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  • Welding Lathes: questions/or build one

    I have a job where we are producing high-end workout equipment, each product has about 125" of welds, all welds are circular ( go around the object) and are concentric to each other. Products range from 18" to 60" in length ad 6"-12" dia., all welds are cosmetic and TIG. Right now we are doing it completely manually, weld a quadrant, rotate, repeat, we are getting good results, but it takes a long time.
    I want to build a new assembly jig, one that is powered for rotation, I have a pulser and would like to semi-automate it. I have thought of a few ideas from buying and modifying a older metal lathe to building one from scratch, maybe basing it off of a I-beam frame. I have no experience with automated welding, so that will be a learning curve in itself. The biggest thing to over come is slowing down the rotation to something manageable for TIG, I am thinking .25-.3 RPMs. How fast can these automatic welder go?
    What do you think is the best way to go? Options would be to find a clapped out lathe (Wood or Metal) and gear it down a lot. Biggest issue is finding one with a long bed, fabbing a extension, or cutting the bed and extending it. Or I can get as straight of an I beam I can find, retro-fit a lathe head/tail stock, or fit some kind of pre-built welding positioner and make a tail stock. I would like to do this as economically as possible, I have more time than cash. I would like to make it for less than $1000. What do you think?

  • #2
    If you guys want faster weld speed, why tig? Mig it.

    Comment


    • #3
      Your looking for a welding positioner. Take a look at ebay just to get a better idea of what one is and does.

      Comment


      • #4
        Yepper,

        Just about described my Atlas positioner.

        Think you're going to be "a little light" in the budget for a decent positioner though.
        Syncrowave 250 DX Tigrunner
        Dynasty 200 DX
        Miller XMT 304 w/714D Feeder & Optima Control
        Miller MM 251 w/Q300 & 30A SG
        Hobart HH187
        Dialarc 250 AC/DC
        Hypertherm PM 600 & 1250
        Wilton 7"x12" bandsaw
        PC Dry Cut Saw, Dewalt Chop Saw
        Milwaukee 8" Metal Cut Saw, Milwaukee Portaband.
        Thermco and Smith (2) Gas Mixers
        More grinders than hands

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        • #5
          I built one out of a 90 volt DC motor with a 15-1 right angle gearbox and a KBMD DC motor speed control. Was pretty simple and cost under $1000. Have to adjust the speed manually with my lid down as I don't know for sure what RPM I'm turning. Once you do the first part tho the rest is simple.
          Big Blue 400D
          Trailblazer 302
          Miller S-32 suitcase
          12VS suitcase
          Lincoln LN-7 (BIG suitcase)
          Victor torches
          Lincoln 350MP with 35' push-pull gun
          Lincoln PrecisionTIG 375
          Spectrum 1000 plasma cutter

          Comment


          • #6
            i got one of those i corner collecting dust you want it
            Leblond Makino mills
            HAAS CNC SL-40 lathe
            American Pacemaker lathe
            wells index mill
            hydrotel rebuilt
            syncrowave 250
            diversion 165
            Miller Elite Vintage USA

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks for the replies so far...we are TIGing the products for cosmetic reasons, we started out with mig to keep the costs lower, but that ended up not being what the customer wanted. We are making a line of fillable dumbbells and barbells using hollow steel spheres. I am working with a local stapling company to imprint their logo on the bands that wrap around the sphere. Because the bands are pre-finished there can be no post weld grinding.
              I have a I beam that might work, depending on how true it is. I was thinking about buying a cheap (lesss than $400) lathe and retro fitting the ibeam as a new bed. I Found a older 13' lathe that I am going to look at today that might work also. I looked at gear motors and gearboxes last night and might be able to put together what I need for an additional $500. I would like to find a weld positioner, but as stated are out of my price range.
              What do you think the fastest weld time (inch per min) could be achieved with a this setup and a pulser? We are doing 4.5-5" per minute.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by cncmachinist View Post
                i got one of those i corner collecting dust you want it
                What exactly do you have? I will send you a pm

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by audiisaac View Post
                  I have a job where we are producing high-end workout equipment, each product has about 125" of welds, all welds are circular ( go around the object) and are concentric to each other. Products range from 18" to 60" in length ad 6"-12" dia., all welds are cosmetic and TIG. Right now we are doing it completely manually, weld a quadrant, rotate, repeat, we are getting good results, but it takes a long time.
                  I want to build a new assembly jig, one that is powered for rotation, I have a pulser and would like to semi-automate it. I have thought of a few ideas from buying and modifying a older metal lathe to building one from scratch, maybe basing it off of a I-beam frame. I have no experience with automated welding, so that will be a learning curve in itself. The biggest thing to over come is slowing down the rotation to something manageable for TIG, I am thinking .25-.3 RPMs. How fast can these automatic welder go?
                  What do you think is the best way to go? Options would be to find a clapped out lathe (Wood or Metal) and gear it down a lot. Biggest issue is finding one with a long bed, fabbing a extension, or cutting the bed and extending it. Or I can get as straight of an I beam I can find, retro-fit a lathe head/tail stock, or fit some kind of pre-built welding positioner and make a tail stock. I would like to do this as economically as possible, I have more time than cash. I would like to make it for less than $1000. What do you think?
                  I sounds like you need a powered pipe roller, I built one for stainless tube welds, small dc scr controlled gearbox, it will roll tube up to 4" in diameter. It worked well for repetitive welds. It cost me well under 1000 dollars. I also built a turntable, same type drive system, that one I used the most.

                  I used large ball bearings for the rollers on mine but the tube was smooth, hard rubber coated rollers would have worked better. The drive roller on top was rubber covered for traction, and was adjustable for different sizes of tube.
                  mike sr

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As a novice I am curious. How do you make the ground on a pipe roller, it looks like it would be constantly arcing as it rolls off the ground contact.
                    John
                    Old Miller Swinger 180 Buzzbox
                    Miller Diversion 165
                    1945 Craftsman Atlas Lathe
                    Smithy Lathe/Mill

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have an Intella Tig 4 and a cold tig wire feed for sale????

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by chewinggum View Post
                        As a novice I am curious. How do you make the ground on a pipe roller, it looks like it would be constantly arcing as it rolls off the ground contact.
                        John
                        Mine used 304 ball bearings for rollers, just clamp the ground on the open end of the pipe or a chain clamp etc. as youre only going to make one revolution.
                        mike sr

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by chewinggum View Post
                          As a novice I am curious. How do you make the ground on a pipe roller, it looks like it would be constantly arcing as it rolls off the ground contact.
                          John
                          Mine used 304 ball bearings for rollers, just clamp the ground on the open end of the pipe or a chain clamp etc. as youre only going to make one revolution.
                          Last edited by popspipes; 02-06-2011, 07:01 PM. Reason: superbowl error......
                          mike sr

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                          • #14
                            Speed calculations

                            If you are going to design your own, you need to pull out your calculator to figure out the correct speed range. I would probably drive the rollers, and let the rollers drive the tubing that you are welding, if only because you would be less likely to need to adjust the setup for different diameter tubing. You can take a stopwatch and figure out how many inches per minute you are welding.

                            Sample calculation:
                            Assume 10 inches per minute welding speed. If you use 3 inch diameter rollers, the circumference is a 3 inches times 3.14 = 9.42 inches. Round 9.42 inches to 10 inches. So you want the rollers to rotate around 1 revolution per minute. 1 RPM is very slow, the slowest gearmotor I found was 1.3 RPM. You could probably use a 2 RPM gearmotor and adjust the speed down using the DC motor controller. A typical DC motor controller will vary the speed around 20 to 1 range, that is, the lowest speed is 5% of the top speed. I would probably design the system for a top speed around half or one third of the expected speed, so I could run it faster or slower at the turn of the dial. If you figure to use four rollers to support the tubing, I would drive at least two of the rollers.

                            Conventional metal or wood lathes run much faster than 1 or 2 RPM, so I would not use one of them as a basis for such a machine, unless the lathe was free, and I could put some serious gear/belt reduction between the motor and the lathe.

                            I was just doing similar calculations for a buddy of mine, designing a saw feed, so this is all fresh in my head right now. The $1000 figure to build your own sounds about right to me.

                            I would not want to feed current through the rollers, seems like that would tend to burn up the bearings. You might be able to find some special rollers that will pass current effectively, but I think you would be better off clamping the clamp to the tube directly, avoid that problem. I would make sure to isolate the welding voltage and current from the drive motor and controller, you don't want stray voltage burning up the motor controller. Rubber rollers sound good to me, as another poster suggested.

                            Obviously you would want to look to commercial units, both to price compare and to copy aspects of the design.

                            My two cents,
                            Richard
                            Syncrowave 200, Millermatic 211, Victor torch, Propane forge....

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