Pulse Arc Welder Tip: Making Rivets


For the past two years, my Orion pulse arc welder has become a staple in my studio and has been essential for many custom projects, production work and repairs. Between projects, I make time to practice and experiment with welder’s settings and different materials to see how much more I can do with this tool.  In the past, I would ball the ends of wires for rivets and connection using torches and would usually end up with a textured surface on the metal ball after it cooled and contracted. With the welder, I have found a quick way to get a nice even ball with very little texture.

1) Test the power setting - I recommend starting with a setting that has a spot depth approximately  ⅓ (small wire sizes, .4 - .7 mm) to ½  (larger wire sizes 1 - 1.6 mm) of your wire thickness and working up till you find your ideal setting. You may need to attempt 2 or 3 welds on the end of the wire to get the ball size you need and to center it on the wire. If you use too little power, your wire will only lightly dome on the end. If you use too much power, your metal will pop and splatter off the end of the wire. Ouch!

REMINDER: Be sure to have good ventilation during this process to avoid inhaling fumes from the excess heat.

2) Attaching for Decoration - With the same setting, you will ball the opposite side while the wire is threaded through your piece. You will need the unwelded end of your wire sticks out roughly 2-2.5x the thickness of the wire. Example: a 1 mm wire will need approximately 2.5 mm of length for balling. This extra amount of wire should be enough for your wire to ball up near the surface of your piece but not weld to it.

REMINDER: Your small piece of wire is now going to heat up enough to melt the end. Make sure to have your hands are protected while holding your wire piece in place.   

3) Cleaning up - After all your welding is completed, you should be able to easily clean up the lightly ripple surface of your wire with a 3M radial wheel or soft polishing wheel to give it a nice shine.

Patrick McMillan will be lecturing in the educational series, More Than Making at Metalwerx Marketplace 2017, sponsored by Orion Welders by Sunstone Engineering. To learn more about Patrick's upcoming lecture and details about Marketplace, click here. 


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