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Gas Metal Arc

Welding Practice:
Jobs 24-J1–J15 (Pipe)

This chapter deals only with the techniques for gas metal Chapter Objectives
arc welding standard (schedule 40) and heavy (schedule 80)
wall carbon steel pipe.
After completing this chapter, you will be able to:
24-1 Explain the use of the gas metal arc welding process
Industrial Applications of GMAW on piping structures and systems.
Pipe Welding 24-2 Describe the gas metal arc equipment used for pipe
Spurred on by the rapid growth of nuclear power, space welding.
and rocket exploration, marine construction, and the 24-3 Demonstrate understanding of the gas metal arc
chemical, oil, and gas industries, welded-pipe fabrication welding operations for pipe welding.
is increasing at a tremendous rate. Over 90 percent of all 24-4 Demonstrate understanding and ability of gas
steel piping installations are welded. There are over one metal arc welding by producing satisfactorily
million miles of pipeline in this country. Over 10 percent welded joints.
of the steel produced in the United States is used in the
production of pipe. The Hoover Dam piping installations
required pipe 30 feet in diameter with a wall thickness up
to 23⁄4 inches.
There is a considerable increase in the use of the gas
metal arc process in the field for power piping, process
piping, and construction (Figs. 24-1 and 24-2) and in
shop fabrication (Figs. 24-3 and 24-4). Much of this pipe
welding is being done with the GMAW-S and GMAW-P
processes. The practice jobs in this chapter specify tech-
niques for carbon steel pipe. Pipe is available in such
ferrous metals as low and high strength carbon steels, car-
bon-molybdenum steels, chromium-molybdenum steels,
low temperature steels, stainless steels, and clad and lined

steels. Pipe is also available in such nonferrous
metals as aluminum, nickel, copper, titanium,
and their alloys.
Welding may be done in all positions. The
direction of welding for vertical welds may be
up or down. The usual practice is to weld the
first pass down followed by passes that may be
welded up or down.
It is not difficult to obtain radiographic qual-
ity welds. The MIG/MAG pipe welding process
is used extensively on both noncritical and criti-
cal piping in which the weld must meet require-
ments of the codes for such critical applications
Fig. 24-1  Gas metal arc welding with the short circuit mode of metal transfer
as nuclear piping, steam power plant piping, and
on a 5G position V-groove weld on a pipe butt joint for the natural gas industry. chemical process piping.
This highly skilled journeyman has been trained and skilled in a multitude of It is assumed that you are already skilled in
welding and cutting processes. The feeder is enclosed to protect it from the the welding of pipe with the shielded metal arc
elements. The engine driven generator power source is located some distance process and the gas tungsten arc process. You are
away. Note the type of conditions that are typically encountered when doing urged to take the utmost care in the practice of
welding in this field.  © United Association
these jobs. Gas metal arc pipe welding is a grow-
ing field and offers many opportunities for those
who develop a high degree of craftsmanship in
this welding process.

The piping industry is one of the most progres-
sive of all industries. The installation of piping is
costly, and for this reason the industry is alert to
new developments in the fabrication of pipe. The
Fig. 24-2  Typical groove welded pipe butt joint used in piping construction. It gas metal arc welding of pipe was first studied
was welded with the GMAW process—uphill. Downhill procedures are also used. in the laboratory and then tested in field experi-
ments. The results led to the use of MIG/MAG as a fabrica-
tion tool in the welding of pipe. The tests and the production
experiences indicated the following desirable advantages:
•• The process is fast and in many instances faster than
other welding processes.
•• The elimination of flux and slag reduces the cleaning
time considerably.
•• Heavier passes can be made, thus cutting down the
number of passes per joint.
•• Since the electrode is continuous, fewer starts and stops
are necessary, and there is no electrode stub loss.
•• The process can be used on all pipe sizes and pipe
wall thicknesses.
•• Weld metal is high quality and meets requirements of
most codes.
•• It is considered a low hydrogen process.
Fig. 24-3  Welding carbon steel pipe in the shop with the GMAW •• Weld appearance is good.
short circuit mode of metal transfer on the root pass. Note the arc visible
•• Good penetration, fusion, and a smooth weld bead can
on the inside of the pipe. This ensures that complete penetration is tak-
ing place. A pipe gripper is attached to a turning fixture that is rotating be produced inside the pipe on the underside of the
the pipe.  © Miller Electric Mfg. Co. root pass.

Gas Metal Arc Welding Practice: Jobs 24-J1–J15 (Pipe)   Chapter 24    791
•• Backup rings may not be required.
•• Because of the concentration of heat when welding,
distortion and warpage are reduced.
The root pass is thicker and stronger than that produced
by the TIG and stick electrode process so that the danger
of first pass cracking is reduced.

Use of Equipment and Supplies

The equipment needed for the gas metal arc welding of
pipe does not differ in any way from that required for
other forms of MIG/MAG welding. Review the proce-
dures used in setting up and starting the equipment in
Chapter 22, pages 725–726. Your procedure will vary
depending on whether the welding machine is an engine-
driven generator, a d.c. rectifier, or an inverter. Refer to
Fig. 24-5 for the equipment in the MIG/MAG system. It
includes the following:
Fig. 24-4  Welding carbon steel pipe in the shop with GMAW-S •• D.C. power source, constant voltage type (engine-
process. The pipe is being rolled with a pipe positioner so the weld driven generator, inverter, or rectifier)
is being done 1G. Note arc and complete penetration weld taking
place on this pipe to flange single V-groove weld on this butt joint. 
•• Wire-feeding mechanism with controls, spooled elec-
Location: Piping Systems, Inc. © McGraw-Hill Education/Mark A. Dierker, trode wire, and spool support

Control System
Wire Reel

Feed Control

Gas Out Wire


Gun Control Gas In

Voltage Control

Held Gun Wire-feed
Drive Motor

Work Cable Contactor Control Shielding

Gas Source
110, 42, and/or 24-V Supply
Welding Machine

Fig. 24-5  Schematic diagram of the GMAW system for welding pipe.

792   Chapter 24   Gas Metal Arc Welding Practice: Jobs 24-J1–J15 (Pipe)
•• Gas shielding system: one or more cylinders of carbon
dioxide (CO2) or a mixture of 75 percent argon and
25 percent carbon dioxide, whichever is used, and a
combination pressure-reducing regulator-flowmeter
•• Welding gun and cable assembly
•• Connecting hoses and cables
•• Face helmet, gloves, protective clothing, and hand

The engine-driven generator is suitable for outdoor

welding applications such as pipelines and bridge and
building construction, and in locations where easy access
to electric power is not available. These welding genera-
tors are capable of generating 120/240 volts auxiliary
power for running power tools and lighting.
The inverter power sources are portable and have en-
hanced arc performance to allow for all modes of trans-
fer including short circuiting, spray, and pulse spray. In
many cases they have inductor controls and with micro-
processor technology have the ability to shape their out-
put waveform. They can have stored programs, which
ensures that many of the essential variables are being Fig. 24-6  A 300 amp d.c. inverter power source, constant speed
followed per the welding procedure. wire feeder/controller, and shielding gas cylinder. This setup is light-
The d.c. rectifier, Fig. 24-6, is found in fabricating weight and very portable. It is capable of running off of a variety of
primary voltages and with either single or three-phase power. 
shops where the input power supply fluctuates very little. © Miller Electric Mfg. Co.
It is quieter than the other power sources, and it draws
current only during welding.
It is an advantage to use a machine with variable slope the weld metal. Starts must be crisp and positive for high
control and variable inductance control. It should also quality pipe welding. Even with positive starts, any excess
be equipped with a “hot start” feature, which enables convexity must be removed by some mechanical means
the welder to select a higher voltage for a timed period such as grinding or filing, prior to depositing weld metal
at the beginning of a pass or at a new start. A hot start on them.
ensures good bead contour and the elimination of dis- The welding gun may be equipped with special nozzles
continuities caused by a cold start. All other equipment and contact tubes. Because of the groove welds typically
is the same as that used for welding plate with the gas done on piping systems, access to the root of the joint is
metal arc process. critical. Special tapered contact tubes and nozzles greatly
In some cases instead of a hot start in the power source, aid in getting complete fusion. In many cases the contact
the wire feeder will be equipped with enhanced starting tube will be flush or slightly protruding beyond the end
characteristics, such as a slow start. When the gun trigger of the gas nozzle. This ensures that the proper electrode
is pulled, the wire-feed speed is momentarily slowed to extension can be maintained while allowing the welder a
allow for a more positive start, without producing over- view of the weld pool.
lap, excess convexity, or a cold start. In other cases the
feeder may be equipped with a touch start. This circuit Shielding Gas
detects when the electric circuit is completed for weld- For welding carbon steel with the GMAW-S mode of
ing. In this case when the gun trigger is pulled, the power metal transfer, argon with a balance of carbon dioxide is
source output energizes, the gas solenoid valve opens, but most common. The 75 percent argon and 25 percent CO2
the wire does not feed until the wire comes in contact with or 80 percent argon and 20 percent CO2 are most com-
the work. Once the electrode contacts the work, the circuit mon. When the GMAW-P mode of metal transfer is used,
is completed, the arc is started, and wire begins to feed. 90 percent argon and 10 percent CO2 is popular. Another
This momentary lack of filler metal being added gives the mix that is also used is 98 percent argon and 2 percent
arc time to preheat the metal and make it ready to accept oxygen. Remember it takes at least 80 percent argon in

Gas Metal Arc Welding Practice: Jobs 24-J1–J15 (Pipe)   Chapter 24    793
the shielding gas for a spray (conventional or pulse mode) 371/2° ± 21/2°
to take place. When welding stainless steel with the
GMAW-S mode of metal transfer, a mix of three separate
gases is used. This is often referred to as a “tri-mix” and
consists of 90 percent helium, 71⁄2 percent argon, and 21⁄2
percent CO2. While pulse spray arcs on stainless steel can / ʺ Max.
1 8

/ ʺ Max. Root Face

1 16 Root Opening
be done with the same mixes as used for carbon steel, / ʺ Min.
3 32

high percentages of reactive gases like CO2 and oxygen

should be avoided. For the chrome-moly pipe, mixtures Fig. 24-7  Detail of edge preparation and fitup for ASME code
of CO2 and helium are used. Gas metal arc welding with a work.
silicon bronze filler metal (GMAW-B) on galvanized pipe
is done with 100 percent argon. For aluminum, argon or
argon-helium mixes are used. 30° ± 21/2°

Gas Flow Rate

Be sure that you have the correct regulator and flowme-
ter. The calibrations of such equipment are designed for
specific gases. / ʺ ± 1/32ʺ Root Face
1 16 Root Opening 1/16ʺ+ 1/32ʺ – 0ʺ
The gas flow rate is the key to good gas shielding. A
rate of 15 to 25 cubic feet per hour is adequate in most Fig. 24-8  Detail of edge preparation and fitup for API code
indoor welding situations. When welding on the construc- work.
tion site or inside the shop with the doors open, drafts may
disturb the gas shielding. Increasing the gas flow rate by
5 to 10 cubic feet per hour may have a slightly beneficial A bevel of 371⁄2° is widely used in industry for ASME
effect, but generally it is necessary to erect draft shields Boiler Code welding, Fig. 24-7. The American Petroleum
made from canvas or like material. In some codes, wind Institute (API) code recommends a 30° bevel, but a 371⁄2°
speeds over 5 miles per hour require draft shields. bevel is sometimes used, Fig. 24-8.
Beveling may be done by any suitable means such as
Filler Wire machining, oxyacetylene cutting, abrasive wheel cutting,
Pipe is usually welded with E70S-3 or E80S-B2 filler or cutting on a lathe. Care must be taken with the root
wire. A filler wire diameter of 0.035 inch gives the best face dimension. If the root face is greater than 1⁄16 inch,
results. It enables the welder to control the pool better than adequate penetration cannot be obtained. Some welders
other sizes do and gives him or her more leeway in torch like to use a sharp V-joint (thus a root edge) and increase
manipulation. Adjustment of the power supply is easy. An the root opening. You will recall from your past practice
added advantage of the 0.035-inch diameter wire is that it that the root bead is the most important bead and that
costs somewhat less than 0.030-inch diameter wire. If the proper edge preparation is necessary to ensure good root
welder wishes to use 0.030-inch diameter wire, he or she beads.
may use the same welding procedures, but must increase It is important that the beveled edges and the pipe
the wire-feed speed to obtain the same level of welding within 1 to 3 inches of the joint be free of oil, paint, scale,
current. Filler wires of 3⁄64-inch diameter are available, but rust, and any other foreign material that could cause po-
they are not recommended for all-position short-arc pipe rosity and other contaminants in the weld.
welding. The weld pool tends to be very large and fluid,
and it is hard to manage so that it is difficult to do code Fitup and Tacking
quality work. In setting up the weld joint for work according to the
ASME code, make sure that the root opening is no less
Welding Operations than 3⁄32 inch and no more than 1⁄8 inch to ensure adequate
penetration, Fig. 24-7. On pipeline work according to the
Edge Preparation API code, it is common to use higher currents than in the
The surface of the pipe end must be smooth, and the edge shop. A root opening of 1⁄16 to 3⁄32 inch is used in order to
must be square with the pipe length. A poorly prepared limit excessive melt-through on the inside of the pipe,
pipe end can be the cause of an unsatisfactory weld. Fig. 24-8.

794   Chapter 24   Gas Metal Arc Welding Practice: Jobs 24-J1–J15 (Pipe)
Tack welds should be a minimum of 3⁄4 inch long and good fusion into the groove face as well. Any weld face
preferably about 1 inch long. For highly critical work or weld toe discontinuities should be removed by grind-
welded in the shop, gas tungsten arc welding is often used ing or filing.
for tacking and may be used for the root pass.
Both ends for all tacks should be “feathered” by grind-
ing as shown in Fig. 24-9. There are two important rea- Practice Jobs
sons for feathering: (1) to remove any possible defects in Instructions for Completing
the ends of the tack, and (2) to reduce the mass of metal at Practice Jobs
the ends of the tack and, therefore, ensure good fusion of
Your instructor will assign appropriate practice in the gas
the root bead to the tack. Four tacks are all that are neces-
metal arc welding of pipe from the jobs listed in the Job
sary for diameters up to 12 inches.
Outline, Table 24-2, pages 813–814. Before you begin
Some welding procedures require a backing ring to be
a job, study the specifications given in the Job Outline.
used. In this case the root opening should be not less than
⁄16 inch, and the root edge should be prepared as shown in Then turn to the pages indicated in the Text Reference
Fig. 24-10. This provides for excellent fusion of the root column for that job and study the welding technique
bead to the backing ring. described.
Note that the specifications are basic. Specific materi-
als and techniques vary with the job situation, the results
Interpass Cleaning desired, and the skill of the welder.
You will recall from your previous welding practice that Study Table 24-1, Troubleshooting for the GMAW
it is very important to clean between each pass in mul- Process (p. 796), carefully before you begin welding prac-
tipass welding. Although there will not be a heavy flux tice. Look up, your discontinuities in the table during
deposit to remove, there will be a little dust and a black practice and correct them as instructed before beginning
glassy material in spots on the surface of the bead. This the next job.
material should be removed with a power wire brush.
If the materials are not removed, they will become en- Beading Practice: Jobs 24-J1 and J2
trapped in the weld, causing porosity, and the arc will be
Beading practice around the outside of the pipe is for
the purpose of getting used to changing the position
With either vertical uphill or vertical downhill pro-
of the gun while following the contour around the pipe.
gression techniques the root pass will generally require
The direction of travel should be both downhill and
a good deal of grinding.
When the root pass is
Practice with various electrode extension distances.
being made, little atten-
With an electrode extension of about 1⁄4 inch, you will no-
tion is paid to its weld face tice that the penetration is deep and that you may even
contour. What is being fo- melt through the wall of the pipe. With an electrode ex-
cused on is that good root tension distance of 1⁄2 to 5⁄8 inch, you will notice that the
penetration is occurring on penetration is not as deep. A longer extension will also
Fig. 24-9  Detail of pipe the inside of the pipe. The bridge a gap with less melt-through.
showing “feathered” tack. root pass must also have Take a piece of pipe of the size specified in the Job
Outline. Hold your gun at an angle of 20 to 25° in the
direction of travel (drag angle), Fig. 24-11, page 796, and
371/2° ± 21/2°
make a stringer bead. Start at the 12 o’clock position and
weld downhill to the 3 o’clock position. Reposition the
/ ʺ Min. Root Opening
3 16
pipe by turning it counterclockwise and continue this
until the bead is joined at the starting point. Move over
about 1⁄4 to 3⁄8 inch and make a second bead. Then make a
weave pass between the stringer beads, Fig. 24-12, page
796. Weave the gun and pause at the side of each bead to
permit fusion to take place. This pass is like the second
Backing Ring and third passes in a groove weld or a cap pass.
Repeat this procedure, but weld uphill for both the
Fig. 24-10  Edge preparation and fitup if backing ring is used. stringer and weaved passes. When welding uphill, hold

Gas Metal Arc Welding Practice: Jobs 24-J1–J15 (Pipe)   Chapter 24    795
Table 24-1  Troubleshooting for the GMAW Process

Weld Defects Causes Remedies

  1. Convex bead Arc voltage too low Raise voltage
Electrode extension too long Shorten electrode extension
Oscillation too narrow Widen oscillation
  2. Gross porosity Breeze blowing shielding gas away Erect wind shields
  3. Scattered porosity Failure to remove large islands of silicon Use power wire brush to remove “glass”
“glass” Clean prior to welding
Oil or other foreign material on pipe or
  4. Wagon tracks Failure to remove “glass” from edges of Remove “glass”
previous pass Raise voltage or widen oscillation
Convex root or fill pass
  5. Undercutting in overhead position Voltage too high Lower voltage
Insufficient dwell at edge of bead Increase dwell
Welding current too high Reduce wire-feed speed
  6. Overlapping Welding current and thus disposition rate Lower wire-feed speed
too high Increase forward speed
Welding speed too low Keep arc ahead of pool on base metal
Arc not on leading edge of pool
  7. Excess melt-through in root Root opening too wide Reduce root opening
Oscillate torch
Increase drag angle
  8. Incomplete fusion in root Root opening too narrow Increase root opening
Root face too thick Decrease root face thickness
Arc voltage too high Decrease voltage
  9. Incomplete penetration or Travel speed too slow Speed up travel
“suckback” in overhead position Root opening too wide Decrease root opening
10. Incomplete fusion to ends of tacks Root opening too narrow Increase root opening
Tacks not adequately feathered Feather tacks properly
11. Unstable arc “Glass” left on previous pass Remove “glass”
Voltage too high or too low for amperage Use correct voltage for wire-feed speed
Contact tip clogged Renew contact tip
12. Erratic start Hot start voltage too high Use a hot start voltage of 2 V over welding
voltage for about 1 s

20° to 25°

3 – Weave

Direction of

Fig. 24-11  Position of gun for surfacing or butt joint groove Fig. 24-12  Stringer and weave beads around the outside
welding around the pipe downhill or the pipe can be rolled. surface of a pipe welded in position number 1.

796   Chapter 24   Gas Metal Arc Welding Practice: Jobs 24-J1–J15 (Pipe)
positions in that order). Make
sure that the pipe remains
equally spaced all the way 3/32 Dia. Bare Wire

around. Also make sure that Spacer Wire

tack welds have good pene-
tration and are not too heavy.
Feather them by grinding,
filing, or chiseling until they
are just thick enough to hold
the two pipe nipples together
as the joint is being welded.
See Fig. 24-9, page 795.
Place the pipe axis hori-
zontally and weld the root
pass with the stringer bead
technique. The gun should
Fig. 24-13  Sample of a weaved finish pass on a butt joint in
pipe welded in the roll position.  © Plumbers and Pipefitters Union,
always be on the weld and
Alton, IL the motion is U-shaped. Start
at the 12 o’clock position and
weld downhill to the 3 o’clock
the gun nozzle at a 90° angle to the pipe surface. Start at position. At this point, stop 1/16

about the 2 o’clock position and weld to just beyond the and rotate the pipe in a coun-
12 o’clock position. Here again, experiment with various terclockwise direction until
electrode extensions and with various voltage and amper- the weld crater is again in the
age settings. Be very careful that the weld metal does not 12 o’clock position. Be cer-
pile up and run off. tain to grind the crater and 3/32

Compare the beads with those shown in Fig. 24-13 and feather it. Clip the end of the
inspect them carefully for the usual discontinuities. Pay wire to remove any ball and
particular attention to weld contour, incomplete fusion, to get the proper electrode
spatter, undercut, and surface porosity. extension. Start the arc back Joint Detail
up on the prior root bead 1⁄4 to A = 60° to 75°
⁄2 inch. Let the arc stabilize,
Butt Joint
and then move down into and Fig. 24-14  Setting up and
The butt joint is the most commonly used pipe joint in fuse into the feathered cra- spacing the pipe before tack
welded pipe systems. In the field the welder is called welding. The diameter of the
ter area and continue with spacing wire determines the
upon to weld this joint in all positions, such as 2G, 5G, the root pass. Then repeat root opening.
and 6G. the welding procedure. The
Pressure piping usually requires heavy wall pipe. The electrode extension should
bevel angle is 371⁄2°, and the direction of travel is uphill. be between 1⁄4 and 3⁄8  inch.
Cross-country and distribution piping usually has thinner At certain times it may be
walls. The bevel angle is 30°, and the direction of travel as long as 5⁄8  inch because
is downhill. As in the previous pipe practice, the beveling of the 45° drag angle. The
may be done by flame-cutting or machine cutting. stringer bead should be no
Job 24-J3 will be the welding of a butt joint in pipe more than 1⁄8 inch thick. The Direction of
in the horizontal roll position (1G), travel down, from the root opening often varies.
12 o’clock to the 3 o’clock position. If the opening is wider than
⁄32 inch, it may be necessary
Horizontal Pipe Axis Roll Position: Job 24-J3 to weave the gun slightly,
Root Pass  Select two lengths of pipe of the size and weight Fig. 24-15.
specified in the Job Outline. Set up the two nipples with Be careful when weld- Fig. 24-15  Suggested
the pipe axis vertical as shown in Fig. 24-14 and tack weld ing over a tack. The tack pattern for torch oscillation for
at four equally spaced places (the 12, 6, 3, and 9 o’clock must be completely fused root pass welding downhill.

Gas Metal Arc Welding Practice: Jobs 24-J1–J15 (Pipe)   Chapter 24    797
and become a part of the weld bead. Many welders have
failed qualification tests because of their failure to com-
pletely remelt the tack. As you approach the leading
edge of the tack, position the gun about 20 to 25° from
the perpendicular, Fig. 24-16. As you leave the tack, po-
sition the gun about 45 to 55° from the perpendicular,
Fig. 24-17.
Each time the weld is restarted, it is necessary to “tie-
Carry Weld Pool Slowly to
in” with the previously deposited bead carefully. As you Pipe Bevel Approx.1/4ʺ to 3/8ʺ.
move up into the pool, let the metal wash up against the
sides of the groove, and then move downhill. Also be sure Fig. 24-18  Recommended technique for eliminating crater
to reposition the pipe when stopping the weld. A stop in cracks when welding is stopped in an open joint.
welding a root pass in an open joint can cause shrinkage,
cracks, cavities, and cratering. The weld should be carried
slowly 1⁄4 to 3⁄8 inch onto the pipe bevel wall, Fig. 24-18. However, the crater area must be feathered before a “tie-in”
is attempted.
Inspect the weld carefully for penetration through the
back side (Fig. 24-19) and fusion to the side walls. Grind
20° to 25° the weld face to make sure that it is flat. Grind the toes to
eliminate any undercut or incomplete fusion. The surface
of the weld should be flat, Fig. 24-20. Brush the weld before
applying the next pass.
Filler Pass  Start
the second pass about 2 inches past the
original starting point for the root pass. Begin welding
by moving your gun from side to side, Fig. 24-21. Pause
briefly at each edge of the root pass in order to permit the
Direction of

Fig. 24-16  Gun position at the start on the tack.

45° to 55°

Direction of

Fig. 24-19  Root penetration through the back side of an open

Fig. 24-17  Gun position after leaving the tack at the beginning butt joint welded with the downhill technique.  © Plumbers and
of the root pass. Pipefitters Union, Alton, IL

798   Chapter 24   Gas Metal Arc Welding Practice: Jobs 24-J1–J15 (Pipe)