Guidelines for Shop Inspection Support Documents

Weld Defects


Weld Defects - Their Causes and How to Correct Them
With the correct welding conditions, techniques and material quality standards, the MIG process will yield a very high quality weld deposit. However, as with any other welding process, weld defects can occur. Most defects encountered in welding are due to an improper welding procedure. Once the causes are determined, the operator can easily correct the problem. Defects usually encountered include incomplete penetration, incomplete fusion, undercutting, porosity, and longitudinal cracking. This section deals with the corrective action that should be taken. INCOMPLETE PENETRATION This type of defect is found in any of three ways: 1) When the weld bead does not penetrate the entire thickness of the base plate. 2) When two opposing weld beads do not interpenetrate. 3) When the weld bead does not penetrate the toe of a fillet weld but only bridges across it. Welding current has the greatest effect on penetration. Incomplete penetration is usually caused by the use of too low a welding current and can be eliminated by simply increasing the amperage. Other causes can be the use of too slow a travel speed and an incorrect torch angle. Both will allow the molten weld metal to roll in front of the arc, acting as a cushion to prevent penetration. The arc must be kept on the leading edge of the weld puddle. Figure 10-1 - Examples of Lack of Penetration

LACK OF FUSION Lack of fusion, also called cold lapping or cold shuts, occurs when there is no fusion between the weld metal and the surfaces of the base plate. This defect can be seen in Figure 10-2. The most common cause of lack of fusion is a poor welding technique. Either the weld puddle is too large (travel speed too slow) and/or the weld metal has been permitted to roll in front of the arc. Again, the arc must be kept on the leading edge of the puddle. When this is done, the weld puddle will not get too large and cannot cushion the arc. Another cause is the use of a very wide weld joint. If the arc is directed down the center of the joint, the molten weld metal will only flow and cast against the side walls of the base plate without melting them. The heat of the arc must be used to melt the base plate. This is
Guidelines for Shop Inspection – Weld Defects – Page 1 / 5

The undercut groove is where melted base material has been drawn into the weld and not allowed to wet back properly because of the rapid solidification. However. Lack of fusion can also occur in the form of a rolled over bead crown. the weld bead will be very peaked because of its extremely fast solidification. raising the arc voltage or using a leading torch angle are also corrective actions. Guidelines for Shop Inspection – Weld Defects – Page 2 / 5 . The best safeguard against this is to remove all oxide as soon before welding as possible. When welding aluminum. Figure 10-2 – Example of Lack of Fusion When multipass welding thick material. Melted portions of the base plate are affected in the same way. This type of defect is most commonly caused by improper welding parameters. particularly the travel speed and arc voltage. the weld bead will become flatter and wetting will improve. mill scale) can be welded over in mild steel. fusion with the weld metal will be hampered. Although iron oxide (rust. If this oxide is present on the surfaces to be welded. but can also be encountered in fillet and butt joints. Again. When only small or intermittent undercuts are present. As a result. Large weld beads bridging the entire gap must be avoided. an excessive amount can cause lack of fusion. It is also insoluble in molten aluminum. The forces of surface tension have drawn the molten metal along the edges of the weld bead and piled it up along the center. This oxide is a refractory with a melting point of approximately 35000F (19270C). the common cause of this type of defect is the presence of aluminum oxide. UNDERCUTTING As shown in Figure 10-3. it is also very often caused by too low a welding voltage. It is most common in lap fillet welds. In both cases.Guidelines for Shop Inspection Support Documents Weld Defects _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ accomplished by making the joint narrower or by directing the arc towards the side wall of the base plate. it is generally caused by a very low travel speed and attempting to make too large a weld in a single pass. When the travel speed is too high. a split bead technique should be used whenever possible after the root passes. Decreasing the arc travel speed will gradually reduce the size of the undercut and eventually eliminate it. undercutting is a defect that appears as a groove in the parent metal directly along the edges of the weld. the wetting of the bead will be poor.

undercutting may again appear.Guidelines for Shop Inspection Support Documents Weld Defects _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ However. it also becomes too wide. it is possible that porosity can only be found at the weld center. etc. excessively oxidized work piece surfaces. the heat transfer of a long arc is relatively poor. Again. The arc length should be kept short. Excessive welding currents can also cause undercutting. This can blow away the gas shield. these pores may vary in size and are generally distributed in a random manner. fittings. 3) Severely clogged gas nozzle or damaged gas supply system (leaking hoses. This is particularly true in spray arc welding. However. It is always advisable to remain within the current ranges specified for each wire size. arc heat and penetration are so great that the base plate under the arc is actually ”blown” away.) 4) An excessive wind in the welding area. Atmospheric contamination can be caused by: 1) Inadequate shielding gas flow. This can cause aspiration of air into the gas stream. As seen in Figure 10-4. The outermost areas are very quickly cooled and again proper wetting is prevented. However. The most common causes of porosity are atmosphere contamination. When the arc becomes very long. the outermost areas of the base material are melted but solidify quickly. so actually the arc is supplying no more total heat to the weld zone. Pores can occur either under or on the weld surface. The arc force. not only to avoid undercutting but to increase penetration and weld soundness. inadequate deoxidizing alloys in the wire and the presence of foreign matter. POROSITY Porosity is gas pores found in the solidified weld bead. Puddle turbulence and surface tension prevent the puddle from wetting properly. This results in an increased amount of base material being melted. 2) Excessive shielding gas flow. as the arc voltage is raised to excessive levels. Guidelines for Shop Inspection – Weld Defects – Page 3 / 5 .

One form of this defect which may often be encountered. For example. Erratic arc characteristics can be caused by poor welding conditions (voltage too low or high. poor metal transfer) and fluctuation in the wire feed speed. Anodized coatings on aluminum must be removed prior to welding because they contain water as well as being an insulator. Porosity can be caused by inadequate wire deoxidation when welding semi-killed or rimmed steels. is called a crater crack. The oxygen in the steel can cause CO porosity if the proper deoxidizing elements are not present. Extremely high travel speeds and low welding current levels should be avoided.Guidelines for Shop Inspection Support Documents Weld Defects _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ The atmospheric gases that are primarily responsible for porosity in steel are nitrogen and excessive oxygen. that which does occur can be one of two types: hot cracks and cold cracks. In addition. particularly with any 5000 series aluminum. if the welding control is designed to supply gas for a short time after the arc is broken. To properly end a weld. The major reason for this defect is the incorrect technique for ending the weld. This technique is depicted in Figure 10-7. Foreign matter can be a source of porosity. All these occurrences cause severe weld puddle turbulence. considerable oxygen can be tolerated without porosity in the absence of nitrogen. This is done by reversing the arc travel direction before breaking the arc. LONGITUDINAL CRACKING Longitudinal or centerline cracking. Typical hot cracks are shown in Figure 10-5. When solidification rates are extremely rapid. Hot cracks are those that occur while the weld bead is between the liquidus (melting) and solidus (solidifying) temperatures. of the weld bead is not often encountered in mig welding. The gas supply should be inspected at regular intervals to insure freedom from leakage. These hydrocarbons are sources of hydrogen which is particularly harmful for aluminum. Oxygen in the atmosphere can cause severe problems with aluminum because of its rapid oxide formation. the crater should be filled. any gas that would normally escape is trapped. Excessive oxidation of the work pieces is an obvious source of oxygen as well as entrapped moisture. An example is excessive lubricant on the welding wire. Although small. A crater crack is shown in Figure 10-6. This turbulence will tend to break up the shielding gas envelope and cause the molten weld metal to be contaminated by the atmosphere. Any combination of the joint design. Other causes of porosity may be extremely fast weld solidification rates and erratic arc characteristics. In addition. Again. the crater should be shielded until it is completely solidified. Hot cracks usually result from the use of an incorrect wire electrode (particularly in aluminum and stainless steel alloys). excessive moisture in the atmosphere can cause porosity in steel and particularly aluminum. In this temperature range the weld bead is ”mushy”. these cracks are troublesome since they can propagate into the weld bead. The chemistry of the base plate can also promote this defect (an example would be any high carbon stainless steel casting). Care should be exercised in humid climates. Guidelines for Shop Inspection – Weld Defects – Page 4 / 5 . welding conditions and welding techniques that results in a weld bead with an excessively concave surface can promote cracking. However. this is particularly true for aluminum where a hydrated oxide may exist. These are small cracks which appear at the end of the weld where the arc has been broken. a continuous coolant flow in water cooled torches can cause condensation during periods of high humidity and consequent contamination of the shielding gas. However.

These defects occur only when the weld is too small to withstand the service stresses involved. Table 10-1 lists all possible defects.Example of Longitudinal Cracking Figure 10-6 . For your convenience and quick reference.Example of Crater Cracking Those cracks that occur after the weld bead has completely solidified are called cold cracks. their cause and corrective action. Figure 10-7 – Crater Filling Technique Guidelines for Shop Inspection – Weld Defects – Page 5 / 5 .Guidelines for Shop Inspection Support Documents Weld Defects _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Figure 10-5 .

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