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STUDENT COURSE NOTES PART (2)

Welding Principles Section 13 - 18


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Welding safety
Welding regulations
Welding terms & symbols
Heat treatment
Metal cutting & gouging
Elements in carbon steel
Preparing weld joints
Welding procedure
Weld testing
Elementary electricity
Arc conditions
Manual metal arc electrodes
Welding alloy steels
Welding non-ferrous alloys
Gas tungsten arc welding
Gas metal arc welding
Oxygen acetylene welding (fuel gas)
Submerged arc welding (automatic)
Competency test

Date Started

Date
completed

Teachers
Signature

Contents
Section 13

Welding alloy steels -------------------------------------------------- 5


Alloy steels ---------------------------------------------------------------Low alloy steels ----------------------------------------------------------Uses of low alloy steels -----------------------------------------------Effects of alloying elements added to steel -----------------------Carbon equivalent ------------------------------------------------------Wettability of low alloy steel (general guide) ---------------------Welding low alloy steels -----------------------------------------------Welding processes for joining low alloy steels -------------------Selection of consumables ---------------------------------------------High alloy steel ----------------------------------------------------------Review questions --------------------------------------------------------

6
6
6
7
8
9
9
10
10
11
12

Section 14

Welding non-ferrous metals ---------------------------------------- 15


Non-ferrous metals ------------------------------------------------------ 16
Factors which influence the welding of non-ferrous alloys ----- 16
Aluminium and its alloys ------------------------------------------------ 16
Copper and its alloys ---------------------------------------------------- 17
Nickel and its alloys ----------------------------------------------------- 18
Selecting consumables for welding non-ferrous metals -------- 19
Thermal and mechanical cutting processes ----------------------- 19
Pre and post weld cleaning for non- ferrous metals ------------- 20
Safety precautions for welding non-ferrous metals -------------- 21
Welding procedures ----------------------------------------------------- 22
Review questions -------------------------------------------------------- 23

Section 15

Gas tungsten arc welding ------------------------------------------- 26


The process --------------------------------------------------------------- 27
Equipment ----------------------------------------------------------------- 28
Preparation for tungsten electrodes --------------------------------- 31
Filler rods------------------------------------------------------------------- 33
Welding current ----------------------------------------------------------- 34
Industrial uses ------------------------------------------------------------ 34
Gas tungsten arc weld joints ------------------------------------------ 36
Shielding gases ----------------------------------------------------------- 37
Advantages ---------------------------------------------------------------- 39
Limitations ----------------------------------------------------------------- 39
Weld faults ----------------------------------------------------------------- 39
Safety ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 42
Review questions -------------------------------------------------------- 43

Section 16

Gas metal arc welding ------------------------------------------------ 46


The process --------------------------------------------------------------- 47
Equipment ----------------------------------------------------------------- 47
Welding variables -------------------------------------------------------- 51
Transfer modes ----------------------------------------------------------- 53
Solid wires ----------------------------------------------------------------- 56
Shielding gases ----------------------------------------------------------- 57
Correcting weld and machine faults --------------------------------- 61
Advantages ---------------------------------------------------------------- 62
Limitations ----------------------------------------------------------------- 62
Safety ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 63
Review questions -------------------------------------------------------- 64

Section 17

Oxyacetylene welding (fuel gas) ---------------------------------- 67


Fuel gas welding --------------------------------------------------------- 68
Oxygen and acetylene -------------------------------------------------- 68
Other equipment --------------------------------------------------------- 72
Flame types --------------------------------------------------------------- 76
Consumables ------------------------------------------------------------- 78
Weld faults ----------------------------------------------------------------- 79
Advantages ---------------------------------------------------------------- 79
Limitations ----------------------------------------------------------------- 79
Further safety ------------------------------------------------------------- 80
Review questions -------------------------------------------------------- 81

Section 18

Submerged arc welding (automatic) ----------------------------- 84


The process --------------------------------------------------------------- 85
Equipment ----------------------------------------------------------------- 86
Methods of positioning weld head ----------------------------------- 89
Consumables ------------------------------------------------------------- 90
Effects of submerged arc welding Variables ---------------------- 91
Plate edge preparation ------------------------------------------------- 94
Hazards of submerged arc welding---------------------------------- 96
Weld faults ----------------------------------------------------------------- 97
Advantages ---------------------------------------------------------------- 98
Limitations ----------------------------------------------------------------- 98
Uses ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 98
Electro-slag/consumable guide welding ---------------------------- 98
Review questions -------------------------------------------------------- 100

Answers to review questions _____________________________________ 103

Words you need to know _________________________________________ 109

Section 13 - Welding alloy steels

Section 13

Welding alloy steels

Task

To understand the theory of welding alloy steels, including the


influence of alloying elements, welding process suitability and
the selection of consumables. This section covers part of
learning outcome 5 of the National Module Descriptor.

Why

So you will know industry requirements for welding alloy steels.

To pass

At the end of this module you will do a written competency test on


this topic. This will be a series of short answer and multiple
choice questions.

September 2009

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Section 13 - Welding alloy steels

Alloy steels
Alloy steels depend on other elements as well as carbon for their mechanical and
physical properties. They are generally stronger, more corrosion resistant and can be
used in lighter sections than low carbon steel.

Low alloy steels


Low alloy steels generally contain less than 2% alloying elements.
The common alloying elements in low alloy steels are:
manganese
copper
molybdenum nickel
vanadium
silicon
chromium
Advantages of low alloy steels include their greater strength to weight ratio, their
greater load carrying capacity and improved service life. Some low alloy steels are
supplied in the quench and tempered condition and are referred to as Q and T steels.
Examples of low alloy and Q and T steels:
Bisalloy (Q and T)
Weldten
Austen
Lyten
USS T1 (Q and T)
For example, the chemical composition of Bisalloy 80 is:
carbon
0.21%
0.025%
phosphorous
0.80%
manganese
0.15%
silicon
sulphur
0.02%
0.6%
chromium
0.4%
boron

Uses of low alloy steels


Because they are strong and resist abrasion and atmospheric corrosion
(weathering), low alloy steels are widely used for such things as:
ships
bow and stern sections for icebreakers
submarines
hull sections
cranes, fork-lifts booms, outriggers, jibs, forks
bulldozers
chassis, blades, rippers
rail trucks
ore truck bodies.

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September 2009

Section 13 - Welding alloy steels

Effects of alloying elements added to steel


Manganese (Mn)
it tends to harden the steel when combined with carbon
helps produce a fine grain structure
combines with sulphur to form less harmful manganese sulphide.
Chromium (Cr)
raises the critical temperature - a low percentage of chromium (1 -2%) increases the
hardness and toughness without loss of ductility
4-6% increases resistance to tarnishing
above 11 % becomes corrosion resistant
steels with higher chromium additions are relatively stable at high temperatures and
promote heat and oxidation resistance.
Nickel (NO
produces an alloy of greater strength, toughness and resistance to abrasion
steels containing a minimum of 7% nickel and 16% chromium have an austenitic
structure
the steels do not suffer grain growth
lowers the critical temperature
lessens distortion when quenched
produces deep hardening properties
can be magnetised.
Molybdenum (Mo)
increases tensile strength and toughness
does not become brittle with continued heating
high resistance to creep.
Copper (Cu)
promotes resistance to atmospheric and sea water corrosion.
Silicon (Si)
about 1 % is used in some structural steels to promote hardness, fine grain, added
strength and toughness
about 4% is used to give magnetic permeability in electrical machinery.
Vanadium (V)
increases tensile strength
increases elastic limit
increases resistance to fatigue
is used for resistance to high stresses
is an excellent de-oxidiser and scavenger.

September 2009

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Section 8 - Welding alloy steels

Carbon equivalent
The carbon equivalent is a calculation used to determine the wettability o1 a low alloy
steel compared to the wettability of a plain carbon steel.
There is a difference between the wettability of low carbon and low alloy steel. The
hardening effects of the alloying elements in low alloy steels must be considered:
Practical experience with steels containing less than 2% alloying elements indicate:
will produce the same hardening effect as 1% carbon will
6% manganese
produce the same hardening effect as 1 % carbon will produce
5% chromium
the same hardening effect as 1 % carbon will produce the
15% nickel
same hardening effect as 1 % carbon will produce the same
4% molybdenum
hardening effect as 1 % carbon will produce the same
5% vanadium
hardening effect as 1% carbon
13% copper

Comparing the weldability of low carbon and low alloy steel


Example: Find the carbon equivalent of the following alloy steel containing these
alloying elements:

In the example, the carbon content plus the alloying elements in the steel have
produced a carbon equivalent of 0.39% and this steel will react in a similar way during
welding to 0.39% carbon steel.
Note: There are many carbon equivalent formulas. They are an approximation for use
as a guide and only apply to low alloy steels.

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September 2009

Section 13 - Welding alloy steels

Weldability of low alloy steel (general guide)


Carbon equivalent
0.3%+
0.4% - 0.48%
0.48% - 0.55%
above 0.55%

Welding procedure
Weldable with low carbon consumables
Weldable with low carbon consumables with 100C200C pre-heat
Use hydrogen controlled consumables
Weldable with hydrogen controlled consumables and
moderate pre-heat interrum temperature controlled
Weldable with hydrogen controlled consumables,
moderate pre-heat, interrum temperature controlled, post
heat treatment, slow cooling
Use austenitic stainless consumable 25/20 with preheat
and post heat, slow cooling

Welding low alloy steels


Preparation
Oxy-fuel gas cutting is possible providing it's kept to a minimum and certain precautions
are taken. Correct nozzle size is important. High speed cutting nozzles are not
recommended with some materials because of the rapid quench effect on the cut edge.
Grinding the cut edge removes notches and helps remove stresses which may lead to
transverse cracking. Dye penetrant checks may be required before welding to ensure a
crack-free zone. A clean joint is essential as contamination may cause failure.
Hydrogen can cause underbead cracking (heat affected zone cracking) on thick
sections of low alloy steel or where the steel is subjected to high restraint.
Welding methods (suggested techniques)
(Refer to manufacturer's recommendation).
Use straight stringer beads, avoid weaving.
Use the largest consumable practical to comply with heat energy input (see
Section 4: Heat treatment of this module in separate workbook).
Plan a welding sequence to avoid high restraint.
Weld the part with the lowest carbon equivalent last.
Carefully profile the weld by grinding to remove notches on uneven beads,
especially on tubular sections.
Allow slow cooling.

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Section 13 - Welding alloy steels

Welding processes for joining low alloy steels


Manual metal arc welding
Manual metal arc welding is a versatile and widely used process for joining low alloy
steels. A good selection of electrodes is available, especially the hydrogen controlled
type. These electrodes have a range from 480MPa tensile strength through to 800MPa
tensile strength. Special properties, such as colour match for weathering steels, impact
strength at minus temperatures and the ability to resist creep at elevated temperatures
are a few of the characteristics of these electrodes.
Gas metal arc welding
Gas metal arc welding is widely used in the production welding field with a range of
filler wires and shielding gases capable of welding most low alloy steels.
Flux cored arc welding
Flux cored filler wires have been developed for high tensile quench and tempered
steels and similar low alloy steels where the hydrogen controlled deposit minimises the
possibility of cracking.
Gas tungsten arc welding
Gas tungsten arc welding is generally used for small components made from low alloy
steel, such as boiler tubes, aircraft frames and high pressure pipes.
Submerged arc welding
Submerged arc welding is successfully used for welding quench and tempered low
alloy steels providing the steel maker's recommendations are followed. The filler wire
and flux must be compatible with the alloy plate.

Selection of consumables
Low alloy steel must be identified before it's welded. The steelmaker's
recommendation can then be given to the welding engineer who will prepare a welding
procedure. If the alloy steel is not identified and the joint is incorrectly welded, it could
fail with disastrous results.
Choosing the correct type of electrodes, filler wires and fluxes is also important. As a
general guide the composition of the deposited weld metal should be as close to the
chemical composition of the parent metal as possible. Most electrodes and filler wires
are manufactured to Australian Standard codes and these classifications are
generally noted in any welding specification.
Note: For information about the selection of shielding gases for alloy steels see
Section 15: Gas tungsten arc welding and Section 16: Gas metal arc welding
in this workbook.

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Section 13 - Welding alloy steels

11

High alloy steels


High alloy steels are steels containing more than 2% alloying elements. Stainless
steels are high alloy steels containing at least 11 % chromium. The high chromium
content retards corrosion giving the steel its stainless quality.
Types of stainless steel
austenitic
martensitic
ferritic
duplex grades: austenitic/ferritic
austenitic/martensitic
Because of the variation in weldability of stainless steels, you must positively identify
the material and have a proven welding procedure before beginning to weld.

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Section 13 - Welding alloy steels

Review questions
These questions will help you revise what you've learnt in Section 13. The answers are
on page 111.
Short answers
1.

Define a low alloy steel:

2.

List 3 uses for low alloy steel:


a .............................................................................................................................
b ..............................................................................................................................
c ..............................................................................................................................

3.

List 7 common alloying elements used in low alloy steel:


a ........................................................

e. .........................................................

b ........................................................

f. ...........................................................

c .......................................................

g............................................................

d .......................................................
4.

What is meant by the carbon equivalent?

5.

Name a non-destructive testing method that can be used to check a weld joint for
cracks before welding an alloy steel:

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September 2009

Section 13 - Welding alloy steels

13

Multiple choice
Choose the correct answer and write the letter a, b, c or d in
the box.
6. The carbon equivalent formula is used to determine:
a.
b.
c.
d.

if a steel can be oxy-cut


a steel's ability to be quenched and tempered
a steel's cracking potential
a steel's wettability

7. The type of manual metal arc electrode most suited for


welding low alloy steel is:
a.
b.
c.
d.

cellulose
hydrogen controlled
iron powder
semi-iron powder

8. Molybdenum is used in alloy steel because of its:


a.
b.
c.
d.

ability to prevent underbead cracking


magnetic properties
hydrogen reducing properties
high resistance to creep

9. Some alloy steels are supplied in:


a.
b.
c.
d.

the plastic condition


the quench and tempered condition
the normalised condition
the stress relieved condition

10. Before welding a low alloy steel you must first:


a.
b.
c.
d.

select a pre-heat temperature


write a welding procedure
identify the steel
select a wetting consumable

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Section 13 - Welding alloy steels

True or false
Circle T if the statement is true, F if the statement is false.
11. Alloy steels are used for their high strength, abrasion resistance and corrosion
resistance.
T
F
12. Low alloy steels can be oxy-cut.
T

13. Alloy steels cannot be welded with flux cored wires.

14. Austenitic stainless steel is a high alloy steel.

15. Oxygen causes underbead cracking.

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September 2009

Section 14 - Welding non-ferrous metals

Section 14

15

Welding non-ferrous metals

Task

To understand the theory of welding and cutting non-ferrous


metals. This section covers part of learning outcome 5 of the
National Module Descriptor.

Why

So you will know the industry requirements for cutting and


welding non-ferrous metals.

To pass

At the end of this module you will do a written competency test


on this topic. This will be a series of short answer and multiple
choice questions.

Safety
There are safety precautions for welding non-ferrous metals on page 25 of this
section.
Learn what you have to do to work in a safe environment.
Protect yourself and others from radiation and toxic gases and fumes.

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Section 14 - Welding non-ferrous metals

Non-ferrous metals
A non-ferrous metal contains very little or no iron. Examples are:
aluminium and its alloys
copper and its alloys
nickel and its alloys

Factors which influence the welding of non-ferrous alloys


The factors to consider when welding non-ferrous metals compared with carbon steel
are:
the high melting point of some oxides (refractory oxides)
the low welding melting point of some metals
the range of expansion rates
loss of heat in the weld area from high thermal conductivity
electrical conductivity which will vary from excellent to poor
colour change before melting - this does not happen with some alloys
sudden melting followed by rapid solidification (no plastic zone)
the possibility of dangerous fumes
removing fluxes to prevent corrosion
the proneness of many non-ferrous metals to hot cracking.

Aluminium and its alloys


After steel, aluminium is the most popular metal welded today. Its wettability depends
on its alloy elements. It is widely used because:
it is a lightweight metal about a third of the mass of steel
it has a higher resistance to atmospheric corrosion than many metals because of the
high melting point oxide film that sticks to its surface - if this isn't removed, it can
make welding difficult
its resistance to saltwater corrosion makes it useful for boat building
it conducts electricity about two thirds as well as copper
it conducts heat well and is used for cooking equipment eg fry pans
some aluminium alloys provide high strength materials, for example the metal used
for aircraft frames.
Types of wrought aluminium
Al - pure 99.0% min
Al + copper
Al + manganese
Al + silicon
Al + magnesium
Al + magnesium and silicon
Al + zinc
Al + other elements

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Designation number
1000 series
2000 series
3000 series
4000 series
5000 series
6000 series
7000 series
8000 series

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Section 14 - Welding non-ferrous metals

17

Weldability of wrought aluminium alloys by various processes


Designation
number
1000
2000
3000
4000
5000
6000
7000

MM AW

GTAW

GMAW

OAW

RW

D
X
D
D
D
D
X

A
X
A
A
A
A
C

A
X
A
A
A
A
X

B
X
B
B
C
B
X

B
A-C
B
B
A-C
B
C

A = excellent
B = good
C = fair D
= poor
X = not recommended

RW = resistance welding

Copper and its alloys


Copper and copper-based alloys are well established engineering materials with
specific properties which include: high resistance to corrosion, electrical and thermal
conductivity, toughness at low temperature and the ability to be strengthened by cold
working. Copper's weldability depends on the method of manufacture and its
thickness. It's the only industrial metal which becomes more difficult to weld when its
thickness is increased by only a few millimeters. Copper's high thermal conductivity
has the greatest influence on its weldability. Expansion and contraction rates are twice
that of carbon steel. Welding copper and its alloys produces toxic fumes.
Types of wrought copper 99.3%
Oxygen free electronic Oxygen free
Electrolytic tough pitch Silver bearing
tough pitch
Phosphorous de-oxidised Phosphorous
de-oxidised arsenical

fusion welding not recommended


fusion welding not recommended
fusion welding not recommended
no oxy-acetylene, gas tungsten arc or gas
metal arc welding
excellent fusion welding
excellent welding

Tests for weldability


1. Heat to a red heat and hammer to see if the metal cracks.
2. Cut a welded section for a bend test.

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Section 14 - Welding non-ferrous metals

Types of copper alloys


Brasses
63/37 common brass
70/30 cartridge brass
90/10 gilding brass
red brass
arsenical brass

Bronzes
silicon bronze
aluminium bronze
beryllium bronze
manganese bronze
phosphor bronze

Other
nickel silver
cupronickel
cusilman
everdue
gunmetal

Weldability of copper and its alloys by various processes


Metal
Deox-copper
Common brass
Cartridge brass
Red brass
Silicon bronze
Alumin bronze
Beryllium bronze
Manganese bronze
Phosphor bronze
A = excellent
B = good

MM AW
C
X
X
X
B
C
X
X

GTAW
A
C
C
C
A
B
A
C
A

C = fair
X - not recommended

GMAW
A
C
C
C
A
B
A
C
A

OAW
B
B
B
B
B
X
X
B
C

RW
A
A
A
B
A
B
A
B
A

RW = resistance welding

Nickel and its alloys


Nickel and nickel alloys are commonly used when there is a need for corrosion
resistance, for example in the chemical and food industries. Some grades of nickel
alloys are used for gas turbine engines because they have high hot strength and creep
resisting properties capable of working above 800C. Others are suitable for sub zero
environments. Nickel and nickel alloys are prone to hot cracking if sulphur is present.
Types of nickel and its alloys
Nickel 200
99.0%
Monel 400 Inconel 600
Incoloy 800 Nimonic 80
Nilo 36

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Section 14 - Welding non-ferrous metals

19

Weldability of nickel and its alloys by various processes


Metal
Nickel 200
Monel 400
Inconel 600
Incoloy 800
Nimonic 80
Nile- 36

A excellent
B = good

MMAW
A
A
A
A
X
A

GTAW
A
A
A
A
A
A

GMAW
A
A
A
A
X
A

C fair
X = not recommended

Note: Submerged arc welding can be used for a number of nickel alloys.

Selecting consumables for welding non-ferrous metals


Non-ferrous metals must be positively identified before selecting welding
consumables, otherwise you could be responsible for an expensive failure. As a
general guide the composition of the deposited weld metal should be as close to
the chemical composition of the parent metal as possible and comply with
Australian Standards:
AS1167 Parts 1 and 2 Filler wires
AS2217 Part 2 Gas metal arc filler wires

Thermal and mechanical cutting processes


Mechanical cutting
Hand power tools and larger static machines suitable for cutting non-ferrous
materials to size are:
jigsaws (aluminium only)
band saws (aluminium only)
routers with tungsten cutters
shears
nibblers
guillotines
friction saws
cut off saws
power saws.

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Section 14 - Welding non-ferrous metals

Air arc cutting


Air arc cutting is generally used tor demolition work and cutting risers off castings. It is
not used for accurate cutting.
Plasma arc cutting
Plasma arc cutting is widely used for accurate cutting. It can be attached to photoelectric or computer controlled cross-carriage cutting machines. Equipment is also
available to back gouge with plasma arc:
single gas plasma - compressed air will cut up to 12mm in thickness
twin gas plasma - Co2 and nitrogen will cut over 25mm in thickness.
For more detail on air arc and plasma arc cutting see Section 5: Metal cutting and
gouging of this module (in separate workbook).

Pre and post weld cleaning for non-ferrous metals


Non-ferrous metals, whether in wrought or cast form, have a surface oxide coating
which has to be removed before welding begins.
Cleaning
solvents

Use acetone or methylated spirits to clean and degrease metals,


Remember the safety precautions for working with flammable
solvents.

Mechanical
Special sanding discs and tungsten cutters are available for
cleaning
portable electric planes. These are used for softer metals such as
oxide removal aluminium.
Chemical
cleaning
oxide removal

Most non-ferrous metals will require a flux to remove oxides when


welding with oxyacetylene especially aluminium,

Electrical
Gas tungsten arc welding with AC-HF has a cleaning action on
cleaning
the positive half cycle which lifts the oxide off. All gas metal arc
oxide removal welding uses electrode positive.
Flux removal

Use water and a wire brush to remove flux residue after manual metal
arc welding or oxyacetylene welding.

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Section 14 - Welding non-ferrous metals

21

Safety precautions for welding non-ferrous metals


Cleaning
solvents

Store solvents used tor cleaning well away from welding,


Do not begin welding until cleaning solvents have evaporated and
the weld surface is dry and free from fumes.

Radiation

Radiation from aluminium welding arcs can be more severe than from
other metals. Wear darker shade filters. Cover your whole body with
protective clothing and equipment.
Protect co-workers from the reflection of arc radiation from shiny
surfaces by welding screens and safety glasses.

Hot metal

Aluminium does not change colour when hot. Mark all hot metal and
store in a safe area.

Electric shock Prevent high frequency leakage when gas tungsten arc welding and
using plasma arc.
Weld dressing Don't grind non-ferrous metals on grinding wheels meant for steel. Use
dust collection systems.
Toxic gases
fumes

Adequate ventilation in welding areas is essential, and

Type of fume

Danger

Copper oxide fume

metal fume fever

Cadmium oxide fume (very toxic)

lung damage, may be fatal

Beryllium oxide fume (very toxic)

general poisoning - carcinogen

Zinc oxide fume

metal fume fever

Arsenical copper

general poisoning

See WTIA Technical Note 7 and the notes in Section 1: Welding safety of this
module (in separate workbook) for further information.

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Section 14 - Welding non-ferrous metals

Welding procedures
The following are points to consider when constructing a welding procedure for nonferrous metals:
metal composition
metal thickness
welding process
consumables: fluxes, filler rods/wires and shielding gas
edge preparation - backing strip
pre-weld cleaning: solvents, chemicals, sanding
weld sequence
pre-weld and intermittent heat treatment
post weld heat treatment
slag and flux removal
post weld dressing.

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Section 14 - Welding non-ferrous metals

23

Review questions
These questions will help you revise what you've learnt in Section 14. The answers are
on page 112.
Short answer
1. Define the term non-ferrous:

2. List the types of wrought aluminium and their series number:

3. Describe a problem of welding pure copper:

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4.

Section 14 - Welding non-ferrous metals

Name 2 welding processes that can be used to fusion weld silicon bronze:
a ................................................................................................................................
b ................................................................................................................................

5.

Describe a use for nickel alloys:

Multiple choice
Choose the correct answer and write the letter a, b, c or d in the box. 6.
Pure aluminium:
a.
b.
c.
d.

cannot be welded
is heavier than carbon steel
does not form an oxide
is corrosion resistant

7. The correct series number for wrought aluminium alloyed with magnesium is:
a.
b.
c.
d.

1000
4000
5000
6000

8. Before the selection of a filler wire for welding a non-ferrous metal it's
necessary to:
a.
b.
c.
d.

pre-heat the non-ferrous metal


select a flux
clean the surface of the non-ferrous metal
positively identify the non-ferrous metal

9. The high speed cutting method for non-ferrous metals is:


a. oxyacetylene cutting
b. oxy-LPG cutting
c. plasma arc cutting

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Section 14 - Welding non-ferrous metals

25

10. Which non-ferrous metal forms the highest melting point oxide?
a. copper
b. aluminium
c. nickel
True or false
Circle T if the statement is true, F if the statement is false.
11. Aluminium is a good conductor of heat.
T

12. Electrolytic tough pitch copper is readily weldable.

13. Aluminium should always be cleaned with a solvent before


welding.

14. The fumes generated by welding some copper alloys can


kill you.

15. Breathing apparatus must be worn when welding beryllium


copper.

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Section 15 - Gas tungsten arc welding

Section 15

26

Gas tungsten arc welding

Task

To understand gas tungsten arc welding: process, equipment,


uses etc. This section covers part of learning outcome 1 of the
National Module Descriptor.

Why

So you will understand the theory of gas tungsten arc welding


as used in the fabrication industry.

To pass

At the end of the module you will do a competency test on this


topic. This will be a series of short answer and multiple choice
questions.

Safety
Learn the precautions for gas tungsten arc welding on page 47. Be
particularly careful with:
cleaning solvents
exposure to radiation
toxic gases and fumes
electrical equipment.

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Section 15 - Gas tungsten arc welding

The process
Gas tungsten arc welding is a widely accepted process used in a range of ways from
welding bicycles to extremely critical high quality welds for the aerospace program.
Gas tungsten arc welding is often used when the best weld quality is required for
special alloys on high pressure boiler pipework.
An arc is drawn between a non-consumable tungsten electrode and the work. An inert
gas or an inert gas plus other gas mixtures provides shielding from atmospheric attack.

This process can be manual or fully automatic, with or without filler wire.

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Section 15 - Gas tungsten arc welding

28

Gas tungsten arc welding power


source AC/DC tranformer rectifier

Equipment
The equipment for gas tungsten arc welding includes a power source, torch,
regulator, flow-meter, filler wires, power leads and hoses.
Power sources
DC generator
electric motor or engine driven
portable lightweight machines
DC inverter
AC-HF transformers built in HF or add on units available
most versatile, includes HF used for all metals
AC-DC rectifier
AC-DC rectifier
high quality welds on aluminium and stainless steel with
pulse unit
HF or high frequency is a high voltage attachment which both stabilises and starts
the arc without the tungsten electrode having to strike the parent metal. It's essential
for gas tungsten arc welding aluminium using alternating current.

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29

Section 15 - Gas tungsten arc welding

Power source attachments


pulse unit
used for greater control of bead shape and penetration
foot control
allows the operator to vary the amperage without adjusting the
power source
remote control hand operated control to vary amperage or adjust pulse

Gas tungsten arc welding torch

!i

1. Torch body
2. Handle
3. Long black cap
4. Medium
black
cap
5. Short black cap

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7. Gas diffuser
8. O ring
9. O ring
10. Power
cable
adaptor

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Section 15 - Gas tungsten arc welding

30

Gas tungsten arc welding torches


There are a large number of gas tungsten arc welding torches available: pencil types
which allow access to hard-to-reach weld areas, torches with flexible heads and water
cooled torches.
Torches are rated on their current carrying capacity: air
cooled
2 - 200 amps water cooled 2 - 500 amps
Gas hoods
ceramic (alumina or silicon carbide)
fused quartz transparent type metal
(generally water cooled)
Hoods come in various shapes and sizes to suit different metals and applications.
Ceramic hoods are by far the most common but they become brittle in use and have to
be replaced from time to time. Small mesh screens are available to fit gas hoods for
very smooth gas flow.

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31

Tungsten electrodes
pure tungsten 1
% thoriated 2%
thoriated
1-2% zirconiated
2% ceriated

Section 15 - Gas tungsten arc welding

not widely used, new alloys superior


DC general purpose
DC excellent for steels
AC resistance to aluminium oxide
AC-DC general purpose

1.5% lanthanum oxide AC-DC long life electrodes.


Electrode sizes range from 0.25 mm to 6 mm

Preparation for tungsten electrodes


Make sure the grinding wheel is used only for grinding tungsten electrodes.
Alumina wheels are superior to silicon carbide as they last longer and there is less
chance of oxide pickup from the wheel.
120 grit wheel is the recommended abrasive.
Note Special grinding machines for grinding tungsten electrodes are now available.

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Section 15 - Gas tungsten arc welding

32

Grinding profile lor tungsten electrodes used with DC-

Uses
Welding carbon steel, alloy steel, stainless steel, nickel and copper.
Safety
Wear respirators when grinding thoriated electrodes. Do not inhale thorium dust.
Grinding profile for tungsten electrodes used with AC-HF

Uses
Welding aluminium and magnesium.

Welding hint
It's not necessary to continually grind contaminated zirconiated electrodes when
using AC-DC transformer rectifiers. Switch to DC positive and strike an arc on
sheet copper for 3 seconds. Electron movement across the arc will clean and
remove oxides.

Regulators and flow-meters


To protect the weld pool from atmospheric attack gas tungsten arc welding requires a
supply of shielding gas, a regulator to reduce cylinder pressure and a flow-meter to
control gas flow rates. Later types have the flow-meter built into the regulator instead
of being separate. Flow rates for gas tungsten arc welding range from 5 to 12 litres per
minute.
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Section 15 - Gas tungsten arc welding

Gas regulators
The main function of the regulator is to break down the high pressure in the gas cylinder
to a safe operating pressure. Regulators used for gas tungsten arc welding are pre-set
to a maximum output pressure of 200kPa. They are colour coded, usually peacock blue
and have a right-hand threaded connection.
Flow-meters
A flow-meter is a device used to control the flow of shielding gas through the torch to the
point of welding. Flow-meters have an adjustable valve, a float and a transparent plastic
or glass tube to indicate the amount of gas (measured in litres/min) used during welding.
The valve is adjusted to the desired gas flow rate. This is indicated by the level of float in
relation to the litres/minute reading on the transparent tube.

Example of a combination regulator and flow-meter


controlling device used for gas tungsten arc welding

Filler rods
Good quality welds with the gas tungsten arc process depend on matching the type of
filler rod to the parent metal and the size of the rod to the size of the weld. The
composition of the filler rod should be as like the parent material as possible.
Filler rods for low carbon steels
The gas tungsten arc process is particularly suitable for welding low carbon steel. These
are semi-killed which means the steel has been de-oxidised during manufacture but
can still contain oxygen which may cause problems during welding. Gas bubbles can
form in the weld puddle and be trapped in the finished weld as porosity. The solution to
this problem is to use filler wire containing de-oxidisers such as silicon (Si) and
manganese (Mn). This is called double deoxidised rod. A third de-oxidiser, aluminium
(Al), is added as triple de-oxidised rod. Filler rods for welding low carbon steel are
generally colour coded and are available in diameter (0) 1.6mm, 2.4mm and 3.2mm. All
filler rods should comply with Australian Standard AS1167 Parts 1 and 2 Welding filler
wires.

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34

Section 15 - Gas tungsten arc welding

Welding current
The operator has three choices of welding current:
electrode negative
DC
electrode positive
DC
AC-HF
alternating current with high frequency.
DC electrode negative
DC electrode negative is used for gas tungsten arc welding practically all metals
except aluminium and magnesium. The torch is connected to the negative terminal of
the power source and the work lead is connected to the positive terminal.
DC electrode positive
Because of the problems of using large diameter tungsten electrodes and a restriction
of amperage range, DC positive is only used for very special applications.
AC-HF alternating current with high frequency
AC-HF alternating current with high frequency is used mainly for aluminium and
magnesium. AC-HF removes oxide from the surface of these metals by electron
action. With AC current, the current is negative for a half cycle and positive for a half
cycle. On the negative half cycle there is excellent penetration and on the positive half
cycle the electrons remove the oxide. The high frequency maintains the arc each half
cycle.

Industrial uses
Gas tungsten arc welding is used for welding thicknesses from less than a millimetre
to 6mm. Over 6mm it may be more economical to use gas metal arc welding. Gas
tungsten arc welding is used on:
carbon steel
low and high alloy steel
stainless steels
nickel and alloys
aluminium
copper and bronzes
magnesium
titanium
The gas tungsten arc process (either manual or fully automatic) is very adaptable and
suitable for all positional welding. Various types of wire feeders can be fitted to supply
filler wire (either hot or cold) directly into a gas tungsten welding arc. Speeds close to
gas metal arc welding are possible. Orbital pipe welding (where a motor drives a torch
around the weld) is a common mechanised gas tungsten arc welding process.

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Section 15 - Gas tungsten arc welding

The process has replaced oxyacetylene welding for many jobs such as welding
non-ferrous metals and small diameter tube and pipes. It is widely used in power
station work for completing the root pass on alloy steel pipes because it gives
controlled penetration with excellent fusion. Two operators can completely weld
boiler tubes - one operator welds on one side of the tube, the other picks up the
weld pool and completes the joint.
For high quality gas tungsten arc welding, additional shielding gas is sometimes needed
in the weld area to prevent oxidation. When butt welding flat sheet, backing bars
equipped with gas ports allow argon to flow evenly and protect the underside. An argon
purging system is used for high quality pipe welding. Bladders or seals contain a supply
of argon inside the pipe weld area and protect the weld bead and surrounding heated
area. Paper seals are also used inside pipes and dissolved by water when the welding
is finished.
Examples of purging devices

For flat surface

For

tubular

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Section 15 - Gas tungsten arc welding

36

Gas tungsten arc weld joints


Close butt joint

Edges do not need preparing. They are placed close together and single or double
welded.
Suitable for sheet up to 3mm thick.

Open butt joint

Edges do not need preparing. They are separated slightly to allow fusion of the full
thickness of material.
Suitable for material up to 5mm thick.

Single V butt joint

Commonly used on material over 5mm thick.

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Section 15 - Gas tungsten arc welding

Crab walk technique for pipes

The filler rod is laid in the root of the special preparation ahead of the weld pool and
the torch is rocked from side to side over the filler wire.
Special preparation for aluminium

Shielding gases
Shielding gases are important in the gas tungsten arc welding process. They protect
the tungsten electrode and molten weld pool from contamination from the air.
Without shielding gas, there would be serious damage to the electrode.
Types of shielding gases
The gases most used for this process are known as inert gases. The shielding
gases and gas mixtures most used are:
argon (Ar)
helium (He)
argon/helium (Ar-He) gas mixture
argon/helium/hydrogen* (Ar/He/H) gas mixture
* Hydrogen is not inert; it is classified as an active gas.

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Section 15 - Gas tungsten arc welding

38

Argon
Argon is the most widely used inert shielding gas in Australia. It's the least expensive
because it's obtained from separating air during the oxygen and nitrogen distillation
process. Argon has a moderately hot arc and is suitable for all metals. It has the
slowest welding speed of all the gases and gas mixtures but the best arc starting
characteristic.
Helium
Helium is the most expensive inert gas used in Australia because it's imported from
North America. Helium produces a hotter arc and deeper weld penetration than argon.
It can be used on all metals.
Argon/helium mixtures
Argon and helium are mixed together in varying percentages to form a range of gases
suitable for welding different materials. Either one can be the base gas. The greater
the percentage of helium, the hotter the arc temperature. For example, three parts
argon to one part helium produces a hot arc especially good for aluminium. Mixed in
the opposite proportions, the arc is very hot with high welding speeds and rapid
melting of the metal (without the need for pre-heat) and broad deep penetration. This
mixture is an economic alternative to pure helium. It's used for improving weld speeds,
penetration and the shape and profile of the weld.
Argon/helium/hydrogen mixtures
The three-gas mixtures produce a hot stable arc for welding steels (low carbon and
alloy), stainless steels, some copper alloys and nickel. They produce a very hot arc
and better welding speeds than argon/helium mixtures. As the hydrogen content is
more than 1%, these mixtures are no longer inert. The relatively small amount of
hydrogen doesn't damage the parent material or tungsten electrode.
Cylinder colour code
There is an Australian Standards colour
code for gas/gas mixture cylinders so they
can be easily recognised. Colours used
with the gas tungsten arc process are:
peacock blue
argon
helium
middle brown
argon/helium
peacock blue with
brown shoulder
argon/helium/hydrogen peacock blue with
brown shoulder and
red band

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Section 15 - Gas tungsten arc welding

Advantages
The main advantages of gas tungsten arc welding over other processes are:
the small concentrated arc results in less distortion
no sparks or spatter
no slag and flux free
can be used in all positions
very accurate control of penetration and bead shape
will join most commercial metals
used for joining very thin sections (less than 0.1mm).

Limitations
The gas tungsten arc welding process has few limitations. They are:
thorough cleaning of the part is essential because no flux is involved
welding close to an air draught or the slightest breeze can cause loss of gas shield
resulting in porosity
manual gas tungsten arc welding is slow compared to other processes but it can be
mechanised to increase welding speed.

Weld faults
Despite your best efforts to produce perfect welds, there will sometimes be faults from
all welding processes. Gas tungsten arc welding is no exception. These faults can be
caused by human error, equipment not working properly, using the wrong type of filler
rod, the wrong welding technique or other things.
Faulty welds add expense to a job because it takes time to correct them. It's important
for you to know the types of faults, and the likely causes. You will then be able to help
prevent faults occurring on a regular basis.
The most common gas tungsten arc welding faults are:
undercut
overroll
porosity
lack of fusion
tungsten inclusion
cracking.

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Qertinn 1H .

tnnnsfen arc weldina

40

Section 15 - Gas tungsten arc welding

41

Section 15 - Gas tungsten arc welding

42

Safety
Cleaning solvents
Store all solvents for cleaning metal well away from gas tungsten arc welding.
Do not begin welding until the cleaning solvent has evaporated and the weld
surface is dry and free from fumes.
Only use solvents in a well ventilated area.
Cleaning solvents such as trichlorethylene and perchlorethylene form phosgene
gas in the welding arc and can damage your respiratory system. Do not use these
solvents.

Radiation
Radiation from the gas tungsten arc process is extremely high
and you must wear proper protective clothing. Special gloves made from pigskin are
available for accurate manipulation of filler wires. Wear a welding helmet fitted with a
suitable safety filter.
Opaque tinted curtains or other suitable screens should enclose the welding
operator to protect co-workers from exposure to arc radiation.
Toxic gases and fumes
The amount of toxic gases and fumes generated by gas tungsten arc welding is
small compared to manual metal arc and gas metal arc welding but special
precautions must be taken when welding materials such as copper or copper alloys
which contain arsenic, beryllium, cadmium and zinc. The welding operator must wear
a respirator or an air supply head-shield, and have a full ventilation and extraction unit
at the weld site.

Electric shock
The effect of using a high frequency arc can cause rubber to break down. You
must inspect the gas tungsten arc welding torch often for damage to the insulation.
Do not use high frequency in damp or wet areas. If there is HF leakage, you could
get an electric shock.

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Section 15 - Gas tungsten arc welding

Review questions
These questions will help you revise what you've learnt in Section 15. The answers are
on page 113.
Short answer
1. Define the gas tungsten arc welding process:

2. List the power sources for gas tungsten arc welding:


a ...................................................................................................................................
b ...................................................................................................................................
c ..................................................................................................................................
d ...................................................................................................................................

3. List the tungsten electrodes used for gas tungsten arc welding:
a ...................................................................................................................................
b ...................................................................................................................................
c ..................................................................................................................................
d ..................................................................................................................................
e ..................................................................................................................................

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Section 15 - Gas tungsten arc welding

44

4. List 4 advantages of the gas tungsten arc welding process:


a ..................................................................................................................................
b ..................................................................................................................................
c ..................................................................................................................................
d ..................................................................................................................................
5. Describe the use of argon purging devices:

Multiple choice
Choose the correct answer and write the letter a, b, c or d in the box.
6. Gas tungsten arc welding torches are rated by:
a.
b.
c.
d.

the electrode size


the size of gas hood
current carrying capacity
voltage carrying capacity

7. 1-2% zirconiated tungsten electrodes are mainly used for:


a.
b.
c.
d.

stainless steel
nickel alloys
copper alloys
aluminium

8. The gas flow rate for gas tungsten arc welding is in the range of:
a.
b.
c.
d.

20 - 30 litres per minute


5 - 1 2 litres per minute
1 5 - 2 5 litres per minute
30 - 40 litres per minute

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Section 15 - Gas tungsten arc welding

9. The current used tor the gas tungsten arc welding of aluminium is:
a.
b.
c.
d.

AC
DCDC+
AC-HF

10. Low carbon steels are readily welded by the gas tungsten arc process using:
a.
b.
c.
d.

silicon filler rods


de-oxidised filler rods
chromium filler rods
manganese filler rods

True or false
Circle T if the answer is true, F if the answer is false.
11. Gas tungsten arc welding near a draught or the slightest
breeze can cause porosity.
T

12. A collet is used to deliver gas evenly around the electrode.

13. It's not necessary to prepare tungsten electrodes when welding


stainless steel.

14. Special precautions need to be taken when welding


beryllium copper.

15. For the high quality butt welding of aluminium the root face
has a back taper.

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Section 16 - Gas metal arc welding

Section 16

46

Gas metal arc welding

Task

To understand gas metal arc welding: process, equipment,


advantages, limitations, safety etc. This section covers part of
learning outcome 1 of the National Module Descriptor.

Why

So you will understand the theory of gas metal arc welding as


used in the fabrication industry.

To pass

At the end of this module you will do a competency test on this


topic. This will be a series of short answer and multiple choice
questions.

Safety
The safety do's and don'ts for gas metal arc welding are listed on page 68.
It's your responsibility to know what they are.

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Section 16 - Gas metal arc welding

The process
The gas metal arc welding process is very popular in the fabrication and construction
industries because it has advantages over other types of welding.
An electric arc is formed between a wire electrode and the workpiece. Once this is
established, the wire electrode is fed at a set speed from a wire spool into the arc to form
a weld pool. Both the weld pool and wire electrode are fully protected from atmospheric
contamination by a shielding gas. The operator activates the wire, shielding gas and
electric current for the weld.

Equipment
The equipment for gas metal arc welding consists of:
power source (transformer/rectifier, generator or inverter)
wire feed unit (designed so the wire feeds freely and evenly)
wire rolls
regulator (adjusts and maintains constant gas flow)
flow-meter (adjusts and maintains constant gas flow rate)
gas cylinder
welding gun
contact tip

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48

Equipment set-up for gas metal arc welding

Power source
The gas metal arc welding heat is generated by the flow of current through the gap
between the end of the wire electrode and the workpiece. A voltage forms across this
gap which varies with the length of the arc. To produce a uniform weld, the welding
voltage and arc length must be maintained at a constant value by feeding the wire
into the weld zone at the same rate at which it melts.
The constant voltage (potential) power supply was developed for gas metal arc
welding to give better arc control. The constant potential (CV) welding power supply
has a relatively flat volt/ampere characteristic and a pre-set voltage level can be held
across its range. The latest type of gas metal arc power sources are DC rectifiers or
inverters.
The constant potential
power supply has an
almost flat volt/ampere
characteristic

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Section 16 - Gas metal arc welding

Gas metal arc welding machine

Welding guns
Gas metal arc welding guns are available for different purposes:
straight guns

used automatically or for feeding soft aluminium wires


and flux cored arc welding wires

goose-neck guns
spool guns

by far the most popular for welding in tight areas


primarily used for soft wires as the distance from the
spool to the contact tip is very short

pull/push guns

with built-in drive rollers for soft wires

water cooled

for high amperage use

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Section 16 - Gas metal arc welding

50

Main parts of a gas metal arc welding gun


nozzle

replaceable - has to be constantly cleaned of spatter


build-up with approved gels

contact tip

replaceable - screw-in or eccentric, the tip size must suit


the wire size

conduit

replaceable - metal tube which must be kept clean for


feeding the wire through the gun, for soft wires use nylon
lined conduits

Air and water cooled guns


The gas metal arc welding process generates a high level of heat at the welding gun.
With air cooled guns, the cooling action of the shielding gas disperses this heat into
the surrounding atmosphere.
Water cooled guns are used with higher current densities. These have water flowing
through the gun body to cool the welding unit. Higher welding currents can be used
with this type of gun design without any increase in the gun's size or weight.
Disadvantages of water cooling include the higher cost of the gun and the need for a
constant water supply.

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Section 16 - Gas metal arc welding

Welding variables
Welding current
Welding current is controlled by the wire feed speed. Increasing wire speed:
increases current
increases penetration
increases deposition
increases bead size
Increasing wire speed only has a minor effect on bead width. A change of wire size
produces a change in current density for any selected current. Higher current densities
(reducing wire size) give a more forceful arc and increase penetration and deposition
rates.
The diagram shows the effects of increasing welding current on weld bead shape and
penetration:

Arc voltage
Arc voltage controls the arc length. An increase of voltage increases the arc length and
the width of arc at the work surface. It also increases the heat of the arc (if current is
maintained) so there is a small increase in deposition rate, even though radiation heat
losses are greater.
Increasing arc voltage:
increases bead width
increases arc heat
reduces (flattens) bead height
The diagram shows the effect of arc voltage on weld bead shape and level of
penetration.

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52

Travel speed
Travel speed contributes to the rate of heat input and amount of deposited metal per
metre of weld. A smaller bead is produced as travel speed increases. At very low speeds
there is a small increase in penetration, its effect reaches a maximum of some 400500mm per minute and decreases after that.
Travel speed influences:
bead height and width
heat input rate/meter
deposition rate (volume of metal)
The diagram shows the effect of changes in travel speed on weld profiles:

Stickout
Electrical stickout is the term used to describe the distance of the wire from the contact
tip to the workpiece. An increase in stickout increases the pre-heat of the wire, reduces
heat to the arc pool, slows the melting of the parent metal and decreases penetration.
Variations of stickout can be used by the operator to control the heat input to the
workpiece. For example, an increase in stickout automatically reduces the heat input by
lowering the current. This can be used to overcome the difficulties of bridging root gap
openings from poor fit-ups.

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Section 16 - Gas metal arc welding

Transfer modes
Short arc (dip transfer) metal transfer
Short arc metal transfer uses both low currents and low voltages which keep the
heat input to the workpiece to a minimum. This transfer mode minimises the degree
of distortion and is used for sheetmetal and positional welds (vertical, overhead,
etc).
Once an arc is struck between the wire and the workpiece, a molten pool is formed.
The end of the wire electrode dips in the weld pool and causes a short circuit. The
tip of the wire rises rapidly in temperature and melts off to form part of the weld. The
wire is fed at a constant rate and this action is repeated up to 200 times per second.
Typical weld conditions
13 to 24
Volts:
60 to 210
Amps:
6mm to 15mm
Stickout:
Short arc (dip transfer) sequence

Globular metal transfer


Globular metal transfer is between the dip and spray transfer modes. The metal
crosses the arc in large irregular shaped globules. It has better deposition rates than
dip transfer but causes spatter and doesn't look as good as full spray transfer.
Typical weld conditions
Volts:
20 to 28
Amps:
200 to 280
Stickout:
12mm to 22mm
Globular transfer

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Section 16 - Gas metal arc welding

54

Spray arc metal transfer


Spray arc transfer use higher voltage and a greater current density than dip
transfer. After the arc is struck the higher current causes the filler wire to melt
off before touching the workpiece. The molten metal crosses the gap in spray
form. Each droplet is about the same size as the wire diameter. Because this
method uses higher current densities it has higher deposition rates than other
transfer modes. The weld pool is both large and very fluid. This method is only
used for welding in the flat position.
Typical weld conditions
Volts:
24 to 40
Amps:
200 and upwards
Stickout:
15mm to 30mm
Spray transfer sequence

Pulsed arc transfer


Pulsed gas metal arc welding is a controlled form of spray transfer where the
metal droplets melt at regular time durations. This is controlled by special power
sources designed to produce pulsating wave current characteristics.
Conventional types of equipment can't be used for this mode of metal transfer.
Pulse welding gives greater control of bead shape and penetration and very
smooth surface finish.
Principles of operation
In the pulse process two currents are fed to the arc: a backgound current which
operates in the globular transfer range and a pulse current which operates
within the spray transfer current range. This causes the arc to pulsate
constantly back and forth between the two current ranges. During a single pulse
cycle, the arc forms a backgound current which keeps the arc alive without
actually depositing any filler material - a globule forms but is not transferred. As
the current pulsates to reach its peak the globule is nipped off and transferred in
a spray mode to the workpiece. This relationship can be seen in the diagram on
the next page:

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Section 16 - Gas metal arc welding

The pulse transfer characteristics prevent the electrode wire touching the workpiece. As
a result weld droplets are smooth and cleanly transferred without causing spatter to
develop. One droplet is transferred per pulse and the frequency of pulses per second
can be controlled by adjusting machine settings. Pulse mode allows sheetmetal to be
welded with large wire sizes.
Working range for the different types of arc
Transfer modes

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56

By carefully selecting wire speed and voltage, it's possible to set parameters to
operate effectively within the three modes of transfer as shown in the diagram on the
previous page. However, if welding parameters are set outside the three circles, your
welding conditions will become erratic and uncontrollable.
Summary of gas metal arc transfer modes
Transfer
method
Short arc
(dip)
Globular

Spray

Welding
positions
all

Operating range
Volts
Amps
13 to 24
60 to 200

flat or
horizontal
(fillets)
flat or
horizontal
(fillets)

20 to 28

200 to 280

26 to 40

210 to 410

Wire
Uses
diameter
0.6 to 1.2mm light gauge
material
All
between dip
and spray
0.8 to 1.6mm material over
5mm

Solid wires
Many different wires are available. There are types suitable for welding plain carbon,
low alloy steels, aluminium, stainless steels, copper, copper alloys and nickel,
hardfacing and so on. The Australian Standard for gas metal arc welding is AS2717
Parts 1 and 2.
Common sizes available: 0 0.6mm , 0.8mm, 0.9mm, 1.0mm, 1.2mm, 1.6mm Note:
As not all the above diameters are available for each wire, it's always best to check
with the supplier first.
Flux cored wires
Flux cored wires are manufactured by two entirely different processes. They are:
drawn (seamless wires)
rolled (seamed wires)
Drawn wires
Steel tubes are packed with flux. They are then forced through rollers which reduce
their diameter to a specified size. Seamless wires are the most popular of the two
types and have a number of distinct advantages:
they offer better wire feeding characteristics
moisture can't get into the inner core

Cross section of
seamless drawn
wire
there is better current transfer from contact tip.

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Section 16 - Gas metal arc welding

Rolled wires
Rolled wires are made from strip material. They are partially formed into a V or U shape
before the fluxing constituents are added. Once packed, final forming is done by a
gradual shaping of the outer sheath around a series of rolls. The rolling method always
leaves a finished seam along the wire's length.

There are four general groups of flux cored welding wires:


General purpose wires
These wires are widely used for welding low, medium and high strength structural
steels. They are ideal for depositing fillet and butt welds in all positions in general
fabrication work.
Pipe welding wires
Specially designed for welding both low and high pressure pipelines on site and in
workshop conditions.
Gas shielded wires
Some cored wires require secondary shielding gas. They generally contain extra weld
stabilisers, de-oxidisers, fluxing agents and alloys within the core. Used for a wide variety
of work from general fabrication to high quality type applications.
Hardfacing wires
These wires have been specially developed so that the inner core of the wire contains
hardfacing constituents such as molybdenum, manganese, chromium etc. They are used
for building up wear-resistant surfaces to prolong the service life of various components.

Shielding gases
Shielding gases are always required for the solid wire process and a wide variety are
commercially available. However, flux cored wires may either be self-shielding (which
means they don't need a gas) or operate with a secondary shielding gas. The choice of
shielding gas depends on the process and the wire used. Careful selection is very
important as different gases and gas mixtures have a marked effect on weld appearance,
level of penetration, and overall arcing characteristics. Many have been specially
formulated to suit specific purposes.

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Section 16 - Gas metal arc welding

58

Argon
Argon is an inert gas. The term inert means that the gas does not react chemically or
otherwise with the arc. Commercial grade argon is contained in a high pressure gas
cylinder which is colour coded peacock blue. It is better suited to welding non-ferrous
materials rather than carbon and low alloy steels and is often used as part of a gas
mixture.
Characteristics: produces a hot arc with medium levels of penetration.

Argon/helium mixtures
Helium is also an inert gas but because it's far more expensive than argon it's more
economical to use it in a gas mixture rather than by itself. These mixtures are mostly
used for welding non-ferrous materials such as aluminium, copper etc.
Characteristics: produces a hotter arc than pure argon, faster welding speeds and
deeper penetration.

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Section 16 - Gas metal arc welding

Heavy build-up of spatter inside the nozzle will restrict the


flow of shielding gas and result in porosity

Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide (C02) is supplied in high pressure cylinders and colour coded french
grey. The gas is one part carbon and two parts oxygen and is the cheapest of all the
shielding gases. C02 is not an inert gas. It is a reactive gas and breaks down in the arc
to form atomic oxygen which is neutralised by dioxidants in the wire and by carbon
monoxide which acts like a scavenger in the surrounding atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide is not often used by itself with solid wires. It's mostly used for shielding
flux cored wires or as part of the gas mixture ie, carbon dioxide + argon.
Characteristics: produces a medium to hot arc, deep penetration but high levels of
spatter.

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Section 16 - Gas metal arc welding

60

Electrically heated regulator/flow-meters are used with COz gases. The heater stops
the regulator freezing.

Argon/carbon dioxide mixtures


Inert gases are often mixed with reactive gases to improve arc stability, deposition
rates and weld appearance. Argon and carbon dioxide are mixed in varying proportions
to give a range of gases commercially marketed under various trade names. They
contain between 2%-30% carbon dioxide.
Characteristics: Varies with the type used. The more carbon dioxide added, the hotter
the arc and broader/deeper the weld shape.

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Section 16 - Gas metal arc welding

Correcting weld and machine faults


Fault
Undercutting

Possible cause

Remedy

Increase speed:
Speed too slow for current:
torch angle too low voltage too raise torch
angle reduce
high excessive current
voltage reduce
current
Lack of penetration Current too low Stickout too
Increase current
great Joint preparation too
Shorten stickout
narrow Gap too small
Widen
preparation Open
gap
Lack of fusion
Voltage too low
Increase voltage
Reduce voltage Increase voltage
Voltage too high
Spatter (excessive)
Check selection
Voltage too low
Increase inductance (if possible)
Incorrect shielding
Clean nozzle regularly and spray
gas Insufficient
with anti-spatter
inductance
Reduce current Contact tip closer
Current too high for voltage
Irregular weld
Excessive stickout Wire wander to work Replace contact tip
shape
Incorrect shielding gas Travel Check selection Increase speed
Set to 14 L/min
speed too low Excessive gas
low
Weld cracking
Clean and degrease before
Dirty workpiece eg grease,
welding
paint, scale, rust
Slow
speed down
Weld beads too small Weld too
Reduce current, voltage and
deep
Using wrong type of wire Highly increase speed
Revise setting up procedure
restrained weld
Decrease voltage Preheat
Excessive voltage Lack of
preheat
Set to 14 L/min (Argonshield)
Porosity
Insufficient shielding gas
more if in windy position Clean
Dirty workpiece
work thoroughly Reduce voltage
Arc voltage too high
Check gas connections Purge
Air retained in gas shielding
gas lines Set 14 L/min
systems
Clean nozzle and spray regularly
Excessive gas flow rates
with
Spattergard Check selection
Spatter blocking gas nozzle
Using incorrect type of wire

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September 2009

Section 16 - Gas metal arc welding


Fault
Cold weld

Erratic wire feed

62

Possible cause

Remedy

Incorrect machine settings


Incorrect shielding gas Bad
electrical connections Faulty
diode
Worn, dirty contact tip Worn,
kinked or dirty conduit liner
Wire spool runs too tightly
Incorrect drive roll tension
Incorrect machine settings

Increase heat input Replace gas


Check and tighten connection
Only a qualified electrician can
test and replace faulty diodes
Replace contact tip Clean or
replace line
Adjust brake
Relieve tension
Adjust machine parameters

Note: Most wire-feeding problems are caused by faulty contact tips and conduit liners.
If you have feeding problems, check these first and replace if necessary.

Advantages
The gas metal arc welding process has some important advantages:
no flux coating on the electrode, therefore no slag to remove
low spatter levels
continuous electrode eliminates stops and starts
high deposition rates
open arc, better visibility for the operator
maximum control of weld deposit
metal recovery about 98% with gas mixtures
hydrogen controlled quality weld metal
Added advantages of short arc (dip) transfer:
welds in all positions
easily bridges gaps in butt welds
minimum distortion due to low heat input
good weld appearance
able to weld thin sheetmetals (0.5mm).

Limitations
Limitations of the gas metal arc welding process include:
gas cover is blown away by the slightest breeze
welding over oxides can lead to weld faults
degree of expertise required for setting welding parameters
requires knowledge of equipment trouble shooting.

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Section 16 - Gas metal arc welding

Safety
Cleaning
solvents

Solvents used for cleaning metal, especially those used for


aluminium, must be stored well away from the welding site.
Welding must not begin until the cleaning solvent has
evaporated and the weld surface is dry and free from fumes.
Only use solvents in a well ventilated area.
Cleaning solvents such as trichlorethylene and
perchlorethylene form phosgene gas in the welding arc and could
damage the operator's respiratory system. Do not use these
solvents.

Radiation

Radiation from the gas metal arc welding process is extremely


high and welding without the proper protective clothing and gloves
could result in ray burn within 5 minutes. You must wear proper
protective clothing and gloves.
Because of the intensity of the ultraviolet rays, a darker lens
than normal is needed for gas metal arc welding. Filter shades of
11 and 12 are generally required. Radiation can be deflected from
shiny surfaces such as stainless steel and aluminium. Protect
exposed skin such as the neck area. Opaque tinted curtains
should enclose the operator to protect co-workers from exposure
to arc radiation.

Toxic gases
and fumes

Both gas metal arc welding and flux cored arc welding
generate a higher fume level than manual metal arc welding.
Small fume extraction units can be fitted directly onto the gas
metal arc welding gun. Other portable extraction units are
widely used. Take special precautions when gas metal arc
welding copper or copper alloys, especially if these alloys
contain arsenic, beryllium, cadmium and zinc. Wear a respirator
or an air-supply head shield and have a full extraction unit at
the weld site.

Electric shock

Repairs to the internal wiring of wire feed units and power


sources should only be carried out by an electrician.
Do not try to gas metal arc weld in damp or wet conditions.
Inspect all current carrying cables regularly for faulty
insulation and replace if necessary.

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64

Section 16 - Gas metal arc welding

Review questions
These questions will help you revise what you've learnt in Section 16. The answers
are on page 114.
Short answer
1.

Describe the gas metal arc welding process:

2.

List the 8 main parts of a gas metal arc welding plant:


a ..........................................................................................................................
b ..........................................................................................................................
c ..........................................................................................................................
d ..........................................................................................................................
e ..........................................................................................................................
f ............................................................................................................................
g ..........................................................................................................................
h ..........................................................................................................................

3.

List the 3 replaceable items on a gas metal arc welding gun:


a ..........................................................................................................................
b ...........................................................................................................................
c ...........................................................................................................................

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4.

Section 16 - Gas metal arc welding

Welding current is controlled by the wire feed speed. What will happen if
the wire speed is increased?
a ............................................................................................................................
b ...........................................................................................................................
c ...........................................................................................................................

5.

What happens if you increase the arc voltage?


a ............................................................................................................................
b ............................................................................................................................
c ............................................................................................................................

Multiple choice
Choose the correct answer and write the letter a, b, c or d in the box.
6.

Short arc (dip transfer) occurs between which voltage range:


a.
b.
c.
d.

7.

Spray transfer occurs between which voltage range:


a.
b.
c.
d.

8.

22-30
10-15
13-24
28-40

24-40
18-22
15-24
50-60

The weld fault undercut can be remedied by:


a.
b.
c.
d.

decreasing gas flow


changing the torch angle
changing the contact tip
increasing the arc length

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Section 16 - Gas metal arc welding

9.

The cylinder colour for welding grade argon is:


a.
b.
c.
d.

10.

66

french grey
french grey with a blue shoulder
peacock blue
mid brown

The shielding gas used for gas metal arc welding aluminium is:
a.
b.
c.
d.

Co2
argon + Co2
argon
nitrogen

True and false


Circle T if the statement is true, F if the statement is false.
11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

An increase in stickout automatically reduces the heat input


by lowering the current.

Spray transfer is only used in the flat position.

Porosity can be caused by spatter blocking the gas nozzle.

An electrically heated regulator for Co2 is used to pre-heat


the gas.

Travel speed influences bead height and width.

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Section 17 - Oxyacetylene welding (fuel gas)

Section 17

67

Oxyacetylene welding (fuel gas)

Task

To understand oxyacetylene (fuel gas) welding: process,


equipment, advantages, limitations, safety etc. This section
covers part of learning outcome 1 of the National Module
Descriptor.

Why

So you will understand the theory behind fuel gas welding as


used in the fabrication industry.

To pass

At the end of this module you will do a competency test on this


topic. This will be a series of short answer and multiple choice
questions.

Safety
Oxyacetylene welding is more dangerous than other processes but can be
done safely if you learn the safety procedures and use your common sense.
Most accidents can be prevented with a little thought about safety first. Some
accidents are caused by practical jokes, carelessness and a disregard for
general precautions. Protective equipment is essential in oxyacetylene
workshops. Gases are supplied in cylinders under pressure and must be
protected. Learn the safety rules in this section thoroughly to make sure you
always work in a safe environment.

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Section 17 - Oxyacetylene welding (fuel gas)

Fuel gas welding


Oxyacetylene welding is a fuel gas welding process in which the heat is produced by
burning acetylene in pure oxygen. This melts the parts to be joined while the outer
envelope of the flame protects the weld area from contamination. Additional weld
metal, if required, can be added using a hand held filler rod.
Oxyacetylene welding is an established process which has advantages over other
welding processes. Because it's portable, it's often used where electric power is
unavailable, especially in outback country areas. It's ideally suited to welding small
diameter pipes in hydraulic units, steam and gas pipelines. Oxyacetylene is the
preferred process for fusion welding grey cast iron. If fusion welding is not possible for
a casting, oxyacetylene braze welding is an alternative.

Oxygen and acetylene


Oxygen
Oxygen is an odourless, colourless, non-flammable gas, which supports and
accelerates combustion. When a mixture of oxygen and acetylene is burned, it
produces a flame temperature of 3100C.
Oxygen is made by the liquid air process. Air becomes liquid under the combined
effect of high pressure and low temperature. The component gases in air have boiling
temperatures of -196C for nitrogen and -183C for oxygen. By allowing the
temperature of the liquid air to rise, nitrogen will separate as a gas leaving liquid
oxygen behind. A further rise in temperature boils off the liquid oxygen as a gas which
can be collected and stored for compression into cylinders.
The most common method of supplying oxygen for industrial use is to compress the
gas into cylinders made from steel or aluminium. The cylinder can be solid drawn or
extruded. The standard filling pressure has recently increased from 13,700kPa to
15,000kPa and the cylinders used for welding or flame cutting contain either 7.6m3 3.8m3 and 1.5m3.
Oxygen cylinders

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Section 17 - Oxyacetylene welding (fuel gas)

69

Oxygen cylinders are painted black. They must always be supported by a wall bracket
or trolley. The valve at the top of the cylinder is made of forged brass and contains a
pressure safety device called a bursting disc. This disc will burst and slowly release
oxygen before the pressure is great enough to rupture the cylinder. The cylinder valve
has a right-hand thread for attaching the gas regulator.

Acetylene
Acetylene is a compound gas of carbon and hydrogen. Its chemical formula is C2 H2.
It is highly flammable, colourless and has a distinct odour. Acetylene is produced by
bringing calcium carbide into contact with water. The chemical reaction is: Ca C2 +
2H20 - C2 H2 + Ca (OH)2
calcium carbide + water = acetylene + slaked lime Acetylene is given off
as a gas, the slaked lime remains with the water to form a sludge.
Acetylene is supplied in crimson cylinders which are generally fabricated and welded.
The main sizes for welding and cutting operations hold about 7m3, 3.2m3 and 1m3 at a
pressure of 1550KPa. The valve at the top of the cylinder has a left-hand thread for
attaching the gas regulator.
Acetylene cylinders

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Section 17 - Oxyacetylene welding (fuel gas)

Acetylene cylinders are fitted at the top with fusible safety plugs made of a lead/tin
alloy with a melting point of about 100C. These plugs will melt if the cylinder
overheats, letting the acetylene escape before dangerous pressure builds up.
Acetylene cylinders are always used in the upright position.

Because of the danger of explosion


when free acetylene is compressed
above 10OkPa, the gas is not stored
in an ordinary cylinder. At the normal
filling pressure of an acetylene
cylinder, acetone will dissolve
approximately 375 times its own
volume of acetylene at 15C. While
dissolved in acetone, under pressure,
the acetylene will not explode. All
acetylene cylinders are filled with a
porous material soaked in acetone.
The porous material in most modern
cylinders is a lime silicate mixture.
This combination of porous material
and acetone makes the storage of
acetylene under high pressure quite
safe. When acetylene is used from a
cylinder it should not be drawn off
faster than one-fifth of the cylinder
capacity per hour, that is no cylinder
should be emptied in less than five
hours. This precaution is necessary
to prevent the ioss of acetone.

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Section 17 - Oxyacetylene welding (fuel gas)

71

Safety with acetylene cylinders


Always refer to acetylene as acetylene not gas.
Acetylene is highly combustible and dangerous in confined spaces.
Never try to transfer acetylene from one cylinder to another.
Always keep the cylinder in a vertical position. The acetylene is dissolved in
liquid acetone and may drain out if the cylinder is laid down.
Always leave the cylinder key in position when using acetylene.
Store cylinders in a cool, well ventilated place.
If an acetylene cylinder gets hot or catches fire, quickly take the following
action:
shut the cylinder valve clear
the area notify the fire brigade notify
the supplier.

Safety with oxygen cylinders


Always refer to oxygen as oxygen. Do not call it
air as it may be used as a substitute for
compressed air by mistake.
Remember oxygen under pressure reacts with
oils and grease. Don't handle equipment with oily
hands or store cylinders with oil, grease, etc.
Oxygen cylinders should not be stored with
combustible substances.
Oxygen under pressure should never be directed
at a person. It could cause serious injury.
Gases under pressure react to temperature
changes. Store oxygen cylinders in a cool place.

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Section 17 - Oxyacetylene welding (fuel gas)

Safety: special cylinder precautions


Carry cylinders in a suitable truck when using them with portable welding units.
Do not drop cylinders.
Do not use cylinders as rollers.
Return faulty cylinders to suppliers; do not interfere with their fittings.
Do not hang clothes or tools on cylinders.
Use the correct cylinder key for opening cylinders.
Open cylinder valves no more than Vh turns.
Test for leaks with a soapy water solution.
Always close valves when the cylinder is empty to prevent air entering.
When you have to transport cylinders by crane, use a specially designed crate.
Don't use slings or magnets.
It is illegal to tamper with numbers and markings on cylinders.
When setting up equipment make sure that cylinders are firmly fixed so they will not
fall or move while in use.
Never use oxygen or acetylene before attaching regulators to the cylinders.

Other equipment
Regulators
As the gas pressure in both oxygen and acetylene cylinders is much higher than the
pressures required at the welding torch, it's necessary to use a pressure reducing
device between the cylinders and the torch. This is known as a gas regulator.
The functions of the regulator
To reduce the gas pressure from cylinder pressure to the pressure required at the
welding torch (50-60 kPa for welding).
To maintain constant output pressure, free from fluctuations in spite of the drop in
cylinder pressure, as the gas is used.
To adjust the working pressure for different uses and types of torches eg heating
torch, powder spray torch and cutting torch.
Regulators generally come with replaceable seats which should be changed if the
pressure begins to fluctuate.

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Section 17 - Oxyacetylene welding (fuel gas)

73

Cross section of a regulator

Safety with regulators


Should be an approved type.
Should be kept in good condition.
Should not be handled roughly.
All joints between regulator and
cylinder valve and regulator and hose
connections must be metal to metal.

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Section 17 - Oxyacetylene welding (fuel gas)

A complete welding outfit including safety

The equipment for oxyacetylene welding consists of:


cylinder of oxygen
selection of welding tips
cylinder of acetylene
welding goggles with correct lens
oxygen regulator
and shade
acetylene regulator
gloves
oxygen and acetylene tubing complete
filler-rods with
fittings
gas lighter
blowpipe handle
cylinder key

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Section 17 - Oxyacetylene welding (fuel gas)

75

Welding torches
The oxyacetylene welding torch mixes oxygen and acetylene in the correct proportions
and controls the volume of gases burned at the welding tip. There are two hose
connections, one for oxygen and one for acetylene with two needle valves for
controlling the flow of gases. From each valve the gases travel down a separate tube to
the mixing chamber. The mixtures of gases pass on to the tip where they burn and
provide the welding flame.

Welding tips
Two types of welding tips are available: a one-piece swaged tip and a two-piece tip
Use of the filler rod

which includes a separate tip which screws onto a goose neck. The swaged tip is the
most common. Tips are numbered according to their bore size, for example a 10 tip has
a 1.0mm 0 bore size and a 12 tip has a 1.2mm 0 bore size.

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Section 17 - Oxyacetylene welding (fuel gas)

Welding tip sizes


The size of the tip depends on the thickness or type of metal to be welded (copper
requires a larger tip size than carbon steel)

0 Sizes available 4 for sheetmetal 6


sheetmetal 8 for 1 .Omm-1.6mm 10
1.6mm-2.4mm 12 for 2.4mm-3.0mm
3.0mm-5.0mm 20 for 5.0mm-8.0mm
8.0mm-10.0mm 32 for over 10.0mm

for
for
15 for
26 for

The quality of the weld depends on


the tip. For a satisfactory flame, the
the correct size, perfectly round and
foreign matter. Many tip cleaners are
twisted wires to small files but the
which match the bore size of the tips.

the condition of
tip bore, must be
kept free of
available from
best are drill sets

Safety with torches


Must be an approved type from a reputable firm.
Always keep in good condition to prevent explosion or faulty work.
Do not put down a lighted torch when adjusting work.
When attaching the torch to hoses, see that connections are tight and leak proof. Do
not use pipe wrenches for tightening connections. Use proper spanners.
Keep spare welding tips and cutting nozzles clean and store in separate containers.
Never use oil or grease on nozzles or connections.

Flame types
The characteristics of the flame depend on the proportions of oxygen and
acetylene in the mixture. There are three flame types.
Neutral flame
Equal volumes of oxygen and acetylene.
This is the most widely used flame setting for fusion welding ferrous and non-ferrous
metals.
Carburising flame
More acetylene than oxygen.
A very slight carburising flame is set for fusion welding small diameter pipes. This is a
precaution so the operator is aware the flame hasn't changed to harmful oxidising.
Excessive acetylene in the flame produces free carbon which affects the chemical
composition of the weld metal with consequent hardness. A carburising flame is
sometimes called a reducing flame. When excess acetylene burns, hydrogen and
carbon monoxide reduce the amount of oxygen at the weld zone.

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77

Oxidising flame
More oxygen than acetylene.
This flame is not suitable for fusion welding carbon steel, stainless steel, nickel
and copper. An excess of oxygen in the flame will bum out important elements in
carbon steel such as carbon, manganese and silicon. Oxidation can occur during
fusion welding when excessive oxygen combines with other substances to form
compounds called oxides which produce severe porosity. This flame type is
generally only used for brazing to control zinc fuming.
Flame types

a. acetylene burning in air


b. carburising flame

September 2009

c. neutral flame
d. oxidising flame

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Section 17 - Oxyacetylene welding (fuel gas)

Oxyacetylene flame profile

Consumables
Like gas tungsten arc welding, metals must be identified before selecting welding
consumables. Otherwise you could be responsible for an expensive weld failure. As a
general guide, the composition of the deposited weld metal should be as close to the
chemical composition of the parent metal as possible and comply with Australian
Standard AS 1167 Parts 1 and 2 Welding filler wires.

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Section 17 - Oxyacetylene welding (fuel gas)

79

Weld faults
Weld fault

Remedy

Undercut

Adjust flame to a lower setting.


Add more filler wire Adjust angle
of torch
Inspect and check the following: flame
setting has changed to oxidising plate and
filler rod chemistry plate cleanliness - free
from oil
Increase the flame of setting
Increase the root gap
Decrease the travel speed
Increase the tip size

Porosity

Lack of penetration

Advantages
Portable - can be taken to any site.
Cost of equipment is low, compared to other welding processes.
Equipment can be changed very quickly for other applications - flame cutting, flame
gouging, heating, rust descaling and hard face powder spray.
The same equipment can be used for bronze welding, brazing and silver brazing.
The lower heat input gives excellent penetration control compared to an electric arc.
Successfully fusion welds metal thicknesses from very thin sheetmetal to heavier
sections.
An ideal process for high quality welding small diameter high pressure pipelines.
Suitable for welding oil impregnated castings because the pre-heating action of the
flame burns off the oil.

Limitations
The speed of fusion welding is slow compared with other available processes.
Not economical on thicknesses above 6mm.
Grain size tends to be large due to grain growth on single runs but reheating or
normalising can overcome this.
Because the flame heats up the area next to the weld pool, steps have to be taken
to minimise distortion.

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Section 17 - Oxyacetylene welding (fuel gas)

Further
safetyBackfire
Careless handling may cause the torch flame to backfire. If the flame backfires, (goes
out with a loud bang), it relights instantly if the metal being welded is hot enough to
ignite the acetylene. Backfire may be caused by:
touching the tip against the work
overheating the tip
operating the torch at wrong gas pressure, generally with too small a flame
a loose tip or tip assembly
foreign substances on the tip assembly seating preventing a proper joint being
made
tip being clogged with slag etc.
using a damaged torch.
Flashback
Instead of backfiring, the flame may flashback, that is burn inside the torch with a
shrill hissing or squealing noise. Put out the flame at once or the inside walls of the
mixing chamber may melt and the torch will be ruined. Flashback can also occur
inside hoses. The reasons for flashback are the same as for backfire but it may cause
more serious damage. If there's a flashback, turn off the oxygen valve on the torch
and close the oxygen cylinder.
Flashback arrestors

Flashback arrestors prevent flames inside the hoses reaching the cylinders.

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Section 17 - Oxyacetylene welding (fuel gas)

81

Review questions
These questions will help you revise what you've learnt in Section 17. The answers
are on page 115.
1. Sketch a G size acetylene and oxygen cylinder and label the cylinders with the
following:
a. colour
b. type of thread
c. safety devices
d. method of manufacture
e. filling pressure

Acetylene

Oxygen

2. Describe why acetylene cylinders contain porous material:

3. How do you classify the size of a welding tip?

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82Section 17 - Oxyacetylene welding (fuel gas)

4. Describe the functions of a regulator:


a ..................................................................................................................................
b ..................................................................................................................................
c ..................................................................................................................................
5. Describe the following welding hazards:
Backfire.......................................................................................................................

Flashback ..................................................................................................................

Multiple choice
Choose the correct answer and write the letter a, b, c, or d in the box. 6.
The correct flame type for the fusion welding of carbon steel is:
a.
b.
c.
d.

oxidising
carburising
neutral
reducing

7. The working pressure for oxy-acetylene welding is:


a.
b.
c.
d.

50-60 kPa
100 kPa
1550 kPa
15,000 kPa

8. The flame type used for welding high pressure pipes is:
a.
b.
c.
d.

highly oxidising
slightly carburising
rigid
highly carburising

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83

9. The selection of the size of welding tips depends on:


a.
b.
c.
d.

the length of weld


the flame type
the thickness of the metal
the speed of welding

10. The term flashback indicates that a flame:


a.
b.
c.
d.

is burning inside the torch


is carburising
is oxidising
is extinguished

True or false
Circle T if the statement is true, F if the statement is false.
11. The fusible plug on an acetylene cylinder melts at 100C.
T

12. Cylinders can be ordered from suppliers in the following


sizes: G, E and D.
13. Oxy-acetylene welding is not suitable for the fusion welding
of grey cast-iron.
14. Oil and oxygen can combine to form a flammable and explosive
mixture.
15. Oxyacetylene welding can be used on oil impregnated castings.

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Section 18 - Submerged arc welding (automatic)

Section 18

84

Submerged arc welding (automatic)

Task

To understand submerged arc (automatic) welding: process,


equipment, uses etc. This section covers part of learning
outcome 1 of the National Module Descriptor.

Why

So you will understand the theory behind submerged arc


(automatic) welding as used in the fabrication industry.

To pass

At the end of this module you will do a competency test on this


topic. This will be a series of short answer and multiple choice
questions.

Safety
Follow correct OH&S procedures and learn the safety rules on page 103. You will
need to be particularly careful with the following:
electric circuit
electric arc
molten slag
fumes and arcing
elevated positions
cylindrical vessels
heavy lifting.

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Section 18 - Submerged arc welding (automatic)

The process
This is a fully or semi-automatic welding process in which the arc is established
between the workpiece and a continuous electrode under a covering of granulated
flux. Some of this flux melts to provide protection against oxidation and forms an
insulating blanket of slag after cooling. The flux covering allows welding without
spatter, fumes or visible arcing.
Submerged arc welding produces welds at high deposition rates with deep
penetration. It is one of the most commonly used mechanised arc welding processes.
A typical submerged arc welding plant has three basic components:
power source
welding control unit
welding head.
Submerged arc welding unit

See detailed diagram of welding head on page 95.

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Equipment
Power source
Most submerged arc welding uses a direct current power source with the electrode
(control unit) connected to the positive terminal (DC+). This connection produces
smooth welds with good penetration. AC machines are available but DC power is
preferred.
The most common power source (welding machine) has an output capacity of
between 500 and 600 amps with a 100% duty cycle. If more current is needed, two or
more of these machines can be connected in parallel. There should be easy access
to the switch at the power outlet as well as to the welding current starting switch on
the machine itself. The machine has an amperage output dial and welding and work
cable connection terminals. These terminals are identified on the machine cabinet by
a positive (+) symbol and a negative (-) symbol.
Power source for submerged arc welding:

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Section 18 - Submerged arc welding (automatic)

Welding control unit


The electrical controls for the welding operation are set and activated at the welding
control unit and the welding operator can control many of the welding variables from
here. These controls are:
Welding control unit

On/off switch: Controls the supply of electrical power to the welding control unit.
Inch buttons: Marked inch up and inch down. Used to drive the filler wire, without
activating the welding power, through the contact tip on the welding head to the
required distance from the work (stickout).
Voltage control and voltmeter: Used to regulate the welding voltage. The reading on
this meter will be slightly higher than at the welding head. It will vary with the length of
the welding cable from the control unit to the welding head. Minor adjustment is often
required after welding begins.
Amperage control and ampmeter: Used to regulate the welding amperage. Adjustment
of amperage will affect voltage and vice versa, so fine adjustments need to be made to
compensate for this once welding is under way. On more modern machines the
amperage control has been replaced by a wire speed control.
Travel switch: There are two of these on some machines. One is used to select travel
method (manual or automatic) while the other will set the boom mounted drive
direction. Travel speed is also adjustable.
Start/stop button: Used to start the welding operation after all the variables have been
set. It activates the welding power to the welding head. When the weld pass is
complete the stop button is used to close down all welding activity.

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Welding head
The welding head houses the contact nozzle which delivers power to the welding
electrode. The welding head unit is also there to position and carry the flux and the
wire to the weld joint.
Welding head

Flux supply: The flux hopper, mounted on the welding head, delivers flux to the joint.
An electric valve fitted in the hopper and activated by the start button controls the flux
feed. To prevent open arcing at the start of welding, the flux hopper feed control can
be manually operated to make sure the end of the electrode is covered.
The electrode wire: A wire feed motor propels the wire on through rollers. The
electrode wire first passes through an adjustable wire straightener to take out the
curve from the supply reel so that it passes cleanly through the contact nozzle and is
directed towards the weld joint more accurately.
Electrode positioning: A series of adjusters positions the electrode at the joint. The
height adjuster ensures the correct electrode stickout. The cross seam adjuster sets
the transverse position of the welding head. The angle adjuster sets the angle of
electrode delivery to the joint, as in a horizontal fillet weld.

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89

Methods of positioning welding head

boom mounted
tractor mounted
fixed head
hand guided gun

During submerged arc welding the welding head can be guided over the joint or held
steady while the work passes under it.
in fully automatic welding the welding head either travels along a boom or is mounted
on a tractor and driven along the guide track. Both these methods give excellent
control and produce high quality work.
Another fully automatic method holds the welding head in a fixed position and passes
the work under it. This method is commonly used with rotators to produce high quality
circumferential joints in cylindrical work.
A flux cone is attached to a hand guided gun for semi-automatic welding. You need
more skill for this as travel speed, electrode angles and stickout are all controlled by
the operator and there are likely to be more weld problems.
Boom

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Consumables Electrodes
and fluxes
Refer to AS1858 for electrodes and fluxes for submerged arc welding carbon and low
alloy steels.
Electrodes usually have a four or five character identification eg EM13K E electrode
M - medium manganese content (L = low Mn, H - high Mn) 13 *
0.13% carbon and may be 8, 12, 13, 14 or 15 K - fully killed (deoxidised) steel
Fluxes usually have a three letter identification eg FGM
1st letter
always an F
2nd letter
indicates flux type can be G, S, M or B
3rd letter
indicates the degree of contribution the
flux makes to the weld metal
composition

F = flux
G = general purpose flux
S - single run flux
M - multi-run flux
B - basic (low hydrogen) flux
L - little contribution
M moderate contribution
H - high contribution

Solid electrode wires


These must be compatible with the parent metal and the flux.
Special electrode wires
These are available for hardfacing and to provide special properties. Flux cored wires
are also available. These may be used to increase welding speeds or to add alloying
elements.
Flux
The submerged arc welding flux protects the molten pool from atmospheric attack and
adds alloying elements and other properties needed for specific uses.
The type of flux chosen will greatly influence the weld quality:
single run fluxes provide good weld shape at high speed with a minimum of
undercut and have high current carrying capacity
multi-run fluxes have good notch ductility properties
basic fluxes (hydrogen controlled) have excellent notch ductility - they must be kept
moisture free
general purpose fluxes are widely used and give good weld appearance and low
porosity - slag is easily removed.

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Section 18 - Submerged arc welding (automatic)

Effects of submerged arc welding variables


Polarity
Electrode positive is used for most submerged arc welding because it produces
smoother welds, deeper penetration and better shaped beads.
Electrode negative has a greater melt-off rate and is often used for hardfacing and
where deep penetration isn't wanted.
Voltage
The arc voltage must be strictly controlled as a volt too high or too low will affect the
result. Very high voltage produces bead shapes which are more likely to crack.
When other variables are constant, increasing voltage will:
produce flatter, wider beads
reduce the chance of porosity
increase flux consumption
make slag removal more difficult.
Decreasing voltage will:
increase penetration
reduce chance of arc-blow.
Effect of voltage

Amperage (wire speed)


If other variables are kept constant:
an increase in amperage will increase the electrode melt-off rate and
penetration
with very high amperage the weld bead shape will narrow and there may be undercut
with very low amperage the arc becomes unstable.

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Effect of welding amperage

For this example: 4.0mm electrode


34 volts
600mm/min

Travel speed
If other variables are kept constant, high travel speeds will produce undercut,
porosity, uneven bead shape and arc blow.
Slow travel speeds can cause deep narrow hat shaped beads which may crack.
Burn-through and slag inclusion are also possible.
Effect of travel speed (mm/min)

For this example: 4.0mm electrode


600 amps 33

volts
A hat shaped bead produced by excessive
voltage and/or slow travel speed

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Section 18 - Submerged arc welding (automatic)

Flux height
Excessive flux height can produce narrow humped beads.
Electrode stickout
Increasing the distance between the nozzle contact tip and the work will increase the
Submerged arc welding using a small

electrode melt-off rate and increase the weld deposition rate.

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94

Plate edge preparation

These are used at the start and finish of each run to ensure hot starts and full fusion.
They are also a protection against weld craters in the finished work.

Square cut edges, free of rust and scale, are used on this joint. They are welded
from one or both sides depending on the thickness and distortion control techniques
used. (Run on and run off plates are required for all types of butt joints.)

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Section 18 - Submerged arc welding (automatic)

Used on plates welded from one side only for full penetration. Root face must be a
minimum of 6mm thick.

Used when welding from both sides is possible. This helps prevent distortion and is
more economical (uses less filler material) on thick plates. For plates over 15mm thick.
Root face must be a minimum of 6mm.

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Backing strips/bars
These are used for full penetration of a butt joint with one pass. Permanent backing
strips or temporary backing bars may be used as shown in the sketch below:

Hazards of submerged arc welding


Like any other welding process, you must follow correct OH&S procedures with
submerged arc welding.
Electric circuit
Treat with caution.
Electric arc
This is submerged under a blanket of flux but there may be open arcing (a welding
flash) if there is insufficient flux cover.
Molten slag
The weld pool is often very large. Take care with run on/run off plates as the molten
slag can easily run off these plates.
Fumes and arcing
Fumes and arcing are not normally problems with this process but need to be
considered in some situations. The fuming can be more serious when welding alloy
steels.
Elevated positions
Make sure boom welding positioners don't come in contact with overhead cranes and
overhead wiring.
Cylindrical vessels
Prevent from rolling. Keep welding leads away from rotators and
positioners. Heavy lifting
The thicker materials need careful handling. Support all materials and use
safe handling techniques for lifting or positioning work.

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Section 18 - Submerged arc welding (automatic)

Weld faults
Weld fault
Arc blow
Irregular bead shape and size
Lack of penetration
Weld cracking

Porosity

Slag inclusions

Distortion

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Remedies/possible causes
Move position of work clamps
AC is recommended for magnetic nickel steels
Adjust welding parameters: voltage - speed of travel wire speed
Adjust welding parameters: wire speed - speed of
travel - voltage
Inspect and check for the following:
poor fit-up
incorrect flux and wire chemistry
plate chemistry
mixing of unlike fluxes
too fast a cooling rate
highly restrained joint
weld preparation too narrow
too high a voltage
Inspect and check for the following: clean
plate
water vapour if using LPG for pre-heating
moist flux
contaminated flux
insufficient flux cover
flux plate and wire chemistry
pre-heat temperature
Inspect and check for the following:
clean and ground tack welds
contaminated flux too low a wire
speed (amperage)
Inspect and check the following:
tacking procedure pre-setting
welding sequence techniques
weld speed (increase)

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Advantages

high welding speeds


produces welds of consistently high quality
better weld penetration control
smooth welds of excellent appearance

Limitations
Can only be easily used in the flat position for hard facing and butt welding and in the
flat and horizontal position for fillet welding. Retention of the granular flux covering on
butt welds in the horizontal position is possible if the flux cover at the joint is supported.

Uses
A wide variety of metals are welded with the submerged arc process: low and medium
carbon steels, low alloy steels and a wide range of stainless steels. Submerged arc
welding is also used for hardfacing.
Some typical submerged arc welded structures are:
ships
submarines
fuel gas cylinders
pressure vessels
petrol storage tanks
heavy mining equipment.

Electro-slag/consumable guide welding


Electro-slag welding is a process of welding thick plates in the vertical position. It is
best suited to material of 25mm thickness and greater, and can be used with multiple
electrodes on materials up to 300mm in thickness without difficulty. Although purpose
built electro-slag welding equipment can be purchased, the most widely used
machines in industry are adapted from existing submerged arc welding equipment,
using the power source, control unit and welding head.
No special joint preparations are needed with this process; square edge joints are
used for all thicknesses of material. A starting block at the bottom of the joint prevents
the initially deposited weld metal falling out. Welding begins at the bottom of the joint
and progresses vertically as the joint is filled. Water-cooled shoes, which act as moulds
for the molten metal are put on each side of the joint. A second set of shoes, if
required, are put on top of the first to allow welding to continue. The joint is filled in one
pass. One or two consumable guide tubes are used depending on the thickness of the
material being welded.
Heat generated by the resistance to the current through the molten slag is sufficient to
melt the edges of the weld joint, the consumable guide tube and the incoming filler
wire. Since no arc exists, the welding action is quiet and spatter-free. The interior
temperature between the two shoes in the molten both is about 1930C. Fire clay can
be used to seal the shoes and prevent leaking.

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Electro-slag consumable guide unit

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Section 18 - Submerged arc welding (automatic)

Review questions
These questions will help you revise what you've learnt in Section 18. The answers
are on page 116.
Short answer
1.

Define the submerged arc welding process

2.

What is the normal polarity for submerged arc welding?

3.

Briefly describe the use of the following controls on the control panel of a
submerged arc welding machine:

a. inching button .......................................................................................................

b. voltage control .....................................................................................................

c. amperage/wire speed ..........................................................................................

4.

List 3 industrial uses of submerged arc welding:


a ................................................................................................................................
b ................................................................................................................................
c ................................................................................................................................

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Section 18 - Submerged arc welding (automatic)

5. Explain the classification system for carbon steel submerged arc filler wires:
E - ...........................................................................................................................
L, M, H - ...................................................................... '.............................................
13-

........................................................................................................................

K - ...........................................................................................................................
Multiple choice
Choose the correct answer and write the letter a, b, c or d in the box.
6. By decreasing the voltage control on a submerged arc welding machine it will:
a.
b.
c.
d.

increase bead width


increase penetration
increase bead height
increase weld speed

7. Fillet welds can only be carried out in the following positions:


a. flat
b. flat and horizontal
c. flat and vertical
d. horizontal
8. Run-on plates are used at the start of butt welds:
a.
b.
c.
d.

to prevent the flux melting


are used instead of tack welds
to obtain hot starts and full fusion
to practise starting the arc

9. Weld cracking can occur because of:


a.
b.
c.
d.

dry flux
mixing unlike fluxes
clean plate
medium travel speed

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10. Porosity in submerged arc welds is caused by:


a.
b.
c.
d.

too high a pre-heat


too dry a flux
incorrect size of filler wire
moisture in the flux

True or false
Circle T if the statement is true, F if the statement is false.
11. Submerged arc welding produces high speed high quality welds.
T

12. Excessive flux height can produce narrow humped beads.

13. Increasing electrode stick-out will increase the deposition rate.

14. Hardfacing can be carried out with the submerged arc welding
process.

15. Backing strips are only used on jobs with poor fit-up.

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Answers to review questions

Answers to review questions


Section 13 Welding alloy steels
1.

Low alloy steels generally contain less than 2% alloying elements.

2.

high strength corrosion


resistance abrasion
resistance

3.

chromium copper
manganese
molybdenum nickel
silicon vanadium

4.

refers to a calculation used to determine a low alloy's weldability compared to the


weldability of a plain carbon steel

5.

dye penetrant testing

6d. a steel's weldability


7b. hydrogen controlled
8d. high resistance to creep
9b. the quench and tempered condition
10c. identify the steel
11. true
12. true
13. false
14. true
15. false

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Answers to review questions

Section 14 Welding non-ferrous metals


1.

A non-ferrousmetal is one which contains little or no iron.

2.

pure
1000 copper 2000 manganese
and silicon
6000
7000
zinc
8000
other

3.

High thermal conductivity means that even thin sections have to be preheated before welding.
Expansion and contraction rates are twice that of carbon steel.
Copper produces toxic fumes.

4.

gas tungsten arc welding gas


metal arc welding

5.

corrosion resistance

3000 silicon 4000 magnesium

5000 magnes

creep resistance in gas turbine engines


6d. is corrosion resistant
7c. 5000
8d. positively identify the non-ferrous metal
9c. plasma arc cutting
10b. aluminium
11. true
12. false
13. true
14. true
15. true

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Section 15 Gas tungsten arc welding


1.

Gas tungsten arc welding is an arc welding process where fusion is produced by
heating with an arc between a non-consumable tungsten electrode and the
workpiece. An inert gas shields the tungsten and the weld pool from atmospheric
attack.

2.

generator AC-HF
transformer AC-HF
rectifier DC inverter

3.

pure tungsten
thoriated
zinconiated
ceriated
lanthanium oxide

4.

no sparks or spatter
no slag and flux free
accurate control of penetration and bead shape
able to join most metals

5.

Purging systems are used to protect the penetration bead from the
atmosphere.

6c. current carrying capacity


76. aluminium
8b. 5-12 litres per minute
9d. AC-HF
10b. do-oxidised filler rods
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.

true
false
false
true
true

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Answers to review questions

Section 16 Gas metai arc welding


1.

An arc is formed between a continuous were electrode and the workpiece. Both
the weld pool and the electrode are protected from the atmosphere by a shielding
gas.

2.

a. power source
b. wire feed unit
c. wire rolls
d. regulator
e. flow-meter
f. gas cylinder
g. contact tip
h. welding gun

a. nozzle
b. contact tip
c. liner

4
5.

a. increased penetration
b. increased deposition
c. increased bead size
a. increases bead width
b. increases arc heat
c.

reduces bead height

6c. 13-24
7a. 24-40
8b. changing the torch angle
9c. peacock blue
10c. argon
11. true
12. true
13. true
14. false
15. true

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107

Section 17 Oxyacetylene welding

acetylene
crimson
left hand
fusible plugs
fabricated in
two halves
e. 1550kPa

a.
b.
c.
d.

oxygen
black right
hand
bursting disc
solid drawn
or extruded
15,000kPa

2.

a porous liner is soaked in acetone to control acetylene under pressure

3.

according to their bore size

4.

to reduce the pressure of gas from cylinder pressure to the pressure


required at the torch
to maintain a constant output pressure
to enable the working pressure to be adjustable

5.

backfire: the flame goes out and relights with a loud bang
flashback: the burning back of the flame inside the torch or hoses

6c. neutral
7a. 50-60kPa
8b. slightly carburising
9c. the thickness of the metal
10a. is burning inside the torch

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11.
12.
13.
14.
15.

Answers to review questions

true
true
false
true
true

Section 18 Submerged arc welding


1.

A fully or semi-automatic welding process in which the arc is established between


the workpiece and a continuous electrode beneath a covering of granulated flux.

2.

electrode positive (+)

3.

inching button: to drive the wire up or down without activating the welding power
voltage control: to regulate the required arc voltage and control bead shape and
penetration
amperage/wire speed: to regulate the required amperage to
obtain full fusion

4.

ships
submarines
boilers and pressure vessels oil
and storage tanks

5.

E
- electrode
L, M, H = low, medium or high manganese content
13
= 0.13% carbon and may be 8, 12, 13, 14 and 15
K
= fully killed (de-oxidised steel)

6b. increase penetration

11. true

7b. flat and horizontal

12. true

8c. to obtain hot starts and full fusion

13. true

9b. mixing unlike fluxes

14. true

10d. moisture in the flux

15. false

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Words you need to know

Words you need to know


alloying element

a metallic element added to another metal to modify


its properties

alloy steel

a steel which relies on the effects of elements other


than carbon to modify its properties

austenitic structure

the non-magnetic structure of some stainless steels


resulting from adding nickel

backfire

the loud popping noise made by the oxyacetylene


welding torch when it relights after momentarily going
out

backing bar

a non-consumable bar used to support and protect


the penetration bead of a butt weld - this bar does not
become part of the weld

backing strip

a metal strip placed at the root of a butt weld and


fused to become part of the finished weld

brass

an alloy of copper and zinc

bronze

an alloy of copper and tin

carbon equivalent

a calculation used to compare the weldability of a low


alloy steel with the weldability of carbon steel

carburising flame

an oxyacetylene flame containing more acetylene


than oxygen

carcinogen

a cancer producing substance

double de-oxidised

a metal filler rod or wire containing two de-oxidisers,


usually manganese and silicon

electrical conductivity
electrode

September 2009

the measure of a metal's ability to conduct electricity


The part of the electrical circuit which conducts the
electric current and forms the welding arc. Electrodes
may be consumable as in gas metal arc welding or
non-consumable as in gas tungsten arc welding.

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electro-slag/consumable
guide welding

extruded alloy

Words you need to know

A fusion welding process used to join thick sections


in the vertical position. The welding heat is
generated by the resistance to the flow of current
through molten slag. Water cooled copper shoes are
used to contain and shape the molten weld metal.
a section of metal which has been shaped by forcing
it through a series of dies

FCAW

flux-cored arc welding

flashback

the dangerous situation arising from combustion


inside the oxyacetylene welding torch

high alloy steel

an alloy steel containing more than 2% alloying


elements

hot cracking

stress fractures which occur during welding or


heating of a metal

low alloy steel

an alloy steel containing less than 2% alloying


elements

neutral flame

an oxyacetylene flame containing equal quantities of


oxygen and acetylene

oxidising flame

an oxyacetylene flame containing more oxygen than


acetylene

plastic state

the soft state a metal reaches about 100C before it


melts

plasma arc welding

arc welding in which the heat is provided by a plasma


arc - gas shielding of the weld is necessary and
additional weld metal may be added if required

Q and T steel

quench and tempered steel - a low alloy steel in a


heat treated condition

refractory oxide

an oxide with a higher melting point than the base


metal

SAW

submerged arc welding

shielding gas

a gas used with some welding processes to prevent


contamination of the weld from the atmosphere

thermal conductivity

the measure of a metal's ability to conduct heat

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Words you need to know

thermal cutting

metal cutting which uses heat as opposed to


mechanical means

transfer mode

manner or way in which metal is transferred across


the arc particularly in gas metal arc welding

triple de-oxidised

a metal, filler rod or wire containing three deoxidisers, usually manganese, silicon and aluminium

wrought alloy

an alloy which has been worked (rolled) to achieve its


properties as opposed to cast or extruded alloys.

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