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pot welding is often selected for joining sheet metal fabrications, stampings and assemblies because it is fast, reliable and econ o m i c a l . H o w e v e r, numerous design considerations can affect the quality and cost of the weld, among them: size of the spot weld, accessibility, positioning, materials, thicknesses and the number of spots needed to attain the desired strength. This section will focus primarily on resistance spot welding (RSW) and resistance projection welding (RPW) since these processes are most commonly used due to their speed and flexibility. See Figure 1, for schematics of RSW and RPW. Applications include attachment of reinforcing braces and stiffeners, functional brackets, hinges and other parts. Often, spot welding is the method of choice for assembly of entire enclosures, cabinets and multipart assemblies. Thickness of the majority of parts joined by spot welding ranges up to 1⁄8 in. (3 mm) for each m e m b e r, although parts up to 1⁄4 i n . (6 mm) thick can be successfully spot welded.
General Design Considerations
Based on the experience of stampers and f a b r i c a t o r s, general guidelines can facilitate spot welding of a sheet metal design, no matter what metalforming process is used to make it. It is always useful to consult with the metalformer in the design stage when questions arise regarding the part design, application of spot welding or, control of spot welding cost for a particular design. Knowledgeable designers avoid overspecifying the number of welds, weld size and location. After evaluating strength requirements, it usually suffices to specify “a minimum number of spot welds equally spaced,” thereby leaving the most economical positioning up to the metalformer. If other joining methods are specified, i n addition to spot welding, it may be more economical to redesign so that one or the other method is eliminated. Dimensional precision is often overspecified, sometimes unintentionally. CAD systems default to three or four digits of precision
although with reservations. penetrates both thicknesses equally. Higher carbon and low-alloy steels can also be spot welded. such standards can be specified by the designer as the controlling print information on spot welds. In addition. accessibility and shunting effects (current loss). with an associated propensity for cracking and weld separation. so does brittleness. higher strength steels may require special techniques or treatments such as tempering after welding. which may degrade weld performance. For simplicity. It can be spot welded to many ferrous and non-ferrous alloys with varying success. When the size of spot welds is designated. one weld may produce a stronger bond than two spots. followed by ferritic. Th e s e dimensions and other spot welding parameters are given in Table I for aluminum and stainless steel.” Circular in shape in a plan view. which may be limited in size and integrity because of constraints in positioning. Weld Size and Strength Weld size (nugget diameter) is typically slightly less than the diameter of the impression the electrode creates on the material. the nugget has an oblong cross-section that.Spot Welding are interrelated. diameters of spot welds range from about 1⁄8 in. In applications where space is limited. Weldability of Materials Low-carbon steel is one of the most readily spot welded materials. melting the metal and forming a weld “nugget. All stainless steels require careful adjustment of welding parameters and/or special methods to obtain optimum quality welds. It is advisable to check with the supplier before specifying spot welding. s o m e grades more readily than others. because of a tendency to form harder welds. ideally. depending on the combination of metals joined. (3 mm) to l⁄2 in. Martensitic stainlesses are the least common because welded joints are much more brittle. spot welding should be shown schematically without dimensions. Au s t e n i t i c grades of the 300 series are the most commonly welded types. (13 mm). Base metal strength and spot weld strength 112 DESIGN GUIDELINES . Spot weldability of HSLA (High-Strength Low-Alloy) steels is directly related to composition and type of microalloying elements. Depending on workpiece thickness and the type of material used. Table I gives realistic strength expectations for design purposes. In resistance spot and projection welding. Stainless steels are spot weldable. As carbon content increases. avoid over-specification of welds. unless instructed otherwise. the designer should specify only one size throughout an assembly in the interest of manufacturing economy and total part cost. Where possible. Highly conductive materials like aluminum require very high power to form quality spot Figure 1. For economy. typically. two sheet metal parts under pressure are heated by electrical resistance.
If it has not.10 0.39 2.38 0. 0. Materials of dif- DESIGN GUIDELINES 113 .5 6. perhaps.75 0.29 0.0 5.0 Recommended flange overlap (minimum) in. For demanding applications.021 0.0 5. and aluminum. welds.31 0. 0.25 0.0 13.57 1.27 1. Check with your weldment supplier for applicability and associated cost.75 1.Spot Welding Table 1.25 0. 0.5 6.0 Fused zone diameter expected in. /spot) Thinnest material thickness in.0 1.078 0.040 0. Some coatings emit poisonous fumes that must be safely handled when spot welded.5 2.0 8.8 2.062 0.31 0. zinc and terne-coated steels are also spot weldable with special precautions and welding equipment.0 1.109 0.0 17.0 4.79 1.33 0.02 1.0 1.2 15 1.44 0 44 0. t i n . not to be used for strength calculation purposes. The same can be accomplished with a single spot electrode on a dual circuit welder. 170 470 800 1270 1700 2400 3400 4200 5000 6000 6600 kg. steel.81 0.0 6. Frequent destructive testing is indicated in these cases to maintain correct settings and quality control. 0. Designers should carefully consider the product’s appearance and service requirements before specifying spot welding of pre-coated materials.19 0.57 Recommended electrode contact diameter in.010 0. Resistance spotwelding parameters for stainless.0 8.5 19.38 0. These are average values.13 0.5 mm 19 19 25 25 25 31 38 46 56 64 64 Aluminum alloy 5052-H34 Ibs.180 mm 0.77 3. However aluminum alloys are routinely spot welded (see Table I for weldability).5 7. 130 320 570 920 1350 1850 2700 3450 4150 5000 5300 kg.0 8. Expected shear strength in lbs. is generally not possible because of different melting characteristics and conductivities.2 2. Here.50 0. such as aluminum and steel. Spot welding of coated substrates creates burn marks in the coating which can be unsightly and may corrode in severe environments.5 25.16 0.22 0.094 0. re-evaluation of the original material selection is in order or.98 2. Steels plated with chrome and nickel for electrical conductivity can usually be resistance welded as readily as uncoated material.5 3. 0.18 4.125 0.0 10. There.0 16./spot (kg.31 0.56 0. such as lightweight or high strength-toweight ratio. cleanliness is much more of a concern than with low-carbon steels because of aluminum’s rapid surface oxidation characteristics.0 mm 10.25 0. another assembling method should be considered. 154 264 528 748 1122 1584 2068 2596 3036 3564 3784 Low carbon steel Ibs.0 11.13 0.0 5.25 0.0 8.031 0.19 0.32 0.0 20.5 8.0 10.19 0.25 0. equipment to monitor surface resistivity from lot to lot is necessary to assure consistency of quality. 70 120 240 340 510 720 940 1180 1380 1620 1720 kg.0 11.0 Recommended single-spot weld spacing in.69 0. Typical recommendations and strength expectations for spot welding.5 22.63 0.31 0. a higher current is used for all subsequent spots to overcome the shunting effect. thereby increasing cost. expensive cleaning procedures to remove surface oxide are required. 286 704 1254 2024 2970 4070 5940 7590 9130 11000 11660 Stainless steel in. Spot welding of very dissimilar metals.0 14.35 mm 2.5 6. 374 1034 1760 2794 3740 5280 7480 9240 11000 13200 14520 Note: One half or less spotweld spacing as given in above table can be achieved by the use of multi-point electrodes.0 5.5 9.5 8. If aluminum has been chosen for an important reas o n . Thickness of Mating Parts Joining equal thicknesses of two sheet metal parts produces an evenly distributed weld nugget within the two layers. For optimum quality and weld performance.88 1.75 0.050 0.53 0. A l u m i n u m .38 mm 3. Some types of coated low-carbon steels require special techniques. This leads to a related consideration. the added expense of ensuring a high-quality weld should be justified.
distortion of the parts being joined. (13 mm). bon and stainless steel. the center of a spot weld (its location point) is positioned one to two diameters away from the edge of the part being welded or from a feature in the part being welded depending on thickness of material (Figure 2). Note that weld deformation is always greater on the thinner member. 20 times material thickness is recommended to reduce shunting effects with a minimum spacing of 1⁄2 in. Recommended minimum spacing between spot welds and edges of parts to be joined also applies to slots and holes in the workpieces. Ideally. Excess metal has been expelled from the weld causing the weld to deform due to excessive indentation and surface cracks. If this minimum-dimension requirement is not followed. stiffeners and brackets spot welded to cosmetic parts should be thinner than or equal in thickness to the exposed surface material. Improper weld. See Table I for minimum and recommended weld spacing for various material thickness of aluminum. sheet steel.6 in. Weld Proximity and Spacing Recommended spacing between welds. another joining method should be considered—projection welding for example. For 0. For this reason. See Figures 3. Generally. distances from a spot weld to component edges and other part features should be followed to obtain optimum weld quality and strength. • Weld-t o-edge distance should also conform to a minimum dimension that is a function of the weld diameter. a poor-quality weld. or no weld at all may result. At this point.060 in. At a ratio above about 3-to-1 (thickest to thinnest member). (15 mm). car- Figure 2. this equates to about 0. • We l d-t o-form spacing should be a minimum of one bend radius plus the spot diameter so that the electrodes can make proper contact with the surfaces being joined without shunting to the adjacent wall (Figure 6). 4 and 5. spot welding becomes diffic u l t . • We l d-t o-weld spacing should be a minimum of 10 times material thickness.Spot Welding ferent thicknesses also can be joined and produce a centered weld nugget by using a larger electrode on the thicker member. 114 DESIGN GUIDELINES . Figure 3.
Although single. Existence of deep pits is cause for rejection. Figure 5. Often. designers should select material which is thinner than the material from which the appearance part is fabricated. (10 mm) flange not only violates spacing considerations. Figure 7. With large. structural elements such as stiffeners are required to reinforce large cosmetic surfaces. Spot welding for assembly of mating parts in multiple planes should be limited to parts smaller than a “bread box” that are easy to handle. DESIGN GUIDELINES 115 . When a part incorporating a formed feature like a bend is joined to another sheet metal part. welding process or possibly a redesign should be considered unless production quantities support the initial expense of specialized spot welding equipment. coplanar surfaces. While textured paints can be used to hide small electrode marks on finished surfaces. This assures that weld shrinkage will occur on Figure 6. Such is the case with C-shaped parts or U-shaped channels with short flanges (Figure 7). grinding. heavy parts. another fastening method. Cosmetics Good design practices attempt to limit spot welding on appearance or cosmetic surfaces. but also makes it very difficult for the operator to access the weld location. Excessive edge bulge. is often required and can double the cost of the welding operation. (6 mm) diameter weld on a 3⁄8 in.Spot Welding Positioning and Accessibility If possible. specifying a 1⁄4 in. For these applications. For instance. as are cracks and burned metal in the weld. or filling and grinding. spot welding of sheet metal components should be restricted to joining flat. and thereby prevent a successful spot weld.and double-bend electrode tips are available to reach confined weld locat i o n s. sufficient clearance must be maintained to form a quality spot weld. Figure 4. leads to a rejectable weld. a small flange dimension may restrict access. which causes weld and base metal to crack. Specifying spot welds on short flanges could make access nearly impossible.
or for periodic removal of service parts for maintenance and repair.125 in. Projection Welding A refinement of resistance spot welding is resistance projection welding (RPW). Additionally. t h e residue often leaves plating salt deposits which are unsightly and which. (0. enclosed seams and pockets. When specifying welded fasteners. (Figure 8). and thicker sections can be joined more readily than in RSW. and mechanical assemblies. thicknesses up to 0.08 mm) larger in diameter than the extrusion and the second hole should be slotted by 0. selfalignment through built-in stamped features like holes and tabs. as well as on aluminum.15 mm) of the original hole location. Another alternative is to produce a lanced tab in a punching process. in extreme cases. The consistency attainable with such methods surpasses that of sophisticated jigs and fixtures but the greatest value is the cost efficiency. (0. When these operations are combined. these techniques can be used for fillet welding applications. preferably. Knowledgeable designers recognize such c o s t-saving and quality-improvement methods and specify them in the manufacturing process.003 in. the location is predetermined by the accuracy of alignment features. This helps to keep s e t-ups to a minimum and increases manufacturing throughput. (0. (1. the metal in the seam is unprotected and can corrode severely in harsh environments. trap solution residues through capillary a c t i o n . consideration must be given to plating drainage. multiple welds can be made more easily at the same time. Typically. When designing spot welded assemblies for electroplating. For maximum cost-effectiveness. may require touch up or manual removal at increased cost.040 in. Positive Location of Workpieces Precise locations of spot welded parts is a c o s t-related process and should be considered during the design.Spot Welding the noncosmetic part which helps to control the cost of filling and abrasive finishing. Part positioning involves either extensive fixturing or. Weld fasteners located by holes punched by prior stamping operations are an accurate and generally preferred location method. 116 DESIGN GUIDELINES . Mating parts can then be brought up to it and located in position. Projection welding can be used on low-carbon. It makes use of projections previously formed on the workpiece to reduce the power required to make a resistance weld. Other advantages include reduced shunting effects. Consequently. Spot Welded Fasteners Weld nuts and weld studs are commonly used to provide a means for subsequent fastening of additional components and assemblies. Nuts located by holes are typically within ±0. Studs can be located to ±0.006 in. One mating hole should be 0. Second. early consultation with an experienced supplier is crucial. This creates two problems. overlapping seams and other areas where solutions may be trapped or where special cleaning or processing techniques may be required. closer weld-to-weld spacing and welding of workpieces with smaller flanges. Plating Spot Welded Parts Spot welding creates overlapping seams which.51 mm) with simple fixturing. Closer tolerances require more sophisticated and costly fixtures. since this drastically increases cost. when immersed in electroplating solutions.020 in. low-alloy and stainless steels. select weld nuts and studs of one size that will be used throughout the assembly. care should be taken not to tightly tolerance concentricity or perpendicularity to a datum plane. The preferred and most easily achieved method for accurately self-fixturing parts is the half sheared or extruded cylindrical button and matching hole in the mating part. With the latter method.02 mm) minimum to allow for normal fabrication tolerances as shown in the drawing. Fi r s t .
XX ± 0. (0. RPW is not recommended. (0.0) Figure 8. a n d heights of projections with simultaneous welds need to be closely controlled—typically.56 mm)—may require special equipment. which are normally based on the thickness of the thinner material to be welded.04 min.08 mm) of each other.54 mm) . (0. One way to do this is to expand the tolerance block on drawings by including: English Units . within 0.022 in.X ± 0. Thin workpieces— from 0. while less important dimensions should be designated with appropriately relaxed tolerances. Figure 9.020 (0.100 (2. along with commonly used projection sizes. with their mating holes. The two major types of welding projections appear in Figure 9. workpiece alignment is more critical.XXX ± 0. projections should be positioned as shown in Figure 10 to optimize strength and accessibility. Button and cone type welding projections and typical dimensions.Spot Welding Self-Aligning Features Projection Welding Symbol x+0.030 (0.003 in.010 in. can accurately align components for spot welds where tolerances are important.XX ± 0.5l mm) (dedicated tools) .18 mm) can be joined. (0. Half shear or extruded button. because on this thin material the projections would collapse before the fusion temperature is reached.25 mm) up to 0.010 in. (x+1.76 mm) (universal tools) . Below 0. While RPW can be less expensive than RSW. (3.25 mm) DESIGN GUIDELINES 117 . In general.010 (0.25 mm). Tolerance Considerations Required restrictive tolerances should be indicated on the part drawing.
Figure 11.100). since this reduces or eliminates fixturing costs for such unimportant dimensions. Critical dimensions. coplanar hole-to-hole spac- ing. the recommended method for specifying resistance spot welds and projection welds appears in Figure 11.Spot Welding Figure 10. 118 DESIGN GUIDELINES . When specifying attachment of structural parts such as stiffeners use the most liberal tolerance (X ± 0. Established by the American We l d i n g Society (AWS). should be separately toleranced.. Recommended method for specifying spot welds and projection welds. etc. Recommended positioning for projection welds made on various thicknesses of sheet metal. for such details as hole diameters.