Solid electrode holders
Solid electrode holders



Spot welder features

A fine-spot welder is one of the few equipment where building yourself is cheaper than buying. There are already published a lot of DIY spot welders, this one has some unique features:

  • It can be used in 2 welding applications: opposed and series configuration.
  • The construction is kept very simple.
  • Accurate electrode force adjustment.
  • It has a solid electrode holder, made of a radiator earthing clamp.
  • An Arduino microcontroller is used to set the weld time accurately.
  • Creates a double pulse which improves clamping.
  • The current can be reduced for welding sensitive parts.

DIY spot welder, the construction is kept very simple
DIY spot welder, the construction is kept very simple

Microwave oven repair safety precautions

Working on a microwave oven is extremely dangerous. You will normally NOT survive the high voltage, the available power of more than 1000W is enough to kill you instantly like an electric chair. Please read this article first

Microwave-danger

Spot welder controller board

I have developed the D.I.Y spot welder because I needed a special spot welder for the building of my Maxun One solar bike. It turned out that the spot welder is being built by many people worldwide. Because the electronics was not so easy to build, I have made a printed circuit board, which is for sale, together with some other parts.

Spotwelder-circuit

Spot welder series configuration

DIY battery tab resistance fine-spot welder with housing
DIY battery tab resistance fine-spot welder with housing
Solid electrode holders
Solid electrode holders

Spot welder opposed configuration

Spot welder opposed configuration
Spot welder opposed configuration
Spot welder opposed configuration
Spot welder opposed configuration
Solid electrode holders
Solid electrode holders

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High voltage!

Pay attention: the PCB is directly connected to the mains, just the low voltage part is safe. Usage is at your own risk.

Warning

Questions

If you have any questions, please post them on instructables.com.

Electrical data

  • Weld current: 1100A or 400A
  • Open voltage: 2.6V
  • Mains current during the weld pulse: 14A
  • Quiescent current: 1.6A

Maximum welding thickness

Light duty portable spot welding guns have a welding current of at least 4000A, which allow welding of 2 x 1mm low carbon steel sheets. The DIY spot welder just delivers 1100A, which is fine for welding small electronic parts. Although I have seen that people have welded 2 x 0.75 mm sheets with this kind of spot welders.

Battery tab welding parameters

Battery tab welded
Battery tab welded

For nickel plated steel strip of 0.15mm thickness, this is used most.

  • Weld electrode force 400g (4N)
  • Weld pulse time 100ms
  • Current 1100A
  • Electrode diameter 1.5mm
  • Electrode outer distance 5mm

Professional battery tab welding machine
Professional battery tab welding machine

Spot welding notes

Series configuration spot welding

The electrodes are both on the same side. It is very important that the force of both electrodes is almost identical; otherwise one side will be welded poorly.

Opposed configuration spot welding

This is most used; the parts to be welded are clamped between the electrodes.

Weld current measuring

You can determine the weld current by measuring the voltage across a certain distance of the weld cable.
Calculate the weld current as follow:
I = U * diameter [mm2] / (0.0175 * length [m])
For the measurement of the weld current, two wires are attached to a weld cable at a distance of 44.5cm. The voltage at short circuit is 0.34V; so the maximum weld current = 0.34V * 25mm2 / (0.0175 * 0.445m) = 1100A.

Weld current measurement
Weld current measurement

Double pulse

A double pulse improves the weld quality. The first pulse, which is short, will soften the metal. The second pulse is the weld pulse. During the pause between the two pulses, the parts come closer together and make better contact.

Weld times

The first pulse, the pre-weld pulse, is 50ms. The second pulse, the weld pulse, can be set by the rotary switch in steps of 50ms. I found out that a weld time of 50 to 250ms works fine in many cases.

Weld current reducing

A welding current of 1100A may be too high, so a current reducing is useful. A 50W wire wound resistor of 27ohm in series with the mains reduces the weld current to about 400A. Note that the resistor is 120% overloaded, but the pulse overload capability of a WH50 wire wound resistor allows this.

A heater or hair dryer as power resistance

In order to determine which resistance was necessary to get a certain weld current, I took a heater and a hair dryer as resistors. These can be combined in series or parallel to get the desired resistance.

Spot welder construction

Plywood panel

All parts are mounted on a 15mm thick shuttering plywood panel of 15cm x 18cm. Note that the power board is an old prototype and has been replaced by the new spot welder PCB.

DIY battery tab resistance fine-spot welder
DIY battery tab resistance fine-spot welder
DIY battery tab resistance fine-spot welder
DIY battery tab resistance fine-spot welder

Microwave oven transformer

Try to get a transformer out of a defect microwave oven with a power of 800W ... 1100W, the higher the better. Note that some high power microwave ovens use an electronic HV power inverter instead of a transformer to save weight, you can't use these:

Panasonic microwave oven high voltage power module
Panasonic microwave oven high voltage power module

Saw one side the secondary winding off with a metal saw. Then push the winding out of the core with a tailored wooden block and a large hammer. The magnetic shunt in between the primary and secondary winding limits the current and has to be removed:

Remove the magnetic shunt
Remove the magnetic shunt


Use 3 secondary windings. You can glue them with PU glue, moisten it to let it lather.

Removing secondary winding from microwave oven transformer
Removing secondary winding from microwave oven transformer
Removing secondary winding from microwave oven transformer
Removing secondary winding from microwave oven transformer

Electrode arms

The two electrode arms are made of 20mm wide U-shape aluminium profile.

Electrode arms joint

Mount the arms together with a 4mm shoulder bolt:

4mm shoulder bolt
4mm shoulder bolt

The two aluminium arm joints and the shoulder bolt should be isolated from each other to avoid short circuit. Therefore the bolt-hole in the right aluminium arm joint is 2mm larger than the bolt diameter, thus 6mm. The isolation between the arm joints is created by epoxy printed circuit boards, of 80 x 20mm and 16 x 20mm.
The friction between the arms should be very low; this is created by the epoxy board between them. Also an epoxy board of 80 x 20mm together with an aluminium plate of 80 x 20mm is placed between the left arm and the plywood panel. Tighten the bolt in such a way that the friction is small but the clearance is not too high.

Electrode arms joint
Electrode arms joint
Electrode arms joint
Electrode arms joint
Electrode arms joint
Electrode arms joint
Electrode arms joint
Electrode arms joint

Electrode holder

The electrode holders are made of 20mm wide rectangular brass radiator earth clamp. Unfortunately these are in most countries not to get, I sell them HERE. Drill a 4mm hole in the middle for the mounting screw. Enlarge the hole for the welding cable to 7mm. 

Radiator earthing clamp
Radiator earthing clamp

This earth terminal is not available in all countries. But there are good alternatives on eBay; search by "Terminal Grounding Bus Bar". 

Welding cable

Use a flexible 3AWG / 25mm2 welding cable with a length of 140cm, this allows 3 windings. I have examined if a thicker cable give a higher weld current, this was not the case. The weld current is limited by the transformer itself. 
Since the electrode force is critical, the welding arms should be able to move freely, not hindered by the stiffness of the cables. Therefore, the cables have a large bend. Don't use solid cable, welding cable is flexible and will cost just about $15/m.

Spot welder electrodes

It is important to use a pure copper bar. No brass or electrical wire, which is soft annealed. Use a square bar with the same size as the electrode holder slot, or file the bar to the appropriate size. I use a tip diameter of 1.5mm. To keep it simple you can file the electrode tip square instead of round. I sell suitable copper bars HERE.

Spot welder electrodes
Spot welder electrodes
Spot welder electrode holder
Spot welder electrode holder

Clean the welding electrode tips periodically with sandpaper.

Spring clamps

The electrode force is an equally important parameter as the other weld parameters such as the weld current and pulse time. Here we use two small spring clamps. Adjust the electrode force by shifting the position of the spring clamp and measure the force with a kitchen weighing scale:

Weld electrode force adjustment
Weld electrode force adjustment

Press new spring clamps a couple of times completely in. You can change the clamping force by bending the spring. See here how to re mount a spring clamp:

Re mount a spring clamp
Re mount a spring clamp

Operating lever

I used nylon plate of 5mm thickness, which I have sawn out with a fretsaw. Other plastic materials can be used but may produce a beeping sound on aluminum.

Operating lever
Operating lever

Operating lever
Operating lever

Housing

The housing is made of 2mm polystyrene panel:

DIY battery tab resistance fine-spot welder with housing
DIY battery tab resistance fine-spot welder with housing

Spotwelder from Antoine Dassenoy

Spotwelder from Antoine Dassenoy
Spotwelder from Antoine Dassenoy

Spotwelder from Antoine Dassenoy
Spotwelder from Antoine Dassenoy
 

Spotwelder from Tom Weeber

Tom Weeber has built a very professional version of the spot welder:

Spot-welder
Spot-welder

Spot-welder
Spot-welder

Spot-welder
Spot-welder

Spot-welder
Spot-welder

Spot-welder
Spot-welder

Spot-welder
Spot-welder

Do you have any comments? Please let me know.
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