Stud welding systems dramatically speed up the installation of metal studs, but only if every part of the equipment is running smoothly. While most repairs to this kind of equipment should be handled by a professional technician, there are a few basic maintenance tasks you can handle on your own. Make sure you follow all five of these tips to keep your stud welding systems working properly at all times without risking injury to yourself during the maintenance chores.
Preventing Electrical Risks
Before you check or maintain any part of your stud welding machine, unplug the power control unit from your electrical supply when possible. If your unit is hardwired, switch off the electricity to the entire room or work area instead of working on the unit while it's connected.
Are you using a capacitor discharge stud welding unit to work on thin materials and get your work done faster? These units store electricity in their capacitors after being disconnected, so you'll need to follow the manufacturer's instructions to discharge that energy before doing any maintenance. If you can't find instructions on safely discharging your CD stud welder, let a professional handle the work instead.
Checking All Cables
Once you're sure the unit is no longer a shock hazard, it's time to start checking the three types of cables used on a stud welding machine. Damage to the power supply, welding, or ground wires all expose you to potential shocks during operation and interfere with the proper functioning of the equipment. Examine each cable on a daily, or at least weekly, schedule for the following:
- Cuts, cracks, and nicks in the insulation around the exterior of the cable
- Tight bends and twists in the cables that will soon lead to missing insulation
- Fraying at either end of the cables
Examining Cable Connectors
If your cables are still smooth and fully insulated, turn to the connectors that link them to the control unit next. These metal connectors can become loose after months or years of inserting and removing them, so plug all the cables into their ports and gently tug on them to make sure they're not loose. If any of the cables come out or slide out of the port even a little, you need to invest in a replacement set with fresh connectors. Still experiencing loose connections after getting new cables? Call a repair technician and ask about having the ports on the control unit replaced instead.
Cleaning Stud Guns
It only takes a little welding splatter building up inside the stud gun to cause weak welds, slow response times, and other issues. Take the gun apart and clean it thoroughly every three to six months depending on how often you use the gun. Check that the center shaft of the gun is moving freely without making contact with any other parts, but don't lubricate it after cleaning or you'll interfere with the welding process by mixing in contaminants. Avoid liquid cleaning products too and stick with dry cleansers designed for use on electrical contacts to eliminate any chances of residue.
Testing Gun Timing
Finally, make sure the timing is still correct on your gun to figure out if it's time for a replacement or not. Timing is essential for stud welding because a gun that hesitates for even a fraction of a second will create a weak and unsafe attachment between the stud and the surface. Grab a stopwatch or timer that measures down to fractions of a second, then dry fire the gun at different settings and verify the unit is following the time delays perfectly. You might be able to have the gun repaired if the timing is off, but it may be more economical to simply replace this part of a stud welding system when it's already a few years old due to the wear and tear on the equipment.