Welding with two different filler materials on a single workpiece in one pass and one setting … that task is already possible with SKS Welding Systems’ Wire Select torch system. It’s also possible to join pieces using two different, arc-based processes, such as welding or soldering. And both capabilities offer potential for significant cost and time savings.

SKS Welding Systems developed this alternative option to replace systems that depend on changing a torch or setting up a second welding robot, largely from standard components. In the Wire Select package, only the Y-shaped torch body represents a proprietary component. The torch neck and wear parts come from the standard accessories shelf.

Significantly different temperature conditions in a component, such as at the hot and cold end of an exhaust system, require different materials — and therefore also appropriate weld filler materials. High temperature-resistant, chromium-nickel steel, for example, would require the ferritic wire electrode 1.4511; for low-alloy steel, the austenitic wire type 1.4370 would be the right match.

Instead of feeding the different wires via a torch change system, or installing a second robot, the Wire Select welding torch is capable of executing the change in four steps — cut, retract, feed, cut — with just a few seconds of time elapsed. The torch neck taken from SKS standard range of products ensures good accessibility to the welding joint.

Combinations of processes are handled by the Wire Select system in the same way. For instance, users can first weld thin steel pipes of hydraulic brake systems, and then solder the pertaining brackets. For each wire electrode, different gas types can be selected depending on the process and material.

The Wire Select weld package is comprised of two hardware components. First is the Y-shaped torch body mounted on the Power Clutch collision protection. Next is a second standard wire-feed unit including a torch cable. Another feature is the separate wire cutter. Users can choose their power source and controller from SKS' modular standard program.

The advantages of the Wire Select system are seen both in comparison to a torch change system and in the installation of a second robot. The investment cost of both of these options is significantly higher. And, they come with indirect financial expenses and downtimes.

Tool changeover with the torch change system takes much longer than with Wire Select, too. Equipment packages involving two robots need more production space, and in some cases additional clamping devices, or they require more positioning and handling effort.

The modular design of the SKS Weld Packages provides a high level of flexibility for the user and significant savings for the investor, according to the developer. By replacing the special Wire Select components with other standard SKS components, it is also possible to reconfigure one of the common single-wire welding systems.