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Use of IGBT in Plasma Cutting and Welding

The definition of plasma cutting is cutting different electrically conductive materials (mainly metals such as steel, aluminum, brass and copper) of various sizes and breadth using a plasma jet. This torch of plasma is hot enough to thaw the material which is being cut and it moves fast to blow the ragged part away from the present cut. Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors (IGBTs) are used in plasma cutting technology to improve the efficiency of commercial plasma cutting equipments.

IGBT based plasma cutters suit better in professional environments such as industrial constructions, salvage and scrapping operations, fabrication and welding shops, automobile repair and restorations. The main reason behind this is IGBT plasma cutters take up a different method to start the pilot arc. Significant numbers of IGBT plasma metal cutters often deploy high frequency starting technology and high voltage circuit for the starting process only where the torch enables a constant arc without touching the work piece.

IGBT vs the MOSFET (Metal Oxide Semi-conductor Field Effect Transistor) has been an agitated topic ever since the IGBT technology came into being in the 1980’s. IGBT technology for welding applications has clearly proved to more effectively handle the rigorous demands the high duty cycles welders as it offers higher voltage capacities and heat tolerances than the earlier MOSFETs.

The usual usages of Arc and tube welding machines are to build and repair of the infrastructure in industrial environment. Welding power supplies are needed for creating an electric arc between an electrode and the foundation material to soften the metals at the welding point. Either DC or AC current with consumable or non-consumable electrodes may be used to generate the arc. Some type of inert or semi-inert gas is used sometimes to protect the welding region. Low capital and running cost are the main reasons behind the popularity of Arc welding. In case of arc welding, the voltage is involved right away with the length of the arc, and the current is involved with the sum of heat input with typical currents of 50 to 500 amps is conditional on the size of weld. For arc welding with less voltages and large currents, a soft switching PWM DC-DC power converter with IGBT switches in the elementary side of a high frequency transformer is considered to be the most compatible topology for the welding power supply. Power losses in the IGBTs are lessened by applying soft switching leading to a volume reduction of 59% and weight reduction of 47% in comparison to the hard-switching technique. Because of the operation at 40-kHz, progressive welding performance is enhanced in comparison to the 13-kHz with hard-switching.

An induction heating technique with high power and operating frequency is required by tube welding and quenching applications. For lessening switching loss, a multiple frequency converter circuit uses IGBTs with zero-current-switching (ZCS). For this reason, the operating frequency can be increased effortlessly up to 250-kHz which is adequate for quenching and arc welding.

Due to its exceptional features, IGBT has become a must need for plasma cutting and welding purposes.

David Smith, Senior Vice President of , an IGBT power transistor module distributor since 2001.

David Smith, Senior Vice President of , an IGBT power transistor module distributor since 2001.

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