Shielding Gases and their Inﬂuence in Welding Sricharan Sunder, 09MT3008 Piyush Verma, 09MT3018 Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering IIT Kharagpur April 2, 2013
AbstractDuring a welding process, oxygen and other atmospheric gases can react withmolten metal causing defects that weaken the weld. The primary function ofa shielding gas is to protect the molten weld from atmospheric contamina-tion and resulting imperfections. In addition to its shielding function, eachgas or gas blend has unique properties, weld appearance and shape, fumegeneration, weld color, and arc stability. The primary gases used for electric welding and cutting are argon, helium,hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. The composition of the gascan and should be tailored to meet the process, material, and applicationrequirements.
IntroductionFor all practical purposes, a welding arc can be thought of as a conversiondevice that changes electrical energy into heat. Arc temperatures are very high, producing more than enough heat to meltany known matearial. The characteristic of an arc depends on the shieldinggas that is used in the arc gap because the gas aﬀects the arc constituent i.e.the anode, cathode, and plasma regions of the arc. To form the arc plasma the shielding gas must be forced to remove anelectron from a gas atom, making it an ion, or electrically charged gas atom.This is referred to as ionization. The heavier the gas atom the easier it is toionize the lighter is harder to ionize. Since heat in the arc is roughly measured by the product of current andvoltage (arc power), the use of helium yields a much higher available heatthan does argon. Conversely you can understand that since argon ionizes ata lower voltage it will initiate the arc easier than does helium. 1
Inﬂuences and Eﬀects of Various Shielding Gaseson Diﬀerent PropertiesDissociation and Recombination When two or more atoms combine they form a molecule. Shielding gasessuch as hydrogen and oxygen are molecules. When gases such as hydrogenare heated to the temperatures present in the arc plasma, these gases breakdown, or dissociate into their separate atoms. They are then at least par-tially ionized, producing free electrons and current ﬂow. As the dissociatedgas comes in contact with the relatively cooled work surface, the atom s re-combine, and in the process generate additional heat. This process does notoccur with gases such as argon, which cons ists of a single atom. Therefore,at the same arc temperature, the heat generated at the work surface can beconsiderably greater with gases such as hydrogen and oxygen.Reactivity Reactivity, as it applies to shielding gases, is a comparative measurementof how readily a given sh ielding gas will react with the molten weld metal.Nitrogen is sometimes considered an inert gas. However, at the temperaturesassociated with weldings, it may react and have an eﬀect on weld chemistry. Hydrogen also reacts with the weld metal but as a reducing gas. Hydrogenwill (preferentially) react with an oxidizing agent over the molten weld metal,thereby helping to prevent the formation of oxides in the molten weld metal.Surface Tension In any liquid there is an attractive force exerted by the molecules belowthe surface upon those at the surface. An inward pull, or internal pressureis thus created, which tends to restrain the liquid from ﬂowing. Its strengthvaries with the chemical nature of the liquid. In welding, the surface tension between molten metals and the surroundingatmosphere has a pronounced inﬂuence on bead shape. If the energy value ishigh, a convex, irregular bead will result. Low values promote ﬂatter beads.Pure argon shielding is usually associated with high interfacial energy, pro-ducing sluggish puddle and a high crowned bead. This is partially attributedto the high surface tension of liquid iron in a inert atmosphere. 2
Gas Purity Depending on the metal being welded and the welding process used, evenvery minute gas impurities can have a signiﬁcant eﬀect on welding speed,weld surface appearance, weld bead coalescence, weld color, and porositylevels. The eﬀects of any given impurity, either by itself or in combinationwith others, on the many metals and processes available create endless pos-sibilities. There is always the possibility of the gas being contaminated either asdelivered, or more likely, somewhere between the supply and the end usepoint. Your shielding gas supplier is equipped with the analytical equipmentto determine purity levels anywhere in the system, and in most cases willassist in identifying the cause and solution.Flow of Shielding Gas The proper ﬂow of shielding gas is a very important factor for high qualitywelding. Insuﬃcient or excessive amounts of shielding gas can have negativeaﬀects on welding quality. Excessive gas can cause turbulence to occur andair contamination to be introduced; this causes oxidation and discolorationof the weld deposit. Insuﬃcient gas ﬂow can also result in poorly protectedwelds that is, oxidation from the air can occur, and once again oxidizedand discolored weld deposits can be produced. While discolored depositsdepending on application, may only be cosmetically displeasing the presenceof oxide can reduce mechanical properties (strength and fatigue) and reducetoughness.Conclusion So it can be seen that as a matter of fact, the shielding gases are verymuch responsible for the surface ﬁnish and the properties of the weld as theshielding gases eﬀect a lot of other factors which determine the weld directlyor indirectly. It also eﬀects the drop radius as follows. 3
Thus we can see that the shielding gas also eﬀects the droplet size thatis released from the electrode and hence controls the volume of ﬁller metalgoing per unit time into the weld. 4