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International Congress on Advances in Welding Science and Technology for

Construction, Energy and Transportation Systems (AWST - 2011)

24-25 October 2011, Antalya, Turkey

New Equipment for Underwater Mechanized and Automatic Flux-

Cored Wire Welding and Cutting
S. Y. Maksimova, V. A. Lebedevb
The E.O.Paton Electric Welding Institute, NASU, Kiev, Ukraine
a, b

Construction and erection of equipment for production mechanism, operating in a close vicinity with the site of
of oil, gas and mineral sources of sea ground, salvaging process conductance, communications, coming to
and repair of ships, emergency-rescue works, repair of electric motor, supply and control system, as well as
underwater pipelines, regular and repair works on port sealed connectors. A welding current source occupies a
engineering structures and bridges are not the full list of special place in this structure. The main problems,
examples of the underwater welding applications [1]. which should be solved in designing the new generation
The requirements for the quality and reliability of of equipment, are the distant removal of an immersion
welded joints, which are made and operate under the unit with a feeding mechanism from the supply and
water, are continuously growing. The welds of modern control systems, and also air-tightness of electric motor
critical underwater metal structures should not be to protect it from the water environment. The solution
inferior by the level of properties to those made in air or of the problem of a local sealing of a driven electric
should differ from them negligible. Thus, the analysis motor is its complete air-tightness with filling of
of state-of-the-art and trends of development of cavities with insulating fluid lubricant. In the new
welding production, made by OJSC Gasprom (Russia), design of the semiautomatic machine for underwater
where welding is one of the basic technological welding and cutting , shown in Figure 1,
processes in construction and repair of main and
industrial gas pipelines, revealed the need in the further
development and improvement of technologies of repair
of pipelines crossing the inland water basins and seas
For this purpose, the technology of flux-cored welding
and cutting, developed at the E.O.Paton Electric
Welding Institute, has found a wide spread. Its
application opens up the challenges in mechanization
and automation of the process, the future fulfillment of
works under especially dangerous conditions and at
increased depths. To realize the method of the flux-
cored welding and cutting, a specialized equipment is
required. Therefore, in parallel with the development of
electrode materials the E.O.Paton Electric Welding
Institute has designed a series of semiautomatic
machines of unique design, protected by the Authors
Certificates of the USSR and patented in a number of
industrialized countries. The present element base, new
consumables and completing parts allow us to renovate
the park of semiautomatic machines for underwater
welding and cutting to impart them the new technical
and technological capabilities.
The aim of the present work is to analyze the
challenging developments of the E.O.Paton Electric
Welding Institute in the field of equipment for
mechanized underwater welding and cutting using
special flux-cored electrode wires, and also some Figure 1. New semiautomatic machine for underwater
systems for them to attract attention of specialists and welding and cutting: 1- cleat for fixation of welding cable
and control cable; 2- control cable; 3- sealed connector; 4
organizations, having problems connected with these
air-tight electric motor; 5 - cassette; 6 casing; 7 hose
technologies. The main and most specific components holder; 8 removable cover; 9 supply and control unit;
of the mechanized equipment for underwater welding 10 - stand
and cutting are an electric drive of a feeding

this technical solution had an important improvement in capabilities as to characteristics and possibility to
optimizing the design of a step-down reduction gear, the influence the welding process, including also pulse
gears of which, after rotation in the mentioned algorithms [4], was selected. It was additionally
insulating fluid lubricant, acquire an additional technically modified and by programs according to the
resistance due to sufficiently high values of coefficients requirements formulated at the E.O.Paton Electric
of tough friction at relative movement of reduction Welding Institute. It should be noted that the design of
gears and fluid, and, consequently, provide high load to the power source provides its protection from action of
the driven electric motor. Basing on experimental unfavorable factors of the environment.
investigations, an optimum design of the reduction gear The designed semiautomatic machine for underwater
and its additional elements was defined, allowing welding corresponds to the following conditions and
decrease the load to the electric motor down to the parameters:
value, close to that which is typical for mechanism
operation under the atmospheric conditions. Maximum welding current at 60% duty cycle, 5 min
Large and changing lengths of supply cables cycle, A.400
predetermined the development of special designs of Kind of welding current direct
cables, supply system of adjustable electric drive and Polarity ..straight or reverse
selection of the electric motor. Taking into account that Range of electrode wire feed speed, m/h ..100.450
the voltage drop is inevitable in the cable, the following Change in feed speed smooth
design of the feeding mechanism electric drive was Diameter of electrode wire, mm ...1.63.0
offered. A torque motor of DPU87-75 type was Time of continuous operation of semiautomatic
selected, which has permanent magnets, low rated machine without change of electrode
frequency of shaft rotation (this factor reduces wire, min not less than 70
additionally the hydrodynamic resistance of a rotor and
reduction gear elements during rotation in the fluid The prospect for new developments of equipment for
environment) and admits supply within the 20-24 V underwater welding and cutting is the application of d.c.
range. A supply and control unit has been designed, commutatorless electric motors in the design of their
having an adjustable d.c. transistor electric drive and a feeding mechanisms, as the commutator unit of d.c.
special supply unit, adjustable by a value of output electric machines is one of the most problematic
voltage, allowing selection of a required level of the elements in operation under the water. For this purpose,
electric drive supply, accounting and compensating the it was suggested to use the design of a specialized
losses in the cable. All this in combination with an electric drive with a valve electric motor having a
optimized reduction gear solves the problem of a stable microprocessor system of control and adjustment,
and reliable feeding of the electrode wire. allowing realize within the wide range the digital
The task of design of the new supply cable of the adjustment of shaft rotation frequency and use it by
equipment for underwater welding was solved keeping placing into a sealed casing with insulating lubricant
the following conditions. First of all, it was necessary to fluid. The variant of design of this electric drive at
provide a minimum level of electric losses in it, and experimental testing of its service life in a water
also possibilities to make this cable load-carrying, i.e. environment is shown in Figure 2 [5].
capable to withstand the weight of an immersion unit
taking into account the weight of the cable itself at a
deep immersion. The cable design has elements
allowing its application with new challenging systems
of adjustable electric drives. It should be noted that this
cable has no analogs and manufactured by the
enterprises of Ukraine using the developments of the
E.O.Paton Electric Welding Institute [3]..
The set with the semiautomatic machine can include
almost any welding current power sources, designed for
mechanized welding (rigid external volt-ampere
characteristics), as the supply and control unit has a
built-in welding current switchboard. However, when
the process is conducted at increased depths the need
arises in the design of a specialized power source
allowing compensation of voltage drop in the welding Figure 2. Service life tests of valve electric drive in water
cable, i.e. it should have a margin of output welding environment after its filling with insulating-dielectric fluid
voltage , adjustable by the level, and, thus, provide the
process parameters and preserve the rigidity of The electric drive provides control with a change in
characteristics. To solve the problems of underwater parameters of rotation according to a programmed
mechanized welding and cutting, the reference model of preset algorithm. At present the electric drive of this
modern inverter power source LET-500 with very wide design has been manufactured, having a sufficiently
International Congress on Advances in Welding Science and Technology for
Construction, Energy and Transportation Systems (AWST - 2011)
24-25 October 2011, Antalya, Turkey

high torque moment on its shaft that allows the feeding inscription made in the form of deposited beads at 200
roller to be installed directly on it, avoiding the use of m depth, Figure 5.
step-down reduction gears. The developed specialized It was possible to improve the weld metal formation
valve electric drives possess high quick-response, thus using pulsed algorithms of operation of the above-
realizing the complex enough algorithms of electrode mentioned welding current source of LET-500 type.
wire feeding, providing modulated and pulse modes of The appearance of butt joint made by using this power
operation. All these capabilities of feeding mechanisms source is shown in Figure 6. It is seen that in this case
allow improving greatly the quality and power the deposited bead is fine-flaky, uniform in width,
characteristics of the flux-cored wire underwater with a smooth transition to the base metal.
welding and cutting.
The above-mentioned design of electric drive on the
base of a valve electric drive with a microprocessor
digital control made it possible to realize one more
challenging development, namely the automatic
machine for arc underwater welding with a contour
control of trajectory of a welding tool movement, preset
by a program. The unique method of programming the
trajectory of welding head movement was developed
and offered for realization, allowing refuse the special
sensors, whose installing and service in underwater
conditions is rather complicated. The programmed
trajectory of movement is described by calculation of
number of pulses of feedback sensors in frequency of
rotation of driven electric motor shaft. Digital
incremental sensors, encoders, were applied as these
sensors. These sensors can fulfill two functions: to be
elements of stabilization of frequency of valve electric
motor shaft rotation and play a role of path sensors.
Two electric drives are used for plane movement, where
welding tool is moved at adjustable and preset speeds
along coordinates x and y. Program hardware has
been developed for movement along the mentioned
coordinates, realized by means of a computer. Here, the
preset trajectory of tool movement and its current
position are shown on the display. The parameters of Figure 3. Design of automatic machine for underwater
welding process are also displayed. Thus, tasks of welding: 1- electric motor of feed mechanism; 2- electric
motor for movement along coordinate y; 3- welding
documentation of the welding process are solved
table; 4 electric motor for movement along coordinate
additionally. ; 5- Support of automatic machine structure; 6 sealed
The mock-up of welding automatic machine is connectors; 7 immersion control unit; 8 pressure
presented in Figure 3 in the position before its chamber
immersion into a test pressure chamber. The control
unit of the automatic machine is placed in a pressure
chamber directly on the welding automatic machine to
decrease the number of communications and to increase
the noise protection. All the applied valve electric
motors are of a similar type and sealed. One more
peculiar feature of the automatic machine is the
application of special sealed connectors, designed for
reliable operation at depths of up to 600 m, that defines
accordantly the possibility of operation of the developed
conception of the automatic machines for underwater
wet welding.
Tests of welding automatic machine were performed in
a pressure chamber, in which the conditions for wet
welding at different depths were created. Deposits were Figure 4. Beads deposited at 200 m depth with
made by experimental flux-cored wires of 1.8 mm programming of welding movement trajectory
diameter on plates of steel St.3. Figure 4 shows the
appearance of beads deposited at 200 m depth.
Wide opportunities of programming the two-coordinate
movement of welding tool are shown on the example of

Figure 7 shows beads deposited under water using a

pulsed electrode wire feeding. Experimental
investigations made in this direction show the feasibility
of bead formation, depth of penetration at different
parameters of a pulsed feeding. It should be noted that
during underwater welding with a pulsed feeding of
electrode wire the more stable process is observed as
compared with conventional feeding with a low
spattering of electrode metal. There were no cases of
decrease in density of deposited layer metal.
One more challenging direction in updating the
equipment for mechanized and automatic underwater
Figure 5. Opportunities of programming the trajectory of welding will be the simultaneous use of welding current
welding tool movement in the form of deposited beads
source and electrode wire feeding mechanism, operating
made at 200 m depth
by definite coupled algorithms of functioning. This
work is carried out at the present time by inviting a
number of companies-developers in Ukraine and

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Figure 6. Bead of deposited metal, made by using a pulsed directions in the development of welding production of
welding current source OJSC Gasprom / State-of-the-art and main directions in
the development of welding production of OJSC
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be noted. P.22-24.

Figure 7. Beads made under water using a pulsed

electrode wire feeding