|Duty Cycles & Ratings
When using an arc welding machine, it is crucial to understand what its duty cycle is as it will help you preserve the life and quality of the machine. When purchasing a MIG welder it will have a specification on the packaging or in the manual called the duty cycle. This refers to the amount of welding that can be achieved in a given amount of time. The reason this specification is important is it informs the user of how long the MIG welder can work at its optimum level.
Duty cycle refers to the amount of time a welder will weld in a given time frame at given amperage. The duty cycle is a rating that indicates how long a welding machine can be used at its maximum output current without damaging it. Duty cycle is based on a ten-minute time period. A welding machine with a 60% duty cycle can be used at its maximum rated output current for six out of every ten minutes. The welding machine may overheat if the duty cycle is exceeded. At lower current settings, the duty cycle may be increased and the power source used for a longer period of time.
As an example, a welder with a 20% duty cycle means it can be used for 2 minutes out of 10 at a given amperage setting, and then it must cool down. A welder with a 50% duty cycle can be used for 5 minutes out of 10 at a given amperage. These are just guidelines, and each unit might run more or less at different levels. Most spec sheets will show how the duty cycle will scale from high to low settings. Most equipment is rated at 2/3 to 3/4 of its maximum output. When you are using less amps the duty cycle goes up, more amperage it goes down.
It is important to note that duty cycle becomes inaccurate when being measured over a different time period, especially a longer one. One welder might have a duty cycle of 50% at 200 amps, and this means it can run for 5 minutes out of 10 before it has to be shut down to cool off. It does not mean that the same welder can be run for 30 minutes out of an hour at 200 amps, even though 30 minutes is 50% of an hour just like 5 minutes is 50% of 10 minutes. Duty cycle must be consistently measured in a 10 minute time frame.
Ambient temperature and humidity can have some effect on the duty cycle. A machine will sense its temperature via a thermocouple, and will shut down when it exceeds its duty cycle, coming back on line when it has cooled. To improve or maintain duty cycle, run the machine at minimum amps required for the job, keep the fan area clean. Have the inside of the machine cleaned occasionally by a repair center or by you, making sure to unplug the power cord beforehand. In the event that the duty cycle is exceeded and the breaker is tripped, allow the MIG welder to cool down for at least 15 minutes. A rated duty cycle on any MIG welding machine is there to protect you and your welder from any long-lasting damage.
Since its inception, welding has been a major element in the production environment. Real production welding is 100% duty cycle welding, and if a facility is not welding 100% of the time, it is losing money. With a 60% duty cycle, who can afford to run for 6 out of 10 minutes and have 40% of their production time as down time? This is a very costly method of production, and is the reason why all D/F Machine Specialties torches are rated with 100% duty cycles. A properly water-cooled D/F torch that runs at 650 amps with a 100% duty cycle really means that it will run 3 shifts a day, 7 days a week, all year round at 650 amps with no need for cool down. No other torch will remove downtime like a D/F torch.
D/F Machine Specialties torches were designed for production welding. The core of these designs comes from a time when all the big-box manufacturers were selling 1000 amp power supplies. It takes a very robust torch to withstand 1000 amps or to work above 1000 degree preheat. All D/F torches were designed on this premise and will last years upon years rather than mere months. D/F currently has thousands of torches in circulation that have been run for over 20-30 years.
With downtime removed and the ability acquired to produce 100% of the time, D/F torches can promise an average increase in the life of consumables (tips and nozzles) of up to 7-to-1 times. A contact tip will not have to be changed every 40 minutes as it would with competitors' torches, but rather after an entire day or an 8 hour shift. The competitions' torches also have 3/4" long contact tips. The average D/F tip is 2.5"-3.5" long. The longer tips allow D/F torches to maintain the most stable arc in the industry. They provide built-in wire straightening and consist of more copper which translates to more heat dissipation. With the built-in wire straightening and longer tip, the wire comes out straight and does not wander or prematurely wear out the contact tip as it does with the competitors' 3/4" long tips. The new series of Automatic and Robotic Water-Cooled-to-the-Top torches by D/F Machine Specialties actually has the tip recessed 1" into the water-cooled, copper inner body, never allowing the copper tip to heat up and soften. Just ask around; D/F torches are famous for the fact that seconds after you weld, they can be grabbed with bare hands and will be cold to the touch.
If you are interested in learning more about D/F Machine Specialties heavy duty MIG water-cooled torches, or have questions about our capabilities, please contact us. We would be more than happy to discuss the product you are manufacturing and your current operations, including your required amperages, wire size and type, power source and feeder, size restrictions and limitations, etc. We cannot get every welding account out there, and we will be the first ones to tell you that we may or may not be able to help, but we would love the opportunity to discuss the ways that our torches may provide solutions that will benefit your welding applications.
At D/F Machine Specialties we have no outside salespeople. Our torch is our salesperson. We are more than happy to run a purchase-pending trial and evaluation with potential customers that we feel can benefit from using a heavy duty D/F torch. We look forward to running our torches against what a customer has been using for years. We know how hard it is to get a customer to try something new or to change. In almost all cases, the D/F torch will sell itself within 1 week.