent years though, General Kinematics noticed exactly that. It was experiencing repeated MIG gun breakdowns and excessive contact tip consumption that slowed production. 

    “Between costs and repairs and lost labor from the welders having issues that stopped their progress, we estimated around $45,000 a year in costs from these issues,” said Jason Jerik, plant manager at General Kinematics.

    That’s when Jon Strug, the company’s maintenance tech, approached their welding distributor, Steve Schuette of Weldstar in Aurora, Illinois, for a solution. Schuette recommended a trial of Bernard BTB air-cooled MIG guns with AccuLock™ S consumables. 

    Subscribe to the Amperage enewsletter to have more articles like this on delivered to your inbox.

    Considering the change

    Problems with the water-cooled MIG welding guns at General Kinematics were at the heart of its need for a new solution. 

    “The guns were definitely our main issue with maintenance for Jon,” said Joel Jacobson, director of manufacturing. “It was tough to keep up to the demands of the hoses breaking, the wires breaking internally in the guns, tips burning out, liners and such.” 

    Jerik added, “The last time we calculated from a dollar standpoint it translated to about five to seven hours a week in lost time just with liner issues. It was that frequent.”

    The team, along with Schuette, took a slow and thorough approach to testing the Bernard air-cooled BTB MIG welding guns and consumables, making sure that the products performed as expected. They worked first with some sample guns in standard sizes and leads and had different welders try them for a week each. 

    “We would test a week with one fitter, a week with one welder, and then we’d move them around to see what kind of acceptance we would get with them,” said Jacobson. 

    Welding operator welding the underside of a flat piece of metal
    General Kinematics welds a variety of materials — from A-36 steel to AR-500 plate — in thickness up to eight inches and on a variety of joints.

    General Kinematics welds a variety of materials — from A-36 steel to AR-500 plate — in thickness up to eight inches and on a variety of joints. Welding operators also weld both large and small weldments and use different welding wire diameters. The guns and consumables needed to be versatile enough to manage these jobs and produce the quality needed to adhere to the American Welding Society (AWS) D.1.1 Structural Welding – Steel code. They also had to be the right equipment for the company’s welding operators. 

    Jacobson and Jerik regularly met with the welding operators to request feedback during the trial. 

    According to Jerik, welding operators saw noticeably less consumable consumption. However, they wanted to change the angle on the neck of guns to gain better access to some difficult joint configurations. They worked back and forth with Bernard to determine a different angle of the neck that suited their needs. 

    “We wanted to do a thorough run of testing and vetting out to decide ‘Is this the right product for us? Are we going to get that buy-in from our welding operators?’” he said.  

    Family product shot of AccuLock S liner, contact tip, nozzle, power pin, gas diffuser
    The Bernard guns and AccuLock S consumables have helped welding operators at General Kinematics achieve approximately 10% more productivity by eliminating downtime.

    Ensuring that welding operators liked the MIG welding guns and consumables was a critical part of the testing General Kinematics conducted. The company has a culture of empowerment and wanted its welding operators to be heard and to contribute their opinions. 

    “We think it’s important to get our welders involved early in the process,” said Jacobson. “Not everyone likes change, but getting them involved in testing up front can help show the long-term benefits.”

    “I’m huge on that,” Jerik added. “I’d rather not force and push a change onto a team. I’d
    rather them accept it and make it their own.”

    After eight months of testing, processing feedback and making adjustments, General Kinematics made the decision to convert to the Bernard BTB air-cooled MIG guns and AccuLock S consumables.

    The benefit of the investment

    General Kinematics invested in 400-amp BTB air-cooled MIG guns for its 40 welding operators, as well as several 450-amp Bernard water-cooled guns — all with the same AccuLock S consumables. Bernard built the company a special neck for its water-cooled guns to provide better ergonomic access to typical weld joints, and these guns are the first of their kind ever to be configured with the AccuLock S consumables.  

    So, what finally sold General Kinematics on the Bernard products? In short, durability and performance.

    Image of the General Kinematics building in Crystal Lake, Illinois
    General Kinematics has been providing consistent, on-time and innovative solutions to its customers for more than 60 years.

    The reduction in gun maintenance was key. Strug no longer has to contend with leaking water-cooled guns or liner issues that need fixing — and the new guns and consumables are less frustrating for the welding operators, who can now spend more time being productive. 

    “We have a whole lot fewer repairs. Before it was constantly, every month, seven guns I had to send out to get repaired or I had to repair them myself,” said Strug. “It’s a huge difference in quality — night and day.”

    This durability and performance result from a combination of the rugged construction of the BTB air-cooled MIG guns — which were configured according to the handle, neck, trigger and cables the company needed — and the liner that is part of the AccuLock S consumables system. 

    Bernard designed the liner in the system for error-proof replacement by eliminating the need to measure it prior to installation. Instead of the liner loading from the back, like many competitive guns, the AccuLock S liner loads in the neck at the front of the gun and then locks in place so it can be trimmed flush with the power pin. This prevents the liner from being trimmed too short or too long.

    “I like the liners,” said Strug. “They last a lot longer and I definitely like the quality of them.”

    Over-the-shoulder view of welding operator welding on large piece of equipment
    General Kinematics invested in 400-amp BTB air-cooled MIG guns for its 40 welding operators, as well as several 450-amp Bernard water-cooled guns — all with the same AccuLock S consumables.

    According to Jacobson, another selling point was that AccuLock contact tips run significantly cooler than the company’s previous ones so there is less consumption and downtime for changeover. 

    That’s due to the design of the tip and gas diffuser. Sixty percent of the welding contact tip is buried in the gas diffuser, which protects it from heat damage, and the shielding gas also cools the contact tip tail as it flows through the gun. AccuLock consumables have a tapered design that locks the tip, gas diffuser and nozzle tightly together to further reduce electrical resistance and lower heat buildup. 

    Jacobson likes the ability to reduce costs by having equipment that lasts longer. And both the air- and water-cooled MIG welding guns use the same AccuLock S consumables, which helps reduce inventory management. 

    The welding operators like that the guns and consumables run cooler and help reduce spatter, so there is less cleanup.  

    The long-term benefits

    For General Kinematics, making the change to the Bernard BTB guns and AccuLock S consumables is just another way the company commits itself to quality. But there has been more to the conversion than that. 

    General Kinematics was able to gain a return on investment in approximately 12 to 14 months. And while there are still labor and equipment costs for gun and consumable maintenance, the conversion has eliminated the $45,000 in extra spending to address previous issues with the water-cooled guns. 

    The products have also helped its welding operators achieve approximately 10% more productivity by eliminating downtime. That’s important to the welding operators and to Jerik. 

    “When it comes down to it, do these products make their job easier? Do they make them more productive?” 

    The answer to both is yes.  

    The Importance of Cutting a Welding Liner Properly

    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.  

    Please accept preferences, statistics, marketing cookies to watch this video.

    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
    • Birdnesting
    • Burnbacks
    • Wire chatter
    Please accept preferences, statistics, marketing cookies to watch this video.

    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. 

    Trim AccuLock S Liner flush with back of power pin. How To Install AccuLock™ S Liners, step 4a
    No measuring required – simply trim AccuLock S liners flush with the power pin.
    How to install AccuLock S Liner, STEP 4B
    AccuLock S power pin with liner installed.

    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. 

    Please accept preferences, statistics, marketing cookies to watch this video.

    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