Feedback control of gas metal arc braze-welding using thermal signals



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In serial manufacturing processes, localized energy sources (e.g. plasma cutters, arc welders or water jets) induce material geometry transformations that yield a desired product. Simple parameter control of these energy sources does not necessarily ensure an optimal or successful part because of disturbances in the manufacturing process (material and temperature variations, etc). Currently, control in manufacturing is based on statistical process control where large databases for the manufacturing of a fixed process are available and have been compiled over several manufacturing runs. In the absence of a statistical database, and with the increased need for improved monitoring and throughput, there is need for active process control in manufacturing. In this work, Gas Metal Arc Braze-Welding (GMABW) will serve as a test-bed for the implementation of model predictive control (MPC) for a serial manufacturing process. This dissertation investigates the integration of real time modeling of the temperature field with control algorithms to control the evolving temperature field in the ix braze-welded base metal. Fundamental problems involving MPC that are addressed are modeling techniques to calculate temperature fields with reduced computational requirements and control algorithms that utilize the thermal models directly to inform the controller. The dissertation first outlines and compares analytical and computational thermal models and comparison with experimental data are obtained. A thermal model based on a metamodeling approach is used as the plant model for a classical control system and control parameters are found. Various techniques for dealing with signal noise encountered during experimentation are investigated. A proportional controller is implemented in the experimental setup that applies feedback control of the braze –welding process using thermal signals. A novel approach to MPC is explored by using a metamodel as the plant model for the braze-welding process and having the temperature trajectory dictated by the metamodel in the steady state region of the weld. Lastly, future work and extensions of this research are outlined.