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4 Materials and weld metallurgy

Welding Metallurgy definitions:
Having two or more chemical elements of which at least one is an elemental metal.
Alloying Element
An element added to a metal to change the properties of the parent metal
A physical condition of the arrangement of atoms in a crystal. eg, ice is a phase of water.
Iron with 0.02% dissolved carbon.
A very hard intermetallic compound consisting of 6.7% carbon and the remainder iron, its
chemical symbol is Fe3C. Cementite is very hard, but when mixed with soft ferrite layers its
average hardness is reduced considerably. Slow cooling gives course perlite; soft easy to
machine but poor toughness. Faster cooling gives very fine layers of ferrite and cementite;
harder and tougher Fe3C also known as Iron Carbide.
A mixture of alternate strips of ferrite and cementite in a single grain. Softer than most other
microstructures. Formed from austenite during air cooling from austenite. The name for this
structure is derived from its mother of pearl appearance under a microscope. A fully pearlitic
structure occurs at 0.8% Carbon. Further increases in carbon will create cementite at the
grain boundaries, which will start to weaken the steel.
Ferite = Light Areas
Cementite = Dark Areas
Figure 1 - Pearlite

The first phase formed as liquid steel freezes. Austenite is a metallic non-magnetic allotrope
of iron or a solid solution of iron, with an alloying element. In carbon steel, austenite exists
above the critical eutectoid temperature of 727 C; other steel alloys have different eutectoid
A supersaturated solid solution of carbon in iron. Carbon atoms trapped in an iron crystal. If
steel is cooled rapidly from austenite, the F.C.C structure rapidly changes to B.C.C leaving
insufficient time for the carbon to form pearlite. This results in a distorted structure that has
the appearance of fine needles. There is no partial transformation associated with
martensite, it either forms or it doesnt. Only the parts of a section that cool fast enough will
form martensite; in a thick section it will only form to a certain depth, and if the shape is
complex it may only form in small pockets. The hardness of martensite is solely dependant
on carbon content, it is normally very high, unless the carbon content is exceptionally low. It
is the hardest and strongest of the microstructures
Same as martensite but considerably less carbon is trapped. Forms from austenite if rate of
cooling is in sufficient. Strength and hardness is between martensite and pearlite.
Cold Forming
Forming a metal at or near room temperatures using high pressures.
The ability of a material to be plastically deformed without fracturing.
Fracture Toughness
The ability of a material at a given temperature to resist further crack propagation, once a
crack has started.

The ability of a material to resist plastic deformation. The common measurement systems
are Rockwell, Brinell, Vickers and Knoop.
HSLA Steel
High Strength Low Alloy Steel
Impact Toughness
The ability of a material to resist fracture under an impact.
I.T. Diagram
Isothermal Transformation
Impurities in a metal. Ie MnS (Manganese-sulfide)
Mechanical Properties
Tensile strength, yield strength, and hardness
An inverted microscope using indirect lighting.
Hardness determined by using a microscope to measure the impression of a Knoop or
Vickers indenter.
The phases or condition of a metal as viewed with a metallograph
Modulus of Elasticity
Measure of stiffness. Ratio of stress to strain as measured below the yield point.
The chemical reaction between oxygen and another atom
Physical Properties
Electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, thermal expansion and vibration dampening
Plastic Deformation
Deformation that remains permanent after the removal of the load that caused it.
A solid solution of iron and carbon
Tensile Strength
The ratio of maximum load to the original cross-sectional area.
Yield Strength
The point at which a material exhibits a strain increase without increase in stress. This is the
load at which a material has exceeded its elastic limit and becomes permanently deformed.
Cooling time t8/5
time taken, during cooling, for a weld run and its heat affected zone to pass through the
temperature range from 800 C to 500 C.
The Heat input
In arc welding, energy is transferred from the welding electrode to the base metal by an
electric arc. When the welder starts the arc, the base and the filler metal are melted and
create the weld. This melting is possible because a sufficient amount of heat (energy
transferred per time unit) supplied. Heat input is the relative measure of the energy
transferred per unit length of weld.
It is one of the most important characteristic related to welding because it influences the
cooling rate, which may affect the mechanical properties and metallurgical structure of the
weld and the HAZ. For many steels, abrupt cooling from the heat of welding needs to be
avoided, because of the risk of hardening or cold cracking. Depending on the type of
material, thickness of material and heat input, preheating and the maintenance of an upper
or lower interpass temperature are normally required.
The heat input during welding can be viewed as a main influencing factor on the properties of
ferritic and ferritic-austenitic stainless steel welds in particular.

The heat input value may be calculated as follows:

Q is the heat input in kJ/mm;
k is the thermal efficiency;
U is the arc voltage, measured as near as possible to the arc, in V;
I is the welding current, in A
v is the travel speed in mm/s.
Thermal efficiency factor k for welding processes
Process No
Submerged arc welding with wire electrode
Metal-arc welding with covered electrode
Metal-arc inert gas welding
Metal-arc active gas welding
Flux-cored wire metal-arc welding without gas shield
Flux-cored wire metal-arc welding with active gas shield
Flux-cored wire metal-arc welding with inert gas shield
Metal-cored wire metal-arc welding with active gas shield
Metal-cored wire metal-arc welding with inert gas shield
Tungsten inert gas arc welding
Plasma arc welding
(table from EN 1011-1)

Factor k

Heat input can not be measured directly. It has to be calculated from the measured values of
arc voltage, current and travel speed.
Arc Voltage
In determining the arc voltage (U), the voltage should be measured as close to the arc as
possible, as opposed to the value displayed on the welding machine voltmeter. Measuring
the voltage across the arc provides the actual voltage drop across the welding arc. The
welding equipment voltmeter reading is always higher than the arc voltage due to the
resistance of the welding cables. The equipment voltage, therefore, can be used only for
approximate calculations and, in the case of significant voltage drops, may lead to heat input
calculation errors.
The welding current (I) is measured with either an inductance meter (tong meter) or a shunt
with appropriate metering equipment. The current is never fixed with respect to time,
especially on a microsecond level. The current is also a function of the arc length, which is
dependent on the welder's skill. The current used in heat input calculations is, normally, an
average value.
Travel Speed
The travel speed (v) is the travel speed of the arc measured in millimeters per second. Only
the forward progress contributes to the travel speed. If a weaving technique is used, only the
forward speed counts, not the oscillation rate. For vertical welding, the upward or downward
speed of the arc is used. The travel speed must be measured in terms of minutes and not
seconds in order to have a balanced value in the heat input equation. When the travel speed
is measured, the arc should be established for an amount of time that will produce an
accurate average speed. A continuous welding time of 30 seconds is suggested. The travel
speed accuracy for manual or semi-automatic welding is dependent on the welder.

Weld Size relation to Heat Input

The cross-sectional area of a weld is, generally, proportional to the amount of heat input.
This is important because as more energy is supplied to the arc, more filler metal and base
metal will be melted per length unit, resulting in a larger weld bead.
Cooling Rate relation to Heat Input
The effect of heat input on the cooling rate is similar to that of the preheat temperature. As
the heat input or the preheat temperature increases, the rate of cooling decreases, for a
given base metal thickness. These two variables interact with other material variables such
as material thickness, specific heat, density, and thermal conductivity in order to influence
the cooling rate.
The cooling rate is a primary factor that determines the final metallurgical structure of the
weld and heat affected zone (HAZ), and is especially important in case of heat-treated steels.
In case of welding quenched and tempered steels, for example, slow cooling rates will result
from high heat inputs. This may soften the material adjacent to the weld, reducing the
designed load-carrying capacity of the connection.
All of the mechanical properties show a relationship to heat input, that is, the mechanical
properties only increases or decreases with increasing heat input.
When heat input control is a contract requirement, and if the procedure used in production
has a corresponding heat input that is 10% or greater than that recorded in the Procedure
Qualification Record (PQR), then the qualified WPS must be requalified. This is primarily due
to concerns regarding the potential alteration of the weld metal and HAZ mechanical
properties. If the Production Procedure Method is used, the heat input can only deviate from
the PQR by the following: an increase of up to 10% or a decrease not greater than 30%.
When quenched and tempered steels are to be welded, the heat input, and the minimum
preheat and maximum interpass temperatures, shall conform to the steel producer's specific
written recommendations. If high heat input energies are used at welding, the HAZ can be
significantly weakened due to high temperatures and slower cooling rates. However, this not
applies to all quenched and tempered steels.
The study of all steels microstructures need to start with the metastable iron-carbon (Fe-C)
binary phase diagram (Figure 2). This phase diagram provides an invaluable foundation for
the knowledge of carbon and alloy steels, as well as for a number of various heat treatments
those steels are usually subjected to (hardening, annealing, etc).

Figure 2. The Fe-C phase diagram shows the phases which are expected at metastable
equilibrium, for different combinations of carbon and temperature values.

At the low-carbon part of the metastable Fe-C phase diagram, we distinguish ferrite (alphairon), which can at most dissolve 0.02 % C at 738 C, and austenite (gamma-iron), which can
dissolve 2.08 % C at 1154 C. The much larger phase field of gamma-iron (austenite)
compared with that of ferrite indicates clearly the considerably grater solubility of carbon in
austenite, the maximum value being 2.08 % at 1154 C. The hardening of carbon steels, as
well as many alloy steels, is based on this difference in the solubility of carbon in ferrite and
austenite. At the carbon-rich side of the metastable Fe-C phase diagram we find cementite

Figure 3 Structures of the FE-C diagram

The steel portion of the Fe-C phase diagram covers the range between 0 and 2.08 % C.
The cast iron portion of the Fe-C phase diagram covers the range between 2.08 and 6.67 %
The steel portion of the metastable Fe-C phase diagram can be subdivided into three
regions: hypoeutectoid (0 < % C < 0.68 %), eutectoid (C = 0.68 %), and hypereutectoid (0.68
< % C < 2.08 %).
A very important phase change in the metastable Fe-C phase diagram occurs at 0.68 % C.
The transformation is eutectoid, and its product is called pearlite (ferrite + cementite):
Some important boundaries at single-phase fields have been given special names. These
A1 The so-called eutectoid temperature, which is the minimum temperature for austenite.
A3 The lower-temperature boundary of the austenite region at low carbon contents; i.e.,
the gamma / gamma + ferrite boundary.
Acm The counterpart boundary for high-carbon contents; i.e., the gamma / gamma +
Fe3C boundary.
Sometimes the letters c, e, or r are included:
Accm In hypereutectoid steel, the temperature at which the solution of cementite in
austenite is completed during heating.
Ac1 The temperature at which austenite begins to form during heating.
Ac3 The temperature at which transformation of ferrite to austenite is completed during
Aecm, Ae1, Ae3 The temperatures of phase changes at equilibrium.
Arcm In hypereutectoid steel, the temperature at which precipitation of cementite starts
during cooling,.
Ar1 The temperature at which transformation of austenite to ferrite or to ferrite plus

cementite is completed during cooling.

Ar3 The temperature at which austenite begins to transform to ferrite during cooling.
Ar4 The temperature at which delta-ferrite transforms to austenite during cooling.
If alloying elements are added to an iron-carbon alloy (steel), the position of the A1, A3, and
Acm boundaries, as well as the eutectoid composition, are changed. In general, the austenitestabilizing elements (e.g., nickel, manganese, nitrogen, copper, etc) decrease the A1
temperature, whereas the ferrite-stabilizing elements (e.g., chromium, silicon, aluminum,
titanium, vanadium, niobium, molybdenum, tungsten, etc) increase the A1 temperature.
The carbon content at which the minimum austenite temperature is attained is called the
eutectoid carbon content (0.68 wt. % C in case of the metastable Fe-C phase diagram). The
ferrite-cementite phase mixture of this composition formed during slow cooling has a
characteristic appearance and is called pearlite and can be treated as a microstructural entity
or microconstituent. It is an aggregate of alternating ferrite and cementite lamellae that
coarsens (or "spheroidizes") into cementite particles dispersed within a ferrite matrix after
extended holding at a temperature close to A1.
Finally, we have the martensite start temperature, Ms, and the martensite finish temperature,
Ms The highest temperature at which transformation of austenite to martensite starts
during rapid cooling.
Mf The temperature at which martensite formation finishes during rapid cooling.
The time-temperature transformation curves correspond to the start and finish of
transformations which extend into the range of temperatures where austenite transforms to
pearlite. Above 550 C, austenite transforms completely to pearlite. Below 550 C, both
pearlite and bainite are formed and below 450 C, only bainite is formed. The horizontal line
C-D that runs between the two curves marks the beginning and end of isothermal
transformations. The dashed line that runs parallel to the solid line curves represents the
time to transform half the austenite to pearlite. Below we have listed some simple examples
as an exercise at other temperatures that result in different phase transformations and hence
different microstructures.

Figure 4 - Carbon equilibrium diagram

Note: the carbon equilibrium diagram shown above it will be heavily distorted, in practice,
due of the rapid heating values and cooling rates, due to the welding process.

Figure 5 Mixtures of constituents

a) Mixture of ferrite and pearlite grains; temperature below A1, therefore microstructure not
significantly affected.
b) Pearlite transformed to Austenite, but not sufficient temperature available to exceed the
A3 line, therefore not all ferrite grains transform to Austenite. On cooling, only the
transformed grains will be normalised.
c) Temperature just exceeds A3 line, full Austenite transformation. At cooling all grains will
be normalized.
d) Temperature significantly exceeds A3 line permitting grains to grow. On cooling, ferrite will
form at the grain boundaries, and a course pearlite will form inside the grains. A course grain
structure is more readily hardened than a finer one, therefore if the cooling rate between
800C to 500C is rapid, a hard microstructure will be formed. This is why a brittle fracture is
most likely to propagate in this region.
There are two main types of transformation diagram that are helpful in selecting the optimum
steel and processing route to achieve a given set of properties.
- Time Temperature Transformation (TTT) diagrams
- Continuous Cooling Transformation (CCT) diagrams
1. Time Temperature Transformation (TTT) diagrams: measure the rate of transformation
at a constant temperature. In other words a sample is austenitised and then cooled rapidly to
a lower temperature and held at that temperature whilst the rate of transformation is
measured. The phases finally formed in a heat affected zone during cooling or subsequent
heating depend upon time and temperature. TTT diagram shows the time required for
transformation to various phases at constant temperature, and, therefore, gives a useful
initial guide to likely transformations. A large number of experiments is required to build up a
complete TTT diagram.
In Figure 1 the area on the left of the transformation curve represents the austenite region.
Austenite is stable at temperatures above the lower critical temperature (LCT) but unstable
below LCT. Left curve indicates the start of a transformation and right curve represents the
finish of a transformation. The area between the two curves indicates the transformation of
austenite to different types of crystal structures. (Austenite to pearlite, austenite to
martensite, austenite to bainite transformation.)

Figure 6 - TTT Diagram

When austenite is cooled to temperatures below LCT, it transforms to other crystal
structures. A specific cooling rate may be chosen so that the transformation of austenite can
be 50 %, 80% or 100 %. If the cooling rate is very slow such as for the annealing process,
the cooling curve passes through the entire transformation area and the end product of this
the cooling process becomes 100% Pearlite. If the cooling curve passes through the middle
of the transformation area, the end product is 50 % Austenite and 50 % Pearlite, which
means that at certain cooling rates we can retain part of the Austenite, without transforming it
into Pearlite.
If a cooling rate is very high, the cooling curve will remain on the left hand side of the
Transformation Start curve. In this case all Austenite will transform to Martensite. If there is
no interruption in cooling the end product will be martensite.

Figure 7 - TTT Diagram and microstructures obtained by different types of cooling rates

Time-Temperature-Transformation (TTT) diagram for two steels: one with 0.4% wt. C (red
line) and one with 0.4% wt. C and 2% wt. Mn (green line). P = pearlite, B = bainite and M =

Figure 8 TTT diagrams for 2 steels

2. Continuous Cooling Transformation (CCT) diagrams: measure the extent of
transformation as a function of time for a continuously decreasing temperature.
Since in welding, the heat affected zone structure is usually formed under conditions of
(rapid) continuous cooling, the constant temperature basis of TIT diagram becomes
unrepresentative for welds. More relevant information can, thus, be obtained from a CCT
diagram in which phase changes are tracked for a variety of cooling rates.
Plotting actual cooling curves on such a diagram will show the types of transformation
product formed and their proportions. In other words a sample is austenitised and then
cooled at a predetermined rate and the degree of transformation is measured.
A large number of experiments is required to build up a complete CCT diagram.

Figure 9 - TTT diagram for a 0.12% C-0.85% Mn-0.3% Si-1.4% Ni-0.7% Cr Steel

An important factor related to the steels weldability is the carbon equivalent value. The
equivalent carbon content of a steel alloy refers to method of measuring the maximum
hardness and the weldability of the alloy based on the chemical composition of the alloy.
Higher concentrations of carbon and other alloying elements tend to increase the hardness
and decrease the weldability of the material. Each of these materials tends to influence the
hardness and weldability of the steel to different magnitudes, however, making a method of
comparison necessary to judge the difference in hardness between two alloys made of
different alloying elements.
The equivalent carbon content is the most common such standard, but others exist, such as
the equivalent nickel content and the equivalent chromium content (usually used together
and in conjunction with the Schaeffler-Delong diagram and considered more accurate for
measuring weldability).
For carbon steel specifications, it is specified as the maximum carbon content shall be 0.25%
and the maximum carbon equivalent (CE) shall be 0.43%, where:
CE=C%+Mn%/6+(Cr% + Mo% +V%) / 5 + (Ni% + Cu%) / 15.
For this equation, weldability is defined as:
Carbon equivalent (CE)
Up to 0.35
Very good
Over 0.50
The carbon equivalent is a measure of the tendency of the weld to form martensite on
cooling and to suffer hydrogen cracking.
Generally: The higher the CE value, the greater the risk of hydrogen cracking.
When the carbon equivalent is between 0.40 and 0.60 weld preheat may be necessary.
When the carbon equivalent is above 0.60, preheat is necessary, postheat may be
necessary, and techniques to control the hydrogen content of the weld are required.
For stainless steels and welds between carbon steels and stainless steels, the equivalent
nickel content and the equivalent chromium content (usually used together and in
conjunction with the Schaeffler-Delong diagram) are considered more accurate for
measuring weldability.
As a student in weld metallurgy we should now that Ferrite is important in avoiding hot
cracking during cooling from welding of austenitic stainless steels. 'Constitution diagrams' are
used to predict ferrite levels from the composition by comparing the effects of austenite and
ferrite stabilizing elements. The Schaeffler and Delong diagrams are the original method-s of
predicting the phase balances in austenitic stainless steel welds.
A 'nickel equivalent' is calculated for the austenite stabilizing elements and a 'chromium
equivalent' ferrite stabilizing elements. These are used as the axes for the diagrams, which
show the compositional equivalent areas where the phases austenite, ferrite, martensite (and
mixtures of these) should be present. Although intended to show the phase balance of weld
fillers, these diagrams can also be used to illustrate the phase balance of the 'parent'
material. There are different diagrams for different alloy systems.
The Schaeffler Diagram
The nickel and chromium equivalents use the formulae:
Ni (eq) = Ni + (30 x C) + (0.5 x Mn)
Cr (eq) = Cr + Mo + (1.5 x Si) + (0.5 x Nb)
This gives a diagram that is useful for the austenitic steels, except those with Nitrogen
additions. This the main disadvantage of this diagram since Nitrogen, which is a very strong
Austenite former. The Schaeffler diagram, identifying the phase boundaries is shown below.


Figure 10 - Schaeffler Diagram for stainless steel

When a weld is made using a filler wire or consumable, the weld will be formed thorugh a
mixture consisting of approximately 30% parent metal and 70% filler metal alloy (percentage
depends on welding process, type of joint and welding parameters, as discusses previously).
The Delong Diagram
Refines the Schaffler diagram by taking account of the strong austenite stabilising tendency
of nitrogen. The chromium equivalent is unaffected but the nickel equivalent is modified to:
Ni (eq) = Ni + (30 x C) + (0.5 x Mn) + (30 x N)
The diagram, identifying the phase boundaries is shown below. It shows the ferrite levels in
bands, both as percentages, based on metallographic determinations and as a ferrite
number 'FN', based on magnetic determination methods.


Figure 11 - DELONG Diagram for stainless steel

The purpose of this chapter is also to present in general the imperfections that may
occur for the main welding processes used in practice. Actually this problem is in a close
relation with the welding equipment and the welders performance.
Below will be presented the main possible causes of imperfections, in relation with
the used welding process:
Some problems that may be encountered and possible remedies are listed in the
following table:
1. Lack of fusion
Insufficient Amperage
Increase amp settings
Travel speed too high
Reduce travel speed
2. Burn-thru
Excessive Amperage
Reduce amp setting
Arc length too short
Maintain correct. arc length
Travel speed to slow
Increase travel speed
Root opening too wide
Reduce root opening, use a
backup material
3. Inclusions
Insufficient Amperage
Increase amp settings
Excessive arc length
Maintain correct. arc length
Uneven oscillations and/or Move electrode uniformly
travel speed
Dirty plate
Remove rust, grease, paint, etc.
4. Porosity
Dirty plate
Remove rust, grease, paint, etc.
Excessive amperage
Lower amp setting
Excessive arc length
Maintain correct arc length
5. Undercut
Excessive arc length
Maintain correct. arc length
Improper electrode angle
Direct electrode more into area
of undercut
Travel speed too high
Reduce travel speed


6. Overlap
7. Cracking

Excessive amperage
Improper electrode angle
Travel speed too slow
Bend too small or too concave
Failure to fill craters
Wet or dirty plate
Wet or dirty electrode

8. Excess spatter

Lower amp setting

Lower electrode angle
Increase travel speed
Reduce travel speed
Circle electrode at end of bead,
re-strike to fill as required
Dry or clean plate as needed
Use only dry and clean
(fine Lower amp setting

Excessive amperage
sized spatter)
Excessive arc length (large
sized spatter)
9. Rough appearance Oscillations spaced too far
Improper travel angle
10. Fingernailing (of Flux coating cracked or
Flux coating not concentric
with rod

Maintain correct arc length

Use more oscillations
Reduce travel angle
Use undamaged electrode
Exchange for quality electrode

Observation: Cracking in welded joints can be classified in cold and hot cracking.
The location of cracks in a welded joint may occur in the weld metal, base metal, or
in both.
Cold cracking appears due the existing hydrogen content in the welded joint.
In the next table we presented the relation between hardness, martensit content
and the cracking susceptibility of the welded joint: for the case of a unalloyed steel.
Maximum hardness in HAZ
>450 HV 10

Maximum martensit content

> 70%

>380HV 10 < 450 HV 10

>280 HV 10 <350 Hv 10
<280 HV 10

>50 %
<70 %
< 50 %
>30 %
< 30 %

very probable appearing of
possible appearing of cracks
without cracks
no need of postheating

Hot cracking is a function of the chemical composition. The appearing of this type of
cracking is due the constituents in the welded metal who have a relatively low melting
temperature and which accumulate at the grain boundaries during solidification.
If cracking is observed during welding the cracks should be removed prior to further
welding because the cracks can continue into the newly deposited weld metal.
Solutions to cracking problems are including also:
changing the base metal;
changing the filler metal;
changing the welding technique/procedure.
Welding Problems and Remedies
Numerous welding problems may develop while setting up or operating a GTAW
operation. Their solution will require careful evaluation of the material, the fixturing, the
welding equipment, and the procedures.
Tungsten Inclusions
One discontinuity found only in gas tungsten arc welds is tungsten inclusions.
Particles of tungsten from the electrode can be embedded in weld when improper welding
procedure are used with GTAW process. Typical causes are the following:
Contact of electrode tip with molten weld pool


Contact of filler metal wit hot tip of electrode

Contamination of electrode tip by spatter from the weld pool
Exceeding the current limit for a given electrode size or type
Extension of electrodes beyond their normal distances from the collate (as with
long nozzles) resulting in overheating of the electrode
Inadequate tightening of the holding collate or electrode chuck
Inadequate shielding gas flow rates or excessive wind drafts resulting in oxidation
of the electrode tip
Defects such as splits or cracks in the electrode
Use of improper shielding gases such as argon-oxygen or argon-CO2 mixtures
that are used for gas metal arc welding
Corrective steps are obvious once the causes are recognized and the welder is
adequately trained.
Lack of Shielding Gas
Discontinuities related to the loss of inert gas shielding are tungsten inclusions
previously described, porosity, oxide films and inclusions, incomplete fusion, and cracking.
The extent to which they occur is strongly related to the characteristics of the metal being
welded. In addition, the mechanical properties of titanium, aluminum, nickel, and highstrength alloys can be seriously impaired with loss of inert gas shielding. Gas shielding
effectiveness can often be evaluated prior to production welding by making a spot weld and
continuing gas flow until the weld has cooled to a low temperature. A bright, silvery spot will
be evident if shielding is effective.
Some problems that may be encountered and possible remedies are listed in the
following table:
1. Porosity

2. Tungsten
contamination of

Entrapped gas impurities Blow out air from all lines before
(hydrogen, nitrogen, air, striking arc; remove condensed
water vapor
moisture from lines; use welding grade
(99.99%) inert gas
Defective gas hose or loose Check hose and connections for leaks
hose connections
Oil film on base metal
Clean with chemical cleaner not prone
to break up in arc; (! Do not weld while
base metal is wet)
with Use high frequency starter; use copper
striker plate
and Use less current or larger electrode;
alloying with base metal
use thoriated or zirconium-tungsten
to Keep tungsten out of molten pool
molten pool


Problems and corrections:
Hydrogen Embrittlement
An awareness of the potential problems of hydrogen embrittlement is important,
even though it is less likely to occur with GMAW, since no hygroscopic flux or coating is
used. However other hydrogen sources must be considered. For example, shielding gas
must be sufficiently low in moisture content. This should be well controlled by the gas
supplier, but may need to be checked. Oil, grease, and drawing compounds on the electrode
or the base metal may become potential sources for hydrogen pick-up in the weld metal.
Electrode manufacturers are aware of the need for cleanliness and normally take special


care to provide a clean electrode. Contaminants may be introduced during handling in the
users facility. Users who are aware of such possibilities take steps to avoid serious
problems, particularly in welding hardenable steels. The same awareness is necessary in
welding aluminum, except that the potential problem is porosity caused by relatively low
solubility of hydrogen in solidified aluminum, rather than hydrogen embrittlement.
Oxygen and Nitrogen Contamination
Oxygen and Nitrogen Contamination are potentially greater problems than hydrogen
in the GMAW process. If the shielding gas is not completely inert or adequately protective,
these elements may be readily absorbed from the atmosphere. Both oxides and nitrides can
reduce weld metal notch toughness. Weld metal deposited by GMAW is not tough as weld
metal deposited by gas tungsten arc welding. It should be noted here, however, that oxygen
in percentages of up to 5 percent and more can be added to the shielding gas without
adversely affecting weld quality.
Base metal cleanliness when using GMAW is more critical than with SMAW or submerged
arc welding (SAW). The fluxing compounds present is SMAW and SAW scavenge and
cleanse the molten weld deposit of oxides and gas-forming compounds. Such fluxing slags
are not present in GMAW. This places a premium on doing a thorough job of preweld and
interpass cleaning. This is particularly true for aluminum, where elaborate procedures for
chemical cleaning or mechanical removal of metallic oxides, or both, are applied.
Weld Discontinuities
Some of the more common weld discontinuities that may occur with the GMAW
process are listed in the following paragraphs.
The following are possible causes of undercutting and their corrective actions


Travel speed to high
Welding voltage too high
Insufficient dwell
Torch angle

Use slower travel speed
Reduce the voltage
Reduce wire feed speed
Increase dwell at edge of molten weld puddle
Change torch angle

The following are the possible causes of porosity and their corrective actions:




Optimize the gas flow. Increase gas flow to displace all
air from the weld zone. Decrease excessive gas flow to
avoid turbulence and the entrapment of air in the weld
Inadequate shielding gas zone. Eliminate any leaks in the gas line. Eliminate
drafts (from fans, open doors, etc.) blowing into the
welding arc. Eliminate frozen regulators in CO2 welding
by using heaters. Reduce travel speed. Reduce nozzleto-work distance. Hold gun at the end of weld until
molten metal solidifies.
Gas contamination
Use welding grade shielding gas.
Electrode contamination
Use only clean and dry electrode.
Worpiece contamination
Remove all grease, oil, moisture, rust, paint, and dirt
from work surface before welding. Use more highly
deoxidizing electrode.
Arc voltage too high
Reduce voltage


6. Excess contact tube-to- Reduce stick-out

work distance
Incomplete fusion
The reduced heat input common to the short circuiting mode of GMAW results in low
penetration into the base metal. This is desirable on thin gauge materials and for out-ofposition welding. However, an improper welding technique may result in incomplete fusion,
especially in root areas or longer groove faces.
The following are the possible causes of incomplete fusion and their corrective
1. Weld zone surfaces not free of Clean all groove faces and weld zone surfaces of
film or excessive oxides
any mill scale impurities prior to welding.
2. Insufficient heat input
Increase the wire feed speed and the arc
voltage. Reduce electrode extension.
3. Too large a weld puddle
Minimize excessive weaving to produce a more
controllable weld puddle. Increase the travel
4. Improper weld technique
When using a weaving technique, dwell
momentarily on the sidewalls of the groove.
Provide improved access at root of joints. Keep
electrode directed at the leading edge of puddle.
5. Improper joint design
Use angle groove large enough to allow access
to bottom of the groove and sidewalls with proper
electrode extension, or use a J or U groove.
6. Excessive travel speed
Reduce travel speed.
Incomplete joint penetration
The following are the possible causes of incomplete joint penetration and their
corrective actions:
1. Improper joint preparation

2. Improper weld technique

Joint design must provide proper access to the
bottom of the groove while maintaining proper
electrode extension. Reduce excessively large
root gap in butt joints, and increase depth of
back gouge.
Maintain electrode angle normal to work surface
to achieve maximum penetration. Keep arc on
leading edge of the puddle.
Increase the wire feed speed (welding current).

3. Inadequate welding current

Excessive Melt-Through
The following are possible causes of excessive melt-through and their corrective
1. Excessive heat input
2. Improper joint penetration

Reduce wire feed speed (welding current) and
the voltage. Increase the travel speed.
Reduce root opening. Increase root face

Weld Metal Cracks

The following are possible causes of weld metal cracks and their corrective actions:
1. Improper joint design

Maintain proper groove dimensions to allow


2. Too high a weld depth-to width


deposition of adequate filler metal or weld cross

section to overcome restraint conditions.
Either increase arc voltage or decrease the
current or both to widen the weld bead or
decrease the penetration.
Decrease travel speed to increase cross section
of deposit.
Reduce either current or voltage, or both.
Increase travel speed.

3. Too
(particularly fillet and root beads)
4. Heat input too high, causing
5. Hot-shortness
Use electrode with higher manganese content
(use shorter arc length to minimize loss of
manganese across the arc). Adjust the groove
angle to allow adequate percentage of filler metal
addition. Adjust pass sequence to reduce
restrain on weld during cooling. Change to
6. High restraint of the joint Use preheat to reduce magnitude of residual
stresses. Adjust welding sequence to reduce
restraint conditions.
7. Rapid cooling in the crater at the Eliminate craters by backstepping technique.
end of the joint
Heat Affected Zone Cracks
Cracking in HAZ is almost always associated with hardenable steels.
1. Hardening in the heat-affected Preheat to retard cooling rate.
2. Residual stresses too high
Use stress relief heat treatment.
3. Hydrogen embrittlement
Use clean electrode and dry shielding gas.
Remove contaminants from the base metal. Hold
weld at elevated temperatures for several hours
before cooling (temperature and time required to
diffuse hydrogen are dependent on base metal


Problems and corrections:
Some problems that may be encountered and possible remedies are listed in the
following table:

Low gas flow
High gas flow
Excessive wind drafts
Contaminated gas

1. Porosity

Contaminated base metal

Contaminated filler wire


Increase gas flowmetter setting clean
spatter clogged nozzle.
Decrease to eliminate turbulence
Shield weld zone from draft/wind
Check gas source
Check for leak in hoses/fittings
Clean weld joint faces
Remove drawing compound on wire
Clean oil from rollers
Avoid shop dirt
Re-dry filler wire

Insufficient flux in core

Excessive voltage
Excess electrode stick out
Insufficient electrode stick out
(self-shielded electrodes)
Excessive travel speed
Improper manipulation
Improper parameters
2. Incomplete
fusion or

3. Cracking

Change wire
Reset voltage
Reset stickout & balance current
Reset stickout & balance current

Adjust speed
Direct electrode to the joint root
Increase current
Reduce travel speed
Decrease stickout
Reduce wire size
Increase travel speed (self-shielded
Improper joint design
Increase root opening
Increase root face
Excessive joint restrain
Reduce restraint
Use more ductile weld metal
Employ peening
Improper electrode
Check formulation and content of the
Insufficient deoxidizers or Check formulation and content of the
inconsistent flux fill in core


Problems and corrections:
Porosity problems
Submerged arc deposited weld metal is usually clean and free of injurious porosity
because of the excellent protection offered by the blanket of molten slag. When porosity
does occur, it may be found on the weld bead surface or beneath a sound surface. Various
factors that may cause porosity are the following:
Contaminants in the joint
Electrode contamination
Contaminants in the flux
Insufficient flux coverage
Entrapped flux at the bottom of the joint
Segregation of constituents in the weld metal
Excessive travel speed
Slag residue from tack welds made with covered electrodes
As with other welding processes, the base metal and electrode must be clean and
dry. High travel speeds and associated fast weld metal solidification do not provide time for
gas to escape from the molten weld metal. The travel speed can be reduced, but other
solutions should be investigated first to avoid higher welding costs. Porosity from covered
electrode tack welds can be avoided by using electrodes that will not leave a porositycausing residue.
Cracking Problems
Cracking of welds in steel is usually associated with liquid metal cracking (center
bead cracking). This cause may be traced to the joint geometry, welding variables, or
stresses at the point where the weld metal is solidifying. This problem can occur in both butt
welds and fillet welds, including grooves and fillet welds simultaneously welded from two
One solution to this problem is to keep the depth of the weld bead less than or equal
to the width of the face of the weld. Weld bead dimensions may best be measured by


sectioning and etching a sample weld. To correct the problem, the welding variables or the
joint geometry must be changed. To decrease the depth of penetration compared to the
width of the face of the joint, the welding travel speed as well as the welding current can be
Cracking in the weld metal or the heat-affected zone may be caused by diffusible
hydrogen in the weld metal. The hydrogen may enter the molten weld pool from flux, grease
or dirt on the electrode or base metal. Cracking due to diffusible hydrogen in the weld metal
is usually associated with low alloy steels and with increasing tensile and yield strengths. It
sometimes can occur in carbon steels. There is always some hydrogen present in deposited
weld metal, but it must be limited to relatively small amounts. As tensile strength increases,
the amount of diffusible hydrogen that can be tolerated in the deposited weld decreases.
Cracking due to excessive hydrogen in the weld is called delayed cracking; it usually
occurs several hours, up to approximately 72 hours, after the weld has cooled to ambient
temperature. Hydrogen will diffuse out of the base metal at elevated temperatures (above
approximately 1000C) without resulting in cracking. It is at ambient temperatures that
hydrogen accumulated at small defects in the weld metal or base metal results in cracking.
To keep the hydrogen content of the weld metal low:
Remove moisture from the flux by baking in an oven (follow manufacturers
Remove oil, grease, or dirt from the electrode and base material.
Increase the work temperature to allow more hydrogen to escape during the
welding operation. This may be done by continuing the preheat until the seam
is completely welded, or by postheating the weld joint for several hours before
letting it cool to ambient temperature.
Some problems that may be encountered and possible remedies are listed in the
following table:
1. Porosity Insufficient slag depth
Increase flux additions
Moisture, oil, or rust
Dry or clean workpiece
Contaminated or wet flux
Dry or replace flux
2. Cracking Excessive welding speed
Slow electrode feed rate
Poor form factor
Reduce current; raise voltage;
decrease oscillation speed
Excessive center-to-center Decrease spacing between
distance between electrodes electrodes or guide tubes
or guide tubes
3. Nonmetallic
Fusion line 4. Lack of

Rough plate surface

Unfused nonmetallics from
plate laminations
Low voltage
Excessive welding speed
Excessive slag depth

Grind plate surfaces

Use better quality plate

Increase voltage
Decrease electrode feed rate
Decrease flux addition; allow
slag to overflow
Misaligned electrodes or Realign electrodes or guide
guide tubes
Inadequate dwell time
Increase dwell time
Excessive oscillation speed
Slow oscillation speed
Excessive electrode to shoe Increase oscillation width or
add another electrode
Excesive center to center Decrease spacing between
distance between electrodes electrodes


5. Undercut

Too slow welding speed

Excessive voltage
Excessive dwell time
Inadequate cooling of shoes
Poor shoe design
Poor shoe fit-up


6. Cracking

High restraint
Crack-sensitive material
Excessive inclusions in plate

Increase electrode feed rate

Decrease voltage
Decrease dwell time
Increase cooling water flow to
shoes or use larger shoe
Redesign groove in shoe
Improve fit-up; seal gap with
refractory cement dam
Modify fixturing
Determine cause of cracking
Use better quality plate

Problems and corrections:
The appearance of a weld does not necessarily indicate its quality. If imperfections
exist in a weld, they can be grouped into two broad groups: those that are apparent to visual
inspection and those that are not. Visual examination of the underside of a weld will
determine whether there is complete penetration and whether there are excessive spatter of
metal. Inadequate joint penetration may be due to insufficient beveling of the edges, too thick
a root face, too high a welding speed, or poor torch and welding rod manipulation.
Oversized and undersized welds can be observed readily. Weld gauges are used to
determine whether a weld has excessive or insufficient reinforcement. Undercut or overlap at
the sides of the welds can usually be detected by visual examination.
Although other imperfections, such as incomplete fusion, porosity, and cracking,
may not be externally apparent, excessive grain growth and the presence of hard spots
cannot be determined visually. Incomplete fusion may be caused by insufficient heating of
the base metal, too rapid weld travel, gas or dirt inclusions. Porosity is a result of entrapped
gases, usually carbon monoxide, which may be avoided by careful flame manipulation and
adequate fluxing where needed. Hard spots and cracking result from the metallurgical
characteristics of the weldment.