Visit to Kemppi to find the solutions and tools for welding the hull of aluminium sailboat

Few weeks ago I had a privilege to visit the headquarters and a factory of our local welding machine brand Kemppi. We had an interesting conversation related to Li Yachts project and of course about welding of aluminium. My visit was also the first milestone on the way of preparations towards construction of prototype boats. We have used Kemppi’s products in underwater welding dive operations and in refit work of our old aluminium yacht. So it was a logical move to contact Kemppi also within this ongoing project.

Founder of the company Martti Kemppi was an electrician and wanted to design a welding machine, which has great welding characteristics but it must be easy to use representing minimalistic design. A joy to weld with. We have the same approach to boat design – as a pioneer aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry has written in 1939 ”Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” 

Kemppi is a Finnish family owned company, which still bears the surname of the founder and the company is still owned by the same family. Kemppi is founded in 1949 during tough times after the war. First products were carts for hauling concrete and milk. To produce these products the welding was needed and soon the clever electrician was building his own welding equipments.

During hectic post-war reconstruction of the country there was a demand of welding machines, which gave the young company the opportunity to grow. The production expanded and as early as 1950s Kemppi started to import welding machines to neighboring countries. Kemppi’s two main manufacturing plants are located in Finland, in addition to which it has one production plant for local Asian products in India. Kemppi has over 600 employees.

Now Kemppi is a globally operating company, which has retained the values of family owned business. The people that I met during my visit were easy to approach and they had time to listen my a story of my little project called Li Yachts and I received encouraging feedback.

Their welding engineer introduced me the new X8 MIG Welder. We were able to go straight to the details about methods how to reach for hight quality welds combined with effective productivity of the welding process. To me that represents the ability to understand demands and challenges of the customer.

With strong forward carrying guts in my mind I already imagined our first hull with the X8 beside her. My head was filled with thoughts how to rig the device to allow easy operation in different building steps of the hull. I also imagined the huge leap of welding technology compared to the machines that the builders of original Li have used fifty years ago.

The new generation of MIG welder allows even small scale manufacturers to exploit the benefits of the new aiding solutions for welding based on industrial Internet of things (IIoT). That’s possible when X8 is combined with Kemppi’s welding management software WeldEye. That ensures the use of optimal welding parameters and a quality control for the every seam. Errors in welding process caused by incorrect parameters are minimized. As-built weld traceability data can be stored as an annex of hull classification.

The wireless control pad of X8 allows the welder the full control of the machine and ability to view digital welding procedure specification (WPS) instructions via WeldEye on the worksite when ever needed. He or she is able to improve personal work process by saving fine tuned settings for further use to match up for the personal touch of welding. As we know, the aluminium boat is as strong as its weakest seam.

Here you can see new X8 in use in the factory of Buster Boats in Finland. Kemppi has also invited the boat manufacturer to take a part to design and development stages of X8 and welders were able to give user feedback of the product.

From sustainable development’s point of view Kemppi’s welding machines have high energy efficient inverter technology. Their products are designed with long service life in mind, but also recycling in the end of product’s life-cycle is taken into account when selecting materials. Machines are repairable and some of them even physically updatable. For example the power source of X8 is upgradeable.


Posted in Design process.