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SAW or Submerged Arc Welding

SAW, Submerged Arc Welding, Submerged Arc Welded Tubulars Submerged arc
welding is a process in which the joining of metals is produced by heating with an arc or arcs
between a bare metal electrode or electrodes and the work.

Originally devolved by the Linden - Union Carbide Company.

It requires a continuously fed consumable solid or tubular (flux cored) electrode.

SAW is normally operated in the automatic or mechanized mode, however, semi-automatic
(hand-held) SAW guns with pressurized or gravity flux feed delivery are available. The
process is normally limited to the Flat or Horizontal-Fillet welding positions (although
Horizontal Groove position welds have been done with a special arrangement to support the



Principles of Operation.

Deposition rates and weld quality.

Material applications




 Power supply
 Start plate
 Copper mold
 Electrode
 Guide tube
 Wire feed
 Power source
 SAW head
 Flux handling
 Protective equipment

Poqwer supply:-

Deposition rates approaching 100 lb/h (45 kg/h) have been reported — this
compares to ~10 lb/h (5 kg/h) (max) for shielded metal arc welding. Although Currents
ranging from 300 to 2000 A are commonly utilize. Currents of up to 5000 A have also been
used (multiple arcs).Single or multiple (2 to 5) electrode wire variations of the process exist.
SAW strip-cladding utilizes a flat strip electrode (e.g. 60 mm wide x 0.5 mm thick). DC or
AC power can be used, and combinations of DC and AC are common on multiple electrode
systems. Constant Voltage welding power supplies are most commonly used; however,
Constant Current systems in combination with a voltage sensing wire-feeder are available.

Variations of the process:-

There are a large number of variations to the process that give submerged arc
welding additional capabilities. Some of the more popular variations are:

1. Two-wire systems--same power source.

2. Two-wire systems--separate power source.

3. Three-wire systems--separate power source.

4. Strip electrode for surfacing.

5. Iron powder additions to the flux.

6. Long stickout welding.

7. Electrically "cold" filler wire.


SAW filler material usually is a standard wire as well as other special forms. This
wire normally has a thickness of 1/16 in. to 1/4 in. (1.6 mm to 6 mm). In certain
circumstances, twisted wire can be used to give the arc an oscillating movement. This helps
fuse the toe of the weld to the base metal.

Other factors

 Flux depth/width
 Flux and electrode classification and type
 Electrode wire diameter
 Multiple electrode configurations


Fluxes used in SAW are granular fusible minerals containing oxides of

manganese, silicon, titanium, aluminum, calcium, zirconium, magnesium
and other compounds such as calcium fluoride. The flux is specially
formulated to be compatible with a given electrode wire type so that the
combination of flux and wire yields desired mechanical properties. The
main types of flux for SAW are:
 Bonded fluxes - produced by drying the ingredients, then
bonding them with a low melting point compound such as a
sodium silicate. Most bonded fluxes contain metallic deoxidizers
which help to prevent weld porosity. These fluxes are effective
over rust and mill scale.
 Fused fluxes - produced by mixing the ingredients, then melting them in an electric
furnace to form a chemically homogeneous product, cooled and ground to the
required particle size. Smooth stable arcs, with welding currents up to 2000A and
consistent weld metal properties, are the main attraction of these fluxes.

In closing, the first patent on Submerged Arc Welding was taken out in 1935. Although
little has changed from the original concept when it was first developed, it has and will
continue to be heavily used in our industrial work environment.

Principles of Operation:-

The submerged arc welding process is shown by figure 10-60. It utilizes the heat of an
arc between a continuously fed electrode and the work.The arc melts the surface of the base
metal and the end of the electrode. The metal melted off the electrode is transferred through
the arc to the workpiece, where it becomes the deposited weld metal.Shielding is obtained
from a blanket of granular flux, which is laid directly over the weld area. The flux close to the
arc melts and intermixes with the molten weld metal, helping to purify and fortify it. The flux
forms a glass-like slag that is lighter in weight than the deposited weld metal and floats on the
surface as a protective cover. The weld is submerged under this layer of flux and slag, hence
the name submerged arc welding. The flux and slag normally cover the arc so that it is not
visible. The unmelted portion of the flux can be reused. The electrode is fed into the arc
automatically from a coil. The arc is maintained automatically. Travel can be manual or by
machine. The arc is initiated by a fuse type start or by a reversing or retrack system.

Operating characteristics:-

SAW is usually operated as a fully-

mechanized or automatic process, but it can be
semi-automatic. Welding parameters: current, arc
voltage and travel speed all affect bead shape, depth
of penetration and chemical composition of the
deposited weld metal. Because the operator cannot
see the weld pool, greater reliance must be placed
on parameter settings.

Deposition Rates And Weld Quality:-

 The deposition rates of the submerged arc welding process are higher than any other
arc welding process.
 The quality of the weld metal deposited by the submerged arc welding process is
 The weld metal strength and ductility exceeds that of the mild steel or low-alloy base
material when the correct combination of electrode wire and submerged arc flux is
 When submerged arc welds are made by machine or automatically, the human factor
inherent to the manual welding processes is eliminated. The heat input is higher and
cooling rates are slower.
 For this reason, gases are allowed more time to escape.
 Additionally, since the submerged arc slag is lower in density than the weld metal, it
will float out to the top of the weld. Uniformity and consistency are advantages of this
process when applied automatically.
 Several problems may occur when using the semiautomatic application method. The
electrode wire may be curved when it leaves the nozzle of the welding gun. This
curvature can cause the arc to be struck in a location not expected by the welder.
 There is another quality problem associated with extremely large single-pass weld

Material applications:-

 Carbon steels (structural and vessel construction)

 Low alloy steels
 Stainless steels
 Nickel-based alloys
 Surfacing applications (wear-facing, build-up, and corrosion resistant overlay of


 High deposition rates (over 100 lb/h (45 kg/h) have been reported).
 High operating factors in mechanized applications.
 Deep weld penetration.
 Sound welds are readily made (with good process design and control).
 High speed welding of thin sheet steels up to 5 m/min (16 ft/min) is possible.
 Minimal welding fume or arc light is emitted.
 Practically no edge preparation is necessary.
 The process is suitable for both indoor and outdoor works.
 Distortion is much less.
 Welds produced are sound, uniform, ductile, corrosion resistant and have good impact
 Single pass welds can be made in thick plates with normal equipment.
 The arc is always covered under a blanket of flux, thus there is no chance of spatter of
weld. 50% to 90% of the flux is recoverable.


 Limited to ferrous (steel or stainless steels) and some nickel based alloys.
 Normally limited to the 1F, 1G, and 2F positions.
 Normally limited to long straight seams or rotated pipes or vessels.
 Requires relatively troublesome flux handling systems.
 Flux and slag residue can present a health & safety issue.
 Requires inter-pass and post weld slag removal.