What is a pulsed DC?

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

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

Pulsed DC is not useful for many modern DC equipment operations until it has been smoothed with a capacitor. The smoothing process involves charging the capacitor to a specific voltage and then releasing the voltage to the circuit as regular direct current. Although pulsed DC 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 the purposes of 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 with the PDC is more reliable than that created by regular direct current because it cannot be poisoned by the buildup of argon gases. As a result, PDC magnetron sputtering is considered superior to regular DC current in the production of thin film materials.

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This application of pulsed DC current has made it very useful for the manufacturing and electronics industry. Thin film materials created using 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 measure for this industrial application.

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

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