Welding Technology Spotlight: Sunstone Omega PA250i
Sunstone’s new battery welding system is a cardinal welder; a welder of all welders; a welder that all welders aspire to be. The Omega PA250i is packed with versatility and holds a black belt in the martial arts of welding.
Let’s start first with versatility.
The Omega is not a one-size-fits all answer. The engineers at Sunstone recognized the need for the welder to transform readily to meet the needs of any given organization, or any given department within an organization. That’s why the Omega is available in three different configurations, being able to meet the needs of many different types of shops.
For the R&D shop, the Omega provides advanced pulse-arc technology, 5X optics and Sunstone’s lauded digital welding interface. The pulse-arc and optics duo allows any lab to test myriad configurations to find the absolute best welding schedule.
For mid-size production facilities, the Omega can be paired with a manually actuated or pneumatic weld head that can keep up with production demands. Of course, the weld head is controlled by Sunstone’s digital welding technology, so operators can expect excellent weld results.
For production facilities that are totally automated, the Omega can be paired with a CNC table using the Janome Cartesian Robot. While the Janome takes care of where the weld is placed, the Omega controls the delivery of the weld.
The Omega’s versatility makes it a good fit for any type of shop. Or, for larger organizations, the Omega can find a home with the R&D team or on the production floor.
Let’s Talk about Features
The Omega’s welding performance is made possible by Sunstone’s digital welding interface. A 10-inch color touchscreen allows the operator to control every aspect of the weld, from power to agitation to weld length.
After the operator selects the desired attributes, the weld is displayed graphically as a waveform. The operator can see in real time how the weld is affected when different settings are selected. The digital control of the weld is what allows the operator to find, produce, and replicate the perfect weld.
Weld schedules can be saved and used for another time. Schedules can also be cloned to another Omega welder in a matter of seconds. The Omega is 100% PLC ready. One or many Omega welders can be controlled from one source, which is perfect for large, automated production lines.
One feature some operators will appreciate is the Omega’s on-board automation. Simply select the type and thickness of the metals you’re working with and the Omega will suggest the right combination of settings to deliver the perfect weld.
Bread and Butter Features
The Omega can deliver up to 250 Ws of energy. The operator can dial in the power down to 1/100th of a Ws. Weld materials between .003-.030 inches (.075-.75mm) in thickness.
The operator can store up to 127 different welds with the ability to lock out other operators from making changes to saved welds or the current weld. On a production floor, when operators change from shift to shift, locking the current weld settings provides the company with quality control.
Sunstone makes the claim that with the Omega’s digital welding technology any organization can turn to pure copper tabs to boost battery efficiency. “Copper is tricky,” says Thane Kennedy, Product Manager at Sunstone Engineering LLC. “When faced with the challenges of creating battery packs, manufacturers turn to nickel or clad to connect each individual can, because they are relatively easier to weld. The increase in production efficiency is offset by a subsequent degradation in battery efficiency. With the Omega, manufacturers aren’t forced to choose one over the other. They can now weld copper tabs just as easily as any other type of tab and enjoy increased battery efficiency.”
As a serious piece of welding technology, the Omega can be protected by a perpetual product protection plan called the Sunstone Circle. As long as you remain a member of the Circle via a monthly subscription, the Omega’s warranty never expires.
In the end, the Omega offers a great deal of flexibility tightly controlled by advanced welding technology.
By Andy Jensen
The economics are simple. Even the most mathematically challenged contractor can understand the attraction. But lest we keep anyone in the dark, let’s review:
A contractor’s best friend is a cordless driver, be it Milwaukee, DeWalt, or Bosch—it’s a personal choice. Fully charged, let’s say a DeWalt can put down 100 wallboard screws with one charge. Now, if a contractor can get another 40 screws out of the same charge, what happens?
Those 40 additional screws create a domino effect: Less time spent changing batteries; less batteries to buy; less batteries to charge; and certainly, increased productivity.
The single battery pack that came with the DeWalt out of the box was just one of hundreds of thousands built in one Asian facility in a day or two. And it was built by a contractor supplying the same basic battery to several other hand tool manufacturers. Bottom line: there’s nothing special about that battery. If that battery were a college football player, they’d miss the NFL the draft.
Just ask Richard Price, a man with more than 30 years of invaluable battery wisdom. With his partner, Frank Ineman, he’s rebuilding battery packs for companies all over North America. “What you get in the box is mediocre,” he says. “But I can take that same battery, rebuild it, make it last much longer, make the customer that much more productive. And I can charge more for the rebuild than buying a new battery because the increase in productivity more than covers the cost of the rebuild. Our customers walk out of our shop with a happy story. It’s the best source of advertising for us.”
Frank and Richard’s story is classic American literature. Working for a battery company in the late 1990’s, the two were co-workers at the time, making a living selling car batteries to garages and dealerships. “We were actually doing very well,” Richard remembers. “Between Frank and I we were helping the owner of the company live pretty handsomely. So well, in fact, that he calls me up and says, ‘I’m selling the company!’ Well, that could spell trouble for us. And it did. Shortly thereafter Frank and I are sitting outside the office, out of work. But we were hungry. And I said, ‘Frank, we don’t need him. We can do this ourselves.’ And we never looked back.”
The two formed a partnership, rented space, and named the company after Frank’s high school mascot: Bulldog Battery. “We thought it sounded like we meant business, that we had the tenacity to do whatever it takes to keep our customers happy,” Richard says with a smile. “So far, so good.”
From the very beginning, Frank and Richard vowed to treat their customers the way they would want to be treated. “We’ll carry a battery to the customer’s car, something you rarely see these days. We believe in offering a level of service and respect that you don’t see any more. Our honest and straightforward way of doing business is what wins over our customers.”
The focus on service has worked for Bulldog Battery. Growth has been steady and successful. The company began renting one suite, then two suites, then bought the building in order to accommodate their growth. With 9,000 square feet of space and 12 full-time employees, prospects for continued growth are very good.
Bulldog Battery is geared for servicing and solving battery challenges. Whether a customer needs a battery for a laptop, smartphone, electronics, or a custom battery, they can deliver. “We get phone calls from all over the country,” Richard says. “Just last week I got a call from a crane operator in New York. The manufacturer of the crane wanted thousands to replace a battery. We were able to fix it for a hundred dollars. So, he’s thrilled. And once we get a customer, they spread the word like wildfire.”
When it comes to batteries, Bulldog has learned that nothing is ever obsolete. Frank and Richard have accumulated the experience to wake up nearly any battery. The company starts with the battery framework. They almost always keep the framework but remove and recycle the interior. “We replace the inside components and are able to increase the run time,” Richard explains. “We make the battery better than it was.”
Bulldog Battery can work with any type of battery. And that’s what Richard enjoys about the battery business: never knowing what new battery challenge will walk through his door. For him, going to work is an adventure. “We are always tinkering to find ways to wake up a battery and save our customers money,” Richard says.
Micro welding is a crucial to Richard’s ability to find solutions regardless of the challenges that come through his door. A good battery has good energy transfer connections, and a reliable micro welder can make strong, repeatable welds that increase battery efficiency. Choosing the right micro welder that offers a balance between power, precision, and price is very important. More power allows for thicker tabs and connections. More precision allows for truly individualized weld settings based on the application needs. The purchase price of the welder will greatly affect the ROI and profitability of the investment. Luckily, Richard was able to find a micro welding solution that checked all three of these boxes: power, precision, and price.
“Our welders let us do things we couldn’t otherwise do,” Richard says pointing to his three Sunstone micro welders. Richard spouts off a long list of different types of batteries he works with, including the temperamental Li-ion. “With the right micro welding technology and skill set there’s not a battery in the world that makes me nervous. We are able to wake up any battery and make it run longer or make it more powerful thanks to having the right tools.”