Welding Processes1. IntroductionThe manufacture of virtually all sophisticated modern products involves joining together manyindividual components. Where a permanent join is required, welding is often a good option.Other possible processes such as brazing, soldering, and use of adhesives will are considered inthe Design module.Welding processes can be split into two broad categories: The surfaces of two components to be joined are cleaned, placed close together and heated while being protected from oxidation. A pool ofFusion molten metal forms and connects the components, a filler rod may beprocesses used to add metal to the joint. This category covers a very wide range of processes, some of which are considered in more detail later The metals to be joined do not melt, they are heated, usually by friction heating generated by sliding the parts together under a normal load, this softens the metals and removes surface contamination. The sliding is thenSolid phase stopped, the normal load is increased and the two surfaces join together.processes Friction welding is the main process in this class and is widely used to join axisymmetric components in two different types of steels. Examples include engine valves where a heat resistant alloy head is required, but a steel that will slide well in the guide is needed for the stem.2. Fusion Welding Processes2.1 Potential ProblemsAlthough the majority of welding is carried out on steels, other metals, particularly aluminium,are increasingly being joined by welding. To ensure that the designers intent is met a number ofprecautions need to be considered when specifying the metals and process.Distortion - As the parts are heated to their melting point, they will undergo significant thermalexpansion and on cooling, contraction. To minimise the adverse effects of this it will often benecessary to use jigs, tacking and a suitable welding sequence or procedure, ie back stepping.Oxidation - At the elevated temperatures involved in fusion welding, metals oxidise rapidly.Oxidation would either prevent joining or result in a sub-standard joint. Oxidation is prevented ina number of ways depending upon the process. In oxy-acetylene welding, the gases produced bycombustion in the flame prevent oxidation. In the metal inert gas (MIG) and tungsten inert gas(TIG) processes, the arc is shrouded by a supply of inert gas such as helium, argon, carbondioxide or a mixture of these. In the electric arc consumable electrode process the rod is coatedwith a flux which forms a protective layer and gas in the weld area as the rod is consumed.
Loss of Mechanical Properties - Where a metal has been subjected to a thermal process,welding will frequently result in loss of property - strength or hardness - in the area adjacent tothe weld, called the heat affected zone (HAZ).Embrittlement - One source of embrittlement when welding steel is where consumables aredamp, which may result in the weld taking up hydrogen. This problem can be avoided byensuring that all metal to be welded and consumables are stored in dry conditions.An alternative cause of embrittlement is when alloy steels are welded or when a plain steel witha carbon content above 0.2% is welded. In these instances the self cooling of the parts may resultin martensitic zones adjacent to the weld which are unacceptably brittle.For general fabrication work involving plain steel, it is normal to use specify a carbon content ofless than 0.15%.When welding alloy steels appropriate pre-heating and slow post cooling must be carried out toensure that the cooling rate is too slow to result in any martensitic transformation.Joint OrientationAs most welding processes rely on a weld pool being formed between the parts to be joined, theprocess is most straightforward when the weld pool is stable, that is when it is horizontal. Thiswill not be the case when vertical and overhead joints are required. These require much moreskill and special electrodes/coatings may be used.2.2 Oxy Acetylene WeldingIn this process heat is provided by the combustion of Acetylene in Oxygen which gives a flametemperature of about 2700oC. This can be used to weld steel with a thickness up to about 5 mm.A filler rod is normally applied to assist in making the join. The process is widely used injobbing shops with manual operation and requires a fair bit of skill, particularly when weldingaluminium and thinner gauge steel.2.3 Arc WeldingSeveral welding processes are based on heating with an electric arc, only a few are consideredhere, starting with the oldest, simple arc welding, also known as shielded metal arc welding(SMAW) or stick welding.In this process an electrical machine (which may be DC or AC, but nowadays is usually AC)supplies current to an electrode holder which carries an electrode which is normally coated witha mixture of chemicals or flux. A earth cable connects the workpiece to the welding machine toprovide a return path for the current. The weld is initiated by tapping (striking) the tip of theelectrode against the workpiece which initiates an electric arc. The high temperature generated(about 6000oC) almost instantly produces a molten pool and the end of the electrodecontinuously melts into this pool and forms the joint.
The operator needs to control the gap between the electrode tip and the workpiece while movingthe electrode along the joint.In the shielded metal arc welding process (SMAW) the stick electrode is covered with anextruded coating of flux. The heat of the arc melts the flux which generates a gaseous shield tokeep air away from the molten pool and also flux ingredients react with unwanted impuritiessuch as surface oxides, creating a slag which floats to the surface of the weld pool. This forms acrust which protects the weld while it is cooling. When the weld is cold the slag is chipped off.The SMAW process can not be used on steel thinner than about 3mm and being a discontinuousprocess it is only suitable for manual operation. It is very widely used in jobbing shops and foron site steel construction work. A wide range of electrode materials and coatings are availableenabling the process to be applied to most steels, heat resisting alloys and many types of castiron.2.4 Metal Inert Gas (MIG) or Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW)In this process a filler metal is stored on a spool and driven by rollers (current is fed into thewire) through a tube into a torch. The large amount of filler wire on the spool means that theprocess can be considered to be continuous and long, uninterrupted welds can easily be made.An inert gas is also fed along the tube and into the torch and exits around the wire. An arc isstruck between the wire and the workpiece and because of the high temperature of the arc a weldpool forms almost instantly. In this process they key issues are selecting the correct gas mixtureand flow rate and the welding wire speed and current. Once these have been set, the skill levelrequired is lower than with the oxy acetylene process, and it can readily be automated and MIGwelding is now commonly carried out by robots. The MIG process is widely used on steels andon aluminium. Although the inert gas shield keeps the weld clean, depending upon the process
settings, there may be spatter of metal globules adjacent to the weld which detracts from itsappearance unless they are removed.2.5 Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)This is similar to MIG welding except that the electrode is in the form of a hollow tube filledwith flux that may include metal powder(s). No inert gas is needed.2.6 Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) or Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW)This process uses a non consumable tungsten electrode is used and an arc struck between thisand the workpiece surface.An inert gas is used to shield the weld area and filler rod may be used. The process is well suitedto joining non - ferrous metals, including aluminium, refractory and special metals and iseffective for joining thin section metals. A high degree of skill is needed, but high quality weldscan be produced.2.7 Other ProcessesA number of other specialised processes are in use including: electron beam welding (EBW)which needs to be carried and in a vacuum and laser beam welding.