MIG Revolution: Tweco® Velocity™ Consumables Deliver Amazing Parts Life, Improve Welding Productivity
Three fabricators report that a single contact tip can last for five, eight and even 12 spools of wire in high-duty cycle, high-heat applications.
Consumable design does matter. For three fabricators in some of the most demanding high-heat, high-duty-cycle applications, Tweco Velocity consumables keep it cooler – 30 percent cooler – and that means better welding performance. View Video
With applications spanning from mining and power plant to transportation equipment to general fabrication, it's clear that MIG consumable design increases productivity.
By switching to Tweco medium- and heavy-duty Velocity MIG consumables, these fabricators:
- Improved parts life by 500 to 800 percent in gas shielded flux cored welding applications;
- Had a single contact tip run more than 500 pounds of wire in a modified pulsed spray transfer application.
- Used less than 20 tips in over the course of seven months of welding in an all-position short circuit MIG application.
A Consumables Revolution
The Velocity contact tip features four gas ports in its solid copper body. These ports channel shielding gas through the tip, which allows the tip to remain 30% cooler. As a result, the copper wears more slowly and the tip lasts longer (see Fig. 1). Further, their simplified design eliminates the gas diffuser. Coupled with an all-copper conductor path without threaded connections, Velocity consumables improve electrical and thermal conductivity (see Fig. 2). Factor in a cooler running tip, and the result is an arc that runs 15% smoother.
Velocity consumables feature a threaded sleeve made from heat-treated stainless steel and a screw-on nozzle that centers the contact tip and holds it in place. The stainless steel sleeve is nearly impervious to damage compared to the soft brass or copper threads in conventional designs. Soft threads wear quickly, causing nozzles and other parts to become loose and prone to slipping. Further, for 'slip adjustable' style nozzles, Velocity offers an indexed collar that enables the welder to consistently set the contact tip-to-nozzle relationship (protruding, flush or recessed, see Fig. 3). Additionally, a fixed threaded two-piece variation allows the conical end piece of the nozzle to be removed for easier cleaning; the base of the nozzle remains on the gun and keeps the contact tip secure (see Fig. 4).
Stay Cooler, Last Longer
Guymon Machining & Fabrication in Cleveland, Utah, fabricates mining, power plant, farming equipment, structural steel components and whatever else comes through the door. The company tested two Tweco Spray Master MIG guns with Velocity MIG consumables, with the guns respectively running .045" and 1/16" gas shielded flux cored wires.
Owner DeMar Guymon was skeptical. "At first I had my doubts, but with as many consumables as I go through, I was willing to try it. Now I'm a believer. In the course of five months, we've gone through about a dozen contact tips on two guns, versus the 50 or 60 tips we used to go through."
Tips hold up despite the challenges of overhead welding (see Fig. 5). "With overhead welding, quite a bit of spatter falls through, but even with that, the new contact tip's life is probably 10 to one."
For power plant applications, Guymon welds a variety of metals: stainless steel, high-temperature alloys, high-tinsel alloys, abrasion-resistant plates and all types of mild steel. Velocity testing was extended to include welding on many of these metals.
"With the abrasion-resistant plates, the performance was great," says Guymon. "I ran eight spools of hard-facing wire and never had a problem with the consumables." It wasn't always this way.
"With eight guys out there welding using the old consumables, we would change a contact tip two or three times in an eight-hour shift," says Guymon. "Now it's more like once a week between the two guns."
No More "Mr. Tip"
Sterling Cole, owner of Cole III Welding, began welding more than 30 years ago. He later started his own mobile welding rig and now runs seven to 14 guys year round, welding for clients primarily in the drilling and construction business. However, he recently branched out into general fabrication. Fabricators at Cole III Welding in Bakersfield, Calif., run .045" gas shielded flux cored wire to join 3/16" plate to 2-7/8" oil field pipe, creating grape posts for vineyards. In this high volume application, his welders average a 44-lb. spool of wire per day per machine.
"Previously, I was buying from 50 to 75 standard tips a week for five welders," says Cole. "They used to call me 'Mr. Tip' down at the welding supply store. Now with Velocity consumables, we're using about one tip per welder each week. Sometimes a single tip can last two weeks."
The story is similar at Sun Country Trailers, Inc., Phoenix, a designer and fabricator of industrial car carriers and utility trailers that goes through a 3,200-lb. pallet of wire every six to seven weeks (a pallet holds 72 44-lb. spools). Racking up high arc-on and out–of-position welding time provided a demanding environment for perfect for putting Velocity consumables to the test.
Sun Country fabricators run .035" solid wire with 100 percent CO2 shielding gas for short circuit MIG welding on the front of the trailer, which demands welding in all positions (see Fig. 6). After seven months, operators ran out of test consumables.
"In the original trial, we only had maybe 20 tips because that's all they gave us," says Busha. "But they lasted seven months, and that was with two shifts running. That's pretty good." Given that each operator runs through three or more 44-lb. spools of wire per week, that means the test gun conservatively burned more than 7,000 lbs. of wire over the seven-month test period. Dividing 7,000 lbs. by 20 contact tips means that each tip welded with more than 350 lbs. of wire – that's eight spools of wire per tip.
Velocity consumables delivered even better results on the side walls, where fabricators weld with .045" solid wire using a modified pulsed spray transfer process. In this latter application, a single tip has lasted for 15 shifts, running 12 44-lb. spools of wire in the process (see Fig. 7).
"That's a good life," says Randy Busha, operations manager at Sun Country, "I would definitely recommend Velocity consumables because of how little we have to change them now. It's night and day compared to our previous brand of consumables."
According to Busha, operators find the Velocity consumables work well for welding out of position. "You're trying to push heat up and push metal into metal," says Busha. "Gravity is your enemy, and sometimes it pulls [molten metal] back down into the gun and burns up the tip. Overhead welding is one of the hardest tests in the shop, but the new consumables last. They don't collect the debris that the old ones collect, and cleaning is much easier."
Velocity consumables are easier to clean because a cooler tip reduces the ability for spatter to stick, and any spatter that adheres is easier to remove. Further, spatter generally collects on one part, the nozzle, as opposed to three parts on conventional MIG front ends.
Less Is More
The new simplified consumables design, in addition to keeping the tip cooler and extending tip life, also features a threadless, "drop-in" style assembly.
Operators at Guymon were pleased. "At first, they didn't see a big difference, but then they noticed that they weren't changing out consumables," says Guymon. "When they finally did change them, they didn't have to screw in the tip or grab a pliers. You can just grab it, twist the nozzle off and pull the tip out. It's fast and very efficient."
Cleaning is also simplified. "It's so much easier to pull the tip off, clean it and put it back on," says Guymon. "There are no mechanical issues involved (see Fig. 8)."
Guymon uses 1/16" flux cored wire on heavier applications, where the voltage and amps run high and generate a lot of heat. Because Velocity consumables don't require a diffuser as a third part, Guymon isn't adding more components to his parts' graveyard.
"It's a big deal, because every time we changed out a contact tip, we used to change out the diffuser," says Guymon
(see Fig. 9).
At Cole III Welding, operators aren't necessarily worried about cleaning the nozzle; they're worried about getting paid by the piece. "It's much easier to remove the spatter," says Cole. "Because there are no threaded parts, the slag can't get in there and cause the guys to strip the threads. We don't have thread issues with the tips anymore, so the operators are more productive."
Simplicity gives Sun Country an advantage, too (see Fig. 10). "Simple is good," says Busha. "It makes everything easier. Fewer parts means fewer things to deal with and fewer things guys can break."
In high-heat, high-duty cycle applications, Guymon appreciates the heavy-duty two-piece nozzle assembly.
"It's very well engineered," says Guymon. "The two-piece is much thicker on the back end, so it diffuses heat much better. And because it's a heavy nozzle, you can run it with 1/16" or .045."
With the two-piece nozzle assembly, Guymon can replace the end of the nozzle without removing the tip or the back end; it stays intact. "The nozzle end has a quick thread," says Guymon. "They spin right off. You don't waste time taking parts off and putting them on." With less complexity and fewer connections, it's Speed Made Easy.
For Sterling Cole, a successful field test means surviving the elements. Because his crew is always outdoors, the wind created problems with conventional consumables. "When the wind gets over 15 mph, the guys with the old-style setups have issues with porosity and need to quit," says Cole. "The guys with the new style Velocity setups continue to make great welds, even in windy conditions."
There was a subtle but noticeable difference at Sun Country. "I had one guy that was welding with the first prototype," says Busha. "He simply said to me, 'It welds different. It welds hotter and cleaner.' I don't know how to describe it, but there is a difference in the arc characteristics."
No one had trouble describing how they intend to proceed following the test period. "When these guns come out for public use, I intend to change out all my MIG guns," says Guymon.
Ditto at Cole III: "I'm changing every setup I have when it comes out," says Cole. "They are the cheapest consumables I have found because they last so long."
(Click images below for larger view.)
Four ports machined into the base of the Velocity contact tip enable shielding gas to flow over the tip, keeping it cooler.
Velocity consumables feature an all-copper conductor path and few consumable parts, improving parts life by up to 500% or more in applications such as this one using 1/16" gas shielded flux cored wire at Guymon Machining & Fabrication.
Randy Busha of Sun Country Trailers demonstrates the adjustable slip nozzle, which he prefers because it lets him adjust the contact tip to nozzle flushness relationship to match the application at hand.
DeMar Guymon of Guymon's Machining & Fabrication likes the two piece nozzle because its heavier base lasts longer and for convenience; the top part of the nozzle can be unscrewed for easy cleaning while the base keeps the contact tip secure.
Velocity consumables work well for overhead welding. Because they run cooler, the spatter is easier to remove.
In short circuit MIG applications, Velocity consumables last two to three times longer than conventional consumables. Here a Sun Country operator uses .035" solid wire to weld the front end of a 53-ft. trailer, which requires all-position welding.
The contact tip in this MIG gun used at Sun Country Trailers has performed for 15 shifts, through 12 spools of .045" wire in a modified pulsed spray transfer application.
Velocity contact tips don't have threads. Instead, they just slip on over the wire, which makes them very easy to change.
Tested in heavy fabrication application using .045" and 1/16" gas shielded flux cored wire, 13 contact tips and six nozzles lasted for five months at Guymon's Machining & Fabrication.