Project Participants: General Dynamics Electric Boat
Project Start: June 2004
Set-up costs associated with welding operations that support unit erection and outfitting represent a significant portion of overall shipbuilding costs. For small welding jobs such as hanger and tack welding, the labor associated with equipment relocation and setup can be a large part of the total cost of welding; simple welds that take minutes to perform may take several days to set up.
To significantly reduce the cost of welding operations, The Lincoln Electric Company (LE) and Electric Boat Corporation (EB) have teamed together to develop and implement a man-portable system for pulse, gas metal arc welding (GMAW-P). Man-portable welding systems will eliminate a significant portion of the planning and labor required to relocate and setup GMAW-P equipment while increasing shipyard safety.
A key aspect of this development is new inverter technology. LE focused on the application and upsizing of technologies currently used in the Switch Mode Power Supply Industry.
The LE/EB team executed a five-phase plan focused on minimizing the development risk. The process began with the Definition Phase where the team collaborated on developing detailed product requirements. In the next phase, an operational breadboard prototype was developed. Once the team verified that the product requirements defined in the definition phase could be met, the project moved to the Prototype Phase to develop units that met the weight and packaging requirements. LE and EB tested the prototype units and select a final prototype system that will undergo comprehensive testing in the shipyard.
At the conclusion of this project, the following major accomplishments were attained: Successful development of power supply and wire feeder technology; safety improvement by using 220V single phase power instead of 460V 3-phase power; successful development of two light weight gas metal arc welding torches allowing maximized use of gas metal arc welding in place of shielded arc welding; quick changeover between shielded metal arc and gas metal arc processes; and reduced welding costs for applications where it is advantageous to use a small, man-portable machine.