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1206 Mat.-wiss. u. Werkstofftech. 2017, 48, 1206–1212 DOI 10.1002/mawe.


Numerical investigation of droplet impact on the

welding pool in gas metal arc welding
Numerische Untersuchung der Tropfenwirkung auf das
Schmelzbad beim Metallschutzgasschweißen

O. Mokrov1, O. Lysnyi1, M. Simon1, U. Reisgen1, G. Laschet2, M. Apel2

A transient three-dimensional model that describes physical phenomena inside a

welding pool during gas–metal arc welding process is presented. The model con-
siders such phenomena as heat-mass transfer, electromagnetics, hydrodynamic
processes and deformation of the weld pool free surface. The fluid flow in the weld
pool is induced due to the presence of the mechanical impact of the droplets, ther-
mo-capillary surface tension, thermal buoyancy and electromagnetic forces. The
weld pool surface deformation is calculated by considering arc pressure and drop-
let impact force. A comparative analysis of the impact of the electric current of the
welding arc and different force factors causing the motion of liquid metal in the weld
pool on the shape of the welded seam was carried out and discussed.

Keywords: Arc welding / numerical simulation / hydrodynamics / welded seam

formation / droplet impact

Es wird ein transientes, dreidimensionales Modell vorgestellt, das die physikali-

schen Phänomene in einem Schmelzbad beim Metallschutzgasschweißen be-
schreibt. Das Modell berücksichtigt solche Phänomene wie Wärme- und Massen-
übertragung, elektromagnetische Phänomene, hydrodynamische Prozesse und die
Deformierung der freien Schmelzbadoberfläche. Die Strömungen im Schmelzbad
werden hervorgerufen durch den mechanischen Aufprall der Tropfen, die thermo-
kapillare Oberflächenspannung, den thermischen Auftrieb und elektromagnetische
Kräfte. Bei der Berechnung der Deformation der Schmelzbadoberfläche werden
der Lichtbogendruck und die Kraft der auftreffenden Tropfen berücksichtigt. Eine
vergleichende Analyse des Einflusses des elektrischen Stromes des Schweißlicht-
bogens und der verschiedenen Kräfte, die die Bewegung des flüssigen Metalls im
Schmelzbad verursachen, auf die Form der Schweißnaht wurde durchgeführt und

Schlüsselwörter: Lichtbogenschweißen / numerische Simulation / Strömungen /

Schweißnahtbildung / Tropfenwirkung

1 RWTH Aachen University, ISF – Welding and Joining

Institute, Pontstr. 49, 52062 AACHEN, DEUTSCH- Corresponding author: O. Lysnyi, RWTH Aachen Uni-
LAND versity, ISF – Welding and Joining Institute, Pontstr.
2 RWTH Aachen University, Access e.V., Intzestr. 5, 49, 52062 AACHEN, DEUTSCHLAND,

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1 Introduction compressible and laminar, the Boussinesq buoyancy

approximation is applied; the initial droplet veloc-
The gas metal arc welding (GMAW) process is ity, temperature and diameter in dependence on
widely used in the industry for manufacturing met- welding parameters are calculated by given empiri-
allic constructions. In gas metal arc welding, weld cal equations. The developed approach to speed up
metal is deposited into a weld pool from an elec- the calculation, was based on an idea that was pro-
trode. The main goals of the gas metal arc welding posed earlier [4, 5]. It is supposed that the incoming
process modelling is the prediction of the temper- droplet is considered as a non-mixed particle that
ature field, the shape of the weld pool and the weld keeps its mass and size. The trajectory of the drop-
seam geometry in dependence of the welding proc- let in the weld pool is determined numerically by
ess variables. integrating the equation of motion. The interaction
There are several difficulties inherent in model- between the droplet and liquid metal of the weld
ling of gas metal arc welding. The fluid flow in the pool is determined by the droplets trajectory and the
molten weld pool requires careful treatment. The heat exchange. When the velocity of the droplet be-
momentum and heat transferred to the weld pool by comes the same as the melt flow velocity it is con-
the droplets also have to be taken into account. The sidered that the droplet is accepted by the weld pool
surface of the weld pool is not flat due to the addi- volume.
tion of molten metal by the droplets and has to be Based on the above-mentioned assumptions, the
defined during calculation. These factors need to be governing equations used to describe gas metal arc
taken into account to consider the changes in the welding process are given as follows: The calcu-
welding arc and their influence on the weld pool. lation area includes welded plates, welding pool and
A conduction-based heat transfer approach is solidified metal of the welded seam, Figure 1. The
widely used for gas metal arc welding process de- Cartesian coordinate system (x, y, z), fixed to the
scription [1, 2]. The advantage of this approach lies welded plate, is used in the calculation. The weld-
in its simplified and fast calculation, but it does not ing arc moves along the x axis, the gravity force is
allow to consider the convective heat transfer inside directed downward in z direction.
the weld pool. The volume of fluid (VOF) method The governing equations include mass con-
is one of the sophisticated calculation approaches to servation (Equation 1), heat transfer (Equation 2),
consider the shape and fluid motion of the weld momentum transfer (Equation 3), electrical current
pool with free surface [3]. The advantage of this continuity (Equation 4), Maxwell’s equations
method is, that it allows to consider the transient (Equation 5) and deformation of weld pool free sur-
impingement of the molten drops and fluid flow in face (Equation 6–7) equations:
an evident natural form. The disadvantage of the
volume of fluid method is the need for high calcu-
lation resources as it requires high mesh resolution
and small time steps.
The intention of this work is to develop a three-
dimensional weld pool model which will consider
important hydrodynamics effects and their influence
on heat and mass transfer but will also allow to pro-
vide speed up calculation.

2 Description of the mathematical model

In order to simplify the mathematical model for-

mulation, the following assumptions were made:
Fluctuations of the welding arc burning due to elec- Figure 1. Schematic representation of GMAW process.
trode melting and droplets detachments are ne- Bild 1. Schematische Darstellung des Metallschutzgaspro-
glected; the hydrodynamic flow is Newtonian, in- zesses.

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uÞ ¼ 0 ; ð1Þ the volume of metal fed from the wire is equal to
the volume of weld reinforcement, ym , xm are the
@h ~j2 boundaries of molten metal, x0 is the coordinate of
þ rð~uhÞ ¼ rðlrTÞ þ þ Sdh ; ð2Þ
@t s top surface before melting, rf is the radius of elec-
  trode wire, uf is the velocity of electrode wire feed-
1 þ ð~
u  rÞ~
u ¼ rp þ rðmr~ uÞþ ing, uw is the welding velocity.
@t ð3Þ
The source terms considering the droplet inter-
gbA T þ~j  B
1~ ~ þ !
Sdu ; !
action with the weld pool are given as Sdu ¼
rðs rfÞ ¼ 0 ; ð4Þ PN ! PN
ð1=dV Þ k¼1 f d Ak , Sdh ¼ ð1=dV Þ k¼1 qd Ak ;
~ ¼ r  A;
B ~ ¼ m 0~j ;
~ r2 A ð5Þ !
where Sdu , Sdh are the local values of mechanical
  momentum and heat sources due to the interaction
ur K1 rx  1ð~g ~
nÞðx  xmax Þ ¼ Parc þ Pd ; ð6Þ
between the droplets and the liquid metal of weld
Zym pool; N is the instantaneous number of droplets that
uf are locally present in a volume dV, Ak is the sur-
ðxðxm ; yÞ  x0 Þdy ¼ p r2f ; ð7Þ
uw !  
face area of droplet, f ¼ ! u ~
d u m=r is the me-
d w
chanical interaction between the droplet and liquid
where 1 is the mass density, ~ u is the fluid flow ve-
metal of the weld pool. The change of the droplet
locity of liquid metal inside the weld pool, t is the
RT kinematic momentum is described by the ex-
time, h ¼ c1 dT þ c 1 h is the enthalpy, c is the !
pression: dð1~uÞ=dt ¼ f d ; qd ¼ ðT d  T Þl=rw is the
heat capacity, c is the latent heat; h is the fraction of heat flux from the droplet to the weld pool, T d is
liquid metal, T is the temperature, ~j is the electrical the droplet temperature, T is the local temperature
current density, s is the electrical conductivity, l is of liquid metal. The change of the droplet heat con-
the thermal conductivity, p is the pressure, m is the tent is given by @hd =@t ¼ qd .
g is the acceleration due to gravity, bA is
viscosity, ~
Boundary conditions for heat flux on left
the thermal volumetric expansion coefficient of liq-
~ is the magnetic induction, f is the elec- ðy ¼ 0Þ, right ð y ¼ Y Þ, front ðx ¼ X Þ, back
uid metal, B
ðx ¼ 0Þ and bottom ðz ¼ ZÞ surfaces were defined
trical potential, linked to the current via Ohm’s law
~j ¼  srf, A is the vector potential and m 0 is the as (Equation 8). The heat flux on the top surface
ðz ¼ 0Þ was defined by (Equation 9).
permeability of vacuum, x is the free surface position
direction, u is the surface tension,
in zpffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi
K¼ 1 þ ðrxÞ2 is the curvature of the free sur- @T
l ¼ qconv  qradi ; ð8Þ
face, ~n is the vector normal to the free surface, n
Parc ¼ 3m 0 I 2 = 4p2 rP exp  3 x2t þ y2 =r2P the @T
¼ qarc  qconv  qradi  qevap ; ð9Þ
arc pressure, rp is the arc pressure radius,
xt ¼ x0  uw t, where x0 and xt are the initial and the qconv ¼ aðT  T out Þ; ð10Þ
time temporal position of the electrical
 wire and t is  
¼ 3
ð nÞnd =pr2d qradi ¼ s SB e T 4  T 4out ; ð11Þ
the  time,
 2 P 
d 3=4pr
 d 31 ~
u d ~
exp  3 xt þ y2 =r2d is the droplet impact pres-      
qarc ¼ ðh I U  W d Þ= 2pr2h exp  3 x2t þ y2 =r2h ;
ud , nd , rd are the droplet velocity, frequency
sure, ~
and droplet radius. ð12Þ

The deformation of weld pool free surface was where a is the Newton-Richman heat exchange co-
calculated using an equilibrium surface equation, efficient, sSB is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant, e is
considering the influence of surface tension, grav- the surface emittance, T out is the ambient temper-
ity, arc pressure and droplet impact pressure. xmax is ature, qevap is the evaporation heat flux, which is
determined by the integral equation of mass con- calculated by evaporation model, qarc is the arc
servation (Equation 7) due to the assumption that

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heating flux, h is the arc efficiency, I is the weld- 3 Calculation methods

ing current, U is the arc voltage,
W d ¼ c1 pr2f uf ðT d  T our Þ is the heat power con- The mathematical model of gas metal arc welding
sumed for electrode wire and droplets heating, rf is process was approximated by the finite volume
the radius of electrode wire, rh - is the arc heating method. A non-uniform rectangular space grid is
radius [8]. The melt flow velocity along solidus used to describe the geometrical model approx-
temperature is set as un ¼ 0 . On the top surface imation. A finer grid spacing is applied in an area
the normal component of vector velocity is set as with a high temperature gradient. The geometry was
un ¼ 0 and the magnitudes of the tangential com- defined as D, B, G, L - the depth, width, height of
ponents of vector velocity ut1 and ut2 are consid- reinforcement and length. Test calculations show
 as surface
 thermo-capillary flow @ut1 =@~ n¼ that the averaging factor for the droplet impact on
bM @T=@ ! t1 and @ut2 =@~ n ¼ bM @T=@ ! t2 ; where the weld pool can be increased up to 2–4 times
bM ¼ dT is the temperature coefficient of surface without significant change (less than 5 %) of the re-
tension and ! t1 and !t2 span the plane tangential to sulting parameters of weld pool geometry, Tables 1,
the surface and define the direction of ut1 and ut2 , 2. This allows to speed up the simulation.
respectively. The electric potential at the bottom
surface is set as f ¼ 0. At the top surface we adopt
the following electric potential s rf ¼ 4 Experimental procedure
3I= pr2j exp  3 x2t þ y2 =r2j where rj is the
The experiments were made for 100 mm x 100 mm
arc electrical radius. At other boundaries rf ¼ 0. x10 mm plates of S235JR steel, 1.6 mm diameter
The gradient of the magnetic potential at all sides welding wire of SG2 steel, electrode stick out
is set as rA~ ¼ 0. 22 mm, direct current electrode positive (DCEP)
power source supply [9]. The geometry of the weld
bead was obtained by a setup that blows out the liq-
uid metal of the weld pool to expose its solid bot-
tom. A digitized measurement, of full 3-dimen-

Table 2. Parameters of mathematical model.

Table 1. Parameters of mathematical model. Tabelle 2. Parameter des mathematischen Modells.
Tabelle 1. Parameter des mathematischen Modells.
Property Symbol, unit Value
Property Symbol, unit Value Liquidus temperature TL, C 1514
Velocity of electrode uf , cm/s -6.3 + 0.053 I Solidus temperature TS, C 1443
wire feeding (I = 225 Latent heat of melting and cLS , J g-1 270
- 450 A) solidification
Stefan-Boltzmann s SB , W cm-2 K-4 5.67 10-4 Heat of vaporization cVC , J g-1 6260
constant Density of material 1, g cm-3 7.6
Coefficient of radia- e 0.4 Coefficient of surface tension u, g s -2- 1.8 103
tion emission
Heat capacity c, J g-1 C-1 0.5
Newton-Richman a, W cm-2 C 1.0 10-3
heat exchange coeffi- Thermal conductivity l, W cm-1 C-1 0.45
cient Electrical conductivity s, om-1 cm-1 1 104
Magnetic permeabili- m 0 , g s-2 1.26 10-3 (T > 1000 8C)
ty Cinematic viscosity m, cm2 s-1 1.1 10-2
Gravitational accele- g, cm c-2 980 Coefficient of thermal volu- bA , C-1 1.4 10-4
ration metric expansion
Ambient temperature T0, C 20 Coefficient of thermal surface bM , C-1 2.1 10-3
Arc efficiency h 0.8 expansion

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sional shape of weld bead was obtained by a non- 5 Results and discussion
contact 3D laser profiling system, Figure 2.
A plan of experiments was made to obtain re- Comparative results for regimes 4 and 5 that are the
sults for a range of three main welding process vari- ultimate values of minimal 225 A and maximal
ables: welding current I, arc voltage U and welding 450 A welding current are given, Figures 3, 4, Ta-
velocity uw . The range of welding variables, ob- ble 3.
tained experimental data and calculated results of With a welding current of 225 A (regime 4) the
weld pool geometry are summarized, Table 3. The velocity of electrode melting is 7.8 mm/s, the de-
unknown model coefficients rh , rj , rp , rd were de- formation of the weld pool free surface is not sig-
fined due to the given range of experimental data. nificant, Figure 3, Table 3. The free surface of the
The relative calculation error estimated by size of liquid welding pool metal has no significant de-
D, B, G, L that was achieved is less than 10 %. formation as the arc pressure and droplet impact
flow have no significant influence. In this case, the
shape of the free surface is defined by the surface
tension force and the intensity of the metal mass in-
come due to the electrode melting rate. The con-
vective flow of liquid metal inside the weld pool is
formed mainly under the influence of thermo-grav-
itational and thermo-capillary forces. In this case,
the maximum velocity of liquid metal flow is
40 mm/s. The impact of the electromagnetic Lorentz
force and forced convection due to the droplets in-
come do not lead to a significant axial flow in
downward direction of the weld pool. In the central
part of the weld pool, ascending liquid streams are
formed, Figure 3. They transport most of the over-
heated metal from the arc area along the free surface
to the periphery of the weld pool. Near the solid-
ification borders, the convective streams of liquid
metal change to the opposite direction and move
along the bottom surface of the welding pool.
With a higher welding current of 450 A (regime
Figure 2. 3D scan of the melting surface, after blow out of 5) the velocity of electrode melting reaches
the liquid metal. 16.3 mm/s, the depression of the weld pool free sur-
Bild 2. 3D Scan der Schmelzoberfläche nach Ausblasen der face is 3.5 mm, Table 3, Figure 4. The comparison

Table 3. Values of welding process parameters.

Tabelle 3. Werte der Schweißprozessparameter.

N I U0 vw D B G L D B G L
[A] [V] [mm min-1] [mm] [mm] [mm] [mm] [mm] [mm] [mm] [mm]
experiment calculation
1 300 28 350 3.5 12.4 1.8 30.4 3.9 13.4 1.7 33.6
2 300 28 550 3.2 9.2 1.4 31.2 3.3 9.4 1.4 32.5
3 300 28 750 3.1 7.5 1.1 31.2 2.8 7.0 1.2 29.0
4 225 28 550 2.6 7.3 1.0 24.8 2.9 7.0 1.1 23.4
5 450 28 550 6.3 8.8 3.0 48.8 5.8 9.4 2.8 52.3
6 300 24 550 3.0 6.4 1.0 30.4 2.7 6.9 0.9 33.5
7 300 30 550 3.2 8.8 1.4 32.8 3.5 8.6 1.4 31.1

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reaches 200 mm/s. Inside the welding pool near the

electrode tip, a downward convective flow is
formed. It transfers most of the overheated metal
from the arc area to the melting front. At the solid
interface, the convective flow turns and goes along
the bottom surface to the peripheral zones of the
weld pool. The influence of the capillary force on
the liquid metal flow is not significant. The gravita-
tional force has an impact on the convective flow in
Figure 3. Calculated data (regime 4 Table 3: 225 A, 28 V, the tail part of the weld pool.
550 mm/min) longitudinal sections, vmax = 40 mm/s, Tmax =
2840 8C.
Bild 3. Berechnete Daten (Regime 4, Tabelle 3: 225 A,
28 V, 550 mm/min) Längsschnitt, vmax = 40 mm/s, Tmax =
6 Conclusions
2840 8C.
A mathematical model of gas metal arc welding
process has been developed. The used approach of
averaging heat and kinetic momentum impact of the
droplets allows to save computational time com-
pared to the calculation without averaging, while al-
lowing to predict weld pool depth and shape with
good accuracy. The simulations show that the en-
thalpy transferred from the droplet to the weld pool
has a strong influence on the weld pool depth, while
the melt flow in the weld pool is strongly de-
Figure 4. Calculated data (regime 5 Table 3: 450 A, 28 V, termined by the momentum transferred by the drop-
550 mm/min) longitudinal sections, vmax = 200 mm/s, Tmax = lets. Calculated results were obtained with a sim-
2895 8C.
plified axisymmetric boundary condition of the
Bild 4. Berechnete Daten (Regime 5, Tabelle 3: 450 A,
welding arc influence on the welded plates, but due
28 V, 550 mm/min) Längsschnitt, vmax = 200 mm/s, Tmax =
2895 8C. to the three dimensional formulation of the model, it
can be used for a more complicated, non-sym-
metrical boundary condition in further research. The
of obtained data with the regime 4 shows a sig- developed model is necessary in the future for the
nificant increase of the penetration depth while the simulation of mass transfer and the chemical com-
width of the melted zone becomes smaller, Table 3. position formation in the weld seam.
This result is caused by the complex influence of
two factors that lead to a concentrated arc source
impact on the welded plates. The first factor is the Acknowledgements
significant deformation of the weld pool free sur-
face due to the more intensive arc dynamic pressure This work was carried out with the financial support
and the droplet impact flow. It increases the temper- of the Collaborative Research Centre SFB1120 (DFG
ature gradient and heat flux from the free surface of (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), Sonderfor-
the weld pool to the melting front due to the de- schungsbereich) “Precision Melt Engineering” at
creasing of the thickness of liquid metal under the RWTH Aachen University. For the sponsorship and
arc source. The second factor is the change of the the support we wish to express our sincere gratitude.
liquid metal hydrodynamic flow pattern. In this
case, the convective flow inside the welding pool is
formed mainly due to the electromagnetic Lorentz
force and the forced convection due to the droplets
mass income. Under the influence of these force
factors, the maximal velocity of convective flow

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