The advantages of orbital welding vs. manual welding are well known. These include improved consistency, better precision, greater efficiency, and eliminating the physical demands contributing to substandard manual welds. Fully realizing these attributes, however, requires the best orbital welding technique, materials, and equipment.

Orbital welding relies on automation to provide favorable results. This mechanized process routinely delivers low weld pool turbulence and consistent beads. Even for experienced welders, achieving these results can be a significant challenge. The key to high-quality welding is consistency throughout the process, which is more readily attainable by selecting the orbital welding power supply that is best for your project. 

Orbital Welding Power Supply Types

Orbital welding power supplies fall into one of the categories listed below, depending upon the modulation type used.  

Modulation Description Application
AC Current Pipe enhanced industrial productivity. Narrow groove welding
DC Current Constant frequency creates steady arcs and smooth outputs. Stainless steel welding
Pulsed Current Creates narrow arcs for deep penetration. Thick material deep weldsThin metals
Pulsed Voltage and Heat Allows for greater control over deposition rate for processes like GMAW. Magnetic materials

As shown, it is essential to know which type of modulation, especially AC vs. DC current, is best suited for the material type being welded, as well as the application. For example, DC welding is usually preferred because the constant frequency produces a steady arc and smooth welds. However, AC welding is better at removing oxidation, which means a purer weld. Consequently, when welding stainless steel pipe in an environment prone to high corrosion, opting for an orbital welding power supply that uses AC may be the better choice. 

Attributes of Power Supplies for Orbital Welding 

The primary function of an orbital welding power supply is to help the welder or operator exert greater control over the process. The best power supplies leverage both hardware and software technology to allow operators to optimize welding process management. Attributes that promote the highest quality weld results include the following:

Orbital Welding Power Supply Attributes for High-Quality Weld Results

  • High-resolution real-time video 
    Viewing the weld puddle in real time is a critical component of orbital welding that allows quick in-process corrections without halting the weld head rotation.
  • Portability
    Some environments, like nuclear power plants, may require time-limited welding in some areas. Therefore, a lightweight power supply is necessary for maximum efficiency. 
  • Easy parametric control
    To produce consistent and precise welds, operators must be able to quickly and easily adjust weld parameters. Accomplishing this is best done with an easy-to-navigate user interface (UI). For example, the AMI 317 below has an advanced touchscreen interface to help users maximize control and efficiency. 
AMI 317 includes advanced attributes for optimized orbital welding process control
  • Data collection, aggregation, and analytics
    In addition to real-time monitoring, it is important to collect, store, and analyze weld data. This provides a record that can be programmed for future welds to ensure quality is maintained. 

Another important consideration is whether to employ remote monitoring or integrate a remote pendant into your orbital welding system. Doing so can be an invaluable safety asset, especially in hazardous environments. 

How to Choose Your Orbital Power Supply

Orbital welding can elevate the quality and reliability of your welding projects. Yet, achieving the consistency, precision, and efficiency of this automated form of welding necessitates that you understand the importance of the power supply and know how to choose the best equipment for your project(s). Following a set of guidelines, as listed below, will help you make this selection. 

Orbital Welding Power Supply Selection Guidelines

  • Understand how the effectiveness of the welding power supply type is affected by the pipe and or tube materials being joined. 
  • Ensure your choice of power supply exhibits the attributes that will help make your process more efficient. 
  • Partner with an industry leader who can supply the best equipment and has the expertise to support your welding projects.

Arc Machines, Inc. is an industry leader in supplying advanced and high-quality welding equipment and services. This includes orbital welding power supplies, weld heads, and other materials to aid you in meeting any quality and reliability requirements, regardless of industry. For inquiries regarding Arc Machines, Inc. products, contact For service inquiries, contact Arc Machines welcomes the opportunity to discuss your specific needs. Contact us to arrange a meeting.

Engineering Department | Arc Machines, Inc.

The first engineers at Arc Machines were also part of NASA’s Apollo program, and we continue to hold our staff to those that level of drive and quality. Not only do we produce the best welding machines on the market, but we can also build customized machinery—tailored to your operation.