What’s Pulsed DC?

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Pulsed direct current (PDC) is a form of electric current with attributes of both AC and DC. It is produced using a half or full wave rectifier and requires smoothing with a capacitor for use in many modern DC equipment operations. PDC is used for magnetron sputtering and plasma generation, making it useful for the manufacturing and electronics industries. PDC TIG welding equipment has also been shown to increase productivity and energy savings.

In the field of electronics, pulsed DC stands for pulsed direct current (PDC). This form of electric current has attributes of both alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC). The pulsed DC power supply supplies a current of a single polarity with a variable voltage. This rectified waveform is produced using a half or full wave rectifier.

While PDC current has similar attributes to both AC and DC currents, it is an entirely different entity. In a traditional AC waveform, the voltage is variable as it rises and falls along the wave. Pulsed direct current shares this characteristic with alternating current, but unlike alternating current, the polarity of the current does not change. Like traditional DC, pulsed DC maintains a single positive or negative polarity.

Pulsed direct current is not useful for many modern DC equipment operations until it has been smoothed using a capacitor. The smoothing process involves charging the capacitor to a specific voltage and then releasing the voltage to the circuit as normal DC current. While pulsed direct current is not usable by many motors and electronics without modification, it is used by other equipment and processes.

This type of current can be used for magnetron sputtering and plasma generation. When used for magnetron sputtering, the most common application of PDC current is in the production of thin film materials. Plasma generated using PDC is more reliable than that created by ordinary direct current because it cannot be poisoned by argon gas buildup. As a result, PDC magnetron sputtering is considered to be higher than normal DC current in the production of thin-film materials.

This application of pulsed direct current has made it very useful for the manufacturing and electronics industries. Thin-film materials created by this method are used for a variety of electronic components. The ability to produce these materials more reliably in less time makes the use of PDC current a cost-effective fit for this industrial application.

PDC pulsating current has also been used in welding equipment. In 2005, Barrett Firearms of Murfreesboro, Tennessee began using pulsed DC tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding equipment. The company has seen a 45% increase in overall productivity and energy savings of up to 75% as a result of equipment upgrades. Also, this type of welding equipment had a lower operating temperature, which reduced the strain factor and created better welds by using PDC current.

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