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What typical duty cycles are achieved when arc welding?


Frequently Asked Questions

The term duty cycle is used to describe the amount of time spent depositing weld metal (the arcing period) as a percentage of the total time taken to complete a weld. In the USA, the duty cycle is called the Operator Factor.

With the MMA process, frequent interruptions are required to allow for slag removal, inter-run dressing and changing the electrode. Consequently, the duty cycle can be quite low.

At the other extreme, a high duty cycle is possible from a programmed robot because it may be able to weld continuously for long periods with only short interruptions to allow for the work-piece to be manipulated.

While the duty cycle for each welding process will vary according to factors such as type of work, access to joints and the working practices of a particular organisation, it is possible to allocate some typical values such as those shown in the table below.

Some typical duty cycles for workshop welding

Welding processDuty cycle
Typical (%)Range (%)
MMA (SMAW) ~25% 15 to 40%
MIG/MAG (GMAW) - semi-automatic ~45% 15 to 60%
MIG/MAG (GMAW) - automatic ~90% 50 to 100%
FCAW - semi-automatic ~40% 15 to 55%
SAW - mechanised ~40% 40 to 90%

It is important to note that the term duty cycle is also used to rate welding power sources and refers to the maximum welding current that they can be used for a particular operating time.

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