Welding cables are reliable copper wires specifically designed for welding applications. Welding is the process whereby materials are joined together mostly metals and thermoplastics under lower temperatures. Welding at times can be tough hence it requires tough cables to withstand the welding environment. Welding cables are used in medium to heavy weight welding applications not exceeding 600 volts. The welding cables are quite common since they are not only used in welding applications but also other non-welding applications including industries and even in construction sites though it is not considered as a buildingwire. It can also be used to supply power in AC circuits. Read More
The welding cable is design to withstand harsh environmental conditions since the industrial environment tends to be harsh. The materials used in its construction are tough and reliable. It has a simple and unique design whereby it’s only composed of the conductor and jacket.
It is responsible for transmission of current in the cable. The welding cable conductor is made of annealed stranded bare copper wire. Copper has amazing electrical properties which enhance the conductivity of the cable. Annealing is the process whereby copper is consistently heated until it becomes soft and flexible. Annealed copper makes the cable easy to handle unlike hard drawn copper that is difficult to work with. The conductors are stranded together in rope lay in accordance with ASTM B-172 class M copper conductor.
Class M copper wires provide more flexibility and durability compared to class K copper wires. The stranding is done to enhance the flexibility of the cable and to enable it to carry more current.
When it comes to welding cables some have insulators while majority have only a cable jacket or an outer sheath. The material commonly used for the insulator is rubber, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or Ethylene Propylene (EPR). The insulator is very important since it prevents contact with the live wire by the users which may result in electrical shock. Furthermore it also protects the conductor from damage. The materials used are robust and highly resistant to harsh environmental conditions.
The cable jacket mainly protects the inner components of the cable from damage caused by external forces. In this cables, the jacket can also acts as an insulator preventing direct contact with the live wire by the users. The material used for the cable jacket is Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM). It is a synthetic rubber that is relatively resistant to harsh environmental conditions. It is resistant to sunlight, oils, acids, industrial solvents, abrasion and change in weather.
It has sequential footage markings, this helps to determine the specific length needed during installation with little guess work. The cable jacket is also available in many colors, mostly orange, black and green.
It is the outermost layer of the cable. The material used in welding cables with an outer sheath is mainly a rubber material, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) or Chloro-sulphanated Polyethylene (CSP). The outer sheath provides protect from mechanical damage and also conducts current leakages in the cable, it can act as an earthing material. The outer sheath is resistant to chemicals, acids, solvents, oils, abrasion and impact.
Choosing the appropriate cable size
Electrical wire and cables are graded in to sizes. The welding cable is graded according to AWG sizes. AWG is standard used in naming wire gauges mostly in North America. Cables mostly with sizes 4 and 4/0 are commonly used in welding applications. Welding cables are occasionally represented in millimeters (mm2) which indicates the cross-sectional area of the cable. When choosing the appropriate welding cable it is advisable to choose the one that supports the maximum output of the welder. Duty cycle and circuit length are also other factors to put in to consideration while selecting welding cable size.
Duty cycle is simply the capacity rating of the source power in welding applications. It is the percentage a power source can operate at a given current within 10 minutes without exceeding the thermal limit. The duty cycle of the power source can be found on the nameplate or the manufacturer’s manual. The circuit is the path followed by the electricity during the welding application. The circuit length is also very important in selecting the appropriate welding cable. The ampacity of the cable however decreases as the length increases due to the additional resistance of the long cable.
Whenever a large amount of current is required, the diameter of the welding cable needs to be large hence the cross-sectional area of the copper strands is to be increased. Copper has amazing electrical properties, however their might a certain level of resistance in flow of electrons through it. This may cause some heat on the cable. It is quite normal for a well-sized cable to feel warm after prolonged use but if the conductor is too small compared to the current flowing through it, it will overheat. This can damage the cable or furthermore cause fire related hazards.
Furthermore buying oversized cables may cost you more and still deliver the same current compared to properly sized cables.
Types of welding cables
There is a variety of welding cables in the market for you to choose from, so it is important for you to choose the one that matches your specific needs. The various types of welding cables found on the market include;
Welding Cable Class M UL/CSA 600V Orange Cable
This cable has class M copper conductors. As hinted earlier class M copper conductors are more reliable and flexible compared to class K copper conductors. It has a voltage rating of 600 volts. It operates at -500C in wet or cold locations and 900C in dry or hot temperatures.The cable is orange in color. It is also referred to as the hurricane cable, welder’s cable or flexible cable. This is largely because of its amazing features and ability to last long in any given environment.
Welding Cable Class K 90C 600V Bare Copper Cable
The class K bare copper wire as its name implies has class K stranded copper conductors. It has amazing flexibility and reliability but not compared to the class M conductors. Its voltage rating is at 600 volts, hence more suitable for medium weight applications.
Super Vu-Tron Welding 600v Orange Cable
Super VU-TRON cable, has class M stranded copper conductors. It also has a voltage of 600 volts hence its more suitable for medium weight applications. It can also withstand temperatures as low as -500C in extremely cold environments.
They have excellent flexibility which ensures the cable lasts longer in flex applications and easy installation. Welding cables are resistant to abrasion, impact, oils, industrial solvents, acids, radiation and flames hence they are less likely to get damaged in these applications. They are rated at -500C in extremely cold environments while 900C in hot environments hence the ability to function in a wide temperature range. It has resistance to changes in weather and climatic conditions such as sunlight and ozone.
They are safety-colored to increase the visibility of the cable. It retains its bright color even after a long period of usage. This cable offers a long service life which saves you money from maintenance cost, replacement costs and downtime.
Industrial ratings and approvals
These approvals are what manufacturers and suppliers use to prove the attributes stated about the cable are true. It also indicates that the cable is genuine and safe to use. The welding cable has been tested and approved by numerous international standards and organizations for welding applications. These include;
- RoHS Compliant
- National Electric Code (NEC)
- ASTM B-172 for rope lay stranded copper conductors
- IEC flame test
- CSA Certified
- MSHA Approved
- Meets UL Vertical Flame Test per UL 854
- UL Listed
Welding cables are mostly in welding applications not exceeding 600 volts including secondary voltage resistance in welding leads. However welding cables are widely used in other industrial applications relatively because of their robustness. It can be used to supply power in construction sites. It is also used in supplying of power in AC circuits not exceeding 600 volts. Sizes 1/0 or larger can be used for permanent wiring in conduits or cable trays of 600V power supplies, cranes, hoists, or other applications with power leads.
These cables are used in heavy mechanical applications include ship building, car manufacturing and other rough industrial applications.
Benefits and applications of the welding cable
These cables come with numerous benefits to the user. As stated earlier, it saves you money through its durability and is also available in the market at pocket friendly prices. It has some amazing features that will makes work easier in welding applications. Through its industrial approvals it gives the consumer confidence in the product. It also provides safety to the use through its non-conductive cable jacket. The consumer can be able to put it in to use in other power supply applications.Read Less
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