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Title:
IGNITION DEVICE FOR GTAW WELDING EQUIPMENT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/215856
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An ignition device for welding equipment includes a capacitor, a transformer, a high voltage output circuit connected to a secondary winding of the transformer, a discharging switch enabling discharge of the capacitor to a primary winding of the transformer, a charger and an operation control circuit that controls the charger and the discharging switch. 

Inventors:
MNICH, Andrzej (Mölndalsvägen 49, lgh 1101, Gothenburg, 412 63, SE)
Application Number:
IB2018/053202
Publication Date:
November 29, 2018
Filing Date:
May 08, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
ESAB AB (Lindholmsallen 9, Box 8004, Göteborg, 40277, SE)
International Classes:
H02M3/335; B23K1/00; B23K9/10; F02P3/08; H02M11/00
Foreign References:
US5592118A1997-01-07
US5992401A1999-11-30
US3651341A1972-03-21
US20150076121A12015-03-19
Other References:
None
Download PDF:
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An ignition device for welding equipment, comprising:

a capacitor;

a transformer having a primary winding connected to the capacitor;

a high voltage output circuit comprising a secondary winding of the transformer;

a switch that enables the capacitor to be discharged through the primary winding of the transformer;

a charger comprising a pulse width modulation control circuit configured to control charging of the capacitor; and

an operation control circuit that controls the charger to cause periodical charging of the capacitor and further controls the switch to cause periodical discharging of the capacitor and consequently a high voltage to be present at an output of the high voltage output circuit.

2. The ignition device of claim 1, wherein the charger is configured to supply limited momentary power and is activated by the operation control circuit for predetermined amount of time.

3. The ignition device of claim 1, wherein the charger comprises a flyback converter with a switch having a reverse blocking capacity that prevents a reverse voltage from being applied to a voltage supply that supplies voltage to the charger.

4. The ignition device of claim 1, wherein the pulse width modulation circuit comprises a voltage feedback circuit that controls a maximum voltage to which the capacitor can be charged.

5. The ignition device of claim 1, wherein the operation control system comprises a voltage sensor, and the operation control system is configured to stop charging the capacitor when a voltage sensed by the voltage sensor exceeds a predefined voltage level.

6. The ignition device of claim 1, wherein the switch has reverse conductivity and the switch is controlled by a trigger signal generated by the operation control circuit to cause the periodical discharge of the capacitor.

7. The ignition device of claim 1, wherein the operation control system includes a pace oscillator, and the charger is allowed to operate only in a presence of a signal from the pace oscillator.

8. The ignition device of claim 7, wherein a trigger signal that is applied to the switch is generated by a logical combination of a signal from the pace oscillator and a one-time signal, or directly by the signal of the pace oscillator.

9. The ignition device of claim 1, wherein the operation control system is configured to stop the operation of the charger when an external command signal remains active longer than a predefined time.

10. A method of operating an ignition device, the ignition device comprising:

a capacitor;

a transformer having a primary winding connected to the capacitor; a high voltage output circuit comprising a secondary winding of the transformer; a switch that enables the capacitor to be discharged through the primary winding of the transformer; and

a charger comprising a pulse width modulation control circuit configured to control charging of the capacitor,

the method comprising:

controlling the charger to cause periodical charging of the capacitor; and

controlling the switch to cause periodical discharging of the capacitor and consequently a high voltage to be present at an output of the high voltage output circuit.

11. The method of claim 10, further comprising controlling the charger to supply limited momentary power and to activate the charger for a predetermined amount of time.

12. The method of claim 10, further comprising preventing a reverse voltage from being applied to a voltage supply that supplies voltage to the charger by providing a switch having a reverse blocking capacity.

13. The method of claim 10, wherein the pulse width modulation circuit comprises a voltage feedback circuit and controlling a maximum voltage to which the capacitor can be charged.

14. The method of claim 10, further comprising sensing a voltage and stopping the charging the capacitor when a voltage sensed exceeds a predefined voltage level.

15. The method of claim 10, further comprising controlling the switch with a trigger signal to cause the periodical discharge of the capacitor.

16. The method of claim 10, wherein the ignition device includes a pace oscillator, and the method further comprises enabling the charger only in a presence of a signal from the pace oscillator.

17. The method of claim 16, further comprising generating a trigger signal that is applied to the switch by logically combining the signal from the pace oscillator and a one-time signal, or directly by the signal from the pace generator.

18. The method of claim 10, further comprising stopping the operation of the charger when an external command signal remains active longer than a predefined time.

Description:
IGNITION DEVICE FOR GTAW WELDING EQUIPMENT

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. non-provisional application no. 15/630,737, filed June 22, 2017, and claims priority provisional application no. 62/510,885, filed May 25, 2017, the contents of both of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] The present embodiment is related to gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) equipment, and in particular to an arc starting or ignition device.

BACKGROUND

[0003] In a welding apparatus, a power supply that supplies an electric arc is a basic part. The power supply, dependently on a method of electric welding, may deliver an electric power of different parameters. An output voltage of any type of the welding power supply is limited to levels defined by the needs of a welding method, safety requirements and a wide understood effectiveness of the apparatus. As a rule, the maximum voltage is far too low to cause an electric breakdown from a working electrode to a workpiece at usual operating distances. Therefore a start of welding may transpire in a contact manner. In this case, the welding starts from a direct contact of a working electrode and the workpiece. After an activation of the power supply, when a certain current flows out of the power supply, the contact is terminated, causing a surge of the voltage and an electric arc between the electrode and the workpiece. Alternatively to the contact method, the welding may begin without the contact of the electrode and the subject. In this alternative case, the welding apparatus comprises an auxiliary device, which for a short time, delivers a voltage high enough to cause electric breakdown between the electrode and the welded subject and further starts the electric arc and the welding process.

BRIEF SUMMARY

[0004] In GTAW welding it is expected to start the arc without the contact of an electrode and a workpiece. The ignition device according to the embodiments described herein provides the high voltage needed for the ignition of the electric arc along with high reliability and high safety secured by control of the voltage, the energy and the time of operation.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0005] FIG. 1 depicts a functional circuit diagram of an ignition device in accordance with an example embodiment.

[0006] FIG. 2 depicts time diagrams of several signals in the ignition device in accordance with an example embodiment.

[0007] FIG. 3 depicts time diagrams of the voltage on a charging capacitor with an increased time scale in accordance with an example embodiment.

DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

[0008] The embodiments described herein employ a capacitor discharge arc ignition device that is suitable for non-contact arc start for GTAW welding.

[0009] The principle of the operation of a capacitor discharge arc ignition device is as follows. In a first cycle of operation, a capacitor is charged up to a predetermined voltage level by a charger circuit. Once charged, the capacitor is discharged into a high voltage output circuit comprising the serial connection of the capacitor, a switch and an air or gas gap, between electrodes. In a particular implementation, the serial connection may include a high voltage transformer to obtain the high voltage needed to ionize the atmosphere and create an arc used for welding.

[0010] When used in the context of GTAW, and in accordance with the embodiments described herein, the ignition device is configured to provide a reliable non-contact start of the process, and provide an improved level of safety for the operator.

[0011] In the present embodiments, and at a high level, the ignition device includes an accumulating capacitor, a charger, a discharging switch and a high frequency, high voltage transformer. The charger periodically charges the capacitor. The capacitor is periodically discharged through a primary winding of the high voltage transformer by means of the discharging switch. The high voltage secondary winding of the transformer then delivers high voltage to a gap between an electrode and the workpiece. Due to inductances and capacitances of the circuit, the discharge process progresses in a resonant fashion. The process is damped according to losses in the gap and losses in all elements of the resonating circuit.

[0012] In accordance with the example embodiments, the voltage level to which the capacitor is charged is controlled in three ways, thus providing reliability and safety by keeping the voltage, charge and released energy within acceptable limits.

[0013] In an embodiment, the time of a "one-time operation" (i.e., a time of operation within an active external control signal) is limited to a particular value, providing reliability and safety by limiting the energy released within one cycle and disabling permanent generation of the high voltage in the case of failure resulting in the permanent activation of an external control line or start signal.

[0014] FIG. 1 depicts a functional circuit diagram of an ignition device 100 in accordance with an example embodiment. The diagram depicts both functional block and discrete elements.

[0015] FIG. 2 depicts timing diagrams for several signals in the ignition device in accordance with an example embodiment. As will be explained in more detail below, the diagram shows, among other things, that an unintentional unlimited start signal (START) is internally limited to a predefined limit (ONE-TIME signal). The next operation may be started after removal of the start signal and consequent start activation. The low frequency or pace oscillator G2 in a particular embodiment stops the operation. However in another embodiment, the oscillator G2 may continue its operation, while the charging of the capacitor is disabled in another way.

Trigger pulses (TRIGGER) fire the discharging switch are also shown. The last time diagram shows the voltage on the capacitor (Vci) during the cycle of the operation.

[0016] FIG. 3 depicts the time diagrams of the voltage on the charging capacitor with an increased time scale, to more clearly illustrate the charge and discharge process and to show the voltage levels Vcn and Vci3. The voltage level Vci2 is not shown in the figure. Vci2 is expected to be greater than Vcn, and lower than Vci3, however these are not obligatory conditions.

[0017] Referring to FIG. 1, in the ignition device 100, the charger 110, which is configured as a flyback converter, charges capacitor CI. The charger 110 comprises coupled inductor Tl with primary winding of inductance LI and secondary winding of inductance L2, a switch SI having a reverse blocking capacity, presented as a serial connection of a MOSFET transistor VI and diode V2, secondary rectifier V3 and a pulse width modulation (PWM) control circuit Nl 120 operating on the principle of the peak current mode (PCM).

[0018] PMW control circuit Nl 120 may be an integrated control circuit and comprises oscillator Gl, producing short pulses of high frequency f 0S c, voltage feedback amplifier Al, and a maximum current limiter in the form of resistor Rl and Zener diode V6. PMW control circuit Nl 120 further comprises peak current comparator A2, PWM latch Dl, and output logic element (AND gate) D2. PMW control circuit Nl 120 may still further include a T-trigger D3, which divides the frequency of the operation (fosc) by, e.g., two and thus limits the maximum duty cycle to 50%. PMW control circuit Nl 120 includes a control input ON/ OFF , which starts and stops the operation. Although not shown in the figure, the operation may be stopped by, e.g., stopping oscillator Gl, among other approaches, such that MOSFET VI is precluded from being turned on, and such that current does not flow through the primary winding of Tl .

[0019] The charger is supplied from an external direct current low voltage supply VDC.

[0020] The ignition device 100 of the present embodiments further includes an operation control circuit 140 comprising low frequency oscillator G2, having a predefined frequency and generating pulses of predefined width ton (see FIGs. 2 and 3).

[0021] The signal from the low frequency oscillator G2 is applied to AND logic gate D5 enabling the operation of the charger 110 only during the active pulse within the ton time through the control input ON/ OFF . Thus, the charger 110 operates during the ton time. On the down slope of the ton pulse, the trigger pulse is generated by the monoflop D6. A switch S2 of the reverse conductivity, presented as a thyristor V4 with a diode V5 is thus activated closing the circuit of serial connection of the primary winding zl of the high voltage transformer T2, and the capacitor CI . Reverse conductivity through V5is required due to the resonant character of the discharge. The output winding z2 of the transformer T2 is connected to the gas gap, i.e., the high voltage output (HV OUTPUT) of high voltage output circuit 130. The high voltage output circuit 130 may include a clamping circuit Fl . Once switch S2 (thyristor V4) is activated, the high voltage appears at the gas gap, ionizing the space between the electrodes, thus creating the conductive path to enable a low voltage GTWA arc. The GTWA welding power supply interconnection to the ignition device 100 is not depicted in FIG. 1 as it is not relevant to the present embodiments.

[0022] The charger 110 and PMW control circuit 120 work on the principle of a flyback converter in discontinuous current mode operation (DCM). Every pulse from the oscillator Gl sets the PWM latch Dl . On the downslope of the pulse from oscillator, the control output OUT activates the switch SI by applying an appropriate voltage to the gate of VI . Thus, the current in the primary winding LI increases starting from the zero. The current is sensed using resistor R2 and a current sense signal CS is delivered to the PWM control circuit comparator A2. Once the current reaches the value equal to the voltage on the + input of the comparator A2 divided by the resistance R2, the PWM control circuit latch Dl is reset, switching off the output signal OUT. The voltage on windings LI, L2 reverses and the current in the coupled inductor Tl starts to flow through the diode V5 charging the capacitor CI. The cycle is repeated on every pulse of Gl oscillator.

[0023] Initially, the current in the winding LI increases to the certain maximum value, defined by the reference voltage Vz from the V6 reference diode, and the resistance of R2. When the voltage of the capacitor CI reaches the Vcn level (FIG. 2) the voltage feedback amplifier Al starts to decrease the current reference. Thus, the voltage feedback loop is closed and the charger keeps the voltage on the capacitor CI at the level Vcn. In this way the voltage on the capacitor is regulated in a first way.

[0024] Due to importance of the Vci voltage level, second, separate, overvoltage protection is implemented. Specifically, the comparator A3 resets the trigger D7 once voltage Vci2 is reached. The trigger D7 is reset on every absence of the pulse from pace oscillator G2. Thus the voltage on capacitor CI cannot be greater than Vci2, even under a scenario in which the voltage feedback loop comprising voltage feedback amplifier Al does not work.

[0025] The maximum voltage on the capacitor CI is limited in a third way to a level Vci3. Since the peak current in the primary winding LI of the coupled inductor Tl is limited to the value Vz/R2, and the charging time is limited to the ton, the maximum voltage on the capacitor CI is limited to the value:

[0026] If the PWM control circuit Nl 120 includes T-trigger D3, then

[0027] Thus, in accordance with the embodiments described herein there is provided an ignition device that includes a charger, a pulse width modulation control circuit that is configured to control charging of a capacitor of the charger, a high voltage output circuit electrically connected to the capacitor and comprising a switch that enables the capacitor to be discharged, and an operation control circuit that controls the switch to cause a high voltage to be present at an output of the high voltage output circuit

[0028] The embodiments described herein provide several distinctive features, including a charger employing a flyback converter with a switch having a reverse blocking capacity, triple control over the charging voltage, and a limited ignition operation time.

[0029] More specifically, the accumulating capacitor CI is charged from the flyback converter with switch SI having a reverse blocking capacity as a result of diode V2. Diode V2 protects the converter and the voltage supply VDC against reverse voltage, which appears during the resonance of the accumulating capacitor CI and the external inductances and capacitances.

[0030] The maximum voltage on the accumulating capacitor CI is limited in three ways. First, the flyback converter has accurately defined momentary power and accurately defined time of the operation. The capacitor has accurate capacitance. In this way, the portion of energy and consequently the maximum capacitor's voltage is well defined. Second, the flyback converter comprises a voltage feedback loop via Al, thus the capacitor's voltage is well defined. Third, a backup voltage feedback loop via A3 with latch D7 disables the operation of the flyback converter when the capacitor's voltage is too high.

[0031] Finally, the one-time operation of the unit is internally limited. On presence of the START signal on the input of the timer D4, its output (ONE-TIME signal) is activated, but only for time not longer than a predefined or predetermined time. Further, the output of the timer D4 is not active in absence of the START signal. The ONE-TIME signal enables the operation of the unit by means of the gate D5. In this way the equipment is protected against a general failure wherein the unit is driven by an inadvertently applied permanent START signal. In addition, due to this time limit, total energy and total charge delivered by the unit within one cycle of welding are limited.

[0032] The above description is intended by way of example only. Various modifications and structural changes may be made therein without departing from the scope of the concepts described herein and within the scope and range of equivalents of the claims.