Canadian welding robots survive punishment with customized cables

Surviving in harsh industrial environments, durable high-flex welding cables need to withstand punishments form severe mechanical stress, ranging from millions of bending cycles to continuous twisting and stretching. Often, they perform under extremely crammed conditions and, in many applications, hot welding splatter adds to the list of tortures. To cope, manufacturers and users of welding equipment are increasingly using customized cables.

For more than two years, Windsor, ON-based Centerline, a full-line manufacturer of resistance welding equipment, has specified hybrid cable made by elocab of Kitchener, ON, for its portable Voltza transguns.

Thanks to its patented air-over-oil OHMA cylinder, Centerline's transguns produce low impact high-precision weld force. Constant pressure translates into no expulsion and superior part quality - two key factors for Centerline's growing success in NAFTA and European spot welding applications covering automotive, mass transit, appliances and aerospace.

Rugged multiconductor hybrid cables are a key component of any gun designed and built by Centerline. Like an umbilical cord, they provide all essentials for proper welding. "Major headaches were created by umbilicals used on our portable guns," said Tony D'Andrea, Centerline's service manager. While movements in precise robotic applications are, more or less, programmable, cables on manually-operated transguns take extra punishment by extreme stretching and twisting. "These unplanned movements resulted in constant cable problems caused by weak outer jackets and/or conductors breaking," said D'Andrea. "When dealing with customers in places like Alabama, Mexico or even Europe, it becomes annoying and frustrating."

The remedy for Centerline was a hybrid round cable containing 3 AWG 4 conductors for welding power and full ground protection and additional wires for internal thermo detection to sense overheating and extra ground safety. These components were transformed into an evenly-balanced round cable that includes special tapes, unique EMI shielding and extremely high-stranded copper conductors.

"With thousands of strands for each conductor, we provided Centerline with the most flexible solution," noted elocab's senior manager Rod Barber. For special protection against mechanical and thermal stress, the blue welding cable is covered with a specially-composed PUR jacket.

The Canadian cablemaker can design, build and deliver tailor-made welding cables in 3 to 5 weeks. Starting at 300 ft, elocab's line of welding cables includes control cables built with 3 to 65 conductors, as well as high-performance power cables with cross-sections ranging from 3 X AWG 6 to AWG 4 and AWG 2 - and even higher.

Despite its complex ingredients, elocab's Centerline cable with an OD of 26.3 mm was 20% slimmer than conventional cabling and easily outlasted 2 to 3 times all versions from other suppliers, according to Centerline's Tony D'Andrea.