The Latest Hot Air Tool Resources
"If no one would create the hot-air welder contractors were demanding, we would."
I’ve been in the roofing industry throughout my entire career. I started as a contractor, and eventually launched my own roofing equipment distribution company, Hy-Tech Products.
From 1984 through 2014 (the year I sold the company to my son), I had the chance to work with many roofers across the Midwest. During that time, we sold and serviced hundreds of automatic seam welders. We also received no shortage of… lets say…“colorful feedback” on their drawbacks.
Most frequently, the concerns centered on two areas:
- The safety and well being of employees. The question we heard all the time was, “Why do my guys have to walk backward on a roof?”
- The inefficiency associated with lugging a welder and all associated power equipment across the roof to start welding the next seam.
We were also bothered by the fact that welder technology hadn’t been upgraded in decades. The most significant advancements in the past 15 years were a digital interface and preset welding profiles.
Meanwhile, most other industries improved worker safety, performance and efficiency thanks to significant technological advancements.
“The roofing industry had been forgotten by those who profit from it.”
The conclusion we drew was the top hot-air tool manufacturers saw little reward in product research and development. Roofing contractors had been forgotten by those who profit from them.
We were beyond fed up with the sorry state of roofing welders, so we decided to take action.
If no one would create the hot-air tool contractors were demanding, we would. And in doing so, we'd take the industry in an entirely new direction.
A Like-Minded Partner
“We were creating a completely revolutionary tool from the ground up.”
Our first step was to find a manufacturing partner, but it couldn’t be just anyone. We wanted an organization with a track record of producing high quality, reliable equipment.
Through a fortunate series of events, we were introduced to Miller Weldmaster. They fit the bill perfectly for the mission we were undertaking. For more than 40 years, they’ve produced top-of-the-line welding equipment across a wide range of applications and industries—however, at the time, they had no in-the-field roofing welders.
We met with Miller Weldmaster's team, and introduced our vision for a new automatic seam welder. After hearing our impassioned pitch and exploring the market potential, they were onboard. Soon thereafter, we began the design phase.
We met regularly to discuss features, electronics, look, size, weight and everything between. During this time, Miller Weldmaster certainly lived up to their impeccable reputation. Their product development insights were invaluable, and they had no established manufacturing processes to lock us into how the tool could be built.
We were creating a completely revolutionary tool from the ground up.
The First of Its Kind
Question: What do you get when you fuse roofing experience, customer feedback, and engineering capabilities?
Answer: A revolutionary machine that redefines the standard for hot-air seam welders.
We named our welder the Seamrover DD, with the “DD” signifying Dual Direction. This heavy-duty machine gives roofers:
- A dual-direction drive so they can always walk forward, no matter which way the welder is going.
- GPS for tracking the welder’s movement and speed throughout a project.
- An easily exportable record of weld settings, location and environmental factors that logs every foot traveled for later review and inspection.
- Built-in weights over two soft-core press wheels for even, consistent seam pressure.
- Two oversized press wheels to compensate for slight deviations off the seam.
- And much more
At the 2016 IRE Show, alongside Miller Weldmaster, we introduced the Seamrover DD to the roofing industry. The reception was overwhelming.
During one demo, we showed a crowd how easily the welder can change direction. In two words, Chip Goss, president of J. Wilhelm Roofing Co., summed up the reaction of everyone who'd visited our booth, “HOLY SH*T!”
A 25-year roofing veteran, Chip told us what most excited him was the huge labor savings that comes with eliminating the need walk across a roof just to start a new seam.
Just Getting Warmed Up
We are working with Miller Weldmaster to introduce a brand new family of roofing hot-air tools and equipment—based on the needs of you, the roofer.
Stay tunes for new product announcements.
In 1966, a German company named Trocal formulated and introduced the world to PVC roofing membranes. Within a few years, PVC membranes covered millions of square feet on rooftops across Europe. Not even a decade later, vinyl roofing began appearing across U.S. rooftops.
One of the reasons PVC, and eventually TPO membranes in the early 90s, became and remain so popular is their excellent installation productivity compared to alternatives.
This is in no small part thanks to the invention of automatic hot-air seam welders. Hot-air seam welders are fast and effective at creating strong, permanent bonds between fabric sheets.
Hot-Air Roofing Welders are Inherently Flawed
Unfortunately, because the process of installing PVC and TPO sheets has evolved very little over the last 50 years, there hasn’t been much motivation to advance hot-air roofing welders.
As a result, the tools have remained fundamentally unchanged. The handful of manufacturers that dominate the welder market are content making only small, incremental enhancements.
However, if you listen to the boots on the deck, you’ll quickly understand the inherent, fundamental flaws associated with these welders:
- Safety: All of the top-selling welders on the market require users to walk backwards. Walking backwards means you have to turn almost completely around to check for tripping hazards that can result in a fall and injury.
- Seam Quality: What’s sacrificed for safety is seam quality. By watching where you’re walking, you can’t monitor how closely the welder aligns with the seam. A roofer should never have to choose between safety and job performance.
- Efficiency: Because welders only go in one direction, after finishing a seam, you must walk the welder and all associated equipment (i.e. power cords, generators, etc.) back to the other side of the roof to start again. Depending on the length of the roof, this can add up to a huge amount of unproductive time and needless wear and tear on the machine.
Another drawback of today’s hot-air welders is outdated technology. The technology currently exists to monitor post-weld temperature, measure humidity levels, track GPS location, and so much more. However, the only recent technological advances made by today’s welders are digital interfaces and programmable profile settings. Thermostats can do more than that.
Pushing Welders Forward 50 years
It’s time someone pushes the hot-air welder market forward, into this century. It’s time someone creates a technologically superior tool that is built—first and foremost—with roofer safety and efficiency in mind.
That time has come, and that “someone” is Industrial Heat Sources and Miller Weldmaster.
Industrial Heat Sources has been working with Miller Weldmaster to revolutionize hot-air roof welding. We took our decades of experience working with roofers and hot-air welding equipment, as well as the feedback we’ve collected from our customers, and pitched Miller Weldmaster on creating a revolutionary new tool.
The result is the new Seamrover DD—the world’s first and only dual direction hot-air welder.
This hot-air tool:
- Welds roof seams like you’d cut grass—At the end of a seam, move over to the next seam and head back the other way. This improves efficiency by 30-35%.
- Moves forward—Keep your attention on the two things that matter most, where you’re walking and the machine’s alignment with the seam.
- Captures, saves and exports data—Percent airflow, temperature, speed, ambient temperature, surface temperature post weld, power voltage, percent humidity, and more are all recorded on the Seamrover DD’s SD card. Save a record of every weld, export data from the card at anytime and upload it to a computer for reference later.
- Tracks location with GPS—Every foot, the welder records a snapshot of its position on a roof and weld data. This means, you can now quickly zero in on potential problem areas for warranty repairs to within 15 feet.
- Eliminates fumbling with and losing welder weights—Weights are built-in and evenly distributed over the press wheels, instead of removable plates that can get damaged or lost.
- Stop weld inconsistencies like voids or fish-mouth gaps—Compensate for slightly veering off a seam with oversized press wheels that give an extra 1/4-in. of seam overlap.
- Ensures consistent welds despite roof imperfections—Flexible press wheel cores create even pressure on the seam and a floating nozzle moves up and own with any roof inconsistencies.
- Significantly increased welding speeds—A new, patent-pending nozzle design and on board air blower allows for faster more efficient heat delivery.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Checkout all the Seamrover DD’s features to learn more on how this welder redefines safety, quality and efficiency, or contact us to speak with a sales rep.
If your hot-air tool isn’t reaching the proper temperature, or doesn’t get as hot as it once did. You may have a faulty heating element.
To check your heating element for defects, simply look at the front of it after it has heated up. If it’s working properly, the entire front-end should glow orange. In the image below, only half of the hot-air welding tool's heating element is illuminated, even though the machine is set at its maximum heat setting. This signals that the heating element is broken, and requires maintenance.
Safety Note: To avoid burns, don’t put any part of your body directly in front of the heat element while it is on and blowing air. Stand a minimum 10 feet back.
Fixing a Clogged Heat Element Nozzle
Damage of this type can be caused by a clogged nozzle, which limits the amount of air pushed through the element. When too little air escapes, pressure grows within the hot-air tool, causing the element to overheat and burn out.
To prevent this buildup, it’s important to clean off excess plastic from both the top and sides of the nozzle after every weld, using a stainless steel wire brush. See below for some tips:
- Use a motion away from your body when scraping the plastic.
- Make sure to clean the element while the nozzle is still hot. Once the plastic cools and hardens, the job becomes much more difficult.
- Protect your hands and eyes from heat and melted plastic by wearing protective gloves and glasses, and holding the tool in a clamp.
By routinely cleaning hot-air tool nozzles after every use, you can help to extend the life of the element. This will reduce unnecessary downtime, and save you money in ongoing maintenance and supply replenishment.
If you’re still having pour heat output after cleaning the nozzle, please contact IHS’ service center for assistance.
In roofing, you'll often be required to perform an overlap weld to join two pieces of thermoplastic (i.e. TPO, PVC, PPE), or plastic-coated fabrics. Below we've outlined the steps to seam welding with a hot-air hand tool.
NOTE: Before welding your final product, perform a test weld on scrap material. This ensures that you’re using the proper heat settings and welding technique. We’ve also included tips on how to test the quality of your weld, and how to adjust your hot-air hand tool based on the results of this test.
- Attach an overlap welding nozzle to your hand tool, and preheat it to the proper welding temperature.
- Overlap the two pieces of plastic material, or plastic coated fabric, by 1-2 inches.
- Insert the nozzle between the fabric pieces, and place the pressure roller on the top fabric near the end of the nozzle.
- Heat the material, and simultaneously apply direct pressure with the pressure roller to secure the bond.
- Make sure to weld all the way to the seam edge, and ensure that there are no gaps or voids.
To quality test your overlap weld, join two pieces of scrap material together, let the seam cool for 10-15 seconds, and then rip the pieces apart. With a good weld, part of the welded fabric will be stuck to the other piece, and you will see the fabric’s scrim.
If only part of the fabric tears away and/or no scrim is showing, you’ll need to apply more heat, increase the pressure or weld slower. If the fabric bubbles or distorts or if the scrim melts, you’ll need to turn down the heat and/or weld faster.
For more information on how to weld with a hot-air hand tool, contact one of our representatives at email@example.com.
Power supply plays a huge role in an automatic hot-air welder’s performance and life. Inconsistent power supply from a portable generator will cause the welder’s performance to suffer and can damage internal electrical components, rendering the tool useless.
In this post, we’ll take a look at what inconsistent power looks like, its effects and what to look for in a portable generator.
What Inconsistent Power Looks Like
Alternating Current, or AC, gets its name because the electricity flow alternates back and forth between positive and negative, creating a sine wave (as seen below). In ideal conditions, this sine wave is a smooth line that flows up and then down consistently over a specific time interval.
Source: Associated Power Technologies
However, many factors can cause inconsistencies, which appear as spikes or valleys on the sine curve. These inconsistencies are known as harmonic distortions.
Power supply consistency is measured in total harmonic distortion—the average percentage a portable generator’s AC flow differs from what it would be under ideal conditions.
The larger and more frequent the inconsistencies, the higher the total harmonic distortion percentage.
What Power Inconsistency Means to Hot-Air Welders
These electric current spikes and valleys can negatively impact your welder’s performance, and even damage internal electrical components.
- Valleys represent a decrease in electricity flow, which limits the amount of electricity entering the welder. While sporadic, small valleys won’t result in any noticeable effects, large, sustained valleys will cause decreased temperature and airflow despite the welder’s setting, which can translate into a weak weld.
- Spikes represent electrical surges that flow into your welder. Large surges, or small-to-medium surges over an extended period of time, begin to overheat and damage internal components, like a heating element or control panel. This can shorten the component’s life or, if the spikes are big enough, short out and melt these parts immediately.
Automatic welders with digital displays and control interfaces, like the Seamrover DD, are often more prone to damage as a result of power inconsistencies because their internal electrical components are more advanced. However, less technical tools can also suffer from power inconsistencies.
What to Look For in a Portable Generator
If you use a portable generator and your hot-air welder regularly sustains damage to heating elements or internal electrical components, or you experience inconsistent weld quality, it may be time to consider a new portable generator.
NOTE: Please speak to an IHS techician before purchasing a portable generator, because inconsistent power may not be the actual cause of your welder’s issues.
Most manufacturers will publish their portable generator’s total harmonic distortion on sales collateral and/or its website. When shopping for a new generator, ask for this percentage for both when the generator is running idle and under full load (all power outlets in use).
The IEEE Standard 519 recommends that computer-controlled equipment, and any allied equipment, such as programmable controllers, use an AC power source with no more than 5% harmonic voltage distortion, with no single harmonic being more than 3%.
While portable generators with lower total harmonic distortions may cost more in the short term, replacing damaged welder components or ripping up and repairing poorly welded roofing systems, pond liners, landfill liners or large signage, can end up costing more in the long term.
If you have any questions regarding portable generators, contact IHS’ certified representatives at 844-862-7880 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are in the market for a new portable generator, our sister company—Hy-Tech Products—offers its own line of portable generators. These generators were designed specifically to operate hot air welding equipment and tools. They operate at 5% total harmonic distortion while idling and 3% under a full load.
Single-ply membranes, such as PVC and TPO, are ideally suited for commercial roofing systems because they are durable and easy to work with, come in different thicknesses, are watertight, and can contain additives for flexibility, UV protection and color. However, as with all roofing systems, they require regular inspection and upkeep.
It is not uncommon for storms, debris or man-made objects to puncture or tear a single-ply sheet, which if not immediately addressed can lead to water damage and other issues. Fortunately, with the right tools and technique, this damage can be quickly remedied by hot-air welding a patch over the hole or rip.
Following are instructions on how to hot-air weld a patch onto a single-ply roofing membrane.
Step 1: Collect Your Tools
To weld a single-ply patch in place, you’ll need the proper equipment:
- Hot-air hand tool—A handheld heat source that can be easily moved around the patch to access all sides of the patch, such as ELITEAIR.
- Overlap nozzle—Flat-tipped nozzle that lets you easily apply hot air directly at the point where the roofing material and patch come into contact.
- Pressure roller—This will help you apply the necessary pressure to the heated patch and roofing material to ensure that a strong bond is formed.
- Metal prod—Small metal pointed device, used to make sure the seam edge is completely welded.
Step 2: Create a Patch
Using the same material as the roofing membrane, take a razor blade and cut a patch to place over the puncture or tear that stretches out 3-4 inches past the hole in all directions.
Step 3: Clean the Patch and Surface Material
Next, make sure both the patch and surface material are free of any debris, dust, oil or other contaminants. These contaminants can negatively affect the weld quality, and lead to a weak bond or no bond at all.
Step 4: Weld the Patch in Place
To weld the patch in place, follow these simple steps:
- Secure the overlap nozzle to the hot-air tool.
- Preheat the hot-air tool to the required air temperature. This will vary based on the plastic material and environment, so always perform a test weld before starting on the final patch.
- Place the patch directly over the puncture or tear so that there are several inches of overhang on each side.
- Insert the overlap nozzle between the patch and roofing membrane. In the other hand, press the pressure roller on top of the patch where the overlap nozzle ends.
- Work your way around the patch, making sure to weld the entire surface area to the roof sheet, especially the edges. NOTE: Effective plastic welding takes proper technique, which comes with time and practice.
Step 5: Test the Patch Seam for Gaps
Once complete, let the patch cool for several minutes, and then run your metal prod along the seam edge to ensure there are no gaps or voids. If there are, re-weld that area.
Even the smallest gaps or voids can allow water in, which over time will widen the problem area and eventually lead to water damage.
If you have any questions about this process, or would like more information on hot-air hand tools, please contact one of our technical representatives at 844-862-7880 or email email@example.com.
Proper use and maintenance can keep your hot-air plastic welder in peak operating condition. Prevent downtime, maintain maximum performance and extend your tool’s life expectancy with these 6 preventative maintenance tips.
1. Clean Tools Regularly
After every use, make sure that filters and nozzles are cleaned of any obstructions. Regular cleaning prevents melted-on plastic and debris from building up, which can restrict airflow, cause temperature fluctuations and inconsistencies, and lead to element burnouts.
To clean nozzles, put on protective gloves and goggles. Then, while the nozzle is still hot, scrape the melted plastic away with a stainless steel or brass wire brush. Use a motion that goes away from your body, and continue until the nozzle looks smooth (avoid touching).
To clean filters, you should use mild soap, water, silicone and/or compressed air to remove blockages.
2. Apply Air Filters
Air filters prevent dust, debris and other contaminants from entering the tool. Be sure to use filters when working in dirty environments to prevent unwanted materials from getting into and clogging your tool’s air intake or heating element.
Keep in mind, however, that standard hot air tool air filters will not effectively remove all types of contaminants. In situations where your tool is exposed to harsh dusts (e.g. metal, electrically conductive or damp), special filters must be used.
3. Select the Right Nozzle
The wrong nozzle on a plastic welder can restrict airflow, and cause heat to back up within the tool. This hot-air backup overheats and breaks the element, and may cause damage to other parts of the machine.
Work with an IHS representative to ensure the nozzle you purchase is ideally suited for the plastic welder’s intended use.
4. Cool Your Tool — Every Time
To prolong its life, a hot-air tool’s heating element needs to be gradually cooled down after every use. This is done by blowing cool air through it until it reaches ambient temperature.
Review your plastic welder's instructions carefully. It should comes with detailed directions on how to properly cool down and shut off the tool. Make sure to cool down your tool after every use.
5. Employ the Correct Power Source
For hot-air plastic welders to function properly, they need the correct power source. Too much power can damage the tool, while too little can negatively affect its ability to produce hot air at a consistent volume and temperature.
Look up minimum power requirements in your tool’s instruction manual or on its label, and make sure your power source can consistently provide adequate power. If you have welding issues, start troubleshooting at your power source using these tips.
6. Properly Store Between Uses
When not in use, keep the plastic welder in its storage case. The case is designed to keep the tool safe from accidental contact, and away from prolonged exposure to sunlight, moisture, dirt and other elements.
Proper Maintenance = Maximized Life
Miller Weldmaster plastic welders are some of the highest quality plastic welding tools on the market, and if properly maintained and cared for, are also some of the longest lasting. Maximize the life and performance of your hot-air tool by following the steps above, and have tools regularly serviced by a certified Miller Service Center.
For more information on how to keep your plastic welder in good working condition, contact one of our sales and service representatives at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your hot-air tool is not reaching the proper temperature, taking longer to heat up, performing inconsistently, or not functioning at all, the first thing you should check is that your power source consistently produces enough current to meet the voltage requirements of the tool.
Following is a quick guide to understand your power needs, purchase a voltage tester, test your power supply, and fix power issues.
Determine Power Needs
The first thing to do is find the voltage required by your hot-air tool. This can typically be found on the tool's label or within the owner’s manual.
As you test the power source, this will be the minimum voltage required for optimal performance. Anything less, and the tool's performance will suffer.
Purchase a Voltage Tester
To test your power supply, you’ll need a voltage tester. These lightweight, handheld devices range in price from $10 to a couple hundred dollars, and can be purchased at most hardware stores, including Lowe’s, Home Depot or Sears. When selecting a voltage tester, keep the following requirements in mind:
- Registers Alternating Current (AC)—The voltage tester should register AC, as this is what powers most homes and businesses. If it registers both AC and DC, make sure you use the AC setting.
- Probes Not Clamps—Purchase a voltage tester with probes (pictured above), instead of the type with clamps (seen here). The probes are better for testing power outlets; clamps are designed for testing power flowing through a wire.
- Longer Probes—Most voltage testers come with 1/2-inch probes, which can be challenging to use on 220 volt outlets. You should purchase one with probes that are 1-2 inches in length.
Using a voltage tester is easy. Simply insert the red probe into one of the outlet receptacles, and the black probe into the other. The tester will show the power output on a digital display, or illuminate a light next to a voltage marking on the device.
Please Note: When testing power, wear insulated gloves to protect against electrical shock. Also avoid performing this test around standing water or in the rain.
If the output shown on the voltage tester is less than what is required by the hot-air tool, too little power will be supplied to the heating element, which in turn will not get hot enough to produce the required heat output.
How to Resolve Power Issues
If your generator is producing weak power output, you’ll need to contact your distributor or the manufacturer to troubleshoot the issues and determine what fixes, if any, can be made.
House Power (wall outlets)
If you’re using house power, you have several options:
- Invest in a generator that can produce the power needed. This is recommended for those professionals that work at multiple locations and often need to tap into house power, which can vary in capacity and consistency.
- Purchase a buck-boost transformer, which can be plugged into an outlet and automatically make small adjustments to alternating current to help maintain a consistent power output.
- Contact a certified electrician to examine the electrical system. A professional may be able to safely boost power output.
If the Power Source Checks Out
If your voltage tester indicates the proper output, but you are still having trouble with your performance, the problem may be a part malfunction. Contact IHS’ service center for support.
Over the past 35 years, single-ply thermoplastic membranes—such as TPO and PVC—have grown in popularity as an effective alternative to asphalt-based commercial and industrial roofing systems. This shift is largely due to single-ply’s ease of installation, relatively low cost, durability, and its energy-cost saving potential.
However, a singly-ply roofing system is only as good as its seam welds. To consistently create durable, watertight seams that can withstand heavy weathering (i.e. wind, rain, snow, standing water and sun), you’ll need to invest in the right equipment.
Following is an overview on the type of equipment needed for quality single-ply roof seam welding.
1. Automatic Walk Welder
Automatic walk welders are designed to roll along straight seams while applying consistent heat and pressure. The result is a quality, reproducible weld. When purchasing, look for a welder with:
- Digital display that shows both set and actual temperatures, giving you more control over heat output. These displays should also alert you of any malfunctions, such as a faulty heating element.
- Drive motor powerful enough to handle slight roofing inclines.
- Silicon-based pressure roller to ensure even pressure is applied to a seam despite small surface inconsistencies.
- Guide bar that will allow you to steer the machine without having to bend over, limiting fatigue and increasing daily output.
- Option to add extra weight over the pressure roller for greater seam pressure.
- Forward driving is a new feature found only in the Seamrover DD. Unlike other automatic welders, roofers can walk forward along the path of the seam versus backwards, where the potential of tripping is greater.
2. Hot-Air Hand Tool
Hot-air hand tools enable you to weld seams in corners or confined areas, and on curbs or vertical surfaces. When purchasing a heat gun, look for:
- Lightweight and ergonomic design to reduce muscle strain while holding it in various positions, or for extended periods of time.
- Heat-protection tube to avoid accidental burns.
- Overlap, or slot, welding nozzle attachment—these are specifically designed for welding two pieces of overlapped material.
3. Hand Pressure Roller
When welding with a hot-air hand tool, you’ll need a hand pressure roller to evenly press the heated material together and form a strong bond. Make sure your roller is:
- Made of silicone to ensure consistent pressure is applied despite surface inconsistencies.
- Approximately three inches wide for greater surface area coverage.
4. Wire Brush
When welding plastic materials, it is likely that some of the plastic will stick to the welder’s nozzle. A build up of this plastic can restrict airflow and potentially damage the heating element or the tool itself. Use a stainless steel or brass wire brush to scrape away the melted-on plastic while it is still hot, to keep your equipment in peak operating condition.
Poor power supply can impact a hot-air welder’s heat output, which can lead to inconsistent seam welds. For this reason, when possible, avoid relying on the building’s power outlets, and instead utilize a power generator.
To determine the generator power capacity you need, consider the electrical requirements of the tools being used and how may of these tools are operated simultaneously. Make sure the generator you select is available with a dolly cart for easy maneuvering. If possible, also get a hoisting kit, to simplify lifting the generator to the roof.
6. Extension Cords
Invest in extension cords to avoid having to repeatedly interrupt work to relocate or change your power source. Roofing power cords should offer the current carrying capacity required by your welder—for example, a 240-Volt automatic walk welder needs a 50 Amp/ 250 volt cord. The cord should also be:
- 10 gauge 3 wire
- 100 feet or less in length
The tools of any trade can pose safety risks if improperly used or maintained. To keep operators of hot-air hand tools and automatic walk welders safe, it is the responsibility of employers, supervisors and peers, to make sure proper precautions are routinely taken.
Following are 8 tips you can use to help keep Leister equipment operators safe:
Plastic Welding Safety Tips
1. Review Safety Instructions—Every operator should read their tool's safety instructions. If you have any questions, or would need further clarification on any item listed, contact your sales and service representatives.
2. Review M.S.D. Sheets—Plastics Magazine recommends reading the material safety data (M.S.D.) sheets of the plastic your welding. Among other things, these sheets are required to detail the plastic’s hazardous ingredients, fire and explosion hazard information, preventative actions, and first-aid recommendations. Request these sheets from the plastic manufacturer.
3. Train Employees—Train all personnel on how to properly use the welder(s) they will be operating. Specifically, demonstrate how to turn the welder on, run it, shut it down, clean it after use, and what to do in the case of a malfunction or emergency—for example, if a drive motor shuts down while welding or if plastic material catches fire.
4. Store Properly Between Uses—After completing a weld, an operator may set down the hot-air tool, or leave the walk welder to prep for the next weld. Because the machine will still be hot and likely blowing hot air, make sure to do the following:
- Hot-Air Hand Tools—Set the tool on a flat surface where it won’t roll, or in a stand with the nozzle pointed away from the surface. Also keep the hot-air stream and nozzle away from flammable materials and body parts to avoid the risk of fire and burns.
- Automatic Walk Welder—Secure the welding nozzle in the up, locked position, and move it away from heavy traffic areas and flammable materials.
5. Clean Work Areas—Remove any clutter from the work area to ensure a full range of movement. This helps the operator avoid knocking over or spilling anything that may damage the plastic material, catch fire, or require an immediate cleanup. Hastily setting down the tool to clean messes can lead to improper storage between use.
6. Clean Plastic Surfaces—Remove any contaminants that may be on the plastic being welded, including grease, oils, dirt and moisture. These contaminants may be fire risks or cause the plastic not to weld at all, possibly leading the operator to turn up the heat to unsafe levels to attain a weld.
7. Properly Maintain the Tool—Scrape away melted plastic after each use, and clean air filters of dust and contaminants to ensure the tool receives the proper air supply. Both of these issues can lead to heat backup and overheating. In addition, make sure to replace any frayed or sliced electrical cords to avoid accidental shock.
8. Wear Proper Attire and Equipment—Make sure all operators are wearing the proper protective equipment (PPE) to limit exposure to heated air and surfaces, as well as any airborne plastic or debris. PPE should include long sleeve shirts, pants, gloves and protective eyewear. In addition, depending on the plastic being welded and ventilation, a respirator may be necessary.
What more should companies do to protect their employees operating hot-air hand tools and automatic walk welders? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.