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Short Circuit Period



Reignition Immediately After

Period Arcing Period Extinction Period

Arc Arc Melted Plate Arc

Initiation Material Extinction

Note: Idealized sketches are not to scale.

Fig. 21-14 Complete short circuit cycle.

mild steel. The weld profile may be objectionable. Grind- Currents range from 50 to 225 amperes; and voltages,
ing may be required. from 12 to 22 volts. Filler wires with diameters of 0.030,
0.035, and 0.045 inch are used. Shorting occurs at a steady
Short Circuit Transfer (GMAW-S) In the early develop- rate of 20 to over 200 times a second according to preset
ment of the gas metal arc process, spray transfer was used conditions. The faster the wire-feed speed, the more short
almost exclusively. Welding with a short-circuiting arc circuits per second. It can also be used for MIG brazing
was developed years later. No metal is transferred across GMAW-B by changing the electrode to the proper type,
the welding arc. Metal transfer takes place only when the Fig. 21-15.
electrode makes contact with the material being welded. The low heat input of this technique minimizes dis-
Metal deposited in this manner is less fluid and less pen- tortion, burn-through, and spatter. It is particularly use-
etrating than that formed with the spray arc. ful for welding thin gauge materials in all positions and
At the start of the short arc cycle, the high temperature running open root joints. Short circuit transfer is find-
electric arc melts the filler wire into a droplet of liquid ing increased use in the welding of heavy thicknesses of
metal. The electrode wire is fed at such a high rate that the
molten tip of the filler wire contacts the workpiece before
the droplet can separate from the electrode. The contact
with the workpiece causes a short circuit, the arc is extin-
guished, and metal transfer begins due to arc forces and
surface tension, Fig.21-14. The process is actually a series
of periodic short circuits that occur as the molten droplet
of metal contacts the workpiece and momentarily extin-
guishes the arc. Pinch force a squeezing action common
to all current carriers due to the magnetic field that forms
around them, breaks the molten metal bridge at the tip of
the electrode, and a small drop of molten metal transfers
to the weld pool. Electrical contact is broken, causing the
arc to reignite, and the short arc cycle begins again.
Short circuit transfer employs low currents, low wire- Fig. 21-15 Silicon bronze applied to a 22-gauge galvanized steel
feed speed, low voltages, and small diameter filler wires. pipe elbow using the GMAW-B process. Wisconsin Wire Work

664 Chapter 21 Gas Metal Arc and Flux Cored Arc Welding Principles
quenched and tempered steels. However, other
modes of transfer and other processes like
FCAW are generally preferred for welding
heavy plate. On materials greater than 316 -inch
thick incomplete fusion can be an issue with
short circuit transfer. It is used for the weld-
ing of carbon steels, low alloy steels, stainless
steels, and light gauge metals. When there is
relatively poor fitup on a job, the short circuit
transfer method permits the welder to bridge
the wide gaps. It is very useful on open root
A full range of short circuit transfer cannot
be obtained with constant current power source
units. Constant voltage machines are available
with adjustable slope and appropriate voltage Fig. 21-16 Surface tension mode of transfer with waveform required from
unique power Source: The Lincoln Electric Co.
and inductance controls that produce the spe-
cific current surges that are needed for short circuit metal
transfer over a full range.
GMAW/FCAW Welding Equipment
For video of GMAW short-circuiting transfer, The success of the process depends upon the proper de-
please visit sign and the matching of the various components. (Refer
to Fig. 21-5, p. 659.) The basic equipment includes the
All shielding gases may be used with the short circuit
transfer method. Pure argon and helium and their mix- Welding machine or power source. This may be an
tures are used with thin aluminum. Carbon dioxide or engine-driven generator, transformer-rectifier, or in-
a mixture of 25 percent carbon dioxide and 75 percent verter with constant voltage output. (Constant voltage
argon may be used in the welding of carbon steel. There is also known as constant potential.)
is a growing use of helium-argon-carbon dioxide mixtures Consumable electrode wire-feed unit, including the
for the welding of stainless steels. controls.
Welding gun. A source of cooling water and flow
Enhanced Short Circuit Transfer A modification of the
controls are necessary for water-cooled guns.
short circuit mode of transfer has developed over the last Interconnecting hose and cable assemblies leading
decade. Before electronic controls and inverter power
to the gun. They provide for the gas, water, wire, and
sources became available, the short circuit cycle was dif-
cable control wire needed for the process.
ficult to control and maintain easily. Use of slope, voltage, Cylinder of shielding gas, cylinder regulator, and
inductance, and wire-feed speed were the choices. Now
with the capability to monitor and control amps and volts Work lead and work clamp.
up to 10,000 times per second, control and consistency A reel of consumable electrode wire of the proper
are available. This enhanced short circuit mode is known
type and size for the particular welding job being
by the trade names of the manufacturer. The Lincoln
Electric Co. refers to it as Surface Tension Transfer (STT)
while Miller Electric Mfg. Co. refers to it as Regulated Constant Voltage Characteristics
Metal Deposition (RMD). Other manufacturers of course
It is important that the student understand how the con-
have their own trade names. They all require a unique
stant voltage system functions.
power source capable of outputting a very controlled and
In GMAW, as in all arc welding, the heat required is
unique waveform. The power source is neither constant
generated by the arc that is produced between the work-
current nor constant voltage but requires amperes and
piece and the end of the electrode. To sustain this arc for
volts to change throughout the entire transfer cycle. The
GMAW/FCAW, control of five items is necessary:
requirements of the arc are constantly being monitored
through a sense lead that feeds data to the electronic cir- The proper arc voltage on the wire
cuitry, Fig. 21-16. Current going through the wire

Gas Metal Arc and Flux Cored Arc Welding Principles Chapter 21 665
Appropriate wire-feed speed to replace continuously steady as long as the electrode extension remains about
the wire melted by the heat of the arc to form the weld the same. The student welder should then lengthen the
deposit electrode extension without halting the welding operation
Burnoff rate proportional to the current and breaking the arc. The observer will note that as the
Arc action proportional to the arc voltage electrode extension is lengthened, the amperage reading
is reduced, but the voltage reading remains constant. It
Keeping these five factors in mind, let us see what hap-
should also be noted that the wire-feed speed does not
pens when the welding operation is started. The weld-
change. Thus it can be seen that voltage stays constant
ing power source is turned on, and when the electrode
as set and that the machine makes internal changes in
wire touches the properly connected workpiece, current
flows in the closed circuit. For an instance, the arc volt-
Thus constant voltage power sources ensure uniform
age is zero, and because the power source is designed to
welds due to three inherent characteristics:
maintain a preset voltage, it sends a tremendous surge of
current (short circuit current) to the wire. Instantaneously, The flow of welding current to the work is automati-
the wire gets white hot. At the same moment, tremendous cally adjusted to the rate at which the electrode wire is
magnetic fields set up around the wire. The molten wire fed to the work.
along with the pinching or stripping action of the mag- The wire-feed speed is constant.
netic fields deposits a portion of the electrode wire onto Instant arc starting eliminates defective spots at the
the base metal and the arc is established. The nature of the start of the weld since the wire is practically vapor-
arc is determined by the voltage setting set by the welder ized by the instant current surge. Instant arc starting
on the power source. These flawless, instantaneous arc prevents the wire from sticking to the work, while the
starts are a characteristic of a constant voltage (potential) quick recovery to normal current prevents burn-back
machine. of the wire.
Once the arc is started, it is self-regulating over a wide
range. The current is capable of wide variations while the Output Slope
arc voltage remains constant. Thus the wire is fed at a
As stated previously, the power source is referred to as
constant speed. The welding current automatically adjusts
constant voltage or constant potential because the voltage
itself to maintain the constant physical arc length and
at the output terminals varies relatively little over wide
arc voltage. The power source supplies enough current to
ranges of current.
burn the wire off as fast as it is fed and to maintain the
The volt-ampere curve
proper arc dictated by the voltage adjustment.
of the constant current
The constant voltage machine is flexible in meeting
power source, generally 80
amperage and voltage demands over a wide area. Two
used for stick electrode
students are urged to try this experiment: Using any size

welding, has a drooping

welding electrode wire, set the proper wire-feed speed
output slope, Fig. 21-17A.
and voltage for welding. One student should weld while
When the arc length is
the other observes the machines amperage and voltage
constant, the welding cur- 100 200 300
meters. When the student who is welding begins, the other
rent that will be obtained Amps Constant Current
will observe that amperage and voltage readings hold
is shown by the point at A
which the voltage read-
ing intersects the output
slope. In shielded metal
arc welding, the welder 48

is not able to maintain a

constant arc length and,
Job Interview therefore, the voltage may
So youre going to a job interview! Thats deviate from the normal
the opportunity to show how professional you will be at 100 200 300
work. Leave your pager and cell phone at home. Be on
value. The deviation may Amps Constant Voltage
time for the interview. Shake hands firmly. Dont be afraid be high or low, depend- B
to ask a question. After you get home, write a thank-you ing on arc manipulation.
letter or e-mail right away. Figure 21-18 shows that Fig. 21-17 Comparable volt-

a rather large increase or ampere curves.

666 Chapter 21 Gas Metal Arc and Flux Cored Arc Welding Principles
on constant current machines. The maximum is usually
0CV about 50 volts.
Once the voltage has been set, the machine automati-
C. C. Volt Amp Curve
cally maintains an arc length while the electrode wire is
fed continuously at a set speed. Changes in filler metal,
shielding gas, or granular flux may require a voltage
0CV adjustment.
C. P. Volt Amp Curve Self-regulation of arc length is possible because small
changes in voltage cause the machine to produce large
Rated Voltage
changes in welding current. Thus any change in arc length
(voltage) results in a large change in current and a cor-

Rated Current
responding, almost instantaneous change, in the burnoff
Constant Current
Current Variation rate of the electrode wire. This regulates the current at
Constant Potential Current Variation the arc.
Constant voltage machines do not have a heat adjust-
ment like the constant current machines. They do have a
voltage control and slope and inductance adjustments for
Fig. 21-18 Comparison of constant current and constant voltage arc stabilization. A small transformer is included to sup-
characteristic volt-ampere curves. ply single-phase power for operating auxiliary equipment
such as the wire drive motor, coolant pump, and gas and
water solenoid valves. A built-in contactor controls the
flow of the welding current and voltage to the electrode
decrease in welding voltage, due to change in arc length when the trigger on the gun is pulled.
when welding, does not result in a large change in cur- Constant voltage power supplies provide extreme flex-
rent output. Welders can control the arc length by vary- ibility. With variable slope, voltage, and inductance, each
ing the speed at which they feed the electrode into the unit can be adjusted, within its current and voltage range,
welding arc. The constant current power source changes to provide ideal arc characteristics for any specific ap-
its voltage output in order to maintain a constant welding plication. A single machine, typically inverters, can be
current level. used for short-circuiting applications, spray arc, TIG,
The volt-ampere curve of the constant voltage power submerged arc, flux cored, stick electrode, and any other
source used for GMAW has a relatively flat output slope, welding process within its range of operation. These ma-
Fig.21-17B. Small changes in arc voltage result in relatively chines combine the two basic types of power supplies in
large changes in welding current. Figure21-18 shows that one single unit. By turning a selector switch on the ma-
when arc length shortens slightly, a large increase in weld- chine, a steep slope (constant current) or a flat slope (con-
ing current occurs. This increases the burnoff rate, which stant voltage) can be produced.
brings the arc length back to the desired level.
The constant voltage power source puts out enough Voltage Controls Voltage controls may be either tapped
current so that the burnoff rate equals the wire-feed rate. (stepped) or continuously variable. Tapped-voltage con-
If the wire-feed rate is increased, the power source puts trol is used for simple types of GMAW. A voltage range
out more welding current so that the burnoff rate and the tap switch is employed. The control panel shown in
wire-feed rate are again balanced. The arc length is con- Fig.21-19, page 668 is of this type.
trolled by setting the voltage level on the welding power This type of equipment is popular with the home hob-
source, and the welding current is controlled by adjust- byist and autobody repair type welder. Figure 21-20,
ing the wire-feed speed. Arc voltage is set by the voltage page 668 shows a continuous type of control for voltage.
control knob. Voltmeter and ammeter set These meters permit
Short circuit current can be as high as several thou- accurate, repeatable selection of weld current and
sand amperes, usually six to eight times the rated current voltage.
capacity. Voltage range switch This switch offers the opera-
tor a choice of three open circuit voltage ranges:
Types of Controls high (3951), medium (3039), and low (2431).
All constant voltage machines have voltage control. Wire size and work will determine which voltage
Open circuit voltage on these machines is lower than range is required.

Gas Metal Arc and Flux Cored Arc Welding Principles Chapter 21 667
Voltmeter 115-volt a.c. power receptacle This receptacle pro-
Wire Speed Meter vides 115-volt power for operation of the wire drive
equipment. Power for this circuit is supplied from a
built-in control transformer.
Wire Speed Control Contactor control receptacle and switch Provisions
Voltage Control are made for a 2-conductor lead from the wire drive
control to the contactor control receptacle. This com-
Power On/Off
pletes the circuitry necessary for remote control of the
welding power. The actuating mechanism for closing
Gun Trigger/Spool the circuit is the gun trigger switch. When it is closed,
Gun Receptacles
Cable the primary contactor in the power source is energized,
and welding power is available.
115-volt duplex receptacles These receptacles provide
power for water coolant systems, fixtures, and so on.
The power for them comes from the same control
transformer that supplies power for the wire drive
On/off power switch This switch controls the electric
power to the fan motor and the 115-volt power outlets.
Fig. 21-19 Control panel of a typical 250 ampere constant Cooling fan The fan is driven by a prelubricated,
current power source, wire-feeder combination with adjustable
completely sealed ball bearing motor and provides ad-
voltage and wire-feed speed control. With digital read out of
voltage and wire-feed speed. Gas metal and flux cored arc capable. equate cooling to all components.
As well as aluminum welding with push pull or spool gun. Current surge protector This device guards the trans-
Miller Electric Mfg. Co. former and rectifier in the event of abnormal opera-
tion of welder.
V-A Meters Continuously variable voltage control is commonly
used for more critical spray arc MIG welding, and short
circuit MIG weldings, Figs. 21-21 and 21-22.

Current Controls There is no current adjustment dial on a

constant voltage unit. Current is adjusted by the wire-feed
speed setting on the wire drive unit.

Slope ControlsSlope controls the amount of current

change. It is caused by an impedance to the current flow-
ing through the welding power circuit. (Impedance means
the slowing down of a moving object.) Since voltage is
the force that causes current to flow but does not flow
itself, the impedance is directed toward limiting the flow
of current. It is not intended that the current be stopped,
Fig. 21-20 Note power source digital meters on this 650-ampere only limited. As more impedance is added to the welding
industrial constant voltage machine. Miller Electric Mfg. Co. circuit, there is a steeper slope to the volt-ampere curve.
The steeper slope limits the available short circuit current
Fine voltage adjustment The hand control on the and slows the machines rate of response to changing arc
panel of the welder provides infinite fine voltage conditions. Constant voltage d.c. transformer-rectifiers
adjustment within the range selected. Fine voltage are available with fixed slope or variable slope.
changes can be made while welding. This permits the Fixed-slope machines are generally used for all types
operator to obtain exact welding settings under weld- of GMAW. A certain amount of fixed slope is designed
ing load conditions. into the machine, and no adjustment is needed for most
Voltage indicator This indicator shows open circuit jobs, Figs. 21-23 and 21-24.
voltage settings on the welding machine for the par- In the past, the term slope was used only in connec-
ticular range selected. tion with the gas tungsten arc and the shielded metal arc

668 Chapter 21 Gas Metal Arc and Flux Cored Arc Welding Principles
Fig. 21-23 A 450-ampere, d.c. constant voltage/constant current
inverter power source. Capable of running all modes of gas metal
arc transfers including pulse. A variable inductance control provides
Fig. 21-21 A 350-ampere, d.c. constant voltage transformer additional arc performance. Miller Electric Mfg. Co.
rectifier with solid-state control for short circuit transfer MAG/MIG
welding. The single knob control changes voltage in infinite units for
precise control over the arc. It is capable of running continuous spray
and flux cored arcs up to its amperage capability. ESAB
Analog Ammeter
Pilot Light
Power Switch

Preset Indicator Light

Analog Voltmeter

Mechanical Voltage

Fig. 21-24 A 300-ampere, d.c. constant voltage transformer-

rectifier with mechanical brush control for voltage and tapped-
inductance control. Miller Electric Mfg. Co.

processes. An increase of welding current was referred to

as upslope; and a decrease of current, as downslope. The
operating characteristics and versatility of the constant
Fig. 21-22 A 300-ampere d.c. constant voltage voltage power sources used for gas metal arc welding have
transformer-rectifier with solid-state control and built-in been accomplished through the introduction of variable
predetermined slope control. Lincoln Electric slope control.

Gas Metal Arc and Flux Cored Arc Welding Principles Chapter 21 669
Variable slope machines permit the use of a wider range
of wire types and sizes under a variety of GMAW condi- 7 Tap Slope
tions. By changing the slope of the flat volt-ampere curve,
the short-circuiting transfer method of welding has been E
improved. The sudden surge that takes place when the
electrode makes contact in starting the weld is decreased,
and the weld pool can be kept more fluid. Adjustment of
the slope from flat to steep permits precise control of short I
circuit current. Slope adjustments also reduce weld spatter.
Variable slope machines are used for the welding of stain- Fig. 21-25 Tapped slope (250-ampere power source).
less steel.
Variable slope controls may be tapped or continuously Min. O Turns
variable, and they are similar to those controlling voltage.
Tapped-slope machines are more versatile, but continu-
ously variable slope controls are more precise. Figure 21-25
indicates the output curves possible with a machine hav- Max. Infinite Slope
ing seven tapped-slope settings. F igure21-26 illustrates the 14 Turns Adjustment
output curves possible with a machine equipped with con-
tinuously variable control. I
The reactor used for variable slope control consists of
one or more current-carrying coils placed around an iron Fig. 21-26 Variable slope.
core. In tapped-current control, the welder adjusts the
slope by means of the mechanical connections through
taps that are connected with the coil. In continuously vari- Variable inductance may be tapped or continuously vari-
able control, contact brushes move over the face of one able. Controls are similar to those used for voltage and
side of the coil that has been machined or the physical slope.
location of the coils is changed. Variable voltage and inductance controls give precise
control of the weld pool, regulate the frequency of short
Inductance Controls Inductance controls the rate of cur- circuiting in short circuit arc transfer, help flatten the weld
rent change. This will affect arc starting. Adjustment of profile, and reduce spatter. See Table21-2.
inductance is most common with short-arc GMAW to Inductance can best be understood if you consider the
control weld spatter and how fluid the weld pool is. Fixed constant voltage volt-ampere curve. Visualize what must
inductance is common on many constant voltage ma- happen on the volt-ampere curve when the arc starts.
chines, and no further adjustment is normally required. The welding machine must be capable of responding to

Table 21-2 Effects of Inductance on GMAW and FCAW

Inductance Setting Effect Result

0 or minimum Maximum current rise Blasting high energy starts may be required with large electrode
setting in both speed and wire and/or high wire-feed speed rates. Small diameter wire
amount of energy and/or low wire-feed speed may cause burn-back to contact
available tube and excess spatter.
50% or setting in Medium current rise Can be adjusted to give a controlled start. Too much energy
middle of available in both speed and too rapidly can cause a blasting start, but too little energy
range amount of energy would create a sluggish start. Makes the weld pool more
available fluid principally with the short circuit transfer. Especially
effective when welding stainless steel. Helpful when welding
out of position. Helpful to control weld spatter when all other
parameters are correct.
100% or maximum Slowest current rise Will cause very sluggish starts. Wire may stub into workpiece
setting in both speed and without sufficient energy to burn free and start. Provides the
amount of energy most fluid weld pool. Arc will be sluggish and may not respond
available to manipulation, as for weave beads.

670 Chapter 21 Gas Metal Arc and Flux Cored Arc Welding Principles
the tremendous demand for current to burn the electrode switch must be added to select the schedule of operation
free, without overcurrenting and creating a blasting start that is desired. Figure 21-28, page 672 provides the fol-
and without undercurrenting and creating a stumbling lowing dual schedule features:
start. Consideration must be given to the arc length and
amperage changes required during the short circuit mode Hot starts give extra penetration.
of transfer. Keep in mind the short circuiting mode of The control provides a low range for root passes and a
transfer can take place at nearly 200 times per second. As high range for hot and cover passes.
the energy moves along the volt-ampere curve, the speed It is ideal for tack welding and can bridge extra-wide
with which it is allowed to move is controlled by the in- gaps.
ductor control on the machine. Think about your ability The welder can select one condition for overhead or
to move through a room if the floor is dry. Then think vertical welding and switch to another preselected
how you would be slowed down if the room had several condition for flat welding.
feet of water on the floor (50 percent inductance). If the A change in the welding condition from one
room were full of water and you had to swim, think about size of material to another can be made without
how much slower you would be able to move through it readjustment.
(100 percent inductance). This analogy should aid in your
The operator can change from Schedule A to Schedule B
understanding of this control.
or vice versa with the gun trigger at any time during the
course of the weld without interrupting the arc. A pilot
Other Controls A weld timer most often can be added
light on the panel indicates which setting is being used.
to the control panel of the standard wire-feeder control-
ler. It permits GMAW spot welding and other timed Types of Constant Voltage
Welding Machines
Remote control of the wire feed and weld output con-
tactor are generally provided through the wire-feeder Constant voltage machines are classified by the manner
controller and power source. However, for additional in which they produce welding current. There are three
remote control over the process and parameters a mi- general types:
croprocessor, such as that shown in Fig.21-27, may be Transformer-rectifiers that have an electrical trans-
used. These type of controls must be matched to spe- former to step down the a.c. line power voltage to a.c.
cific types of power sources, but they may be used welding voltage and a rectifier to convert the alternat-
with a variety of wire-feeder ing current to direct current.
types, from standard bench to Inverters that convert the incoming high voltage al-
push-pull or spool-on-gun type ternating current to direct current. This high voltage
feeder systems. direct current is then switched up to 50kilohertz and
Dual schedule controls can supplied to a transformer-rectifier assembly. These
be added to many wire-feeder machines are light and portable. Many are capable
control panels. Many of the of running on single- or three-phase primary power.
digital microprocessor-based Some are equipped to automatically adjust to what-
wire feeders have this feature ever primary voltage with which they are supplied. In-
as standard. On more con- verters can run all the various modes of metal transfer,
ventional feeders it is gener- and many are capable of running constant current for
ally considered an option. The SMAW and GTAW processes.
power source must be capable Engine-driven generators that have an internal com-
of being remote controlled for bustion engine to drive a generator that produces di-
voltage. The mechanically con- rect current.
trolled (brushes on secondary
coil) power source, as shown D.C. Transformer-RectifiersConstant voltage transformer-
Fig. 21-27 The in Fig. 21-24, page 669, is not rectifiers may be used for MIG/MAG, submerged
Optima remote micro- capable of dual schedule opera- arc, FCAW, and multiple-operator systems. They are
processor control for tion. The dual schedule control three-phase power supplies with voltage control, slope,
standard GMAW, manual
GMAW-P, and synergic
must be matched with the type and/or inductance control. Selection depends on the type
GMAW-P. Miller Electric of power source being used. of welding process, the type and size of filler wire used,
Mfg. Co. Also a special gun trigger or the end use of the weldment, cost, and welder preference.

Gas Metal Arc and Flux Cored Arc Welding Principles Chapter 21 671