Pipe Welding Automation Enhances Industrial Productivity


In any pipe welding project, operators must consider many factors to ensure that the pipe welds can withstand extreme temperatures, pressures, loads, stresses, and other external forces to comply with industry-specific standards. Pipe welding specifications such as arc voltage control, amperage, travel speed, the addition of filler material, and electrode oscillation vary across industries. 

Pipe welding automation such as orbital welding makes it easy to adhere to these specifications during the welding process with speed, consistency, and accuracy that are difficult to achieve through manual welding.  

Below, we discuss how pipe welding automation helps address various industry-specific challenges in the welding process and why orbital welding is particularly well-suited for welding pipe and tube in high-precision and high-stress applications across industries.     

Industries Using Pipe Welding Automation

Key industries that deploy pipe welding automation in the form of GTAW orbital welding to ensure precision and achieve higher productivity include:


Aviation welding has specific requirements such as working with special alloys like stainless steel, titanium, and Inconel® to build complex structure parts for lighter, stronger, and faster aircraft. Safety is a key concern in aircraft construction, and aviation welding must comply with a wide range of regulations and standards. Fuel, hydraulic, and other system lines need to perform in an environment of changing air pressures. They also must be welded within the cramped confines of an airplane wing or landing gear wheel well, which threatens welder safety. The advantages listed below make GTAW orbital welding the best-suited process to meet the challenges of aircraft and spacecraft welding.

  • The high-quality tungsten electrodes used in orbital welding equipment offer the consistency necessary to generate welds that optimize joint strength and minimize the risks of failure due to mechanical stresses caused by changes in air pressure.
  • The automated movement of the weld head, along with feeder wire control, lets welders work remotely while focusing on orbital welding diagnostics. Closed weld heads, such as the Model 8 and Model 9 series weld heads, are designed to provide a controlled welding environment for thin-walled pipes, tubes, and fittings.  
  • Pipe welding automation supports the future challenges of aviation welding, including adopting new technologies such as Internet-of-Things and 3D printing.  

Pharmaceuticals, Food & Beverage

Sanitary tubes and piping are integral to the pharmaceutical sector. The key challenges of sanitary tube welding include avoiding contamination and corrosion, ensuring cleaning-in-place (CIP), and adhering to the pharmaceutical welding standards that emphasize the safety of end-consumers and workers. 

In the food and beverage industry, pipe welding must comply with Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) standards to ensure that food products remain uncontaminated. Important food-grade welding considerations include eliminating burrs or rough edges during the welding process, using correct filler materials, and ensuring precise weld parameters. Food-safe welding standards for stainless steel pipe demand that the surface roughness of the metal is equal to or less than 30 micro-inches and chromium content to be at least 16 percent.

How does GTAW orbital welding effectively address the industry-specific challenges of sanitary tube welding?

  • GTAW orbital welding ensures reliable, deep penetration of the weld and fusion of materials such as austenitic steel to prevent crevices and pockets that trap materials and allow microbes to develop and contaminate products.
  • Small, consistent welds formed by GTAW orbital welding are easily electropolished by passing a mild acid through the system. 
  • Closed weld heads for orbital welding ensure safety and hygiene to meet cleanliness, quality, precision, and consistency standards.

Thermal Power

In thermal power plants, the water in the steam loops becomes corrosive at high temperatures causing high-temperature hydrogen attack and hydrogen embrittlement that lead to the piping system corrosion. The corrosion and the resulting material degradation at increased temperature and pressure pose unique challenges to pipe welding in the thermal power industry.    

In nuclear reactors, radiation can fundamentally alter the nature of metal, making it brittle and less structurally reliable. The key pipe welding challenge in the nuclear industry is to weld a complicated piping system with high-strength metals that can resist corrosion from the heat and radiation inside the reactor. Orbital GTAW welding addresses the concerns of safe operation and quality assurance in thermal and nuclear power plants with the following advantages:

  • Orbital welding accommodates a range of materials such as titanium, stainless steel, and Inconel® that offer corrosion resistance in extreme temperatures and are less prone to suffer from the effects of radiation.  
  • The remote weld controls and pre-programmable, automated weld heads minimize human error and ensure accurate and consistent high-specification welds. 

Oil & Gas

The quality of petroleum pipe welding determines the assembly of piping systems within and outside oil refineries. Piping, including stainless steel, iron, copper, PE, and PVC, is a critical infrastructure component for crude oil refining or distillation. 

A common challenge of pipe welding in the oil and gas industry is ensuring a safe work environment for welders. When welding inside a stainless steel pipe, welders are exposed to toxic fumes and reflected UV radiation. The extreme temperature variation in the oil distillation process requires a heat exchanger as a part of the stainless steel sanitary tube welding system. Factors such as hydrogen embrittlement, microbial contamination, or iron sulfide scaling can compromise the quality of the weld and pipe strength and result in cracking and more severe breakdowns. Automated GTAW or TIG orbital welding can offer the following benefits to address these challenges and build safe and secure piping systems:

  • By using an inert shielding gas that prevents contamination, the GTAW orbital welding process provides high-quality stainless steel welds devoid of cracks and embrittlement.  
  • The thorough penetration and fusion offered by GTAW orbital welding yields consistent welds that improve the structural strength of piping systems.  
  • Orbital welding equipment facilitates control of the welding process from a distance and addresses safety concerns by preventing welders from toxic fume exposure. 


Intricate details are critical to the manufacturing of semiconductors. To ensure proper deposition of silicon on the chip, a pure supply of pyrophoric gas is required. For the safe transportation of such gas in its pure form, semiconductor fabrication plants rely on a network of fluid lines. Automated pipe welding enables manufacturers to effectively and efficiently fuse these lines. Additional benefits of TIG orbital welding for semiconductor manufacturers include:

  • Providing a high degree of accuracy and precision, along with excellent predictability and repeatability to fabricate products with precise specifications and zero possible variations. 
  • Ensuring a safe operating environment with high-integrity welds of stainless pipes and tubes to transport hazardous pyrophoric gas without contamination or leakage. 
  • Preventing welders from exposure to carcinogenic hexavalent chromium fumes with remote monitoring. 
  • Yielding high-quality welds in each run that improve productivity and reduce rework and material wastage.


Ship piping systems are extensive, and they include the bilge system, ballast system, engine cooling system, fire protection system, flammable liquids system, as well as the air, cargo, and steam systems. Several welding processes, such as arc welding, gas welding, plasma, laser, and thermit, are deployed for welding these piping systems. The challenges of repairing and welding the piping network onboard pose high risks to welders due to low visibility, temperature extremes, lack of ventilation, and tight workspaces. Unlike manual welding, automated pipe welding effectively addresses the safety concerns in shipbuilding and repair. Listed below are several advantages of deploying orbital welding equipment to repair a ship’s piping systems.

  • The remote pendant control of the orbital welding equipment lets welders easily access the tight spaces onboard. Tracking weld generation and weld puddles through remote viewing ensures a safer work environment, free from fume clouds.  
  • The automated weld head control provides consistent, high-quality, and strong weld beads for TIG welding, the most common pipe welding process used in ships.
  • Pipe welding automation offers a sanitized welding environment by providing adequate gas coverage around the weld zone to work with titanium—the ideal metal in aqueous welding applications, including shipbuilding. 

The benefits of pipe welding automation can be achieved by implementing the right orbital welding equipment that can yield high-quality welds while meeting the specifications of industry applications. 

Deploying Orbital Welding to Improve Industrial Productivity

As an industry leader, Arc Machines, Inc. offers the best solutions for addressing pipe welding challenges across industries. Our advanced automated orbital welding equipment—including pipe weld heads, power supplies, and turn-key welding systems—are designed for a wide range of applications to meet industry-specific standard requirements and ensure worker safety.


Arc Machines, Inc. is your one-stop solution for addressing pipe welding automation in high-specification projects. For inquiries regarding advanced orbital welding machines, contact sales@arcmachines.com. For service inquiries, contact service@arcmachines.com.