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THE BASICS OF Gas Metal Arc Welding

THE BASICS OF Gas Metal Arc Welding

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THE BASICS OF
GasMetal ArcWelding
Examining metal transfermodes, electrodes, andshielding gases
 
T
he American Welding Society(AWS) defines gas metal arcwelding (GMAW) as “an arcwelding process that producescoalescence of metals by heating themwith an arc between a continuous fillermetal electrode and the workpiece.Shielding is obtained entirelyfrom anexternally supplied gas.”The essential elements of a basicGMAW process are shown in
Figure 1
.GMAW is an arc welding processthat incorporates the automatic feedingof a continuous, consumable electrodethat is shielded by an externally sup-plied gas (see
Figure 2
). Since theequipment provides for automatic con-trol of the arc, the only manual controlsrequired by the welder for semiautomat-ic operation are the gun positioning,guidance, and travel speed.GMAW is used to weld all the com-mercially important metals, includingsteel, aluminum, copper, and stainlesssteel. The process can be used to weldin any position, including flat, vertical,horizontal, and overhead. It is usuallyconnected to use direct current elec-trode positive (DCEP).
Metal Transfer
Modes in GMAW
The GMAW process has five distinctmetal transfer modes:1. Short circuiting2. Globular3. Spray4. Pulsed spray5. High-current density (rotationaland nonrotational spray)The metal transfer mode is deter-mined by many factors, including cur-rent, wire diameter, arc length or volt-age, power supply characteristics, andshielding gas.
Short-Circuit Gas Metal
Arc Welding (GMAW-S)
AWS defines short-circuit gas metalarc welding (GMAW-S) as “a gas metalarc welding process variation in whichthe consumable electrode is depositedduring repeated short circuits.”In the short-circuiting mode, metaltransfer occurs when the electrode is incontact with the weld pool. In this modeof metal transfer, the relationship be-tween the electrode melt rate and itsfeed rate into the weld zone determinesthe intermittent establishment of an arcand the short circuiting of the electrodeto the workpiece.Specifically, the electrode is fed at aconstant speed at a rate that exceeds themelt rate. When it contacts the moltenpool, a short circuit occurs, at whichtime there is no arc. The current thenbegins to rise and heats the wire to aplastic state. At the same time, the wirebegins to deform or neck down becauseof electromagnetic pinch effect.Eventually, the current value andresulting pinch force cause a drop of metal to detach into the weld puddle.At this point, an arc is established. Thissequence repeats itself about 50 to 250times per second (see
Figure 3
).Since there is no arc established dur-ingthe short circuit, the overall heat in-put is low, and the depth of fusion isrelatively shallow. Thus, care must beexercised in selecting the procedure andweld technique to ensure completefusion when welding thick metal.Because of its low heat input charac-teristics, the process produces small,fast-freezing weld puddles, which makesit suitable for welding in all positions.Short-circuiting transfer is also adaptableto welding sheet metal with minimumdistortion and for filling gapped or poorlyfitted parts with less tendency for burn-through of the part being welded.
Article reprinted with permission from the Novbember 1995 issue of The FABRICATOR.
FABRICATORS & MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION, INTL.
s
833 FEATHERSTONE RD.
s
ROCKFORD, IL 61107-6302
s
815/399-8700
Figure 1
This shows the essential elements of a basic GMAW pro-cess.
Figure 2
GMAW incorporates the automatic feeding of a continuous,consumable electrode that is shielded by an externally sup-plied gas.
 
Globular Transfer
Globular transfer is characterized bythe transfer of molten metal in largedrops across the arc. This transfer modetakes place when the current and arcvoltage are between the short-circuitingand spray transfer current and voltagelevels and occurs with all types of shield-inggas. Carbon dioxide yields this typeof transfer at all usable welding currentsabove the short circuiting range.Globular transfer is characterized by adrop size about two to four times greaterthan the diameter of the electrode (see
Figure 4
).With carbon dioxide, the droplet isnot propelled across the arc because of the repelling forces acting upward to-ward the wire tip. These forces tend tohold the droplet on the end of the wire.During this time, the drop grows in sizeand eventually either transfers by gravitydue to its weight or short circuits acrossthe arc gap.
Spray Transfer
In spray transfer, the molten metal ispropelled axially across the arc in smalldroplets. In a gas blend of at least80 per-cent argon (see
Figure 5
), the electrodemetal transfer changes from globular tospray mode as welding current increasesfor any given electrode diameter. Thechange takes place at a value called theglobular-spray transition current. Spraytransfer in argon has a constricted arccolumn and pointed electrode tip (see
Figure 3
The short-circuiting transfer sequenceis illustrated here.
Figure 4
Globular transfer is characterized by a drop size about twoto four times greater than the diameter of the electrode.
Spray ArcElectrode TypeWire Dia. (In.)Shielding GasCurrent
0.02398% Argon - 2% O
2
1350.03098% Argon - 2% O
2
1500.03598% Argon - 2% O
2
1650.04598% Argon - 2% O
2
2200.06298% Argon - 2% O
2
2750.03595% Argon - 5% O
2
1550.04595% Argon - 5% O
2
2000.06295% Argon - 5% O
2
265
Low Carbon Steel
0.03592% Argon - 8% CO
2
1750.04592% Argon - 8% CO
2
2250.06292% Argon - 8% CO
2
2900.03585% Argon - 15% CO
2
1800.04585% Argon - 15% CO
2
2400.06285% Argon - 15% CO
2
2950.03580% Argon - 20% CO
2
1950.04580% Argon - 20% CO
2
2550.06280% Argon - 20% CO
2
3450.03599% Argon - 1% O
2
1500.04599% Argon - 1% O
2
1950.06299% Argon - 1% O
2
2650.035Argon - Helium - CO
2
160
Stainless Steel
0.045Argon - Helium - CO
2
2050.062Argon - Helium - CO
2
2800.035Argon - Hydrogen - CO
2
1450.045Argon - Hydrogen - CO
2
1850.062Argon - Hydrogen - CO
2
2550.030Argon95
Aluminum
0.047Argon1350.062Argon1800.035Argon180
Deoxidized Copper
0.045Argon2100.062Argon3100.035Argon165
Silicon Bronze
0.045Argon2050.062Argon270
Figure 5
This table lists the globular-to-spray transition currents.

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