Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 60

Welding Processes

TWI
Electro slag welding (February 2001) Page 1 of 3
Information
about
this

Electro slag welding (February 2001)


by Owen Gorton

Description
Electro slag welding is a very efficient, single pass process carried out in the vertical or near vertical
position and used for joining steel plates/sections in thicknesses of 25mm and above. It was
developed by the Paton Institute in the Ukraine in the early 1950s and superseded the very high
current submerged arc process for making longitudinal welds in thick-walled pressure vessels.

Unlike other high current fusion processes, electro slag welding is not an arc process. Heat required
for melting both the welding wire and the plate edges is generated through a molten slag's resistance
to the passage of an electric current.

In its original form, plates are held vertically approximately 30mm apart with the edges of the plate cut
normal to the surface. A bridging run -on piece of the same thickness is attached to the bottom of the
plates. Water cooled copper shoes are then placed each side of the joint, forming a rectangular cavity
open at the top. Filler wire, which is also the current carrier, is then fed into this cavity, initially striking
an arc through a small amount of flux. Additional flux is added which melts forming a flux bath which
rises and extinguishes the arc. The added wire then melts into this bath sinking to the bottom before
solidifying to form the weld. For thick sections, additional wires may be added and an even
distribution of weld metal is achieved by oscillating the wires across the joint. As welding progresses,
both the wire feed mechanism and the copper shoes are moved progressively upwards until the top
of the weld is reached. See figure 1 .

Fig.1. Electro slag welding

The consumable guide variant of the process uses a much simpler set-up and equipment
arrangement which does not require the wire feed mechanism to climb. In this case, the wire is
delivered to the weld pool down a consumable, thick-walled tube which extends from the top of the

file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\Electroslag%20Welding\Electro%20slag%20welding%20(February%202001).htm
... 9/10/2001
Electro slag welding (February 2001) Page 2 of 3
joint to the weldpool. Support for the molten bath is provided by two pairs of copper shoes which are
moved upwards, leapfrogging each other as welding progresses. The tubular guides can be further
supplemented by additional consumable plates attached to the tube. Generally, as the thickness of
plate increases, the number of wires/guides increases, approximately in the ratio of one wire per
50mm of thickness, see figure 2 .

Fig.2. Consumable guide welding

Current status
In the fabrication industry, the process continues to be used for thick walled pressure vessels which
are post-weld normalised and for structures such as blast furnace shells and steel ladles which are
used at above ambient temperatures. The process is also extensively used for the welding of railway
points.

Important current issues


Considerable interest was shown in electro slag welding during the 1970s when ideas for increasing
welding speed were investigated. This was seen as an important parameter for increasing
productivity and as a way of reducing heat input to improve HAZ and weld metal impact properties.

However, since that time little has been done by way of development. Those developments that have
taken place have been limited to the tuning of parameters and tailoring techniques for specific
applications.

Benefits
The principal benefits of the process are:

? speed of joint completion; typically 1 hour per metre of seam, irrespective of thickness
? lack of angular distortion
? lateral angular distortion limited to 3mm per meter of weld
? high quality welds produced
file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\Electroslag%20Welding\Electro%20slag%20welding%20(February%202001).htm
... 9/10/2001
Electro slag welding (February 2001) Page 3 of 3
? simple joint preparation, i.e. flame-cut square edge
? major repairs can be made simply by cutting out total weld and re-welding

Risks
Electro slag welding is not one of the major welding processes because the high heat input generates
large, coarse grained weld metal and HAZs which lead to poor fracture toughness properties in these
areas. Toughness improvements can only be achieved by post-weld normalising treatment.
Additionally, the near parallel -sided geometry of the weld, combined with the coarse grains, can make
it difficult to identify defects at the fusion boundary by standard ultrasonic NDT techniques.

The process has considerable potential for increasing productivity. However, its use has been limited
because of relatively poor understanding of the process and, for specific applications, the significance
of the fracture toughness values. As a result, use of the process has been restricted to a few niche
applications.

Further information
Use SEARCH to identify other relevant information and knowledge. TWI Industrial Members have
unrestricted access to all TWI content.

Also, you can use the Weldasearch literature database to supplement what you find in JoinIT.

Copyright 2001, TWI Ltd

Link to related content, selected on the basis of keyword matches using the keyword set on the 'Advanced
search' screen

TWI information:
Information and advice from TWI are provided in good faith and based, where appropriate, on the best engineering knowledge available at the time and
incorporated into TWI's website in accordance with TWI's ISO 9001 accredited quality system. No warranty expressed or implied is given regarding the results or
effects of applying information or advice obtained from the website, nor is any responsibility accepted for any consequential loss or damage.

file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\Electroslag%20Welding\Electro%20slag%20welding%20(February%202001).htm
... 9/10/2001
Job knowledge for welders 4: Solid wire MIG welding. Page 1 of 3
Information
about
this

Solid wire MIG welding


Metal inert gas (MIG) welding was first patented in the USA
in 1949 for welding aluminium. The arc and weld pool formed
using a bare wire electrode was protected by helium gas,
readily available at that time. From about 1952 the process
became popular in the UK for welding aluminium using argon
as the shielding gas, and for carbon steels using CO2 . CO2
and argon-CO 2 mixtures are known as metal active gas
(MAG) processes. MIG is an attractive alternative to MMA,
offering high deposition rates and high productivity.

Process characteristics

MIG is similar to MMA in that heat for welding is produced by forming an arc between a metal
electrode and the workpiece; the electrode melts to form the weld bead. The main difference is that
the metal electrode is a small diameter wire fed from a spool. As the wire is continuously fed, the
process is often referred to as semi-automatic welding.

Metal transfer mode

The manner, or mode, in which the metal transfers from the electrode to the weld pool largely
determines the operating features of the process. There are three principal metal transfer modes:

? Short circuiting
? Droplet / spray
? Pulsed

Short-circuiting and pulsed metal transfer are used for low current operation while spray metal
transfer is only used with high welding currents. In short-circuiting or'dip' transfer, the molten metal
forming on the tip of the wire is transferred by the wire dipping into the weld pool. This is achieved by
setting a low voltage; for a 1.2mm diameter wire, arc voltage varies from about 17V (100A) to 22V
(200A). Care in setting the voltage and the inductance in relation to the wire feed speed is essential to
minimise spatter. Inductance is used to control the surge in current which occurs when the wire dips
into the weld pool.

For droplet or spray transfer, a much higher voltage is


necessary to ensure that the wire does not make contact
i.e.short-circuit, with the weld pool; for a 1.2mm diameter wire,
the arc voltage varies from approximately 27V (250A) to 35V
(400A). The molten metal at the tip of the wire transfers to the
weld pool in the form of a spray of small droplets (about the
diameter of the wire and smaller). However, there is a
minimum current level, threshold, below which droplets are not

file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\MIG%20MAG%20Welding\Job%20knowledge%20for%20welders%204%20Soli
... 9/10/2001
Job knowledge for welders 4: Solid wire MIG welding. Page 2 of 3
forcibly projected across the arc. If an open arc technique is
attempted much below the threshold current level, the low arc forces would be insufficient to prevent
large droplets forming at the tip of the wire. These droplets would transfer erratically across the arc
under normal gravitational forces. The pulsed mode was developed as a means of stabilising the
open arc at low current levels i.e. below the threshold level, to avoid short-circuiting and spatter.
Spray type metal transfer is achieved by applying pulses of current, each pulse having sufficient force
to detach a droplet. Synergic pulsed MIG refers to a special type of controller which enables the
power source to be tuned (pulse parameters) for the wire composition and diameter, and the pulse
frequency to be set according to the wire feed speed.

Shielding gas

In addition to general shielding of the arc and the weld pool, the shielding gas performs a number of
important functions:

? forms the arc plasma


? stabilises the arc roots on the material surface
? ensures smooth transfer of molten droplets from the wire to the weld pool

Thus, the shielding gas will have a substantial effect on the stability of the arc and metal transfer and
the behaviour of the weld pool, in particular, its penetration. General purpose shielding gases for MIG
welding are mixtures of argon, oxygen and C02, and special gas mixtures may contain helium. The
gases which are normally used for the various materials are:

? steels
? CO
2
? argon +2 to 5% oxygen

? argon +5 to 25% CO
2

? non-ferrous
? argon
? argon / helium

Argon based gases, compared with CO 2 , are generally more tolerant to parameter settings and
generate lower spatter levels with the dip transfer mode. However, there is a greater risk of lack of
fusion defects because these gases are colder. As CO 2 cannot be used in the open arc (pulsed or
spray transfer) modes due to high back-plasma forces, argon based gases containing oxygen or CO 2
are normally employed.

Applications

MIG is widely used in most industry sectors and accounts for almost 50% of all weld metal deposited.
Compared to MMA, MIG has the advantage in terms of flexibility, deposition rates and suitability for
mechanisation. However, it should be noted that while MIG is ideal for 'squirting' metal, a high degree
of manipulative skill is demanded of the welder.

Copyright by TWI, 1999

Link to related content, selected on the basis of keyword matches using the keyword set on the 'Advanced
search' screen

TWI information:
file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\MIG%20MAG%20Welding\Job%20knowledge%20for%20welders%204%20Soli
... 9/10/2001
Job knowledge for welders 4: Solid wire MIG welding. Page 3 of 3
Information and advice from TWI are provided in good faith and based, where appropriate, on the best engineering knowledge available at the time and
incorporated into TWI's website in accordance with TWI's ISO 9001 accredited quality system. No warranty expressed or implied is given regarding the results or
effects of applying information or advice obtained from the website, nor is any responsibility accepted for any consequential loss or damage.

file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\MIG%20MAG%20Welding\Job%20knowledge%20for%20welders%204%20Soli
... 9/10/2001
Job knowledge for welders 2: The manual metal arc process. Page 1 of 3
Information
about
this

The Manual Metal Arc process


Manual metal arc welding was first invented in Russia in
1888. It involved a bare metal rod with no flux coating to give
a protective gas shield. The development of coated
electrodes did not occur until the early 1900s when the
Kjellberg process was invented in Sweden and the Quasi-arc
method was introduced in the UK. It is worth noting that
coated electrodes were slow to be adopted because of their
high cost. However, it was inevitable that as the demand for
sound welds grew, manual metal arc became synonymous
with coated electrodes. When an arc is struck between the
metal rod (electrode) and the workpiece, both the rod and
workpiece surface melt to form a weld pool. Simultaneous melting of the flux coating on the rod will
form gas and slag which protects the weld pool from the surrounding atmosphere. The slag will
solidify and cool and must be chipped off the weld bead once the weld run is complete (or before the
next weld pass is deposited).

The process allows only short lengths of weld to be produced before a new electrode needs to be
inserted in the holder. Weld penetration is low and the quality of the weld deposit is highly dependent
on the skill of the welder.

Types of flux/electrodes

Arc stability, depth of penetration, metal deposition rate and positional capability are greatly
influenced by the chemical composition of the flux coating on the electrode. Electrodes can be divided
into three main groups:

? Cellulosic
? Rutile
? Basic

Cellulosic electrodes contain a high proportion of cellulose in the coating and are characterised by a
deeply penetrating arc and a rapid burn-off rate giving high welding speeds. Weld deposit can be
coarse and with fluid slag, deslagging can be difficult. These electrodes are easy to use in any
position and are noted for their use in the 'stovepipe' welding technique.

Features:

? deep penetration in all positions


? suitability for vertical down welding
? reasonably good mechanical properties
? high level of hydrogen generated - risk of cracking in the heat affected zone (HAZ)

file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\MMA%20Welding\Job%20knowledge%20for%20welders%202%20The%20man
... 9/10/2001
Job knowledge for welders 2: The manual metal arc process. Page 2 of 3
Rutile electrodes contain a high proportion of titanium oxide (rutile) in the coating. Titanium oxide
promotes easy arc ignition, smooth arc operation and low spatter. These electrodes are general
purpose electrodes with good welding properties. They can be used with AC and DC power sources
and in all positions. The electrodes are especially suitable for welding fillet joints in the
horizontal/vertical (H/V) position.

Features:

? moderate weld metal mechanical properties


? good bead profile produced through the viscous slag
? positional welding possible with a fluid slag (containing fluoride)
? easily removable slag

Basic electrodes contain a high proportion of calcium carbonate (limestone) and calcium fluoride
(fluorspar) in the coating. This makes their slag coating more fluid than rutile coatings - this is also
fast-freezing which assists welding in the vertical and overhead position. These electrodes are used
for welding medium and heavy section fabrications where higher weld quality, good mechanical
properties and resistance to cracking (due to high restraint) are required.

Features:

? low weld metal produces hydrogen


? requires high welding currents/speeds
? poor bead profile (convex and coarse surface profile)
? slag removal difficult

Metal powder electrodes contain an addition of metal powder to the flux coating to increase the
maximum permissible welding current level. Thus, for a given electrode size, the metal deposition
rate and efficiency (percentage of the metal deposited) are increased compared with an electrode
containing no iron powder in the coating. The slag is normally easily removed. Iron powder electrodes
are mainly used in the flat and H/V positions to take advantage of the higher deposition rates.
Efficiencies as high as 130 to 140% can be achieved for rutile and basic electrodes without marked
deterioration of the arcing characteristics but the arc tends to be less forceful which reduces bead
penetration.

Power source

Electrodes can be operated with AC and DC power supplies. Not all DC electrodes can be operated
on AC power sources, however AC electrodes are normally used on DC.

Welding current

Welding current level is determined by the size of electrode -


the normal operating range and current are recommended
by manufacturers. Typical operating ranges for a selection of
electrode sizes are illustrated in the table. As a rule of thumb
when selecting a suitable current level, an electrode will
require about 40A per millimeter (diameter). Therefore, the
preferred current level for a 4mm diameter electrode would
be 160A, but the acceptable operating range is 140 to 180A.

What's new
file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\MMA%20Welding\Job%20knowledge%20for%20welders%202%20The%20man
... 9/10/2001
Job knowledge for welders 2: The manual metal arc process. Page 3 of 3
Transistor (inverter) technology is now enabling very small and comparatively low weight power
sources to be produced. These power sources are finding increasing use for site welding where they
can be readily transported from job to job. As they are electronically controlled, add-on units are
available for TIG and MIG welding which increase the flexibility. Electrodes are now available in
hermetically sealed containers. These vacuum packs obviate the need for baking the electrodes
immediately prior to use. However, if a container has been opened or damaged, it is essential that the
electrodes are redried according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Copyright by TWI, 1999

Link to related content, selected on the basis of keyword matches using the keyword set on the 'Advanced
search' screen

TWI information:
Information and advice from TWI are provided in good faith and based, where appropriate, on the best engineering knowledge available at the time and
incorporated into TWI's website in accordance with TWI's ISO 9001 accredited quality system. No warranty expressed or implied is given regarding the results or
effects of applying information or advice obtained from the website, nor is any responsibility accepted for any consequential loss or damage.

file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\MMA%20Welding\Job%20knowledge%20for%20welders%202%20The%20man
... 9/10/2001
Moving contact arc welding (March 2001) Page 1 of 3
Information
about
this

Moving contact arc welding (March 2001)


by Wayne Thomas

Description and explanation


In moving contact arc welding (MCAW), current is supplied to a shaped metal consumable electrode
through a sliding or rolling contact tool. The lying consumable (known as a Ridgeback TM consumable)
is flux-covered and features an exposed metal ridge that protrudes above the flux. Electrical contact
between the tool and the consumable is applied at a relatively short distance from the arc, eliminating
the resistive heating path of the electrode.

The MCAW technique is under development and offers an easy-to-use alternative cladding, welding
and repair method. The process is suitable for either manual or mechanised operation. It can be
applied with restricted access and is amenable to remote operation.

Fig 1. Basic principle of MCAW using RidgebackTM consumable

Present status of MCAW


The process is novel in that it differs from the traditional Firecracker (Elin-Hafergut) and other lying
consumable welding techniques because the contact point is kept as close as possible to the burning
arc. This minimises resistive heating between the contact point and the arc, enabling the Ridgeback TM
consumable to carry greater currents, or, almost infinite lengths to be used in one operation.
Restricted access and remote operation capability are two of the major advantages unique to the
MCAW process.

Although the feasibility has been demonstrated, the MCAW process has not yet been used
file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\Moving%20Arc%20Contact%20Welding\Moving%20contact%20arc%20welding
... 9/10/2001
Moving contact arc welding (March 2001) Page 2 of 3
commercially. Underwater welding under dry conditions in a local habitat is a possible application.
The practicability of restricted access conditions has been demonstrated using a local habitat
chamber. In addition, repair welding in hazardous surroundings (e.g. in the nuclear industry) and
welding or repair inside steel tubes and pipes are likely to provide ideal application for the process.

Important issues
Ease of manufacture of profiled consumables by hot rolling or extrusion, etc and application of the
flux covering on consumables in a more cost-effective way are important development issues in
successful commercialisation of the process. A further research requirement will be to develop the
process to become positional, i.e. for vertical and overhead applications.

A potential variant of the MCAW technique is sub -arc in which a plain bar stock or powder filled
consumable is used. The sub-arc variant would not need a specially shaped rod, and the
consumables need not be flux covered. The technique would make use of a hopper feed, granulated
flux and insulated flux saddles. The sub-arc variant would eliminate the need for any consumable
feed system.

Fig 2. Assessing the feasibiltiy of moving contact arc welding (MCAW)

Benefits
Potentially, the MCAW process has many beneficial features compared with existing processes which
utilise consumables.

The process gives greater productivity as the number of start/stops is reduced, and longer and/or
larger consumables can be used in one welding operation. Stop/starts can be sites for welding
defects such as cold laps; reduction in stop/starts reduces this associated risk. The use of larger
consumables can reduce/eliminate the need for multi -pass welding of thick plate.

MCAW uses low-cost, portable equipment and is readily automated. It is simple to operate and is
essentially a low -skill welding/cladding technique with less associated operator fatigue. It is ideal for
applying hardfacing and corrosion overlays and can be designed to operate in restricted access.

Risks
Typically, the risks associated with traditional arc welding equipment will also apply to MCAW.

file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\Moving%20Arc%20Contact%20Welding\Moving%20contact%20arc%20welding
... 9/10/2001
Moving contact arc welding (March 2001) Page 3 of 3

Future prospects
It is expected that MCAW will be used for niche applications were existing techniques are unable to
operate.

Further information
Use SEARCH to identify other relevant information and knowledge. TWI Industrial Members have
unrestricted access to all TWI content.

You can use the Weldasearch literature database to supplement what you find in JoinIT.

Copyright 2001, TWI Ltd

Link to related content, selected on the basis of keyword matches using the keyword set on the 'Advanced
search' screen

TWI information:
Information and advice from TWI are provided in good faith and based, where appropriate, on the best engineering knowledge available at the time and
incorporated into TWI's website in accordance with TWI's ISO 9001 accredited quality system. No warranty expressed or implied is given regarding the results or
effects of applying information or advice obtained from the website, nor is any responsibility accepted for any consequential loss or damage.

file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\Moving%20Arc%20Contact%20Welding\Moving%20contact%20arc%20welding
... 9/10/2001
Job knowledge for welders 7: Plasma welding Page 1 of 3
Information
about
this

Plasma Welding
Process characteristics

Plasma welding is very similar to TIG as the arc is formed


between a pointed tungsten electrode and the workpiece.
However, by positioning the electrode within the body of the
torch, the plasma arc can be separated from the shielding
gas envelope. Plasma is then forced through a fine-bore
copper nozzle which constricts the arc. Three operating
modes can be produced by varying bore diameter and
plasma gas flow rate:

? Microplasma: 0.1 to 15A.


The microplasma arc can be operated at very low
welding currents. The columnar arc is stable even
when arc length is varied up to 20mm.

? Medium current: 15 to 200A.


At higher currents, from 15 to 200A, the process characteristics of the plasma arc are similar to
the TIG arc, but because the plasma is constricted, the arc is stiffer. Although the plasma gas
flow rate can be increased to improve weld pool penetration, there is a risk of air and shielding
gas entrainment through excessive turbulence in the gas shield.

? Keyhole plasma: over 100A.


By increasing welding current and plasma gas flow, a very powerful plasma beam is created
which can achieve full penetration in a material, as in laser or electron beam welding. During
welding, the hole progressively cuts through the metal with the molten weld pool flowing behind
to form the weld bead under surface tension forces. This process can be used to weld thicker
material (up to 10mm of stainless steel) in a single pass.

Power source

The plasma arc is normally operated with a DC, drooping characteristic power source. Because its
unique operating features are derived from the special torch arrangement and separate plasma and
shielding gas flows, a plasma control console can be added on to a conventional TIG power source.
Purpose-built plasma systems are also available. The plasma arc is not readily stabilised with sine
wave AC. Arc reignition is difficult when there is a long electrode to workpiece distance and the
plasma is constricted, Moreover, excessive heating of the electrode during the positive half-cycle
causes balling of the tip which can disturb arc stability.

Special-purpose switched DC power sources are available. By imbalancing the waveform to reduce
the duration of electrode positive polarity, the electrode is kept sufficiently cool to maintain a pointed
tip and achieve arc stability.

file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\Plasma%20Arc%20Welding\Job%20knowledge%20for%20welders%207%20Plas
... 9/10/2001
Job knowledge for welders 7: Plasma welding Page 2 of 3
Arc starting

Although the arc is initiated using HF, it is first formed between the electrode and plasma nozzle. This
'pilot' arc is held within the body of the torch until required for welding then it is transferred to the
workpiece. The pilot arc system ensures reliable arc starting and, as the pilot arc is maintained
between welds, it obviates the need for HF which may cause electrical interference.

Electrode

The electrode used for the plasma process is tungsten-2%thoria and the plasma nozzle is copper.
The electrode tip diameter is not as critical as for TIG and should be maintained at around 30-60
degrees. The plasma nozzle bore diameter is critical and too small a bore diameter for the current
level and plasma gas flow rate will lead to excessive nozzle erosion or even melting. It is prudent to
use the largest bore diameter for the operating current level.
Note: too large a bore diameter, may give problems with arc stability and maintaining a keyhole.

Plasma and shielding gases

The normal combination of gases is argon for the plasma gas, with argon plus 2 to 5% hydrogen for
the shielding gas. Helium can be used for plasma gas but because it is hotter this reduces the current
rating of the nozzle. Helium's lower mass can also make the keyhole mode more difficult.

Applications

Microplasma welding

Microplasma was traditionally used for welding thin sheets (down to 0.1 mm thickness), and wire and
mesh sections. The needle-like stiff arc minimises arc wander and distortion. Although the equivalent
TIG arc is more diffuse, the newer transistorised (TIG) power sources can produce a very stable arc
at low current levels.

Medium current welding

When used in the melt mode this is an alternative to conventional TIG. The advantages are deeper
penetration (from higher plasma gas flow), and greater tolerance to surface contamination including
coatings (the electrode is within the body of the torch). The major disadvantage lies in the bulkiness
of the torch, making manual welding more difficult. In mechanised welding, greater attention must be
paid to maintenance of the torch to ensure consistent performance.

Keyhole welding

This has several advantages which can be exploited: deep penetration and high welding speeds.
Compared with the TIG arc, it can penetrate plate thicknesses up to l0mm, but when welding using a
single pass technique, it is more usual to limit the thickness to 6mm. The normal methods is to use
the keyhole mode with filler to ensure smooth weld bead profile (with no undercut). For thicknesses
up to 15mm, a vee joint preparation is used with a 6mm root face. A two -pass technique is employed
and here, the first pass is autogenous with the second pass being made in melt mode with filler wire
addition.

As the welding parameters, plasma gas flow rate and filler wire addition (into the keyhole) must be
carefully balanced to maintain the keyhole and weld pool stability, this technique is only suitable for
mechanised welding. Although it can be used for positional welding, usually with current pulsing, it is
file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\Plasma%20Arc%20Welding\Job%20knowledge%20for%20welders%207%20Plas
... 9/10/2001
Job knowledge for welders 7: Plasma welding Page 3 of 3
normally applied in high speed welding of thicker sheet material (over 3 mm) in the flat position. When
pipe welding, the slope -out of current and plasma gas flow must be carefully controlled to close the
keyhole without leaving a hole.

Copyright by TWI, 1999

Link to related content, selected on the basis of keyword matches using the keyword set on the 'Advanced
search' screen

TWI information:
Information and advice from TWI are provided in good faith and based, where appropriate, on the best engineering knowledge available at the time and
incorporated into TWI's website in accordance with TWI's ISO 9001 accredited quality system. No warranty expressed or implied is given regarding the results or
effects of applying information or advice obtained from the website, nor is any responsibility accepted for any consequential loss or damage.

file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\Plasma%20Arc%20Welding\Job%20knowledge%20for%20welders%207%20Plas
... 9/10/2001
Job knowledge for welders 5: Submerged arc welding process Page 1 of 3
Information
about
this

Submerged-arc Welding

The first patent on the submerged-arc welding (SAW) process was taken out in 1935 and covered an
electric arc beneath a bed of granulated flux. Developed by the E O Paton Electric Welding Institute,
Russia, during the Second World War, SAW's most famous application was on the T34 tank.

Process features

Similar to MIG welding, SAW involves formation of an arc between a continuously-fed bare wire
electrode and the workpiece. The process uses a flux to generate protective gases and slag, and to
add alloying elements to the weld pool. A shielding gas is not required. Prior to welding, a thin layer of
flux powder is placed on the workpiece surface. The arc moves along the joint line and as it does so,
excess flux is recycled via a hopper. Remaining fused slag layers can be easily removed after
welding. As the arc is completely covered by the flux layer, heat loss is extremely low. This produces
a thermal efficiency as high as 60% (compared with 25% for manual metal arc). There is no visible
arc light, welding is spatter-free and there is no need for fume extraction.

Operating characteristics

file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\Submerged%20Arc%20Welding\Job%20knowledge%20for%20welders%205%20
... 9/10/2001
Job knowledge for welders 5: Submerged arc welding process Page 2 of 3

SAW is usually operated as a fully -mechanised or automatic process, but it can be semi-automatic.
Welding parameters: current, arc voltage and travel speed all affect bead shape, depth of penetration
and chemical composition of the deposited weld metal. Because the operator cannot see the weld
pool, greater reliance must be placed on parameter settings.

Process variants

According to material thickness, joint type and size of component, varying the following can increase
deposition rate and improve bead shape.

Wire

SAW is normally operated with a single wire on either AC or DC current. Common variants are:

? twin wire
? triple wire
? single wire with hot wire addition
? metal powdered flux addition

All contribute to improved productivity through a marked increase in weld metal deposition rates
and/or travel speeds.

Flux

Fluxes used in SAW are granular fusible minerals containing oxides of manganese, silicon, titanium,
aluminium, calcium, zirconium, magnesium and other compounds such as calcium fluoride. The flux
is specially formulated to be compatible with a given electrode wire type so that the combination of
flux and wire yields desired mechanical properties. All fluxes react with the weld pool to produce the
weld metal chemical composition and mechanical properties. It is common practice to refer to fluxes
as 'active' if they add manganese and silicon to the weld, the amount of manganese and silicon
added is influenced by the arc voltage and the welding current level. The the main types of flux for
SAW are:

? Bonded fluxes - produced by drying the ingredients, then bonding them with a low melting
point compound such as a sodium silicate. Most bonded fluxes contain metallic deoxidisers
which help to prevent weld porosity. These fluxes are effective over rust and mill scale.
? Fused fluxes - produced by mixing the ingredients, then melting them in an electric furnace to
form a chemical homogeneous product, cooled and ground to the required particle size. Smooth
stable arcs, with welding currents up to 2000A and consistent weld metal properties, are the
main attraction of these fluxes.

file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\Submerged%20Arc%20Welding\Job%20knowledge%20for%20welders%205%20
... 9/10/2001
Job knowledge for welders 5: Submerged arc welding process Page 3 of 3
Applications

SAW is ideally suited for longitudinal and circumferential butt and fillet welds. However, because of
high fluidity of the weld pool, molten slag and loose flux layer, welding is generally carried out on butt
joints in the flat position and fillet joints in both the flat and horizontal-vertical positions. For
circumferential joints, the workpiece is rotated under a fixed welding head with welding taking place in
the flat position. Depending on material thickness, either single-pass, two -pass or multipass weld
procedures can be carried out. There is virtually no restriction on the material thickness, provided a
suitable joint preparation is adopted. Most commonly welded materials are carbon-manganese steels,
low alloy steels and stainless steels, although the process is capable of welding some non-ferrous
materials with judicious choice of electrode filler wire and flux combinations.

Copyright by TWI, 1999

Link to related content, selected on the basis of keyword matches using the keyword set on the 'Advanced
search' screen

TWI information:
Information and advice from TWI are provided in good faith and based, where appropriate, on the best engineering knowledge available at the time and
incorporated into TWI's website in accordance with TWI's ISO 9001 accredited quality system. No warranty expressed or implied is given regarding the results or
effects of applying information or advice obtained from the website, nor is any responsibility accepted for any consequential loss or damage.

file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\Submerged%20Arc%20Welding\Job%20knowledge%20for%20welders%205%20
... 9/10/2001
Job knowledge for welders 6: Tungsten inert gas (TIG or GTA) welding Page 1 of 3
Information
about
this

TIG Welding
Tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding became an overnight
success in the 1940s for joining magnesium and aluminium.
Using an inert gas shield instead of a slag to protect the
weldpool, the process was a highly attractive replacement
for gas and manual metal are welding. TIG has played a
major role in the acceptance of aluminium for high quality
welding and structural applications.

Process characteristics

In the TIG process the arc is formed between a pointed


tungsten electrode and the workpiece in an inert atmosphere of argon or helium. The small intense
arc provided by the pointed electrode is ideal for high quality and precision welding. Because the
electrode is not consumed during welding, the welder does not have to balance the heat input from
the arc as the metal is deposited from the melting electrode. When filler metal is required, it must be
added separately to the weldpool.

Power source

TIG must be operated with a drooping, constant current power source - either DC or AC. A constant
current power source is essential to avoid excessively high currents being drawn when the electrode
is short-circuited on to the workpiece surface. This could happen either deliberately during arc starting
or inadvertently during welding. If, as in MIG welding, a flat characteristic power source is used, any
contact with the workpiece surface would damage the electrode tip or fuse the electrode to the
workpiece surface. In DC, because arc heat is distributed approximately one-third at the cathode
(negative) and two -thirds at the anode (positive), the electrode is always negative polarity to prevent
overheating and melting. However, the alternative power source connection of DC electrode positive
polarity has the advantage in that when the cathode is on the workpiece, the surface is cleaned of
oxide contamination. For this reason, AC is used when welding materials with a tenacious surface
oxide film, such as aluminium.

Arc starting

The welding arc can be started by scratching the surface, forming a short-circuit. It is only when the
short-circuit is broken that the main welding current will flow. However, there is a risk that the
electrode may stick to the surface and cause a tungsten inclusion in the weld. This risk can be
minimised using the 'lift arc' technique where the short-circuit is formed at a very low current level.
The most common way of starting the TIG arc is to use HF (High Frequency). HF consists of high
voltage sparks of several thousand volts which last for a few microseconds. The HF sparks will cause
the electrode - workpiece gap to break down or ionise. Once an electron/ion cloud is formed, current
can flow from the power source.

file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\TIG%20Welding\Job%20knowledge%20for%20welders%206%20Tungsten%20in
... 9/10/2001
Job knowledge for welders 6: Tungsten inert gas (TIG or GTA) welding Page 2 of 3
Note: As HF generates abnormally high electromagnetic emission (EM), welders should be aware
that its use can cause interference especially in electronic equipment. As EM emission can be
airborne, like radio waves, or transmitted along power cables, care must be taken to avoid
interference with control systems and instruments in the vicinity of welding.

HF is also important in stabilising the AC arc; in AC, electrode polarity is reversed at a frequency of
about 50 times per second, causing the arc to be extinguished at each polarity change. To ensure
that the arc is reignited at each reversal of polarity, HF sparks are generated across the
electrode/workpiece gap to coincide with the beginning of each half-cycle.

Electrodes

Electrodes for DC welding are normally pure tungsten with 1 to 4% thoria to improve arc ignition.
Alternative additives are lanthanum oxide and cerium oxide which are claimed to give superior
performance (arc starting and lower electrode consumption). It is important to select the correct
electrode diameter and tip angle for the level of welding current. As a rule, the lower the current the
smaller the electrode diameter and tip angle. In AC welding, as the electrode will be operating at a
much higher temperature, tungsten with a zirconia addition is used to reduce electrode erosion. It
should be noted that because of the large amount of heat generated at the electrode, it is difficult to
maintain a pointed tip and the end of the electrode assumes a spherical or 'ball' profile.

Shielding gas

Shielding gas is selected according to the material being welded. The following guidelines may help:

? Argon - the most commonly-used shielding gas which can be used for welding a wide range of
materials including steels, stainless steel, aluminium and titanium.
? Argon + 2 to 5% H2 - the addition of hydrogen to argon will make the gas slightly reducing,
assisting the production of cleaner-looking welds without surface oxidation. As the arc is hotter
and more constricted, it permits higher welding speeds. Disadvantages include risk of hydrogen
cracking in carbon steels and weld metal porosity in aluminium alloys.
? Helium and helium/argon mixtures - adding helium to argon will raise the temperature of the
arc. This promotes higher welding speeds and deeper weld penetration. Disadvantages of using
helium or a helium/argon mixture is the high cost of gas and difficulty in starting the arc.

Applications

TIG is applied in all industrial sectors but is especially suitable for high quality welding. In manual
welding, the relatively small arc is ideal for thin sheet material or controlled penetration (in the root run
of pipe welds). Because deposition rate can be quite low (using a separate filler rod) MMA or MIG
may be preferable for thicker material and for fill passes in thick-wall pipe welds.

TIG is also widely applied in mechanised systems either autogenously or with filler wire. However,
several 'off the shelf' systems are available for orbital welding of pipes, used in the manufacture of
chemical plant or boilers. The systems require no manipulative skill, but the operator must be well
trained. Because the welder has less control over arc and weldpool behaviour, careful attention must
be paid to edge preparation (machined rather than hand -prepared), joint fit-up and control of welding
parameters.

Copyright by TWI, 1999

Link to related content, selected on the basis of keyword matches using the keyword set on the 'Advanced
file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\TIG%20Welding\Job%20knowledge%20for%20welders%206%20Tungsten%20in
... 9/10/2001
Job knowledge for welders 6: Tungsten inert gas (TIG or GTA) welding Page 3 of 3
search' screen

TWI information:
Information and advice from TWI are provided in good faith and based, where appropriate, on the best engineering knowledge available at the time and
incorporated into TWI's website in accordance with TWI's ISO 9001 accredited quality system. No warranty expressed or implied is given regarding the results or
effects of applying information or advice obtained from the website, nor is any responsibility accepted for any consequential loss or damage.

file://H:\TWI\Welding%20Processes\TIG%20Welding\Job%20knowledge%20for%20welders%206%20Tungsten%20in
... 9/10/2001
Job knowledge for welders 8: Thermal gouging Page 1 of 3

Information & know-how : JoinIT technical information

Thermal Gouging
Thermal gouging is an essential part of welding fabrication. Used for rapid removal of unwanted
metal, the material is locally heated and molten metal ejected - usually by blowing it away. Normal
oxyfuel gas or arc processes can be used to produce rapid melting and metal removal. However, to
produce a groove of specific dimensions, particularly regarding depth and width, the welder must
exercise careful control of the gouging operation. If this does not happen, an erratic and badly -
serrated groove will result.

Thermal processes, operations and metals which may be gouged or otherwise shaped:

Thermal Process operations


Metals
process Primary Secondary
Grooving Low carbon steels, carbon manganese steels (structural),
Oxyfuel
Gouging Washing pressure vessel steels (carbon not over 0.35%), low alloy steels
gas flame
Chamfering (less than 5%Cr) cast iron (if preheated to 400-450 deg.C)
Low carbon steels carbon manganese steels (structural),
Manual Grooving
Gouging pressure vessel steels, low alloy steels, stainless steels, cast
metal arc Chamfering
iron, nickel -based alloys
Low carbon steels carbon manganese steels (structural),
Air carbon Grooving pressure vessel steels, low and high alloy steels, cast iron,
Gouging
arc Chamfering nickel-based alloys, copper and copper alloys, copper/nickel
alloys, aluminium
Chamfering
Plasma arc Gouging Grooving Aluminium, stainless steels
Washing
Note: All processes are capable of cutting/severing operations. Preheat may or may not be required
on some metals prior to gouging

Safety

It should be emphasised that because gouging relies on molten metal being forcibly ejected, often
over quite large distances, the welder must take appropriate precautions to protect himself, other
workers and his equipment. Sensible precautions include protective clothing for the welder, shielding
inside a specially -enclosed booth or screens, adequate fume extraction, and removal of all
combustible material from the immediate area.

Industrial applications
http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk8.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 8: Thermal gouging Page 2 of 3
Thermal gouging was developed primarily for removal of metal from the reverse side of welded joints,
removal of tack welds, temporary welds, and weld imperfections. Figure 1 illustrates the value of
typical back-gouging applications carried out on arc welded joints., while Fig. 2 shows imperfection
removal in preparation for weld repair.

Fig.1 Typical back-gouging applications carried out on arc welded joints

Fig. 2 Imperfection removal in preparation for weld repair

The gouging process has proved to be so successful that it is used for a wide spectrum of
applications in engineering industries:

? repair and maintenance of structures - bridges, earth-moving equipment, mining machinery,


railway rolling stock, ships, offshore rigs, piping and storage tanks

? removal of cracks and imperfections - blow holes and sand traps in both ferrous and non-
ferrous forgings and castings

? preparation of plate edges for welding

? removal of surplus metal - strongbacks, lifting lugs and riser pads and fins on castings, excess
weld bead profiles, temporary backing strips, rivet washing and shaping operations demolition
of welded and unwelded structures - site work

Thermal gouging is also suitable for efficient removal of temporary welded attachments such as
brackets, strongbacks, lifting lugs and redundant tack welds, during various stages of fabrication and
construction work.

Gouging processes

Gouging operations can be carried out using the following thermal processes:

? oxyfuel gas flame


? manual metal arc
? air carbon arc
? plasma arc
http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk8.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 8: Thermal gouging Page 3 of 3
Copyright by TWI, 1999

Link to related content, selected on the basis of keyword matches using the keyword set on the 'Advanced
search' screen

TWI information:
Information and advice from TWI are provided in good faith and based, where appropriate, on the best engineering knowledge available at the time and
incorporated into TWI's website in accordance with TWI's ISO 9001 accredited quality system. No warranty expressed or implied is given regarding the results or
effects of applying information or advice obtained from the website, nor is any responsibility accepted for any consequential loss or damage.

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk8.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 9: Oxygen-fuel gas flame gouging. Page 1 of 3

Information & know-how : Training & qualification

Oxygen-fuel Gas Flame Gouging


Oxygen-fuel (oxyfuel) flame gouging offers fabricators a quick
and efficient method of removing metal. It can be at least four
times quicker than cold chipping operations. The process is
particularly attractive because of its low noise, ease of handling,
and ability to be used in all positions.

Process description

Flame gouging is a variant of conventional oxyfuel gas welding.


Oxygen and a fuel gas are used to produce a high temperature flame for melting the steel. When
gouging, the steel is locally heated to a temperature above the 'ignition' temperature (typically
900deg.C) and a jet of oxygen is used to melt the metal - a chemical reaction between pure oxygen
and hot metal. This jet is also used to blow away molten metal and slag. It should be noted that
compared with oxyfuel cutting, slag is not blown through the material, but remains on the top surface
of the workpiece.

The gouging nozzle is designed to supply a relatively large volume of oxygen through the gouging jet.
This can be as much as 300 litre/min through a 6mm orifice nozzle. In oxyacetylene gouging, equal
quantities of oxygen and acetylene are used to set a neutral preheating flame. The oxygen jet flow
rate determines the depth and width of the gouge. Typical operating parameters (gas pressures and
flow rates) for achieving a range of gouge sizes (depth and width) can be seen in the Table.

Typical operating data for manual oxyacetylene flame gouging


Nozzle Gouge
Gas pressure Gas consumption Travel
orifice dimensions
speed
dia. Width Depth Acetylene Oxygen Acetylene Preheat Oxygen (mm/min)
(mm) (mm) (mm) (Bar) (Bar) (Litre/min) (Litre/min) (Litre/min)
3 6-8 3-9 0.48 4.2 15 22 62 600
5 8-10 6-12 0.48 5.2 29 31 158 1000
6.5 10-13 10-13 0.55 5.5 36 43 276 1200

When the preheating flame and oxygen jet are correctly set, the gouge has a uniform profile and its
surfaces are smooth with a dull blue colour.

Operating techniques
http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk9.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 9: Oxygen-fuel gas flame gouging. Page 2 of 3
The depth of the gouge is determined principally by the speed and angle of the torch. To cut a deep
groove the angle of the torch is stepped up (this increases the impingement angle of the oxygen jet)
and gouging speed is reduced. To produce a shallow groove, the torch is less steeply angled, see
above, and speed is increased. Wide grooves can be produced by weaving the torch. The contour of
the groove is dependent upon the size of the nozzle and the operating parameters. If the cutting
oxygen pressure is too low, gouging progresses with a washing action, leaving smooth ripples in the
bottom of the groove. If the cutting oxygen pressure is too high, the cut advances ahead of the molten
pool - this will disrupt the gouging operation especially when making shallow grooves.

There are four basic flame gouging techniques which are used in the following
types of application.

Progressive gouging

This technique is used to produce uniform grooves. Gouging is conducted in


either a continuous or progressive manner. Applications include removal of an
unfused root area on the reverse side of a welded joint, part-shaping a steel
forging, complete removal of a weld deposit and preparing plate edges for
welding.

Spot gouging

Spot gouging produces a deep narrow U-shaped groove over a relatively short length. The process is
ideally suited to removal of localised areas such as isolated weld imperfections. Experienced
operators are able to observe any imperfections during gouging. These appear as dark or light
spots/streaks within the molten pool (reaction zone).

Back-step gouging

Once the material has reached ignition temperature, the oxygen stream is introduced and the torch
moved in a backward movement for a distance of 15-20mm. The oxygen is shut off and the torch
moved forward a distance of 25-30mm before restarting the gouging operation. This technique is
favoured for removal of local imperfections which may be deeply embedded in the base plate.

Deep gouging

It is sometimes necessary to produce a long deep gouge. Such operations are completed using the
deep gouging technique, which is basically a combination of progressive and spot gouging.

Copyright by TWI, 1999

Link to related content, selected on the basis of keyword matches using the keyword set on the 'Advanced
search' screen

TWI information:
Information and advice from TWI are provided in good faith and based, where appropriate, on the best engineering knowledge available at the time and
incorporated into TWI's website in accordance with TWI's ISO 9001 accredited quality system. No warranty expressed or implied is given regarding the results or
effects of applying information or advice obtained from the website, nor is any responsibility accepted for any consequential loss or damage.

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk9.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 9: Oxygen-fuel gas flame gouging. Page 3 of 3

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk9.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 10: Manual metal arc gouging Page 1 of 3

Information & know-how : JoinIT technical information : Knowledge


summaries

Manual Metal Arc Gouging


The main advantage of manual metal arc (MMA) gouging is that it allows the operator to switch easily
from welding to gouging, or cutting, simply by changing the type of electrode.

Process description

As in conventional MMA welding, the arc is formed between the


tip of the electrode and the workpiece. MMA gouging differs
because it requires special purpose electrodes with thick flux
coatings to generate a strong arc force and gas stream. Unlike
MMA welding where a stable weld pool must be maintained, this
process forces the molten metal away from the arc zone to
leave a clean cut surface.

The gouging process is characterised by the large amount of


gas which is generated to eject the molten metal. However,
because the arc/gas stream is not as powerful as a gas or a
separate air jet, the surface of the gouge is not really as smooth as an oxyfuel gouge or air carbon arc
gouge.

Electrode

According to the size of gouge specified, there is a wide range of electrode diameters available to
choose from. These grooving electrodes are also not just restricted to steels, and the same electrode
composition may be used for gouging stainless steel and non-ferrous alloys.

Power source

MMA gouging can be carried out using conventional DC and AC power sources. In DC gouging,
electrode polarity is normally negative but electrode manufacturers may well recommend electrode
polarity for their brand of electrodes and for gouging specific materials. When using an AC power
source, a minimum of 7OV open circuit (OCV) is required to stabilise the arc.

Although most MMA welding power sources can be used for gouging, the current rating and OCV
must be capable of accommodating current surges and longer arc lengths.

Typical operating data for MMA gouging

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk10.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 10: Manual metal arc gouging Page 2 of 3

Gouging dimensions
Electrode diameter (mm) Current (A) Gouging speed (mm/min)
Depth (mm) Width (mm)
3.2 210 2 6 1200
4.0 300 3 8 1000
4.8 350 4 10 800

Operational characteristics

The arc is struck with an electrode which is held at a normal angle to the workpiece (15 degrees
backwards from the vertical plane in line with proposed direction of gouging). Once the arc is
established, the electrode is immediately inclined in one smooth and continuous movement to an
angle of around 15-20 degrees to the plate surface. With the arc pointing in the direction of travel, the
electrode is pushed forward slightly to melt the metal. It should then be pulled back to allow the gas
jet to displace the molten metal and slag. This forward and backward motion is repeated as the
electrode is guided along the line to complete the gouge.

To produce a consistent depth and width of gouge, a uniform rate of travel must be maintained,
together with the angle of electrode: 10-20 degrees. If the electrode angle becomes too steep, in
excess of about 20 degrees, the amount of slag and molten metal will increase. This is a result of the
arc penetrating too deeply. Digging the electrode into the metal causes problems in controlling the
gouging operation and will produce a rough surface profile. For gouging in positions other than
vertical, the electrode is always pushed forward. With vertical surfaces, the electrode is directed and
pushed vertically downwards.

Application

MMA gouging is used for localised gouging operations, removal of defects for example, and where it
is more convenient to switch from a welding electrode to a gouging electrode rather than use
specialised equipment. Compared with alternative gouging processes, metal removal rates are low
and the quality of the gouged surface is inferior.
When correctly applied, MMA gouging can produce relatively clean gouged surfaces. For general
applications welding can be carried out without the need to dress by grinding. However when gouging
stainless steel, a thin layer of higher carbon content material will be produced - this should be
removed by grinding.

Copyright by TWI, 1999

Link to related content, selected on the basis of keyword matches using the keyword set on the 'Advanced
search' screen

TWI information:
Information and advice from TWI are provided in good faith and based, where appropriate, on the best engineering knowledge available at the time and
incorporated into TWI's website in accordance with TWI's ISO 9001 accredited quality system. No warranty expressed or implied is given regarding the results or
effects of applying information or advice obtained from the website, nor is any responsibility accepted for any consequential loss or damage.

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk10.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 10: Manual metal arc gouging Page 3 of 3

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk10.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 11: Plasma arc gouging. Page 1 of 2

Plasma Arc Gouging


The use of the plasma arc as a gouging tool dates back to the 1960s when the process was
developed for welding. Compared with the alternative oxyfuel and MMA gouging techniques, plasma
arc has a needle-like jet which can produce a very precise groove, suitable for application on almost
all ferrous and non- ferrous materials.

Process description

Plasma arc gouging is a variant of the plasma arc process. The


arc is formed between a refractory (usually tungsten) electrode
and the workpiece. Intense plasma is achieved by constricting
the arc using a fine bore copper nozzle. By locating the
electrode behind the nozzle, the plasma-forming gas can be
separated from the general gas supply used to cool the
torch/assist the plasma gas to blow away molten metal (dross)
from the groove.

The temperature and force of the constricted plasma arc is


determined by the current level and plasma gas flow rate. Thus,
the plasma can be varied to produce a hot gas stream or a high
power, deeply penetrating jet. This ability to control quite
precisely the size and shape of a groove is very useful for
removing unwanted defects from a workpiece surface.

Whilst gouging, normal precautions should be taken to protect the operator and other workers in the
immediate area from the effects of intense are light and hot metal spray. Unlike the oxyfuel and MMA
processes, the plasma arc's high velocity jet will propel fume and hot metal dross some considerable
distance from the operator. When using a deeply penetrating arc, noise protection is an essential
requirement.

Equipment

The power source for sustaining this gouging arc must have a high open circuit voltage, usually well
in excess of 100V. The torch is connected to the negative polarity of the power source and the
workpiece must be connected to the positive. The plasma torch is the same as the one used for
cutting; it will be either gas or water cooled and have the facility for single and dual gas operation.

Electrodes are normally tungsten for argon and argon-based gases. However, when using air as the
plasma gas, special purpose, for example hafnium tipped copper, electrodes must be used to
withstand the more aggressive, oxidising arc.

Plasma and cooling gases

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk11.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 11: Plasma arc gouging. Page 2 of 2
Plasma gas can be argon, helium, argon - H2, nitrogen or air. Argon - 35%H2 is normally
recommended as a general- purpose plasma gas for cutting most materials. Alternative plasma gases
are argon and helium. Argon, a colder gas, will reduce metal removal rates. Helium, which generates
a hot but less intense arc than argon - H2, can produce a wider and shallower groove. Nitrogen and
air are also used as plasma gases, especially for gouging C-Mn steels. Although gas costs will be
substantially reduced, the groove surface profile will be inferior to that which can be achieved with
argon - H2 gas. Air is not recommended for gouging aluminium as this requires an inert or reducing
gas. Argon, nitrogen or air are all used as cooling gases. Use of argon will normally produce the best
quality of gouge, but nitrogen or air will reduce operating costs.

Operating techniques

Gouging is effected by moving the torch forward at a steady controlled rate. It is carried out in a
progressive manner to remove metal over a distance of 200 to 250mm. The jet can then be
repositioned, either to deepen or widen the groove, or to continue gouging for a further 200 to
250mm. Principal process parameters are current level, gas flow rate, and speed of gouging. These
settings determine groove size and metal removal rate. In a typical gouging operation on C-Mn steel,
metal is removed at about 100 kg/hr at a speed of 0.5 m/min, and groove size will be around 12mm
wide and 5mm deep.

The torch stand-off and its angle to the surface of the workpiece have a major influence on speed of
travel, groove profile and quality of surface. The torch is normally held at a distance of 20mm from the
workpiece and inclined backwards to the direction of gouging at an angle of 40 to 45 degrees.
Gouging will remove up to approximately 6mm depth of metal in a single pass.

The torch stand-off should not be reduced to less than 12mm, to avoid spatter build-up on the nozzle
from the molten particles ejected from the groove. At standoff distances greater than 25mm, arc/gas
forces are reduced and this lessens the depth of penetration of the jet. By reducing the torch angle to
the workpiece surface, the plasma jet can be encouraged to 'skate' along the surface of the
workpiece; this produces a shallower and wider groove. By increasing the angle of the torch the
plasma jet is directed into the workpiece surface, resulting in a deeper and narrower groove.

Copyright by TWI, 1999

Link to related content, selected on the basis of keyword matches using the keyword set on the 'Advanced
search' screen

TWI information:
Information and advice from TWI are provided in good faith and based, where appropriate, on the best engineering knowledge available at the time and
incorporated into TWI's website in accordance with TWI's ISO 9001 accredited quality system. No warranty expressed or implied is given regarding the results or
effects of applying information or advice obtained from the website, nor is any responsibility accepted for any consequential loss or damage.

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk11.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 12: Air carbon arc gouging Page 1 of 3

Air Carbon Arc Gouging


The main difference between this gouging technique and the others is that a separate air jet is used
to eject molten metal to form the groove.

Process description

Air carbon arc gouging works as follows. An electric arc


is generated between the tip of a carbon electrode and
the workpiece. The metal becomes molten and a high
velocity air jet streams down the electrode to blow it
away, thus leaving a clean groove. The process is
simple to apply (using the same equipment as MMA
welding), has a high metal removal rate, and gouge
profile can be closely controlled. Disadvantages are
that the air jet causes the molten metal to be ejected
over quite a large distance and, because of high
currents (up to 2000A) and high air pressures (80 to
100 psi), it can be very noisy.

Application

As air carbon arc gouging does not rely on oxidation it can be applied to a wide range of metals. DC
(electrode positive) is normally preferred for steel and stainless steel but AC is more effective for cast
iron, copper and nickel alloys. Typical applications include back gouging, removal of surface and
internal defects, removal of excess weld metal and preparation of bevel edges for welding.

Electrode

The electrode is a non-consumable graphite (carbon) rod which has a


copper coating to reduce electrode erosion. Electrode diameter is
selected according to required depth and width of gouge. Cutting can
be precisely controlled and molten metal/dross is kept to a minimum.

Power source

A DC power supply with electrode positive polarity is most suitable.


AC power sources which are also constant current can be used but
with special AC type electrodes. The power source must have a
constant current output characteristic. If it does not, inadvertant
touching of the electrode to the workpiece will cause a high current surge sufficient to 'explode' the
electrode tip. This will disrupt the operation and cause carbon pick-up. As arc voltage can be quite
high (up to 50V), open circuit voltage of the power source should be over 60V.

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk12.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 12: Air carbon arc gouging Page 2 of 3
Air supply

The gouging torch is normally operated with either a compressed air line or seperate bottled gas
supply. Air supply pressure will be up to 100psi from the air line but restricted to about 35psi from a
bottled supply. Providing there is sufficient air flow to remove molten metal, there are no advantages
in using higher pressure and flow rates.

Carbon pickup

Although carbon is picked up by the molten metal, the air stream will remove carbon-rich metal from
the groove to leave only minimal contamination of the sidewalls. Poor gouging technique or
insufficient air flow will result in carbon pick-up with the risk of metallurgical problems, e.g high
hardness and even cracking.

Typical operating data for air carbon arc gouging:

Gouging
Current A dimensions
Electrode Carbon electrode Gouging speed
Note: DC
diameter (mm) Depth Width consumed (mm/min) (mm/min)
electrode
(mm) (mm)
6.4 275 6-7 9-10 120 609
8.0 350 7-8 10-11 114 711
Manual
9.5 425 9-10 12-13 100 660
13.0 550 12-13 18-19 76 508
8.0 300-400 2-9 3-8 100 1650-840
9.5 500 3-12 3-10 142 1650-635
Automatic
13.0 850 3-15 3-13 82 1830-610
16.0 1250 3-19 3-16 63 1830-710

Operation

Gouging is commenced by striking the electrode tip on to the workpiece surface to initiate the arc.
Unlike manual metal arc (MMA) welding the electrode tip is not withdrawn to establish arc length.
Molten metal directly under the electrode tip (arc) is immediately blown away by the air stream. For
effective metal removal, it is important that the air stream is directed at the arc from behind the
electrode and sweeps under the tip of the electrode. The width of groove is determined by the
diameter of electrode, but depth is dictated by the angle of electrode to the workpiece and rate of
travel. Relatively high travel speeds are possible when a low electrode angle is used. This produces a
shallow groove: a steep angle results in a deep groove and requires slower travel speed. Note, a
steeply angled electrode may give rise to carbon contamination.

Oscillating the electrode in a circular or restricted weave motion during gouging can greatly increase
gouging width. This is useful for removal of a weld or plate imperfection that is wider than the
electrode itself. It is important, however, that weave width should not exceed four times the diameter

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk12.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 12: Air carbon arc gouging Page 3 of 3
of the electrode.The groove surface should be relatively free of oxidised metal and can be considered
ready for welding without further preparation. Dressing by grinding the side-walls of the gouge should
be carried out if a carbon rich layer has been formed. Also, dressing by grinding or another approved
method will be necessary if working on crack-sensitive material such as high strength, low alloy steel.

Link to related content, selected on the basis of keyword matches using the keyword set on the 'Advanced
search' screen

TWI information:
Information and advice from TWI are provided in good faith and based, where appropriate, on the best engineering knowledge available at the time and
incorporated into TWI's website in accordance with TWI's ISO 9001 accredited quality system. No warranty expressed or implied is given regarding the results or
effects of applying information or advice obtained from the website, nor is any responsibility accepted for any consequential loss or damage.

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk12.html 9/11/2001
Welding Equipment

TWI
Job knowledge for welders 13: Equipment for oxyacetylene welding. Page 1 of 3

Equipment for Oxyacetylene Welding


Essential equipment components

Torch

The basic oxyacetylene torch comprises:

? torch body (or handle)


? two separate gas tubes (through the handle connected to the hoses)
? separate control valves
? mixer chamber
? flame tube
? welding tip

NB The cutting torch requires two oxygen supplies to the nozzle, one mixed with fuel gas for
preheating and a separate oxygen flow for cutting.

Hoses

Hoses are colour-coded red for acetylene and blue (UK) or green (US) for oxygen. Oxygen fittings on
the hose have a right-hand thread while acetylene is left-handed.

Gas regulators

The primary function of a gas regulator is to control gas pressure. It reduces the high pressure of the
bottle-stored gas to the working pressure of the torch, and this will be maintained during welding.

The regulator has two separate gauges: a high pressure gauge for gas in the cylinder and a low
pressure gauge for pressure of gas fed to the torch. The amount of gas remaining in the cylinder can
be judged from the high pressure gauge. The regulator, which has a pressure adjusting screw, is
used to control gas flow rate to the torch by setting the outlet gas pressure. Note Acetylene is
supplied in cylinders under a pressure of about 15 bars psi but welding is carried out with torch gas
pressures typically up to 2 bars.

Flame traps

Flame traps (also called flashback arresters) must be fitted into both oxygen and acetylene gas lines
to prevent a flashback flame from reaching the regulators. Non-return spring -loaded valves can be
fitted in the hoses to detect/stop reverse gas flow. Thus, the valves can be used to prevent conditions
leading to flashback, but should always be used in conjunction with flashback arresters.

A flashback is where the flame burns in the torch body, accompanied by a whistling sound. It will
occur when flame speed exceeds gas flow rate and the flame can pass back through the mixing

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk13.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 13: Equipment for oxyacetylene welding. Page 2 of 3
chamber into the hoses. Most likely causes are: incorrect gas pressures giving too low a gas velocity,
hose leaks, loose connections, or welder techniques which disturb gas flow.

Identification of gas cylinders

An oxygen cylinder is colour -coded black and the acetylene cylinder is maroon. Oxygen and
acetylene are stored in cylinders at high pressure. Oxygen pressure can be as high as 230 bars.
Acetylene, which is dissolved in acetone contained in a porous material, is stored at a much lower
pressure, approximately 15 bars.

The appropriate regulator must be fitted to the cylinders to accommodate cylinder pressures. To
avoid confusion, oxygen cylinders and regulators have right-hand threads and acetylene cylinders
and regulators have left-hand ones.

Typical gas pressures and flow rates for C-Mn steel:

Acetylene Oxygen
Steel thickness Nozzle
(mm) size Pressure Consumption Pressure Consumption
(bar) (l/min) (bar) (l/min)
0.90 1 0.14 0.50 0.14 0.50
1.20 2 0.14 0.90 0.14 0.90
2.00 3 0.14 1.40 0.14 1.40
2.60 5 0.14 2.40 0.14 2.40
3.20 7 0.14 3.30 0.14 3.30
4.00 10 0.21 4.70 0.21 4.70
5.00 13 0.28 6.00 0.28 6.00
6.50 18 0.28 8.50 0.28 8.50
8.20 25 0.42 12.00 0.42 12.00
10.00 35 0.63 17.00 0.63 17.00
13.00 45 0.35 22.00 0.35 22.00
25.00 90 0.63 42.00 0.63 42.00

Selection of correct nozzles

Welding torches are generally rated according to thickness of material to be welded. They range from
light duty (for sheet steel up to 2mm in thickness) to heavy duty (for steel plate greater than 25mm in
thickness). Each torch can be fitted with a range of nozzles with a bore diameter selected according
to material thickness. Gas pressures are set to give correct flow rate for nozzle bore diameter.
Proportions of oxygen and acetylene in the mixture can be adjusted to give a neutral, oxidising or
carburising flame. (See the description of oxyacetylene processes) Welding is normally carried out
using a neutral flame with equal quantities of oxygen and acetylene.

Equipment safety checks

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk13.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 13: Equipment for oxyacetylene welding. Page 3 of 3
Before commencing welding it is wise to inspect the condition and operation of all equipment. As well
as normal equipment and workplace safety checks, there are specific procedures for oxyacetylene.
Operators should verify that:

? flashback arresters are present in each gas line


? hoses are the correct colour, with no sign of wear, as short as possible and not taped together
? regulators are the correct type for the gas
? a bottle key is in each bottle (unless the bottle has an adjusting screw)

It is recommended that oxyacetylene equipment is checked at least annually - regulators should be


taken out of service after five years. Flashback arresters should be checked regularly according to
manufacturer's instructions and, with specific designs, it may be necessary to replace if flashback has
occurred.

For more detailed information the following legislation and codes of practice should be consulted:

? UK Health and Safety at Work Act 1974


? Pressure Systems and Transportable Gas Containers Regulations
? British Compressed Gases Association, Codes of Practice
? BOC Handbook

Copyright by TWI, 1999

Link to related content, selected on the basis of keyword matches using the keyword set on the 'Advanced
search' screen

TWI information:
Information and advice from TWI are provided in good faith and based, where appropriate, on the best engineering knowledge available at the time and
incorporated into TWI's website in accordance with TWI's ISO 9001 accredited quality system. No warranty expressed or implied is given regarding the results or
effects of applying information or advice obtained from the website, nor is any responsibility accepted for any consequential loss or damage.

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk13.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 14: Equipment for manual metal arc (MMA or SMA) welding. Page 1 of 4

Equipment for MMA Welding


Although the manual metal arc (MMA) process has relatively basic equipment requirements, it is
important that the welder has a knowledge of operating features and performance to comply with
welding procedures for the job and, of course, for safety reasons.

Essential equipment

The main components of the equipment required for welding are:

? power source
? electrode holder and cables
? welder protection
? fume extraction

Tools required include: a wire brush to clean the joint area


adjacent to the weld (and the weld itself after slag removal); a
chipping hammer to remove slag from the weld deposit; and,
when removing slag, a pair of clear lens goggles or a face shield
to protect the eyes (lenses should be shatter-proof and noninflammable).

Power source

The primary function of a welding power source is to provide sufficient power to melt the joint.
However with MMA the power source must also provide current for melting the end of the electrode to
produce weld metal, and it must have a sufficiently high voltage to stabilise the arc.

MMA electrodes are designed to be operated with alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC)
power sources. Although AC electrodes can be used on DC, not all DC electrodes can be used with
AC power sources.

As MMA requires a high current (50-30OA) but a relatively low voltage (10-50V), high voltage mains
supply (240 or 440V) must be reduced by a transformer. To produce DC, the output from the
transformer must be further rectified. To reduce the hazard of electrical shock, the power source must
function with a maximum no-load voltage, that is, when the external (output) circuit is open (power
leads connected and live) but no arc is present. The no-load voltage rating of the power source is as
defined in BS 638 and must be in accordance with the type of welding environment or hazard of
electrical shock. The power source may have an internal or external hazard reducing device to
reduce the no -load voltage; the main welding current is delivered as soon as the electrode touches
the workpiece. For welding in confined spaces, you should use a low voltage safety device to limit the
voltage available at the holder to approximately 25V.

There are four basic types of power source:

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk14.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 14: Equipment for manual metal arc (MMA or SMA) welding. Page 2 of 4
? AC transformer
? DC rectifier
? AC/DC transformer-rectifier
? DC generator

AC electrodes are frequently operated with the simple, single phase transformer with current adjusted
by means of tappings or sliding core control. DC rectifiers and AC/DC transformer -rectifiers are
controlled electronically, for example by thyristors. A new generation of power sources called
inverters is available. These use transistors to convert mains AC (50Hz) to a high frequency AC (over
500 Hz) before transforming down to a voltage suitable for welding and then rectifying to DC.
Because high frequency transformers can be relatively small, principal advantages of inverter power
sources are undoubtedly their size and weight when the source must be portable.

Electrode holder and cables

The electrode holder clamps the end of the electrode with copper contact shoes built into its head.
The shoes are actuated by either a twist grip or spring-loaded mechanism. The clamping mechanism
allows for quick release of the stub end. For efficiency the electrode has to be firmly clamped into the
holder, otherwise poor electrical contact may cause arc instability through voltage fluctuations.
Welding cable connecting the holder to the power source is mechanically crimped or soldered.

It is essential that good electrical connections are maintained between electrode, holder and cable.
With poor connections, resistance heating and, in severe cases, minor arcing with the torch body will
cause the holder to overheat. Two cables are connected to the output of the power source, the
welding lead goes to the electrode holder and the current return lead is clamped to the workpiece.
The latter is often wrongly referred to as the earthlead. A separate earth lead is normally required to
provide protection from faults in the power source. The earth cable should therefore be capable of
carrying the maximum output current of the power source.

Cables are covered in a smooth and hard-wearing protective rubberised flexible sheath. This oil and
water resistant coating provides electrical insulation at voltages to earth not exceeding 100V DC and
AC (rms value). Cable diameter is generally selected on the basis of welding current level, As these
electrode types are When welding, the welder air movement should be from duty cycle and distance
of the work from the power source. The higher the current and duty cycle, the larger the diameter of
the cable to ensure that it does not overheat (see BS 638 Pt 4). If welding is carried out some
distance from the power source, it may be necessary to increase cable diameter to reduce voltage
drop.

Care of electrodes

The quality of weld relies upon consistent performance of the electrode. The flux coating should not
be chipped, cracked or, more importantly, allowed to become damp.

Storage

Electrodes should always be kept in a dry and well-ventilated store. It is good practice to stack
packets of electrodes on wooden pallets or racks well clear of the floor. Also, all unused electrodes
which are to be returned should be stored so they are not exposed to damp conditions to regain
moisture. Good storage conditions are 10 degrees C above external air temperature. As the storage
conditions are to prevent moisture from condensing on the electrodes, the electrode stores should be
dry rather that warm. Under these conditions and in original packaging, electrode storage time is
practically unlimited. It should be noted that electrodes are now available in hermetically sealed packs

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk14.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 14: Equipment for manual metal arc (MMA or SMA) welding. Page 3 of 4
which obviate the need for drying. However, if necessary, any unused electrodes must be redried
according to manufacturer's instructions.

Drying of electrodes

Drying is usually carried out following the manufacturer's recommendations and requirements will be
determined by the type of electrode.

Cellulosic coatings

As these electrode coatings are designed to operate with a definite amount of moisture in the coating,
they are less sensitive to moisture pick-up and do not generally require a drying operation. However,
in cases where ambient relative humidity has been very high, drying may be necessary.

Rutile coatings

These can tolerate a limited amount of moisture and coatings may deteriorate if they are overdried.
Particular brands may need to be dried before use.

Basic and basic/rutile coatings

Because of the greater need for hydrogen control, moisture pick-up is rapid on exposure to air. These
electrodes should be thoroughly dried in a controlled temperature drying oven. Typical drying time is
one hour at a temperature of approximately 150 to 300 degrees C but instructions should be adhered
to.

After controlled drying, basic and basic/rutile electrodes must be held at a temperature between 100
and 150 degrees C to help protect them from re-absorbing moisture into the coating. These
conditions can be obtained by transferring the electrodes from the main drying oven to a holding oven
or a heated quiver at the workplace.

Protective clothing

When welding, the welder must be protected from heat and light radiation emitted from the arc,
spatter ejected from the weld pool, and from welding fume.

Hand and head shield

For most operations a hand-held or head shield constructed of lightweight insulating and non-
reflecting material is used. The shield is fitted with a protective filter glass, sufficiently dark in colour
and capable of absorbmg the harmful infrared and ultraviolet rays. The filter glasses conform to the
strict requirements of BS 679 and are graded according to a shade number which specifies the
amount of visible light allowed to pass through - the lower the number, the lighter the filter. The
correct shade number must be used according to the welding current level, for example:

? Shade 9 - up to 40A
? Shade 10 - 40 to 80A
? Shade 11 - 80 to 175A
? Shade 12 - 175 to 300A
? Shade 13 - 300 to 500A

Clothing
http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk14.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 14: Equipment for manual metal arc (MMA or SMA) welding. Page 4 of 4
For protection against sparks, hot spatter, slag and burns, a leather apron and leather gloves should
be worn. Various types of leather gloves are available, such as short or elbow length, full fingered or
part mitten.

Fume extraction

When welding within a welding shop, ventilation must dispose harmlessly of the welding fume.
Particular attention should be paid to ventilation when welding in a confined space such as inside a
boiler, tank or compartment of a ship.

Fume removal should be by some form of mechanical ventilation which will produce a current of fresh
air in the immediate area. Direction of the air movement should be from the welder's face towards the
work. This is best achieved by localised exhaust ventilation using a suitably designed hood near to
the welding area.

Further information

Please refer to:


BS 638 Arc welding power sources, equipment and accessories
BS 679 Filters, cover lenses and backing lenses for use during welding and similar operations.

Copyright by TWI, 1999

Link to related content, selected on the basis of keyword matches using the keyword set on the 'Advanced
search' screen

TWI information:
Information and advice from TWI are provided in good faith and based, where appropriate, on the best engineering knowledge available at the time and
incorporated into TWI's website in accordance with TWI's ISO 9001 accredited quality system. No warranty expressed or implied is given regarding the results or
effects of applying information or advice obtained from the website, nor is any responsibility accepted for any consequential loss or damage.

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk14.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 15: Equipment for MIG welding. Page 1 of 4

Equipment for MIG Welding


The MIG process is a versatile welding technique which is suitable for both thin sheet and thick
section components. It is capable of high productivity but the quality of welds can be called into
question. To achieve satisfactory welds, welders must have a good knowledge of equipment
requirements and should also recognise fully the importance of setting up and maintaining component
parts correctly.

Essential equipment

In MIG the arc is formed between the end of a small diameter


wire electrode fed from a spool, and the workpiece. Main
equipment components are:

? power source
? wire feed system
? conduit
? gun

The arc and weldpool are protected from the atmosphere by a


gas shield. This enables bare wire to be used without a flux
coating (required by MMA). However, the absence of flux to
'mop up' surface oxide places greater demand on the welder to
ensure that the joint area is cleaned immediately before
welding. This can be done using either a wire brush for
relatively clean parts, or a hand grinder to remove rust and scale. The other essential piece of
equipment is a wire cutter to trim the end of the electrode wire.

Power source

MIG is operated exclusively with a DC power source. The source is termed a flat, or constant current,
characteristic power source, which refers to the voltage/welding current relationship. In MIG, welding
current is determined by wire feed speed, and arc length is determined by power source voltage level
(open circuit voltage). Wire burn-off rate is automatically adjusted for any slight variation in the gun to
workpiece distance, wire feed speed, or current pick-up in the contact tip. For example, if the arc
momentarily shortens, arc voltage will decrease and welding current will be momentarily increased to
burn back the wire and maintain pre-set arc length. The reverse will occur to counteract a momentary
lengthening of the arc.

There is a wide range of power sources available, mode of metal transfer can be:

? dip
? spray
? pulsed

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk15.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 15: Equipment for MIG welding. Page 2 of 4
A low welding current is used for thin -section material, or welding in the vertical position. The molten
metal is transferred to the workpiece by the wire dipping into the weldpool. As welding parameters will
vary from around 100A \ 17V to 200A \ 22V (for a 1.2mm diameter wire), power sources normally
have a current rating of up to 350A. Circuit inductance is used to control the surge in current when the
wire dips into the weldpool (this is the main cause of spatter). Modern electronic power sources
automatically set the inductance to give a smooth arc and metal transfer.

In spray metal transfer, metal transfers as a spray of fine droplets without the wire touching the
weldpool. The welding current level needed to maintain the non short-circuiting arc must be above a
minimum threshold level; the arc voltage is higher to ensure that the wire tip does not touch the
weldpool. Typical welding parameters for a 1.2mm diameter wire are within 250A \ 28V to 400A \ 35V.
For high deposition rates the power source must have a much higher current capacity: up to 500A.

The pulsed mode provides a means of achieving a spray type metal transfer at current levels below
threshold level. High current pulses between 25 and 100Hz are used to detach droplets as an
alternative to dip transfer. As control of the arc and metal transfer requires careful setting of pulse and
background parameters, a more sophisticated power source is required. Synergic pulsed MIG power
sources, which are advanced transistor-controlled power sources, are preprogrammed so that the
correct pulse parameters are delivered automatically as the welder varies wire feed speed.

Welding current and arc voltage ranges for selected wire diameters operating with dip and spray
metal transfer:

Dip transfer Spray transfer


Wire diameter (mm)
Current (A) Voltage (V) Current (A) Voltage (V)
0.6 30 - 80 15 - 18
0.8 45 - 180 16 - 21 150 - 250 25 - 33
1.0 70 - 180 17 - 22 230 - 300 26 - 35
1.2 100 - 200 17 - 22 250 - 400 27 - 35
1.6 120 - 200 18 - 22 250 - 500 30 - 40

Wire feed system

The performance of the wire feed system can be crucial to the stability and reproducibility of MIG
welding. As the system must be capable of feeding the wire smoothly, attention should be paid to the
feed rolls and liners. There are three types of feeding systems:

? pinch rolls
? push-pull
? spool on gun

The conventional wire feeding system normally has a set of rolls where one is grooved and the other
has a flat surface. Roll pressure must not be too high otherwise the wire will deform and cause poor
current pick up in the contact tip. With copper coated wires, too high a roll pressure or use of knurled
rolls increases the risk of flaking of the coating (resulting in copper build up in the contact tip). For
feeding soft wires such as aluminium dual-drive systems should be used to avoid deforming the soft
wire.
http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk15.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 15: Equipment for MIG welding. Page 3 of 4
Small diameter aluminium wires, 1mm and smaller, are more reliably fed using a push-pull system.
Here, a second set of rolls is located in the welding gun - this greatly assists in drawing the wire
through the conduit. The disadvantage of this system is increased size of gun. Small wires can also
be fed using a small spool mounted directly on the gun. The disadvantages with this are increased
size, awkwardness of the gun, and higher wire cost.

Conduit

The conduit can measure up to 5m in length, and to facilitate feeding, should be kept as short and
straight as possible. (For longer lengths of conduit, an intermediate push-pull system can be
inserted). It has an internal liner made either of spirally-wound steel for hard wires (steel, stainless
steel, titanium, nickel) or PTFE for soft wires (aluminium, copper).

Gun

In addition to directing the wire to the joint, the welding gun fulfils two important functions - it transfers
the welding current to the wire and provides the gas for shielding the arc and weldpool.

There are two types of welding guns: 'air' cooled and water cooled. The 'air' cooled guns rely on the
shielding gas passing through the body to cool the nozzle and have a limited current-carrying
capacity. These are suited to light duty work. Although 'air' cooled guns are available with current
ratings up to 500A, water cooled guns are preferred for high current levels, especially at high duty
cycles.

Welding current is transferred to the wire through the contact tip whose bore is slightly greater than
the wire diameter. The contact tip bore diameter for a 1.2mm diameter wire is between 1.4 andt
1.5mm. As too large a bore diameter affects current pick up, tips must be inspected regularly and
changed as soon as excessive wear is noted. Copper alloy (chromium and zirconium additions)
contact tips, harder than pure copper, have a longer life, especially when using spray and pulsed
modes.

Gas flow rate is set according to nozzle diameter and gun to workpiece distance, but is typically
between 10 and 30 l/min. The nozzle must be cleaned regularly to prevent excessive spatter build-up
which creates porosity. Anti-spatter spray can be particularly effective in automatic and robotic
welding to limit the amount of spatter adhering to the nozzle.

Protective equipment

A darker glass than that used for MMA welding at the same current level should be used in hand or
head shields.

Recommended shade number of filter for MIG/MAG welding:

Welding current A
Shade number
MIG Heavy metal MIG Light metal MAG
10 under 100 under 100 under 80
11 1001 - 175 100 - 175 80 - 125

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk15.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 15: Equipment for MIG welding. Page 4 of 4

12 175 - 300 175 - 250 125 - 175


13 300 - 500 250 - 350 175 - 300
14 over 500 350 - 500 300 - 500
15 over 500 over 450

Copyright by TWI, 1999

Link to related content, selected on the basis of keyword matches using the keyword set on the 'Advanced
search' screen

TWI information:
Information and advice from TWI are provided in good faith and based, where appropriate, on the best engineering knowledge available at the time and
incorporated into TWI's website in accordance with TWI's ISO 9001 accredited quality system. No warranty expressed or implied is given regarding the results or
effects of applying information or advice obtained from the website, nor is any responsibility accepted for any consequential loss or damage.

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk15.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 16: Equipment for submerged arc welding. (Apr.1996) Page 1 of 4

Equipment for Submerged-arc Welding


The submerged-arc welding(SAW) process is similar to MIG where the arc is formed between a
continuously -fed wire electrode and the workpiece, and the weld is formed by the arc melting the
workpiece and the wire. However, in SAW a shielding gas is not required as the layer of flux
generates the gases and slag to protect the weld pool and hot weld metal from contamination. Flux
plays an additional role in adding alloying elements to the weld pool.

Essential equipment

Essential equipment components for SAW are:

? power source
? wire gun
? flux handling
? protective equipment

As SAW is a high current welding process, the equipment is


designed to produce high deposition rates.

Power source

SAW can be operated using either a DC or an AC power source. DC is supplied by a transformer-


rectifier and AC is supplied by a transformer. Current for a single wire ranges from as low as 200A
(1.6mm diameter wire) to as high as 1000A (6.0mm diameter wire). In practice, most welding is
carried out on thick plate where a single wire (4.0mm diameter) is normally used over a more limited
range of 600 to 900A, with a twin wire system operating between 800 and 1200A.

In DC operation, the electrode is normally connected to the positive terminal. Electrode negative
(DCEN) polarity can be used to increase deposition rate but depth of penetration is reduced by
between 20 and 25%. For this reason, DCEN is used for surfacing applications where parent metal
dilution is important. The DC power source has a 'constant voltage' output characteristic which
produces a self-regulating arc. For a given diameter of wire, welding current is controlled by wire feed
speed and arc length is determined by voltage setting.

AC power sources usually have a constant-current output characteristic and are therefore not self-
regulating. The arc with this type of power source is controlled by sensing the arc voltage and using
the signal to control wire feed speed. In practice, for a given welding current level, arc length is
determined by wire burnoff rate, i.e. the balance between the welding current setting and wire feed
speed which is under feedback control.

Square wave AC square wave power sources have a constant voltage output current characteristic.
Advantages are easier arc ignition and constant wire feed speed control.

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk16.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 16: Equipment for submerged arc welding. (Apr.1996) Page 2 of 4
Welding gun

SAW can be carried out using both manual and mechanised techniques. Mechanised welding, which
can exploit the potential for extremely high deposition rates, accounts for the majority of applications.

Manual welding

For manual welding, the welding gun is similar to a MIG gun, with the flux which is fed concentrically
around the electrode, replacing the shielding gas. Flux is fed by air pressure through the handle of the
gun or from a small hopper mounted on the gun. The equipment is relatively portable and, as the
operator guides the gun along the joint, little manipulative skill is required. However, because the
operator has limited control over the welding operation (apart from adjusting travel speed to maintain
the bead profile) it is best used for short runs and simple filling operations.

Mechanised welding - single wire

As SAW is often used for welding large components, the gun, wire feeder and flux delivery feed can
be mounted on a rail, tractor or boom manipulator. Single wire welding is mostly practised using
DCEP even though AC will produce a higher deposition rate for the same welding current. AC is used
to overcome problems with arc blow, caused by residual magnetism in the workpiece, jigging or
welding machine.

Wire stickout, or electrode extension - the distance the wire protrudes from the end of the contact tip -
is an important control parameter in SAW. As the current flowing between the contact tip and the arc
will preheat the wire, wire burnoff rate will increase with increase in wire stickout. For example, the
deposition rate for a 4mm diameter wire at a welding current of 700A can be increased from
approximately 9 kg/hr at the normal 32mm stickout, to 14 kg/hr at a stickout length of 178mm. In
practice, because of the reduction in penetration and greater risk of arc wander, a long stickout is
normally only used in cladding and surfacing applications where there is greater emphasis on
deposition rate and control of penetration, rather than accurate positioning of the wire.

For most applications, electrode stickout is set so that the contact tube is slightly proud of the flux
layer. The depth of flux is normally just sufficient to cover the arc whose light can be seen through the

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk16.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 16: Equipment for submerged arc welding. (Apr.1996) Page 3 of 4
flux.

Recommended and maximum stickout lengths:

Wire stickout
Wire diameter mm Current range A
Normal mm Maximum mm
0.8 100 to 200 12 -
1.2 150 to 300 20 -
1.6 200 to 500 20 -
2.0 250 to 600 25 63
3.2 350 to 800 30 76
4.0 400 to 900 32 128
4.75 450 to 1000 35 165

Mechanised welding - twin wire

Tandem arc connections

SAW can be operated with more than one wire. Although


up to five wires are used for high deposition rates, e.g. in
pipe mills, the most common multi-wire systems have two
wires in a tandem arrangement. The leading wire is run on
DCEP to produce deep penetration. The trailing wire is
operated on AC which spreads the weld pool, which is
ideal for filling the joint. AC also minimises: interaction
between the arcs, and the risk of lack of fusion defects and
porosity through the deflection of the arcs (arc blow). The
wires are normally spaced 20mm apart so that the second
wire feeds into the rear of the weld pool.

Gun angle

In manual welding, the gun is operated with a trailing angle, i.e. with the gun at an angle of 45
degrees (backwards) from the vertical. In single wire mechanised welding operations, the gun is
perpendicular to the workpiece. However, in twin wire operations the leading gun is normal to the
workpiece, with the trailing gun angled slightly forwards between an angle of 60 and 80 degrees. This
reduces disturbance of the weld pool and produces a smooth weld bead profile.

Flux handling

Flux should be stored in unopened packages under dry conditions. Open packages should be stored
in a humidity-controlled store. While flux from a newly -opened package is ready for immediate use,
flux which has been opened and held in a store should first be dried according to manufacturer's
instructions. In small welding systems, flux is usually held in a small hopper above the welding gun. It
is fed automatically (by gravity or mechanised feed) ahead of the arc. In larger installations the flux is
http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk16.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 16: Equipment for submerged arc welding. (Apr.1996) Page 4 of 4
stored in large hoppers and is fed with compressed air. Unused flux is collected using a vacuum hose
and returned to the hopper.

Note: Care must be taken in recycling unused flux, particularly regarding the removal of slag and
metal dust particles. The presence of slag will change the composition of the flux which, together with
the wire, determines the composition of the weld metal. The presence of fine particles can cause
blockages in the feeding system.

Protective equipment

Unlike other arc welding processes, SAW is a clean process which produces minimum fume and
spatter when welding steels. (Some noxious emissions can be produced when welding special
materials.) For normal applications, general workshop extraction should be adequate.

Protective equipment such as a head shield and a leather apron are not necessary. Normal protective
equipment (goggles, heavy gloves and protective shoes) are required for ancillary operations such as
slag removal by chipping or grinding. Special precautions should be taken when handling flux - a dust
respirator and gloves are needed when loading the storage hoppers.

Copyright by TWI, 1999

Link to related content, selected on the basis of keyword matches using the keyword set on the 'Advanced
search' screen

TWI information:
Information and advice from TWI are provided in good faith and based, where appropriate, on the best engineering knowledge available at the time and
incorporated into TWI's website in accordance with TWI's ISO 9001 accredited quality system. No warranty expressed or implied is given regarding the results or
effects of applying information or advice obtained from the website, nor is any responsibility accepted for any consequential loss or damage.

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk16.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 17: Equipment for tungsten inert gas (TIG, GTA) welding. Page 1 of 4

Equipment for TIG Welding


Job Knowledge for Welders No. 6 describes the TIG welding process. Using an inert gas shield
instead of a slag to protect the weldpool, this technology is a highly attractive alternative to gas and
manual metal arc welding and has played a major role in the acceptance of high quality welding in
critical applications.

Essential equipment

In TIG, the arc is formed between the end of a small diameter tungsten
electrode and the workpiece. The main equipment components are:

? power source
? torch
? backing system
? protective equipment

Power source

The power source for TIG welding can be either DC or AC but in both the
output is termed a drooping, or constant current, characteristic; the arc voltage / welding current
relationship delivers a constant current for a given power source setting.
If the arc voltage is slightly increased or decreased, there will be very little change in welding current.
In manual welding, it can accommodate the welder's natural variations in arc length and, in the event
of the electrode touching the work, an excessively high current will not be drawn which could fuse the
electrode to the workpiece.

The arc is usually started by HF (High Frequency) sparks which ionise the gap between the electrode
and the workpiece. HF generates airborne and line transmitted interference, so care must be taken to
avoid interference with control systems and instruments near welding equipment. When welding is
carried out in sensitive areas, a non-HF technique, touch starting or 'lift arc', can be used. The
electrode can be short circuited to the workpiece, but the current will only flow when the electrode is
lifted off the surface. There is, therefore, little risk of the electrode fusing to the workpiece surface and
forming tungsten inclusions in the weld metal. For high quality applications, using HF is preferred.

DC power source

DC power produces a concentrated arc with most of the heat in the workpiece, so this power source
is generally used for welding. However, the arc with its cathode roots on the electrode (DC electrode
negative polarity), results in little cleaning of the workpiece surface. Care must be taken to clean the
surface prior to welding and to ensure that there is an efficient gas shield.

Transistor and inverter power sources are being used increasingly for TIG welding. The advantages
are:

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk17.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 17: Equipment for tungsten inert gas (TIG, GTA) welding. Page 2 of 4
? the smaller size makes them easily transported
? arc ignition is easier
? special operating features, e.g. current pulsing, are readily included
? the output can be pre-programmed for mechanised operations

The greater stability of these power sources allows very low currents to be used particularly for micro-
TIG welding and largely replaced the plasma process for micro-welding operations.

AC power source

For materials such as aluminium, which has a tenacious oxide film on the surface, AC power must be
employed. By switching between positive and negative polarity, the periods of electrode positive will
remove the oxide and clean the surface.
The figure shows current and voltage waveforms for (sine
wave) AC TIG welding.

Disadvantages of conventional, sine wave AC compared with


DC are:

? the arc is more diffuse


? HF is required to reignite the arc at each current
reversal
? excessive heating of the electrode makes it impossible
to maintain a tapered point and the end becomes balled

Square wave AC, or switched DC, power sources are


particularly attractive for welding aluminium.
By switching between polarities, arc reignition is made easier so that the HF can be reduced or
eliminated. The ability to imbalance the waveform to vary the proportion of positive to negative
polarity is important by determining the relative amount of heat generated in the workpiece and the
electrode.

To weld the root run, the power source is operated with the greater amount of positive polarity to put
the maximum heat into the workpiece.
For filler runs a greater proportion of negative polarity should be used to minimise heating of the
electrode. By using 90% negative polarity, it is possible to maintain a pointed electrode. A balanced
position (50% electrode positive and negative polarities) is preferable for welding heavily oxidised
aluminium.

Torch

There is a wide range of torch designs for welding, according to the application. Designs which have
the on/off switch and current control in the handle are often preferred to foot controls. Specialised
torches are available for mechanised applications, e.g. orbital and bore welding of pipes.

Electrode

For DC current, the electrode is tungsten with between 2 and 5% thoria to aid arc initiation. The
electrode tip is ground to an angle of 600 to 900 for manual welding, irrespective of the electrode
diameter. For mechanised applications as the tip angle determines the shape of the arc and
influences the penetration profile of the weld pool, attention must be paid to consistency in grinding
the tip and checking its condition between welds.
http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk17.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 17: Equipment for tungsten inert gas (TIG, GTA) welding. Page 3 of 4
For AC current, the electrode is either pure tungsten or tungsten with a small amount (up to 0.5%) of
zirconia to aid arc reignition and to reduce electrode erosion. The tip normally assumes a spherical
profile due to the heat generated in the electrode during the electrode positive half cycle.

Gas shielding

A gas lens should be fitted within the torch nozzle, to ensure laminar gas flow. This will improve gas
protection for sensitive welding operations like welding vertical, corner and edge joints and on curved
surfaces.

Backing system

When welding high integrity components, a shielding gas is used to protect the underside of the weld
pool and weld bead from oxidation. To reduce the amount of gas consumed, a localised gas shroud
for sheet, dams or plugs for tubular components is used. As little as 5% air can result in a poor weld
bead profile and may reduce corrosion resistance in materials like stainless steel. With gas backing
systems in pipe welding, pre-weld purge time depends on the diameter and length of the pipe. The
flow rate/purge time is set to ensure at least five volume changes before welding.

Stick on tapes and ceramic backing bars are also used to protect and support the weld bead. In
manual stainless steel welding, a flux-cored wire instead of a solid wire can be used in the root run.
This protects the underbead from oxidation without the need for gas backing.

Inserts

A pre-placed insert can be used to improve the uniformity of the root penetration. Its main use is to
prevent suck-back in an autogenous weld, especially in the overhead position. The use of an insert
does not make welding any easier and skill is still required to avoid problems of incomplete root
fusion and uneven root penetration.

Protective equipment

A slightly darker glass should be used in the head or hand shield than that used for MMA welding.

Recommended shade number of filter for TIG welding:

Shade number Welding current A


9 less than 20
10 20 to 40
11 40 to 100
12 100 to 175
13 175 to 250
14 250 to 400

Copyright by TWI, 1999

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk17.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 17: Equipment for tungsten inert gas (TIG, GTA) welding. Page 4 of 4

TWI information:
Information and advice from TWI are provided in good faith and based, where appropriate, on the best engineering knowledge available at the time and
incorporated into TWI's website in accordance with TWI's ISO 9001 accredited quality system. No warranty expressed or implied is given regarding the results or
effects of applying information or advice obtained from the website, nor is any responsibility accepted for any consequential loss or damage.

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk17.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 18: Equipment for plasma welding. (Jan. 1996) Page 1 of 4

Equipment for Plasma Welding


Plasma welding derives its unique operating characteristics
from the torch design. As in TIG welding, the arc is formed
between the end of a small diameter tungsten electrode and
the workpiece. However, in the plasma torch, the electrode
is positioned behind a fine bore copper nozzle. By forcing
the arc to pass through the nozzle, the characteristic
columnar jet, or plasma, is formed.

As described in Job Knowledge for Welders, No 7, three


different operating modes can be produced by the choice of
the nozzle bore diameter, current level and plasma gas flow
rate:

? Microplasma (0.1 to 15A) is equivalent to microTIG but the columnar arc allows the welder to
operate with a much longer arc length. The arc is stable at low welding current levels producing
a 'pencil-like' beam which is suitable for welding very thin section material.

? Medium current plasma (15 to 100A) similar to conventional TIG, is also used for precision
welding operations and when a high level of weld quality is demanded.

? Keyhole plasma (over 100A) produced by increasing the current level and the plasma gas flow.
It generates a very powerful arc plasma, similar to a laser beam. During welding, the plasma arc
slices through the metal producing a keyhole, with the molten weld pool flowing around the
keyhole to form the weld. Deep penetration and high welding speeds can be achieved with this
operating mode.

As the plasma arc is generated by the special torch


arrangement and system controller, the equipment can be
obtained as an add-on unit to conventional TIG equipment to
provide additional pilot arc and separate plasma and
shielding gases. Alternatively, purpose-built plasma
equipment is available. Despite similarities in plasma and
TIG equipment, there are several important differences in
the following components:

? power source
? torch
? backing system
? protective equipment

Power source

The power source for plasma welding is almost exclusively DC and, as in TIG, the drooping, or
http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk18.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 18: Equipment for plasma welding. (Jan. 1996) Page 2 of 4
constant current, output characteristic will deliver essentially constant current for a given power
source setting. The power source is ideal for mechanised welding as it maintains the current setting
even when arc length varies and, in manual welding, it can accommodate the natural variations of the
welder.

The plasma process is normally operated with electrode negative polarity to minimise heat produced
in the electrode (approximately 1/3rd of the heat generated by the arc is produced at the cathode with
2/3rds at the anode). Special torches are available, however, for operating with electrode positive
polarity which rely on efficient cooling to prevent melting of the electrode. The positive electrode torch
is used for welding aluminium which requires the cathode to be on the material to remove the oxide
film.

AC is not normally used in the plasma process because it is difficult to stabilise the AC arc. Problems
in reigniting the arc are associated with constriction by the nozzle, the long electrode to workpiece
distance and balling of the electrode caused by the alternate periods of electrode positive polarity.
The square wave AC (inverter, switched DC) power source, with an efficiently cooled torch, makes
the use of the AC plasma process easier; rapid current switching promotes arc reignition and, by
operating with very short periods of electrode positive polarity, electrode heating is reduced so a
pointed electrode can be maintained.

The plasma system has a unique arc starting system in which HF is only used to ignite a pilot arc held
within the body of the torch. The pilot arc formed between the electrode and copper nozzle is
automatically transferred to the workpiece when it is required for welding. This starting system is very
reliable and eliminates the risk of electrical interference through HF.

Torch

The torch for the plasma process is considerably more complex than the TIG torch and attention must
be paid, not only to initial set up, but also to inspection and maintenance during production.

Nozzle

In the conventional torch arrangement, the electrode is positioned behind the water cooled copper
nozzle. As the power of the plasma arc is determined by the degree of nozzle constriction,
consideration must be given to the choice of bore diameter in relation to the current level and plasma
gas flow rate. For a 'soft' plasma, normally used for micro and medium current operating modes, a
relatively large diameter bore is recommended to minimise nozzle erosion.

In high current keyhole plasma mode, the nozzle bore diameter, plasma gas flow rate and current
level are selected to produce a highly constricted arc which has sufficient power to cut through the
material. The plasma gas flow rate is crucial in generating the deeply penetrating plasma arc and in
preventing nozzle erosion; too low a gas flow rate for the bore diameter and current level will result in
double arcing in the torch and the nozzle melting.

The suggested starting point for setting the plasma gas flow rate and the current level for a range of
the bore diameters and the various operating modes is given.

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk18.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 18: Equipment for plasma welding. (Jan. 1996) Page 3 of 4

Electrode

The electrode is tungsten with an addition of between 2 and 5% thoria to aid arc initiation. Normally,
the electrode tip is ground to an angle of 15 degrees for microplasma welding. The tip angle
increases with current level and for high current, keyhole plasma welding, an angle of 60 degrees to
90 degrees is recommended. For high current levels, the tip is also blunted to approximately 1mm
diameter. The tip angle is not usually critical for manual welding. However, for mechanised
applications, the condition of the tip and the nozzle will determine the shape of the arc and
penetration profile of the weld pool penetration, so particular attention must be paid to grinding the tip.
It is also necessary to check periodically the condition of the tip and nozzle and, for critical
components, it is recommended the torch condition is checked between welds.

Electrode set-back

To ensure consistency, it is important to maintain a constant electrode position behind the nozzle;
guidance on electrode set-back and a special tool is provided by the torch manufacturer. The
maximum current rating of each nozzle has been established for the maximum electrode set-back
position and the maximum plasma gas flow rate. Lower plasma gas flow rates can be used to soften
the plasma arc with the maximum current rating of the nozzle providing electrode set-back distance is
reduced.

Plasma and shielding gas

The usual gas combination is argon for the plasma gas and argon-2 to 8% H2 for the shielding gas.
Irrespective of the material being welded, using argon for the plasma gas produces the lowest rate of
electrode and nozzle erosion. Argon - H2 gas mixture for shielding produces a slightly reducing
atmosphere and cleaner welds. Helium gives a hotter arc; however, its use for the plasma gas
reduces the current carrying capacity of the nozzle and makes formation of the keyhole more difficult.
Helium - argon mixtures, e.g. 75% helium - 25% argon, are used as the shielding gas for materials
such as copper.

Plasma gas flow rate must be set accurately as it controls the penetration of the weld pool but the
shielding gas flow rate is not critical.

Backing system

The normal TIG range of backing bar designs or shielding gas techniques can be employed when
using micro and medium current techniques. When applying the keyhole mode a grooved backing bar
must be used, with or without gas shielding or total shielding of the underside of the joint. Because
http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk18.html 9/11/2001
Job knowledge for welders 18: Equipment for plasma welding. (Jan. 1996) Page 4 of 4
the efflux plasma normally extends about 10mm below the back face of the joint, the groove must be
deep enough to avoid disturbance of the arc jet; if the efflux plasma hits the backing bar, arc
instability will disturb the weld pool, causing porosity.

Protective equipment

Protective equipment for plasma welding is as described for TIG in Job Knowledge for Welders No
17. Regarding protection from arc light, a similar Shade number to TIG at the same welding current
level should be used in head or hand shield. The glass will be slightly darker than that used for MMA
welding at the same current level.

Recommended shade number of filter for plasma welding:

Welding Current, A
Shade Nunber
Micro Plasma Plasma
5 0.5 to 1
6 1 to 2.5
7 2.5 to 5
8 5 to 10
9 10 to 15
10 15 to 30
11 30 to 60 less than 150
12 60 to 125 150 to 250
13 125 to 225 above 250
14 225 to 450

See BS 639:1989 for further information on shade numbers.

Copyright by TWI, 1999

Link to related content, selected on the basis of keyword matches using the keyword set on the 'Advanced
search' screen

TWI information:
Information and advice from TWI are provided in good faith and based, where appropriate, on the best engineering knowledge available at the time and
incorporated into TWI's website in accordance with TWI's ISO 9001 accredited quality system. No warranty expressed or implied is given regarding the results or
effects of applying information or advice obtained from the website, nor is any responsibility accepted for any consequential loss or damage.

http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk18.html 9/11/2001