Control of the welding process is a very important step in welding automation. Since the welding process is complex and highly nonlinear, it is very difficult to accurately model the process for real-time control. In this research, a discrete-time transfer function matrix model for gas metal arc welding process is proposed. This empirical model takes the common dynamics for each output and inherent process and measurement delays into account. Although this linearized model is valid only around the operating point of interest, the adaptation mechanism employed in the control system render this model useful over a wide operating range. Since welding is inherently a nonlinear and multi-input, multi-output process, a multivariable adaptive control system is used for high performance. The process outputs considered are weld bead width and depth, and the process inputs are chosen as the travel speed of the torch and the heat input. A one-step-ahead (or deadbeat) adaptive control algorithm combined with a recursive least-squares methods for on-line parameter estimation is implemented in order to achieve the desired weld bead geometries. Control weighting factors are used to maintain the stability and reduce excessive control effort. Some guidelines for the control design are also suggested. Command following and disturbance rejection properties of the adaptive control system for both SISO and MIMO cases are investigated by simulation and experiment. Although a truly independent control of the outputs is difficult to implement because of a strong output coupling inherent in the process, a control system for simultaneous control of bead width and depth was successfully implemented.

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