5 Benefits of a Switch to Wire Welding Processes in Pipe Welding | MillerWelds

5 Benefits of a Switch to Wire Welding Processes in Pipe Welding

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Learn how to optimize open root pipe welding with a switch to advanced wire welding processes in shop and field applications.
A welder completes a pass on carbon steel pipe
A welder uses the RMD process on stainless steel pipe
The inside of a root pass completed with the RMD process on stainless steel

Root pass welding change 

Change can be hard, but leaders in the pipe welding industry are upping their game by changing from the status quo.

Meeting stringent quality requirements and demanding project timelines are critical in the pipe welding industry, both in the field and in the shop. Having the capabilities for advanced welding processes when customers call for them means contractors can capitalize on those opportunities and bid on more jobs.

Because most of the costs — approximately 80% — associated with welding are related to labor, giving welders technology and equipment that improves their productivity can save significant time and money.

Learn more about five benefits you can uncover with a switch to the Regulated Metal Deposition (RMD®) process from Miller for open root pipe welding in shop and field applications.

5 benefits of converting to wire welding

1. Faster process changeover

Using advanced wire processes like RMD (a modified short-circuit MIG process) and pulsed MIG welding allows for simple process changeover between weld passes with the push of a button.

This improves productivity by greatly reducing switch-over time compared to using TIG and stick welding, which requires changing polarity between each process switch. With the PipeWorx 400 and XMT® 350 FieldPro™ with Polarity Reversing systems, operators can change polarity with the push of a button — without moving the electrical connection. In addition, using RMD and pulsed MIG can provide a one wire, one gas solution that reduces time spent on changeover.

For pipe welding in the shop, choosing a welding system with a dual feeder option allows flexibility to set up each side of the feeder with any gas or filler metal combination required. This delivers even more time savings in setup and switch over, since operators can just pick up the desired welding gun and weld.

2. Improved productivity

RMD and advanced wire processes are much more productive than TIG and stick welding for several reasons.

The wire-fed processes offer travel speeds that are three to four times those of TIG or stick welding. Wire processes are typically easier for new welders to learn than TIG and stick welding, which can save companies time in training. In the PipeWorx 400 welding system and the ArcReach® Smart Feeder, RMD is also fine-tuned for open root pipe and vessel welding, making the process more efficient for producing code-quality welds.

Pipe fabricator Dixie Mechanical doubled welding productivity — completing twice as many welds in the same amount of time — with a welding process switch. The company had been welding stainless steel pipe with a TIG root pass and argon back purge followed by flux-cored fill and cap passes. They switched to an RMD root pass and were able to eliminate the time-consuming and costly back purge.

Kiewit Power Constructors also saw increased productivity when they switched to RMD and flux-cored welding for several recent power plant projects. In some instances where Kiewit previously TIG welded the root pass for P11 and P91 pipe, they used RMD without a purge. For the remaining passes, they used flux-cored welding instead of stick. 

3. Optimized arc performance

The RMD process is engineered with a high-quality arc specifically tailored for open root/joint pipe and vessel welding.   

Early prediction of the short clearing enables the power source to quickly reduce the available current, which minimizes the excessive arc force on the puddle. This results in a calm, controllable puddle.

The smooth arc and bead profile wets out nicely — helping welders of all skill levels produce high-quality welds.

RMD and advanced wire processes aren’t limited to shop welding applications, either. With the ArcReach Smart Feeder, you get consistent arc performance on the jobsite for multiple weld processes — even when weld cables are hundreds of feet long

4. Eliminate back purge

Using RMD instead of TIG welding for the root pass on stainless steel and chrome pipe welds may allow operations to eliminate the back-purge process. A back purging provides gas shielding on the back side of the joint while welding, but it adds significant time and money to the process.

The back purge can require 20 to 30 minutes each time, depending on the pipe size, to set up the argon shielding gas and tape the pipe ends for purging. In addition, the argon gas used for back purging adds to consumable costs. Back purging can also introduce safety hazards to operators who can be overcome by the argon gas and suffer inert gas asphyxia. Eliminating back purge saves time and money and reduces the risks involved with the process.

With RMD, welders can more easily control the weld puddle, welding speeds and heat input. A lower heat input allows the weld puddle to freeze faster. All of these factors combine to result in a less turbulent weld puddle and smoother shielding gas flow, which allows the gas to push through the open root and protect the back side of the weld from sugaring, or contamination. Because the puddle freezes so quickly in the RMD process, such gas coverage is only needed for a short time — eliminating the need for a back purge.

5. Train new welders faster

As the industry faces a continued shortage of skilled welders, contractors are looking for ways to train new welders faster. This may be especially critical on large plant construction projects that can span two to three years and require dozens of full-time welders.

Compared to stick and TIG welding, wire-fed processes like RMD are generally easier to learn and use, so welders can be trained in a shorter time. 

Save time and money with a welding switch

Making a change to the welding process can deliver big rewards for pipe welding, both in the shop and in the field. An advanced wire process like RMD can help operations improve productivity, train welders faster and produce high-quality welds — saving time and money in the long run. Want to learn more about RMD and how to use it? Learn more here.