You are on page 1of 461

Welding Handbook

Seventh Edition, Volume 3

Resistance and Solid-State

Welding and Other Joining
The Five Volumes of the
Welding Handbook, Seventh Edition

1 Fundamentals of Welding

2 Welding Processes-

Arc and Gas Welding and Cutting,

Brazing, and Soldering

3 Welding Processes-

Resistance and Solid-State Welding

and Other Joining Processes

4 Metals and Their Weldabilitya

5 Engineering, Quality Assurance,

and Safe Practicesb

a. Scheduled to replace Sec. 4, 6th Ed., in 1982.

b. Scheduled to replace Sec. 5, 6th Ed., in 1984.
Welding Handbook
Seventh Edition, Volume 3

Resistance and Solid-State Welding

and Other Joining Processes

W. H. Kearns, Editor


2501 Northwest 7th Street
Miami, Florida 33125

European Edition Distributed by

London and Basingstoke
Published in the U.K. and distributed in Europe 1980 by
London and Basingstoke

ISBN 978-1-349-04963-9 ISBN 978-1-349-04961-5 (eBook)

DOI 10.1007/978-1-349-04961-5

American Welding Society, 2501 N. W. 7th Street, Miami, FL 33125

© 1980 by American Welding Society.

All rights reserved.
Softcover reprint of the hardcover 7th edition 1980

Note: By publication of this handbook, the American Welding Society does not
insure anyone utilizing this handbook against liability arising from the use of such
handbook. A publication of a handbook by the American Welding Society does not
carry with it the right to make, use, or sell patented items. Each prospective user
should make an independent investigation.

Welding Handbook Committee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix

Preface.............................................................. xi

Chapter 1, Spot, Seam, and Projection Welding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Fundamentals of the Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Surface Preparation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Spot Welding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Seam Welding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Projection Welding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Metals Welded . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Weld Quality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
Quality Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
Safety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Supplementary Reading List . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55

Chapter 2, Flash, Upset, and Percussion Welding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57

Flash Welding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
Upset Welding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
Percussion Welding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
Safety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
Supplementary Reading List . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90

Chapter 3, Resistance Welding Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
Spot and Projection Welding Machines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
Roll Spot and Seam Welding Machines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
Flash and Upset Welding Machines .................................... 105
Resistance Welding Controls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
Electrical Characteristics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120
Electrodes and Holders ............................................. 124
Power Supply ..................................................... 138
Safety ........................................................... 140
Supplementary Reading List ......................................... 143


Chapter 4, High Frequency Welding ..................................... 145

Fundamentals of the Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146
Process Variations ................................................. 150
Advantages and Limitations .......................................... 153
Applications .................................................... .. 154
Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158
Welding Procedures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162
Weld Quality .................................................... . 163
Safety .................................................... ....... 165
Supplementary Reading List . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167

Chapter 5, Electron Beam Welding ...................................... 169

Fundamentals of the Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170
Characteristics of Welds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177
Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
Welding Procedures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196
Selection of Welding Variables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199
Metals Welded .................................................... 20 I
Applications .................................................... .. 204
Weld Quality .................................................... . 206
Safe Practices .................................................... . 213
Supplementary Reading List . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 215

Chapter 6, Laser Beam Welding and Cutting .............................. 217

Fundamentals of the Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 218
Laser Welding .................................................... 223
Laser Beam Cutting and Drilling ...................................... 232
Safety .................................................... ....... 236
Supplementary Reading List ......................................... 238

Chapter 7, Friction Welding ............................................ 239

Fundamentals of the Process ......................................... 240
Friction Welding Machines .......................................... 246
Welding Procedures ................................................ 253
Weld Quality .................................................... . 255
Applications .................................................... .. 257
Safety .................................................... ....... 258
Supplementary Reading List . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 261

Chapter 8, Explosion Welding .......................................... 263

Fundamentals of the Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 264
Applications .................................................... .. 268
Welding Procedures ................................................ 272
Process Variables .................................................. 273
Joint Quality .................................................... .. 274


Safety .................................................... ....... 277

Supplementary Reading List ......................................... 278

Chapter 9, Ultrasonic Welding .......................................... 279

Fundamentals .................................................... . 280
General Applications ............................................... 284
Equipment .................................................... ... 289
Joining Procedures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 296
Process Variables .................................................. 298
Weld Quality .................................................... . 300
Safety .................................................... ....... 309
Supplementary Reading List . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 310

Chapter 10, Diffusion Welding and Brazing ............................... 311

Fundamentals of the Processes ........................................ 312
Surface Preparation ................................................ 316
Diffusion Welding ................................................. 317
Diffusion Brazing .................................................. 324
Applications .................................................... .. 325
Inspection .................................................... .... 334
Supplementary Reading List ......................................... 335

Chapter 11, Adhesive Bonding of Metals .................................. 337

Fundamentals of the Process ......................................... 338
Adhesives .................................................... .... 344
Joint Design .................................................... .. 350
Sandwich Construction ............................................. 355
Surface Preparation ................................................ 356
Assembly and Cure ................................................ 358
Quality Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 361
Safe Practices .................................................... . 363
Supplementary Reading List . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 365

Chapter 12, Thermal Spraying .......................................... 367

Fundamentals of the Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 368
Flame Spraying ................................................... 369
Plasma Spraying ................................................... 372
Arc Spraying .................................................... . 375
Detonation Flame Spraying .......................................... 377
Preparation for Spraying ............................................ 378
Fused Spray Deposits ............................................... 379
Post-Treatments ................................................... 381
Surface Finishing .................................................. 382
Quality Control ................................................... 383
Properties .................................................... .... 384


Applications .................................................... .. 388

Safety .................................................... ....... 390
Supplementary Reading List ......................................... 393

Chapter 13, Other Welding Processes .................................... 395

Thennit Welding .................................................. 396
Cold Welding .................................................... . 405
Hot Pressure Welding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 416
Carbon Arc Welding ................................................ 427
Bare Metal Welding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430
Atomic Hydrogen Welding .......................................... 431
Supplementary Reading List ......................................... 432

Index of Major Subjects ................................................. 433

Index .................................................... ............ 445

Welding Handbook Committee

W. L. Wilcox, Chairman Scott Paper Company

J. R. Condra, Vice-Chairman E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company
W. H. Kearns, Secretary American Welding Society
I. G. Betz Department of the Army
R. L. Frohlich Westinghouse Electric Corporation
J. R. Hannahs Bowser-Morner Testing Laboratories
A. F. Manz Union Carbide Corporation
A. W. Pense* Lehigh University
L. J. Privoznik Westinghouse Electric Corporation
D. D.Rager Reynolds Metals Company
R. E. Somers Welding Consultant

*Term expired May 31, 1979


This is the third of five volumes planned for the Seventh Edition of the Welding Hand-
book. Volume I, Fundamentals ofWelding, was published in I976. It contains much of the
basic information on welding, including the physics of welding, heat flow, welding metal-
lurgy, testing, residual stresses, and distortion. Volume 2, Welding Processes-Arc and
Gas Welding and Cutting, Brazing, and Soldering, was published in I978. In addition to
the subjects named in the title, that Volume covers electroslag and electrogas welding, stud
welding, surfacing, and arc welding power sources.
Volume 3 covers the newer welding processes as well as resistance welding, thermal
spraying, and adhesive bonding. Certain other processes that have rather limited appli-
cations are also included. Volumes 2 and 3 of the Seventh Edition include all of the processes
originally discussed in Sections 2, 3A, and 3B ofthe Sixth Edition.
Some of the material in Section I of the Sixth Edition has not yet been covered in the
Seventh Edition. Consequently, this Section should be retained, as well as Sections 4 and
5 of that Edition. Safe practices for welding, cutting, brazing, and soldering is one very
important subject discussed in Section I, Sixth Edition. That subject is handled differently
in this Edition. Safety considerations for each process are included in the respective chapter.
The material on safety in the chapters is not all-inclusive. The reader should determine for
himself the safe practices that are adequate and appropriate for each of the processes.
An index of major subjects precedes the index for this volume. It enables a reader to
quickly locate the current information on major subjects in both the Sixth and the Seventh
Metric equivalents in this volume are handled in a manner different from that used in
Volumes 1 and 2. Appropriate conversion factors have been placed at the end of each chapter
in this volume instead of the arbitrary conversion of US Standard units to SI units and the
dual dimensioning used previously. The Welding Handbook Committee considered that
information in the Handbook would be presented better if it were given in units of the
particular system in which the measurements themselves were taken or reported. The in-
formation may be converted to units in the system other than the one shown by using the
appropriate conversion factors.
This volume was a voluntary effort by the Welding Handbook Committee and the
Chapter Committees. The Chapter Committee Members and the Handbook Committee
Member responsible for a chapter are recognized on the title page of that chapter. Other
individuals also contributed in a variety of ways, particularly in chapter reviews. All par-
ticipants contributed generously of their time and talent, and the American Welding Society
expresses herewith its appreciation to them and to their employers for supporting the work.
The Welding Handbook Committee expresses its appreciation to Richard French,
Patricia Hoel, and Hallock Campbell for their assistance in the production of this volume.
The Welding Handbook Committee welcomes your comments on the Handbook.
Please address them to the Editor, Welding Handbook, American Welding Society, 2501
N.W. 7th Street, Miami, FL 33125.

W L. Wilcox, Chairman W H. Keams, Editor

Welding Handbook Committee Welding Handbook

Spot, Seam, and Projection Welding
Fundamentals of the Processes . . . . . . . . . . 2 Projection Welding ................... 28
Equipment .......................... 11 Metals Welded ....................... 38
Surface Preparation ................... 14 Weld Quality ........................ 43
Spot Welding ........................ 76 Quality Control ...................... 47
Seam Welding ....................... 23 Safety ............................. . 53
Supplementary Reading List ............ 55

Chapter Committee

W. G. EMAUS, Chairman A. E. LOHRBER

Anderson Automation, Inc. Swift-Ohio Corporation
Weltronic Company Taylor-Winfield Corporation
Centerline (Windsor) Ltd. Newcor, Inc.
KirkhofTransformer Division,
FLX Corporation

Welding Handbook Committee Members

Union Carbide Corporation Reynolds Metals Company

Spot, Seam, and
Projection Welding
DEFINITION AND A series of separate spot welds may be
GENERAL DESCRIPTION made with a seam welding machine and wheel
electrodes by suitably adjusting the travel speed
Spot, seam, and projection welding are and the time between welds. Movement of the
three resistance welding processes in which work may or may not be stopped during the
coalescence of metals is produced at the faying spot weld cycle. This procedure is known as
surfaces by the heat generated at the joint by the
roll spot welding.
resistance of the work to the flow of electric
current. Force is always applied before, during,
and after the application of current to prevent
arcing at the faying surfaces and, in some appli- Spot, seam, and projection welding opera-
cations, to forge the weld metal during postheat- tions involve a coordinated application of electric
ing. Generally, melting occurs at the faying current and mechanical pressure of the proper
surface during weld time. Figure 1.1 Illustrates magnitudes and durations. The welding current
the three processes. must pass from the electrodes through the work.
In spot welding, a nugget' of weld metal is Its continuity is assured by forces applied to the
produced at the electrode site, but two or more electrodes or projections which are shaped to
nuggets may be made simultaneously using provide· the necessary current density and pres-
multiple sets of electrodes. Projection welding sure. The sequence of operation must first de-
is similar except that nugget location is deter- velop sufficient heat to raise a confined volume
mined by a projection or embossment on one of metal to the molten state. This metal then
faying surface, or by the intersection of parts in cools while under pressure until it has adequate
the case of wires or rods (cross-wire welding). strength to hold the parts together. The current
Two or more projection welds can be made density and pressure must be such that a nugget
simultaneously with one set of electrodes. is formed but not so high that molten metal is ex-
Seam welding is a variation of spot welding pelled from the weld zone. The time of current
in which a series of overlapping nuggets is pro- flow (weld time) must be sufficiently short to
duced to obtain a continuous gastight seam. One prevent excessive heating of the electrode faces.
or both electrodes are generally wheels that Such heating can bond the electrodes to the work
rotate as the work passes between them. A seam and greatly reduce their life.
weld can be produced with spot welding equip- The heat required for these resistance weld-
ment but the operation will be much slower. ing processes is produced by the resistance to
the passage of electric current through the work-
I. A nugget is the weld metal joining the parts in spot, pieces. Because of the short electric current
seam, and projection welds. path in the work and limited weld time, high

Fundamentals ofthe Process /3


Electrodes or
Electrodes or
.-..-----......w•ld• ~

Before we lding
Spot welding Seam welding welding
Projection welding
Fig. 1.1-Spot, seam, and pTojection welding pTocesses

welding currents are required to develop the the circuit regardless of the instantaneous resis-
necessary welding heat. tance at any location in the circuit, but the heat
generated at any location will be directly propor-
Heat Generation tional to the resistance at that point.
In an electrical conductor, the amount of An important characteristic of resistance
heat generated depends upon three factors : (l) welding is the rapidity with which welding heat
the amperage, (2) the resistance of the conduc- can be produced. The temperature distribution
tor, and (3) the time of current flow. These three in the work and electrode tips in the case of spot,
factors affect the heat generated as expressed in seam, and projection welding is illustrated in Fig.
the formula 1.2. There are , in effect, at least seven resis-
tances connected in series in a weld that account
Q = J2Rt for the temperature distribution. For a two-
thickness joint, these are:
Q = heat generated, joules
(l) 1 and 7, the electrical resistance of the
I = current, amperes
electrode material.
R = resistance of the work, ohms
(2) 2 and 6, the contact resistance between
t = time of current flow, seconds
the electrode and the base metal. The magnitude
The heat generated is proportional to the of this resistance depends upon the surface con-
square of the welding current and directly pro- dition of the base metal and the electrode, the
portional to the resistance and the time. Part of size and contour of the electrode face, and the
the heat generated is used to make the weld and electrode force . (Resistance is roughly inversely
part is lost to the surrounding metal. proportional to the contacting force .) This is a
The welding current required to produce a point of high heat generation , but the surface of
given weld is approximately inversely propor- the base metal does not reach the fusion tem-
tional to the square root of the time. Thus, if the perature during the current passage due to the
time is extremely short, the current required will high thermal conductivity of the electrodes (1
be very high. A combination of high current and and 7) and the fact that they are usually water-
short time may produce an undesirable distribu- cooled.
tion of heat in the weld zone, resulting in severe (3) 3 and 5, the total resistance of the base
surface melting and rapid electrode deterioration. metal itself, which is directly proportional to its
The secondary circuit of a resistance weld- resistivity and thickness, and inversely prc;;>por-
ing machine and the work being welded are a tional to the cross-sectional area of the current
series of resistances , and the arithmetical total of path.
the resistance path affects the flow of current. (4) 4, the base metal interface is the loca-
The current flow will be the same in all parts of tion of weld formation. This is the point of


At end of

of weld time

__;..~~~-~-..;;;-;...;-;.~_ -- - - - - _~,....: _.,._.!0'-o

- - - - - - - - - _L
- ....
__ - - - - - - - - L ___ _
Welding I Initial
temperature~ temperature

Water Temperature

Fig. 1.2-Temperature distribution at various locations during spot, seam,

and projection welding

highest resistance and, therefore, the point of

greatest heat generation. Also, since heat is
generated at points 2 and 6, the heat generated / ~ """' '
at this interface is not readily lost to the elec- / \
trodes. /
Heat is generated at all of these locations,
not at the base metal interface alone. The flow of
heat to or from the base metal interface is gov-
I \
erned by the temperature gradient established by 1\
the resistance heating of the various components \
Expulsion begins....l
in the circuit. This in turn assists or retards the
creation ofthe proper localized welding heat.
Heat will be generated in each of the seven
locations in Fig. 1.2 in proportion to the resis-
tance of each. Welding heat, however, i.s required
' Current

only at the base metal interface, and the heat Fig. 1.3-Effect of welding current on
generated at all other locations should be mini- spot weld shear strength
mized. Since the greatest resistance is located at ing temperature is indicated by the vertical dotted
4, heat is most rapidly developed at that loca- line. In a well-controlled weld, the welding tem-
tion. Points of next lower resistance are 2 and 6. perature will first be reached at numerous point
The temperature rises rapidly at these points also, contacts at the interface that melt and quickly
but not as fast as at 4. After about 20 percent grow into a nugget with time.
of the weld time, the heat gradient may conform Factors that affect the amount of heat gener-
to the profile shown in Fig. 1.2. Heat generated ated in the weld by a given current for a unit of
at 2 and 6 is rapidly dissipated into the adjacent weld time are: (l) the electrical resistances of
water-cooled electrodes I and 7. The heat at 4 is the metal being welded and the electrodes, (2)
dissipated much more slowly into the base metal. the contact resistances between the workpieces
Therefore, as the welding current continues to and between the electrodes and the workpieces,
flow, the rate of temperature rise at plane 4 will and (3) the heat loss to the workpieces and the
be much more rapid than at 2 and 6. The weld- electrodes.
Fundamentals of the Process /5

Effect of Welding Current. In the formula,

Q = f2 Rt, current has a greater effect on the gen-
_J L-.......
eration of heat than either resistance or time.
Therefore, it is an important variable to be con- ,...-
trolled. Two factors that cause variation in weld-
ing current are (I) fluctuations in power line i
voltage and (2) variations in the impedance of
the secondary circuit with ac machines. Imped- .c
b., I I
ance variations are caused by changes in circuit c:: I
~ Optimum
geometry or by the introduction of varying t:
masses of magnetic metals into the secondary ~
Vi I I
loop of the machine. Direct current machines
are not significantly affected by magnetic metals
in the secondary loop and are little affected by i II
circuit geometry. In addition to variations in
welding current magnitude, current density may
vary at the weld interface. This can result from
shunting of current through preceding welds and
contact points other than at the weld. Increase in Weld t1me
electrode face area or projection size in the case Fig. 1.4-Relationship between weld
of projection welding will decrease current time and spot weld shear strength
density and welding heat. This may cause a sig-
nificant decrease in weld strength. The temperature distribution curves in Fig.
A minimum current density flowing for a I. 2 show that the temperatures at the seven lo-
finite time is required to produce fusion at the cations are increasing with time. Some mini-
interface. Sufficient heat must be generated to mum time is required to reach melting tempera-
overcome the losses to the adjacent base metal ture at some suitable current density. If current
and the electrodes. Weld nugget size and strength flow is continued, the temperature at plane 4 will
increase rapidly with increasing current density. far exceed the melting temperature, and the in-
Excessive current density will cause weld metal ternal pressure may expel weld metal from the
expulsion, cavitation, weld cracking, and lower joint. Generated gases or metal vapor may cause
mechanical strength properties. Typical varia- the expulsion of minute metal particles, called
tions in shear strength of spot welds as a func- "spitting." If the work surfaces are scaly or
tion of current magnitude are shown in Fig. 1.3. pitted, the same thing may happen at 2 and 6.
In the case of spot and seam welding, excessive Excessively long weld time will have the same
current will (I) overheat the base metal and result effect of excessive amperage on the base metal
in deep indentations in the parts and (2) cause and electrodes. Furthermore, the weld heat-
overheating and rapid deterioration of the elec- affected zone will extend farther into the base
trodes. metal. In most cases, the heat losses at some
Effect of Weld Time. The rate of heat genera- point during an extended welding interval will
tion must be such that welds with adequate equal the heat input; temperatures will stabilize.
strength will be produced without excessive An example of the relationship between weld
electrode heating and rapid deterioration. The time and spot weld shear strength is shown
total heat developed is proportional to weld time. in Fig. 1.4, all other conditions remaining
Essentially, heat is lost by conduction into the constant.
surrounding base metal and the electrodes; a To a certain extent, weld time and am-
very small amount is lost by radiation. These perage may be complementary. The total heat
losses increase with increases in weld time and may be changed by adjusting either the amperage
temperature of the metal, but they are essentially or the weld time. Heat transfer is a function of
uncontrollable. time, and the development of the proper nugget

size requires a minimum length of time, regard- which the contact resistance remains uniform at
less of amperage. room temperature. In most applications, the elec-
When spot welding heavy plates, welding trode material is softer than the workpieces.
current is commonly applied in several relatively Consequently, the application of a suitable
short impulses without removal of electrode electrode force will produce better contact at the
force. The purpose of pulsing the current is to electrode-to-work interfaces than at the interface
gradually build up the heat at the interface be- between the workpieces.
tween the workpieces. The amperage needed to Influence of Electrodes. Electrodes play a
accomplish welding can rapidly melt the metal vital role in the generation of heat because they
if the heat time is too long, resulting in expul- conduct the welding current to the work. In the
sion (spitting). Welding temperature can best be case of spot and seam welding, the electrode
achieved in thick plates of moderate thermal contact area largely controls the welding current
conductivity such as steels by a series of heat density and the resulting weld size. Electrodes
pulses. must have good electrical conductivity, but they
Effect of Welding Pressure. The resistance R must also have adequate strength and hardness
in the heat equation is influenced by welding to resist deformation caused by repeated appli-
pressure through its effect on contact resistance cations of high electrode force. Deformation or
at the interface between the workpieces. Weld- "mushrooming" of the electrode face increases
ing pressure is produced by the force exerted on the contact area and decreases both current den-
the weld by the electrodes. Electrode force is con- sity and welding pressure. Weld quality will de-
sidered to be the net dynamic force of the elec- teriorate as tip deformation proceeds. Conse-
trodes upon the work, and i't is the resultant quently, the electrodes must be reshaped or
pressure produced by this force that affects the replaced at intervals to maintain adequate heat
contact resistance. generation for acceptable weld properties.
Pieces to be spot, seam, or projection When the electrodes are slow in following
welded must be clamped tightly together at the a sudden decrease in total work thickness, a
weld location to enable the passage of the current. momentary reduction in pressure will occur. If
Electrode force has a significant effect on the this happens while the welding current is flowing,
total resistance between the electrodes and, interface contact resistance and the rate of heat
therefore, the amperage flowing through the generation will increase. An excessive heating
weld. Everything else being equal, as the elec- rate at the contacting surfaces tends to cause
trode force or welding pressure is increased, the overheating and violent expulsion of molten
amperage will also increase up to some limiting metal. Molten metal is retained by a ring of un-
value. The effect on the total heat generated, fused metal surrounding the weld nugget at the
however, may be the reverse. As the pressure is interfaces. A momentary reduction in electrode
increased, the contact resistance and the heat force permits the internal metal pressure to rup-
generated at the interface will decrease. To in- ture this surrounding ring of unfused metal. In-
crease the heat to the previous level, amperage ternal voids or excessive electrode indentation
or weld time must be increased to compensate may occur. Weld properties may fall below ac-
for the reduced resistance. ceptable levels and electrode wear will be greater
The surfaces of metal components are a than normal.
series of peaks and valleys on a macroscopic Influence of Surface Condition. The surface
scale. When they are subjected to light pressure, condition of the parts influences heat generation
the actual metal-to-metal contact will be only at because contact resistance is affected by oxides,
the contacting peaks, a small percentage of the dirt, oil, and other foreign matter on the sur-
area. Contact resistance will be high. As the faces. The most uniform weld properties are
pressure is increased, the high spots are de- obtained when the surfaces are clean.
pressed and the actual metal-to-metal contact The welding of parts with a nonuniform
area is increased, thus decreasing the contact coating of oxides, scale, or other foreign matter
resistance. There is a limiting pressure above on the surfaces causes variations in contact re-
Fundamentals of the Process /7

quently, the heat loss into the electrodes and

surrounding metal is greater with aluminum. Be-
Water-cooled copper cause of these factors, the welding current for
alloy electrode
aluminum must be considerably greater than that
for stainless steel.
Base Heat Balance
Heat balance occurs when the depths of
Base fusion (penetration) in the workpieces are approx-
metal imately the same. The majority of spot and seam
welding applications are confined to the welding
of two equal thicknesses of the same metal with
Water-cooled copper
electrodes of the same alloy, shape, and size.
alloy electrode Heat balance in these cases is automatic. How-
ever, in many applications, the heat generated in
the parts is unbalanced.
Heat balance may be affected by:
(I) Relative electrical and thermal conduc-
Fig. 1.5-Heat flow from spot, seam, and tivities of the metals to be joined
projection welds (2) Relative geometry of the parts at the
(3) Thermal and electrical conductivities of
sistance. This produces inconsistencies in heat the electrodes
generation. Heavy scale on the work surfaces (4) Geometry of the electrodes
may also become embedded in the electrode Heating will be unbalanced when welding
faces, causing rapid electrode deterioration. Oil pieces of significantly different compositions,
and grease will pick up dirt which also will con- different thicknesses, or both. The unbalance can
tribute to electrode deterioration. be minimized in many cases by part design,
Influence of Metal Composition. The electrical electrode material and design, or projection
resistivity of a metal directly influences resis- location in the case of projection welding. Heat
tance heating during welding. In high-conduc- balance can also be improved by using the short-
tivity metals such as silver and copper, little heat est weld time and lowest current that will pro-
is developed even under high current densities. duce acceptable welds.
The small amount of heat generated is rapidly
transmitted into the surrounding work and the
Heat Dissipation
The composition of a metal determines its During welding, heat is lost by conduction
specific heat, melting temperature, latent heat into the adjacent base metal and the electrodes
of fusion, and thermal conductivity. These prop- as shown in Fig. 1.5. This heat dissipation con-
erties are related to the amount of heat required tinues at varying rates during current application
to melt the metal and produce a weld. The and afterward until the weld has cooled to room
amounts of heat necessary to raise unit masses temperature. It may be divided into two phases:
of most commercial metals to the fusion tem- (I) during the time of current application and (2)
perature are very nearly the same. For example, after the cessation of current flow. The extent of
stainless steel and aluminum require the same the first phase depends upon the composition and
Btu's per pound to reach fusion temperature, mass of the workpieces, the welding time, and
even though they differ widely in spot welding the external cooling means. The composition and
characteristics. The electrical and thermal con- mass of the workpieces are determined by the
ductivities of aluminum are about ten times design. External cooling depends upon the weld-
greater than those of stainless steel. Conse- ing setup and the welding cycle.
Squeeze Squeeze
times b
Solenoid valve
coil voltage
Squeeze+ Weld --1- Hold -+-1---- Off ---~-Squeeze+Weld

a. Machine operating time

b. Welding process "times" differ from timer "times" due to machine operating time
Fig. 1.6-Basic welding cycle for spot and projection welding

The heat generated by a given amperage is solidify the large weld nugget while under pres-
inversely proportional to the electrical conduc- sure. It is usually best, therefore, to have the
tivity of the base metal. The thermal conduc- electrodes in contact with the work until the weld
tivity and temperature of the base metal deter- cools to a temperature where it is strong enough
mine the rate at which heat is dissipated or to sustain any loading imposed when the pressure
conducted from the weld zone.2 In most cases, is released.
the thermal and electrical conductivities of a The cooling time for a seam weld nugget
metal are similar. In a high-conductivity metal, is short when the electrodes are rotated contin-
such as copper or silver, high amperage is needed uously. Therefore, welding is commonly done
to generate the heat that is dissipated rapidly into with water flowing over the workpieces to. re-
the adjacent base metal and the electrodes. Spot, move the heat as rapidly as possible.
seam, and projection welding of these metals are It is not always good practice to cool the
very difficult. weld zone too rapidly. With quench-hardenable
If the electrodes remain in contact with the alloy steels, it is usually best to retract the elec-
work after current flow ceases, they rapidly cool trodes as quickly as possible to minimize heat
the weld nugget. The rate of heat dissipation dissipation to the electrodes and, thus, the cool-
into the surrounding base metal decreases with ing rate of the weld.
longer welding times because a larger volume of
base metal is heated. This reduces the tempera- WELDING CYCLE
ture gradient between the base metal and the
The welding cycle for spot, seam, and pro-
weld nugget. For thick sheets of metal where
jection welding consists basically of four phases:
long welding times are generally employed, the
(I) Squeeze time-the time interval between
cooling rates will be slower than with thin sheets
timer initiation and the first application of cur-
and short weld times.
rent. This time interval is to assure that the elec-
If the electrodes are removed from the weld
trodes contact the work and apply a force before
too quickly after the welding current is turned
welding current is applied.
off, problems may result. With thin sheets, this
(2) Weld time-the time that welding cur-
procedure may cause excessive warpage. With
rent is applied to the work in making a weld in
thick sheets, adequate time is needed to cool and
single-impulse welding.
2. Heat flow in welding is discussed in the Welding (3) Hold time-the time during which force
Handbook, Vol. I, 7th ed.: 80-98. is maintained to the work after after the last im-
Fundamentals of the Process /9

-- --
Initial current
l l

Upslope time -1 Downslope_l+-----+1


1+----- Weld interval heat time------o..j.--

1+-----------Weld interval-------------+!

Fig. 1.7-Multiple-impulse welding with slope control and postheat

pulse of current ceases to flow. During this time, WELDING CURRENT

the weld nugget solidifies and is cooled until it
has adequate strength.
(4) Off time-the time during which the Both alternating current (ac) and direct cur-
electrodes are off the work and the work is moved rent (de) are used to produce spot, seam, and
to the next weld location. The term is generally projection welds. The welding machine trans-
applied where the welding cycle is repetitive. forms line power to low voltage, high amperage
Figure 1.6 shows a basic welding cycle. welding power. Most applications use single-
One or more of the following features may be phase ac of the same frequency as the power
added to this basic cycle to improve the physical line, usually 60 Hz. Direct current is used for
and mechanical properties of the weld zone: applications that require high amperage because
(l) Precompression force to seat the elec- the load can be balanced on a 3-phase power
trodes and workpieces together line. Its use also reduces the power losses in
(2) Preheat to reduce the thermal gradient secondary circuit. Direct current flow may be
in the metal at the start of weld time essentially constant for a timed period or in the
(3) Forging force to consolidate the weld form of a high-peaked pulse. The latter is
nugget normally produced from stored electrical energy.
(4) Quench and temper to produce the de-
Current Programming
sired weld strength properties in hardenable
alloy steels With direct energy machines, the rate of
(5) Postheat to refine the weld grain size in current rise and fall can be programmed. The
steels current rise period is commonly called upslope
In some applications, the welding current is time and the current fall period is called down-
supplied intermittently during a weld interval slope time (see Fig. 1. 7). These features are
time; it flows during heat time and ceases during available on machines equipped with electronic
cool time, as shown in Fig. 1.7. control systems.

1---- Preweld----1+---- Weld------<~-----<~Postweld

process times


Electrode force

Solenoid valve
Forge solenoid

valve voltage
Preheat -+---
pression ----+-~----~


Timer functions pression

and times

Y - Machine operating time

1 - Heat Weld interval
2 -Cool

Note. When weld delay is required, it occurs before the start of weld time;
forge delay time then will be initiated at the beginning of weld delay time.
Both preheat and weld delay are not used in the same sequence.

Fig. 1.8-A complex weld cycle-multiple impulse

Upslope is generally used to avoid over- interval, as shown in Fig. 1.7, or a separate appli-
heating and expulsion of metal at the beginning cation of current following a quench time period.
of weld time when the base metal interface re-
sistance is high. Downslope is used to control
weld nugget solidification to avoid cracking in
metals that are quench-hardenable or subject to The time of current application or weld time
hot tearing. for other than stored energy power is controlled
Prior to welding, the base metal can be by electronic, mechanical, manual, or pneumatic
preheated using a low current flow. Following means. Times commonly range from one half
the formation of the weld nugget, the current can cycle (60Hz) for very thin sheets to several sec-
be reduced to some lower value for postheating onds for thick plates. For the capacitor or mag-
of the weld zone. This may be part of the weld netic type of stored energy machines, the weld
Equipment /ll

time is determined by the electrical constant of mechanical devices. The pressure developed at
the system. the interfaces depends upon the area of the
electrode faces in contact with the workpieces.
Single-Impulse Welding
The functions of this force or pressure are to (1)
The use of one continuous application of bring the various interfaces into intimate contact,
current to make an individual weld is called (2) reduce initial contact resistance at the inter-
single-impulse welding (see Fig. 1.6). Up or faces, (3) suppress the expulsion of molten weld
down current slope may be included in the time metal from the joint, and (4) consolidate the
period. weld nugget.
Forces may be applied during the welding
Multiple-Impulse Welding
cycle as follows:
Multiple-impulse welding consists of two or (I) A constant weld force.
more pulses of current separated by a preset cool (2) Precompression and weld forces-a
time (see Fig. 1.7). The basic application of this high initial level to reduce initial contact resis-
sequence is for spot welding relatively thick steel tance and bring the parts into intimate contact,
sheet to control the rate of heating at the interface. followed by a lower level for welding.
(3) Precompression, weld, and forging
forces-the first two levels as described in (2)
followed by a forging force near the end of the
Completion of the electrical circuit through weld time. Forging is used to reduce porosity and
the electrodes and the work is assured by the hot cracking in the weld nugget. This combina-
application of electrode force. This force is pro- tion is shown in Fig. 1.8.
duced by hydraulic, pneumatic, magnetic, or (4) Weld and forging forces.

Spot, seam, and projection welding equip- Alternating Current
ment consist of three basic elements: an electrical
circuit, the control equipment, and a mechanical Most resistance welding machines produce
system.' single-phase alternating current (ac) of the same
frequency as the power line, usually 60Hz. The
ELECTRICAL CIRCUIT machine contains a single-phase transformer that
provides the high welding currents required at a
This consists of a welding transformer, low voltage, normally in the range of I to 25
a primary contactor, and a secondary circuit. volts. Depending upon the thickness and type of
The secondary circuit includes the electrodes material to be welded, currents may range from
that conduct the welding current to the work and 1000 to 100 000 amperes. The typical electrical
the work itself. In some cases, a means of storing circuit design for this type of machine is shown
electrical energy is also used in the circuit. Both in Fig. 1.9.
alternating current and direct current are used for
Direct Current
resistance welding. The welding machine con-
verts 60Hz line power to low voltage, high am- Welding machines may produce direct cur-
perage power in the secondary circuit of the rent of continuous polarity, pulses of current of
welding machine. alternating polarity, or high-peaked pulses of
current. The latter type is produced by stored
3. Resistance welding equipment is covered inCh. 13. electrical energy.

Welding Horn

Contactor r - -,

Single Horn
phase power spacing

Throat area

Fig. 1.9-Typical single-phase spot welding circuit

Rectifier Type Machines. These machines are over a relatively long time between welds, de-
direct energy type in that ac power from the plant livering it to the electrodes during a short weld
distribution system passes through a welding time.
transformer and is then rectified to de power. The equipment for electrostatic stored en-
Silicon diode rectifiers are widely used in the ergy welding consists primarily of a bank of
secondary circuit because of their inherent relia- capacitors, a circuit for charging these capacitors
bility and efficiency. The system can be single to a predetermined voltage, and a system for
phase. However, one of the advantages of direct discharging the capacitors through a suitable
current systems is the ability to use a three-phase welding transformer. High voltage capacitors
transformer to feed the rectifier system in the are generally used, the most common varying
secondary circuit. This makes it possible to use from 1500 to 3000 volts.
balanced three-phase line power.

Frequency Converter Machines. This type of Electrodes

machine has a special welding transformer with Resistance welding electrodes• perform
a three-phase primary and a single-phase sec- four functions:
ondary. The primary current flow is controlled (I) Conduct the welding current to the work
by ignitron tubes or silicon-controlled rectifiers and, with spot and seam welding, determine the
(SCRs). Half cycles of three-phase power, either current density in the weld zone. In projection
positive or negative, are conducted to the trans- welding, the current density is determined by
former for a timed period that depends upon the the size, shape, and number of projections.
transformer design. The transformer output is a (2) Transmit a force to the workpieces.
pulse of direct current. By switching the polarity (3) Dissipate part of the heat from the weld
oft he primary half cycles, the polarity of the sec- zone.
ondary current is reversed. A weld may be made (4) Maintain relative alignment and posi-
with one or more de pulses. tion of the workpieces in projection welding.
Stored Energy Machines. Stored energy ma- If the application of pressure were not in-
chines are of electrostatic design. They draw volved, electrode material selection could be
power from a single-phase system, store it, and
then suddenly discharge it to make the weld. 4. Resistance welding electrodes are discussed more
These machines draw power from the supply fully inCh. 3.

made almost entirely on the basis of electrical (I) Initiate and terminate the flow of current
and thermal conductivity. Since the electrodes to the welding transformer
are subjected to forces that are often of consider- (2) Control the magnitude ofthe current
able magnitude, they must be capable of with- (3) Actuate and release the electrode force
standing the imposed stresses at elevated temper- mechanism at the proper times
atures without excessive deformation. Proper They may be divided into three groups
electrode shape is important because the current based on their functions: welding contactors,
must be confined to a fixed area to achieve timing and sequencing controls, other current
needed current density. controls and regulators.
When only one spot or seam weld is to be The welding contactor connects and dis-
made at a time, only one pair of electrodes is connects the primary power to the welding trans-
required. In this case, the force and current are former. It may be mechanical, magnetic, or
applied to each weld by shaped electrodes. Sev- electronic in operation. Mechanical contactors
eral closely spaced projection welds can be made are operated with a foot pedal or a motor-driven
with one pair of welding dies (electrodes). cam. Magnetic contactors are actuated by an
Electrodes of several copper alloys with electromagnet operating against a spring and
satisfactory physical and mechanical properties gravity that open the contactor when the electro-
are available commercially. Generally speaking, magnet is de-energized. Electronic contactors
the harder the alloy, the lower its electrical and use silicon-controlled rectifiers (SCRs) or igni-
thermal conductivities. The choice of a suitable tron or thyratron tubes to control the flow of
alloy for any application is based on compro- primary current to the welding transformer.
mise of its electrical and thermal properties The timing and sequence control establishes
with its mechanical qualities. Electrodes selected the welding sequence and the duration of each
for aluminum welding, for instance, should have function of the sequence. This includes applica-
high conductivity at the expense of high com- tion of electrode force and current as well as the
pressive strength to minimize electrode sticking time intervals following each function.
to the work. Electrodes for welding stainless The welding current output of a machine is
steel, on the other hand, should sacrifice high controlled by transformer taps or an electronic
conductivity to obtain good compressive strength heat control, or both. An electronic heat control
to withstand the required electrode force. is used in conjunction with ignitron tubes or
Resistance to deformation or mushrooming SCRs. It controls current by delaying the firing
depends upon the proportional limit and the of the ignitron tubes during each half cycle (60
hardness of the electrode alloy. The proportional Hz). Varying the firing delay time can be used
limit is largely established by heat treatment. to gradually increase or decrease the primary rms
The temperature of the electrode face is the gov- amperage. This provides upslope and downslope
erning factor because this is where softening control of welding current.
takes place. lfansformer taps are used to change the
The size and shape of electrodes are usually number of primary turns connected across the
determined by the sheet thickness and the metal ac power line. This changes the turns ratio of the
to be welded. Spot welding electrodes for steel transformer with an increase or decrease in open
should have flat faces of the proper diameter circuit secondary voltage. Decreasing the turns
for the sheet thickness and should be of suffi- ratio will increase the open circuit secondary
cient size to carry electrical, thermal, and me- voltage, the primary current, and the welding
chanical loads. current.


Welding controls may provide one or more Spot, seam, and projection welding ma-
of the following principal functions: chines have essentially the same types of me-

chanica! operation. The electrodes approach and form between the electrodes and the work. The
retract from the work at controlled times and arc will bum or pit the electrode faces and
rates. Electrode force is applied by hydraulic, cause them to stick to the work. In some cases,
pneumatic, magnetic, or mechanical means. The the parts being welded may vaporize from the
rate of electrode approach must be rapid but very high arc energy.
controlled so that the electrode faces are not The electrode force used during the melt-
deformed from repeated blows. The locally ing of the weld nugget may not be adequate to
heated weld metal expands and contracts rapidly consolidate the weld metal and prevent internal
during the welding cycle and the electrodes must porosity or cracking. Multilevel force machines
follow this movement to maintain welding pres- may be employed to provide a high forging
sure and electrical contact. The ability of the pressure during weld solidification. The magni-
machine to follow motion is influenced by the tude of this pressure varies with the composi-
weight of moving parts, or their inertia, and by tion and thickness of the metal and the geometry
friction between the moving parts and the ma- of the parts. The forging pressure is often two to
chine frame. three times the welding pressure. Since the weld
If the pressure between the electrodes and cools from the periphery inward, the forging
work drops rapidly during weld time, exces- pressure must be applied at or close to the cur-
sive surface heating may occur and an arc may rent termination point.

For all types of resistance welding, the The methods used for preparing surfaces
condition of the surfaces of the parts to be for resistance welding differ for various metals
welded is of prime importance if consistent and alloys.' A brief description of surface con-
weld quality is required. The contact resistance ditions and methods of cleaning follows.
of the faying surfaces has a significant influence
on the amount of welding heat generated; hence, Aluminum
the electrical resistance of these surfaces must
The chemical affinity of aluminum for
be nearly uniform for consistent results. They
oxygen causes it to become coated with a thin,
must be free of high resistance materials such
invisible film of oxide whenever it is exposed to
as paint, scale, thick oxides, and heavy oil and
air. The thin oxide film that forms on a freshly
grease. If it is necessary to prime paint the fay-
cleaned aluminum surface does not cause suffi-
ing surfaces prior to welding, as is sometimes
cient resistance to be troublesome for resistance
done, the welding operation must be performed
we)ding. The permissible holding period, or
immediately after applying the primer or special
elapsed time between cleaning and welding,
conducting primers must be used. For best re-
may vary up to 48 hours or more, depending
sults, the prime coat should be as thin as pos-
upon the cleaning process used, cleanliness of
sible so that the electrode force will displace it
the shop, the particular alloy, and the appli-
and give metal-to-metal contact.
Paint should never be applied to outside
An aluminum surface may be mechanically
surfaces before welding, because it will reduce
cleaned for resistance welding with a fine grade
electrode life and produce poor surface appear-
ance. Heavy scale should be removed by me-
chanical or chemical methods. Light oil on
5. Methods for cleaning some metals and alloys are
steel is not harmful unless it has picked up dust described in the appropriate chapters in Sec. 4, Weld-
or grit. Drawing compounds containing mineral ing Handbook, 6th ed. (This information may be re-
fillers should be removed before welding. vised in Vol. 4, 7thed.)
Surface Preparation /15

of abrasive cloth, fine steel wool, or a fine, storage, and processing. This oil film has no
motor-driven scratch brush. Clad aluminum harmful effects on the weld, provided the oily
may also be cleaned by mechanical means but surfaces are not contaminated with shop dirt or
care must be taken not to damage the cladding. other poorly conductant or dielectric materials.
Numerous commercial chemical cleaners are Steels are supplied with various surface
available for aluminum. Chemical cleaning is finishes. Some of the more common are (l) hot-
usually preferred in large volume production rolled, unpickled; (2) hot-rolled, pickled, and
for reasons of economy as well as uniformity and oiled; and (3) cold-rolled with or without an
control. anneal. The unpickled, hot-rolled steel must be
pickled or mechanically cleaned. The hot-
Magnesium rolled pickled steel is weldable in the as-
Cleaning is particularly important since received condition except for possible wiping
magne3ium alloys readily alloy with copper at to remove loose dirt. The cold-rolled steel pre-
elevated temperatures. The contact resistance sents the best welding surface and, if properly
between the electrode and the work must be protected by oil, requires no cleaning prior to
kept as low a possible. The alloys are supplied welding other than wiping to remove any loose
with either an oil or a chrome-pickle coating dirt.
to protect the metal from oxidation during ship- The high alloy and stainless steels are non-
ment and storage. For resistance welding, the corrosive and usually require no involved clean-
protective coating must be removed to facilitate ing before welding. When exposed to elevated
the oxide removal operation if sound and con- temperatures, stainless steels will acquire an
sistent welds are to be obtained. oxide film; the thickness depends upon the tem-
perature and time of exposure. The scale is an
Copper oxide of chromium which is effectively removed
by pickling. Oil and grease should be removed
Cleaning of copper alloys is important. The
by solvent or vapor degreasing prior to welding.
beryllium-coppers and aluminum-bronzes are
particularly difficult to clean by chemical means. Coated Steels
Mechanical means are preferred. In some in-
stances, a flash coating of tin is employed to The coatings and platings applied to carbon
produce a uniformly higher surface resistance steel for the purpose of corrosion resistance or
than pure copper would have. decoration lend themselves satisfactorily to re-
sistance welding with few exceptions. In gen-
Nickel eral, good results may be obtained without
The maintenance of high standards of ma- special cleaning processes. Welding of alum-
terial cleanliness is of major importance in the inized steel gives less difficulty with expulsion
resistance welding of nickel and its alloys. The and pickup if the surfaces are wire brushed.
presence of grease, dirt, oil, and paint increases Phosphate coatings increase the electrical resis-
the probability of sulfur embrittlement during tance of the surfaces to a degree that welding
welding and will result in defective welds. current cannot pass through the sheets with low
Oxide removal is necessary if heavy oxides are welding pressures. Higher pressures will pro-
present from prior thermal treatments. Machin- duce welds, but slight variations in coating
ing, grinding, blasting, or pickling may be em- thickness may prevent welding.
ployed. Wire brushing is not stisfactory.
Surface Preparation Control
Surface preparatipn control can be main-
Plain carbon and low alloy steels have tained by periodically measuring the room
relatively low resistance to corrosion in ordi- temperature contact resistance of the workpieces
nary atmosphere. Hence, these metals are usually immediately following cleaning. The measure-
protected by a slushing oil during shipment, ment is most readily taken from electrode tip to

tip through two or more thicknesses of metal. test conditions must be specified for the mea-
Unit surface resistance varies inversely with surements to have significance in control of
pressure, temperature, and area of contact. The surface cleanliness.


APPLICATIONS steel plates up to 1/4-in. thick. However, load-

ing of joints is limited and the joint overlap
Spot welding is used for the fabrication of adds weight and cost to the assembly when
sheet metal assemblies up to about 0.125-in. compared to an arc welded butt joint.
thickness when the design permits the use of lap
joints and gastight seams are not required. The
process is used in preference to mechanical
fasteners, such as rivets or screws, when dis- The major advantages of spot welding are
assembly for maintenance is not required. Spot high speed and adaptability for automation in
welding is much faster and more economical the high production of sheet metal assemblies.
since a separate fastener is not needed for It can be incorporated into assembly lines with
assembly. other fabrication operations. Spot welding is
The process is used extensively for joining also economical in many job shop operations
low carbon steel sheet metal components for using semiautomatic machines because it is
autompbiles, cabinets, furniture, and similar faster than arc welding or brazing and requires
products. Stainless steel, aluminum, and copper less skill to perform.
alloys are also spot welded commercially. The process also has limitations, some of
Occasionally the process is used to join which are:

(A)=B[ (D)IQ
I (Glelooooaoooo.J

,.,l)[ (E)

(C)JID [ "'Q '"'8
+ + +
Direct Indirect Indirect

Fig. 1.10-Typical arrangements for single spot welds

Spot Welding /17

(I} Disassembly for maintenance or repair categories: direct and indirect. For direct weld-
is very difficult. ing, both the welding current and the pressure
(2) A lap joint adds weight and material are applied by the electrodes. With indirect
cost to the product when compared to a butt welding, the welding current is introduced into
joint. one of the work pieces through a large contact ad-
(3} The equipment costs are generally jacent to the electrode that applies the welding
higher than for most arc welding processes. pressure. The spot weld is made at the electrode
(4) The short time, high current power re- location.
quirement produces unfavorable line power de- Typical direct and indirect arrangements
mand, particularly with single-phase machines. are shown in Figs. 1.10 and I. II. Figure I.IO(A)
(5) Spot welds have low tensile and fatigue shows the most common arrangement for spot
strengths because of the notch around the pe- welding that results in electrode indentations in
riphery of the nugget between the sheets. both sheets. An electrode with a large contact
(6) The full strength of the sheet cannot area may be used on one side, as in Figs.I.IO(B)
be utilized across a spot welded joint because through (F), to reduce marking or to balance the
fusion is intermittent and loading is eccentric heat at the interface. Figures I. IO(D) and (F)
due to the overlap. are similar arrangements except that the con-
ducting lower anvil has been replaced by a non-
PROCESS VARIATIONS conducting backup in the latter case. Figure
I. IO(C) shows a setup for making a series of
Direct and Indirect Welding single spot welds in rapid succession using a
Spot welding is divided into two general single transformer connected to two or more
welding stations. Only one set of electrodes is
in contact with the work during weld time, pro-
ducing a weld at that location. This arrange-
ment is economical with respect to equipment
Figures I. IO(G) and (H) show arrange-
ments for welding with two transformers. The
secondary circuits are connected in series and
the primaries may be connected in series or
(A) parallel. Since the two secondary voltages are
Parallel welding additive, this arrangement produces a relatively
high voltage to overcome high resistance types
of workpieces. This variation is sometimes
called "push-pull" or "over-and-under"

Parallel and Series Welding

Parallel and series welding variations are
used for multiple spot welding. In parallel spot
welding, two or more spot welds are made
~irnultaneously with the welding currents from a
single transformer flowing in parallel. This may
(C) (D) be done using either a single secondary circuit
with the electrodes connected in parallel as
Series welding
shown in Fig. l.IO(C), or multiple secondary
Fig. 1.11-Typical arrangements for circuits as shown in Figs. l.ll(A) and (8). The
multiple spot welding (direct welding) three-phase arrangement of Fig. 1.11(8) is lim-

High High
conductivity resistance
alloy electrode

(A) (B)
Fig. 1. 12-Typical techniques for improving heat balance when spot welding
dissimilar metals

ited to three welding stations only. With a single obtain approximately equal fusion . The elec-
secondary circuit, the impedances of all current trode with the smaller face area will produce a
paths must be essentially equal for uniform cur- higher current density in the higher conductivity
rent distribution to each spot weld. Surface con- alloy that will increase the heat generated and
dition, electrode design, electrode force, and minimize the heat losses to the electrode across
material thicknesses must be the same at each the contact area. This arrangement is shown in
welding station . Fig. l.l2(A) .
Series welding is illustrated in Figs. 1.11 (2) Use an electrode material of higher
(C) and (D). Welding current flows from one resistance against the higher conductivity alloy
electrode through one spot weld into a third to limit the heat losses to the electrode as shown
electrode or mandrel, then through a second in Fig. l.l2(B).
spot weld to the other electrode. Welding amper- (3) Use a combination of (I) and (2),
age is affected by the total impedance of the shown in Fig. 1.12(C).
series circuit. When two workpieces are spot (4) Increase the thickness of the high con-
welded in series , part of the welding current ductivity alloy as illustrated in Fig. 1.12(0).
flows from one electrode through the adjacent The first three techniques for achieving
piece to the other electrode. This shunted current heat balance in dissimilar metals can be applied
does not contribute to welding. Its magnitude in a general way to the spot welding of similar
will depend upon the conductivity and thickness metals of unequal thickness. In this case, the
of the workpiece and the spot spacing. thicker sheet has the higher resistance (low con-
ductivity) and the nugget tends to penetrate
HEAT BALANCE deeper into it. Heat balance is improved by
either decreasing the current density in the
Heat balance may present a problem when thicker sheet or the heat loss from the thinner
spot welding together unequal thicknesses of the sheet, or a combination of both.
same metal, equal thicknesses of two metals In multiple layers of dissimilar thicknesses,
with a significant difference in electrical con- a long weld time permits a more uniform dis-
ductivities, or a combination of the two. Elec- tribution of heat in the asymmetrical resistance
trode configurations and compositions can be path between the electrodes. A correct heat
used to overcome unbalanced heating to some balance may be obtained by using multiple-
extent. If it is desired, for example, to spot impulse (pulsation) welding or a single impulse
weld equal thicknesses of a high conductivity of continuous current for an equivalent time.
alloy (electrical and thermal) to an alloy of low
conductivity, improved heat balance could be JOINT DESIGN
obtained by one of the following techniques: In all cases , spot welds are made through
(I) Use an electrode with a smaller face two or more sections of equal or unequal thick-
area on the high conductivity alloy than that of nesses to produce a lap joint. One or more
the electrode on the lower conductivity alloy to members may be flanges on parts or formed
Spot Welding /19

may be low. Minimum edge distance ·will be

related to the base metal composition and
strength, section thicknesses, electrode face
contour, and the welding cycle.
Joint Overlap
The minimum permissible joint overlap is
twice the minimum edge distance. However,
other factors such as electrode clearance may
require a larger overlap. If the overlap is too
small, the edge distance will automatically be
insufficient (see Fig. 1.13).
The mating parts should fit together along
Overlap and edge the joint with very little or no gap between
distance too small
them. Any force required to overcome joint
Fig. 1.13-Effect of improper overlap and gap will reduce the effective welding pressure.
edge distances The force required to close the joint may vary
as welding progresses and, thus, so will the
welding pressure. The ultimate result may be
sections such as angles or channels. In all cases, significant variations in the strengths of individ-
the joint must be accessible from both sides to ual welds.
the spot welding electrodes or the dies in the
Weld Spacing
case of indirect welding. In addition, the as-
sembly must be designed so that the joints can When a number of spot welds are made
be welded with standard machines, portable successively along a joint, a portion of the
welding guns, or special purpose machines. secondary current will flow through the adjacent
There are a number of factors that should welds. This shunting effect must be considered
be considered when designing for spot welding; when establishing the distance between adjacent
several of these are edge distance, joint overlap, spot welds and when establishing the welding
fit-up of parts, weld spacing, jont accessibility, machine settings.
marking or indentation, dissimilar thicknesses, The division of current will depend pri-
and weld strength. marily upon the ratio of the resistances of the
two paths, one through the adjacent welds and
Edge Distance
the other across the interface between the sheets.
This is the distance from the center of the If the path length through the adjacent weld is
weld nugget to the edge of the sheet. It must long compared to the joint thickness, the shunt-
provide sufficient base metal to resist the in- ing effect will be negligible. The minimum
ternal pressure developed in the molten nugget spacing between spot welds is related to the
during the welding cycle. conductivity and thickness of the base metal,
If spot welds are made too close to the the diameter of the weld nugget, and the cleanli-
edge of one or both members of a lap joint, the ness of the faying surfaces. Minimum spacing
base metal at the edge of the member will over- for various sheet thicknesses is generally given
heat locally and upset outward as shown in Fig. in recommended practice tables. Welds can be
1.13. This reduces the restraint on the molten made closer together using higher amperage,
nugget and expulsion of molten metal may oc- shorter weld time, and increased electrode force
cur. The nugget may then be unsound, electrode with a welding machine having a low inertia
indentation may be excessive, and weld strength head. In some cases, an auxiliary weld timer or

current control must be provided to produce the other technique is to use an indirect variation
first weld with lower heat input. of welding such as the arrangement shown in
Fig. 1.15. It minimizes the current density and
Joint Accessibility
pressure in face sheet B.
To accomplish spot welding, the design Surface marking may occur when an elec-
must consider the size and shape of commer- trode or its holder contacts the adjacent work-
cially available electrodes and electrode holders piece. Arcing between them may produce a
as well as the type of spot welding equipment small pit in the work that is objectionable from
on which the welding will be done. Each joint an appearance standpoint in some applications.
must be accessible to the electrodes mounted on Sometimes contact occurs when the electrode
the welding machine.• For multiple spot welded skids as it or the supporting machine compo-
joints, either the assembly or the welding ma- nents deflect under the load. In general, this
chine (gun) must be moved unless a special will not be a problem if the proper joint overlap,
multiple-station machine is provided. electrodes, and equipment are used.
Surface Marking
Dissimilar Thicknesses
It is often desirable to produce welded
There is a maximum section thickness ratio
assemblies with flush or invisible welds. When that can be effectively joined when spot weld-
the welding current flows through the work be-
ing two or more dissimilar thicknesses of the
tween the electrodes, the work is resistance
same metal. It is generally based on the thick-
heated locally and tries to expand in all direc-
ness(es) of the outside sheet(s).
tions. Because of the pressure exerted by the
For carbon steels, the maximum ratio is 4
electrodes, expansion transverse to the plane of
to I for two thicknesses. The welding of three
the sheets is restricted. As the metal heats, it
metal thickness combinations with pointed type
upsets radially in the plane of the sheets around
electrodes is limited to those where the thick-
the electrode face and usually produces a circ- ness ratio of the two outside sheets is not greater
ular ridge as shown in Fig. 1.14. As the weld
than 2.5 to I. For welding thickness combina-
cools, contraction takes place almost entirely
tions with higher ratios, the electrode face
in the transverse direction and produces concave
diameters must be selected to accommodate the
surfaces or marks at the electrode location.
different thicknesses.
This is not to be confused with excessive elec-
trode indentation into the work caused by im-
proper welding procedures. Actual depth of a
shrinkage depression seldom exceeds a few
thousandths of an inch.
After some finishing operations such as
painting, the marks may be very conspicuous.
It is difficult to eliminate the marks completely,
but they can be reduced materially by modify-
ing the welding procedure. For example, the
depth of fusion into the sheet can be minimized
by welding in the shortest practical weld time.
Various techniques are used to minimize
these markings. The common method is to use
a large flat-faced electrode against the show
side of the joint. This electrode should be made
of a hard copper alloy to minimize wear. An-

6. See Ch. 3 for information on electrodes and Fig. 1.14-Surface irregularity

electrode holder designs. produced by spot welding
Spot Welding /21

The use of a large diameter flat electrode ing will cause the joint to rotate as the load in-
against one sheet will affect the size and shape creases. The spot weld will fail either by shear
of the weld nugget depending upon the thick-to- through the nugget or by tearing the nugget out
thin stacking arrangement of the sections. When of the sheet. In general, the maximum shear
the flat electrode contacts the heavier metal, a strength is obtained when the nugget tears from
greater unbalance occurs as the thickness ratio the sheet. A nugget of some minimum diameter
increases. This results in less desirable welding is required for this type of failure. Increasing
conditions. Better welding conditions exist the nugget diameter beyond this minimum will
when the large flat electrode contacts the thinner not significantly increase the weld strength.
section, although higher amperage and electrode Spot welds have relatively low strengths
force are necessary. The maximum ratio is then when stressed in tension by loading transverse
4to I. to the plane of the sheets. This is due to the sharp
Minimum recommended spot spacing for a notch between the sheets at the periphery of the
weld joining three thicknesses is 30 percent weld nugget. Consequently, spot welded joints
greater than the spacing required for welding are not normally loaded in this manner.
two sections of the thicker outer sheet . The strength of multiple welded joints de-
Weld Strength pends not only upon thickness but also spacing
The strength of a single spot weld in shear and pattern. A staggered pattern is preferred for
is determined by the cross-sectional area of the multiple rows of welds rather than a rectangular
nugget in the plane of the interface between the pattern. The spacing between adjacent welds
two sections. In the case of a lap joint tested affects weld strength because of current shunt-
with the weld in shear, the eccentricity of load- ing through previous welds. However, spacing


Welding Clamping

transformer force




1 I
L __ ____ _j

Fig. 1.15-Application of indirect welding to minimize marking on one side


also affects the number of welds that can be (4) Misalignment of the electrodes with re-
placed in a particular joint. Therefore, a com- spect to the work
promise must be made between spacing and the Correct electrode alignment is relatively
number of welds in order to obtain the maxi- easy to maintain with stationary welding ma-
mum joint strength. chines and proper supporting fixtures. However,
misalignment is common with portable gun type
ROLL SPOT WELDING machines. The seriousness of this condition is
dependent upon the ease with which the equip-
Roll spot welding consists of making a ment can be manipulated and correctly posi-
series of spaced spot welds in a row with a seam tioned for welding. It is likely that the electrodes
welding machine without retracting the elec- will have longer life between dressings on
trode or removing the electrode force between positioned work (stationary machines) than on
welds. Electrode wheel rotation may or may not nonpositioned work (portable welding guns).
be stopped during the welding cycle. The radius
of the wheel electrode, the contour of its face,
and the weld time influence the shape of the
nugget. The nugget is usually oval-shaped. WELDBONDING
The weld spacing is obtained by adjust-
Weldbonding is a combination of resis-
ment of cool time with the wheel electrodes
tance spot or seam welding and adhesive bond-
continuously rotating at a set speed. Hold time
ing. The best technique is to apply the adhesive
is effectively zero. Roll spot welding may also
to the joint overlap and then weld through it, as
be done with interrupted electrode rotation when
is sometimes done with a primer coat. The ad-
a hold time period is needed to consolidate the
hesive is best applied in paste form, although
weld nugget as it cools.
films may be suitable for some applications.
When continuously moving electrodes are
After welding, the adhesive is cured according
employed, as is commonly the case, weld time
to the manufacturer's recommendations.
is usually shorter and welding amperage higher
Weldbonding improves the fatigue life and
than those used for conventional spot welding.
durability over that obtained with spot or seam
The higher amperage employed may sometimes
welding alone. It may also improve buckling
require the use of a higher electrode force.
resistance with thin sheet, stress distribution,
Otherwise, recommended practices for spot
and rigidity of the joint. The presence of the
welding apply.
adhesive in the joint tends to (I) dampen vibra-
tion and noise and (2) give some corrosion
Maintenance of electrodes is necessary for The adhesive, its application, and its cure
the production of consistent welds. An abnormal add to manufacturing costs. The presence of the
increase in the size of the electrode faces con- adhesive in the joint makes welding more diffi-
tacting the work is detrimental to weld strength cult and may contribute to significant variations
and quality. For example, if a 1/4-in. diameter in weld quality.
electrode face is allowed to increase to 5/16-in. The adhesive must flow from between the
diameter by mushrooming, the contact area will sheets when the electrode force is applied. Ad-
increase 50 percent with a corresponding de- vanced curing of the adhesive may hamper flow
crease in current density and pressure. Depend- and cause abnormally high resistance at the
ing somewhat upon the welding schedule, the joint interface. High resistance may prevent
result may be weak or defective welds. A dan- current flow or cause excessive heating and
ger sign is the production of poorly shaped metal expulsion. Application of a precompres-
spots which may be caused by: sion electrode force prior to the welding cycle
(I) Noncircular electrode faces may help displace the adhesive (see Fig. 1.8).
(2) Too large a flat face on the electrode Regardless of conditions, not all of the adhe-
(3) Concavity or convexity of the electrode sive will be displaced from between the sheets
face and, therefore, the contact resistance will be
Seam Welding /23

higher than with clean sheets. be useful for joining thin steel sheets where
The process has significant advantages for improved joint strength and corrosion resistance
aluminum sheet metal fabrications. It may also may be realized.

APPLICATIONS The overlap is about I to 1.5 times the sheet
thickness. The welded joint thickness will be in
Seam welding is primarily used to produce
the range of 120 to 150 percent of the sheet
continuous gas- or liquid-tight joints in sheet
thickness with proper welding procedures.
metal tanks such as gasoline tanks for auto-
Flat-faced wheel electrodes, wide enough to
mobiles. Generally, two wheel electrodes are
completely cover the overlap and control joint
used. The process is sometimes used to weld
thickness, are normally used. High electrode
the longitudinal seam in tubular sections with
force and continuous welding current are re-
two wheel electrodes or one translating wheel
quired. Electrode force, welding current, weld-
and a stationary mandrel. A gastight seam is not
ing speed, overlap, and joint thickness are all
normally required in structural tubing.
interrelated and must be accurately controlled
for consistent welding. The overlap must be
ADVANTAGES AND LIMITATIONS accurately maintained and held to close toler-
This process has the same advantages and ances. This is usually done by rigid clamping
limitations as spot welding. An additional ad- of the pieces to be welded or by tack welding
vantage is the ability to produce a continuous them together in advance.
leaktight weld. The show surface of a joint must be mashed
Seam welds must be made in a straight or as nearly flat as possible so that it will present a
uniformly curved path. Abrupt changes in weld- good appearance. In most cases, the electrode
ing direction or in joint contour along the path on the show surface is a mandrel that supports
cannot be welded leaktight. This limits the de- the piece parts to be joined. The welding wheel
sign of the assembly. bears on the side that does not show. Proper
Strength properties of seam welded lap positioning of the wheel with respect to the
joints are generally lower than those of fusion joint is required to obtain a smooth weld face
welded butt joints because of the eccentricity of acceptable for painting. The weld area may
loading on lap joints and the built-in notch require some polishing before painting when
along the nugget at the sheet interface. the appearance of the finished product is
PROCESS VARIATIONS For consistent results in production, all
Lap Seam Welding parts must be accurately made within design
tolerances. Locating and clamping jigs must
As with spot welding, lap joints can be consistently and properly position the parts for
seam welded using wheel electrodes, as shown welding. In addition, all welding variables, in-
in Fig. 1.16(A), or with one wheel and a man- cluding electrode force, weld current, and travel
drel electrode. The minimum joint overlap is the speed, must be accurately controlled.
same as for spot welding. Continuous seams with good appearance
and free of crevices can be produced by this
Mash Seam Welding
process variation. Crevice-free joints are neces-
Another type of weld commonly used is sary for applications, such as food containers or
the mash seam weld. The overlap for this type refrigerator liners, where cleanliness is important.
of weld is usually considerably less than for the Three problem areas that may be encountered
conventional lap joint as shown in Fig. 1.16(8). with this method are:

(A) Lap seam weld

Slightly lapped

Before welding After welding

(B) Mash seam weld

r-'\rl __

~Broad, flat
~ electrode

Before welding After welding

(C) Metal finish seam weld

Fig. 1. 16-Variations of seam welding

Seam Welding/25

(I) There is usually some offset at the row strip of foil is introduced on one or both
joint because the seam cannot be mashed com- sides of the joint as it is passed between conven-
pletely flat. tional seam welding wheels. The 0.010-in. thick
(2) The metal in the overlap must flow foil acts as a bridge to distribute welding current
laterally as it is welded but this action is restrained to the edges of both sheets, offers added elec-
by the fixturing or tack welds. Therefore, some trical resistance, and helps contain the molten
distortion of the assembly is likely to take place. weld nugget as it grows and then cools. It also
(3) Very rigid fixturing is needed to resist serves as filler metal to produce a flush or slightly
weld distortion. reinforced weld joint. The foil must be guided
Low carbon steel and stainless steel may be accurately and centered on the joint for even
mash seam welded for certain applications. How- current distribution to both edges. The foil may
ever, metals that have a narrow plastic temper- be roll spot welded to the sheets at low power
ature range cannot be mash seam welded. before the joint is seam welded. The edges to be
joined must fit tightly together and be clamped
Metal Finish Seam Welding firmly in position.
This variation of seam welding is illus- For low carbon steel, welding speeds com7
trated in Fig. 1.16(C). Lap and mash seam welds parable to lap seam welding can be used, pro-
differ with respect to the amount of forging or, as vided the joint has good fit-up. Very little forg-
the name implies, mash down. The lap weld ing is required and, thus, distortion is low.
has practically no mash down, while the thick-
ness of a mash seam weld approaches that of one
sheet thickness. In metal finish seam welding, As with spot welding, two seam welds can
mash down occurs on only one side of the joint. be made in series using two welding heads. The
This variation of seam welding is a compromise two heads may be mounted side by side or in
between lap and mash seam welding. tandem. Two seams can be welded with the
The amount of deformation, or mash, is same welding current, and power demand will
affected by the geometry of one electrode wheel be only slightly greater than for a single weld.
face and the position of the joint with respect to
that face. The wheel face is beveled on one side
of the midpoint as shown in Fig. 1.17. This varies
the amount of deformation across the joint.
Good surface finish can be produced on the side Chamfer begins
Upper electrode at centerline
of the joint against the flat wheel using proper

welding procedures.
The location of the edge of the sheet con-
tacting the flat-faced electrode, relative to the
bevel on the other electrode, must be held within
a close tolerance (see Fig. 1.17). With 0.031-
in. thick low carbon steel sheet, for example,

the edge must be within 0.016 in. of center. The
overlap distance is not critical.
Higher amperage and electrode force are Lower electrode
required than those for mash seam welding be- I

cause of the greater overlap distance. The varia-

Lower sheet
tion is applicable to the same metals and thick-
edge position
nesses as is mash seam welding. tolerance
Foil Butt Seam Welding Fig. 1. 17-Eiectrode face contour and
With this method, the edges of the sheets joint position for metal finish seam
to be joined are butted together and a thin, nar- welding

Gear-driven or
idling electrodes


Electrode width Electrode width

Fig. 1.18-Seam welding wheel face contours

A tandem wheel arrangement can reduce (3) Distortion of the workparts is minimized.
welding time by 50 percent since each half of a (4) It is easy to control spitting or burning.
joint can be welded simultaneously. Thus, for a (5) Sound welds with better surface appear-
72-in. long joint, two welding heads can be ance are possible.
placed 36 in. apart with welding current flowing To produce a gastight seam, the nuggets
through the work from one wheel electrode to should overlap 15 to 20 percent of the nugget
the other. A third continuous electrode is used diameter. For maximum strength, the overlap
on the other side of the joint. The full length should be 40 to 50 percent. The size of the nugget
of the joint can be welded with only 36 in. of will depend upon heat time for a given welding
travel. speed and current. The amount of overlap will
depend upon the cool time.
HEAT BALANCE For a particular metal and sheet thickness,
the number of welds (nuggets) per inch that can
Seam welding of dissimilar metals or un- be produced economically will fall within a range.
equal thicknesses presents the same heat balance In general, as the sheet thickness decreases, the
problems as with spot welding. The techniques number of welds per inch must increase to obtain
for improving heat balance are similar. The con- a strong, gastight seam weld. The ratio of welds
tact area between the work and electrode can be per inch to welds per minute will establish the
enlarged by increasing the wheel width or diam- welding speed in inches per minute. The number
eter, or both. One electrode wheel or mandrel of welds per minute is the number of cycles of ac
may be made of an alloy of lower conductivity
per minute divided by the sum of the heat and
than the other. cool times in cycles for a single weld.
To obtain the minimum number of welds per
WELDING CYCLE inch that will produce the required seam at a given
Interrupted Current welding speed, the heat time and welding currrent
should be adjusted to give the required weld nug-
Welding current is normally supplied in get geometry. The cool time should then be set to
timed pulses (heat time) with a period of time give the necessary nugget overlap. Since decreas-
(cool time) in between them. A nugget of weld ing cool time may increase the heat buildup,
metal is produced during each pulse of current. nugget penetration may increase.
Interrupted current is usually desirable for
most seam welding operations for the following Continuous Current
reasons: With low carbon steel, welding current can
(I) Good control of the heat is obtained. be applied continuously along the length of the
(2) Each weld nugget in the seam is al- seam with high travel speeds if the current wave
lowed to cool under pressure. form available will produce the proper nugget
Seam Welding/21

size and spacing. In this case, weld quality is ments for current and pressure distribution in the
secondary to high production requirements. Con- weld zone.
tinuous current can be used for sheet up to and If the electrode is driven on the periphery
including 0.040-in. thickness. Above this thick- by a steel roll, it is either knurl- or friction-
ness, surface condition has a significant effect on driven; if by a train of gears, it is gear- or shaft-
welding and electrode life is short. Continuous driven. Sometimes one electrode is driven and
current welds in a particular thickness can be the other one idles. Gear type drives may be
made over a wide range of speeds. For example, used to avoid interference with the work.
two thicknesses of 0.040-in. steel stock can be Radius-faced electrodes provide the best
welded at speeds ranging from 105 to 310 in./ weld appearance and are the easiest to set up.
min. The required amperage increases with Flat-faced .electrodes are often used but are
speed. more difficult to set up with the two flat sur-
faces parallel and uniformly contacting the
WELDING SPEED work. A knurl-driven electrode marks the weld
seam. The width of the wheel is determined by
The speed of welding depends upon the the thickness and geometry of the part being
metal being welded, stock thickness, and the welded. The diameter of the wheel is deter-
weld strength and quality requirements. In gen- mined by the part configuration or the physical
eral, permissible welding speeds are much lower requirements of the welding machine.
with stainless steels and nonferrous metals be- Common practice is to cool both the elec-
cause of restrictions on heating rate to avoid trodes and the work with flood cooling. If cool-
weld metal expulsion. ing water is detrimental to the work, the elec-
In some applications, it is necessary to trode shafts may be internally cooled.
stop the movement of the electrodes and work The rate of electrode wear is determined by:
as each weld nugget is made. This is usually (I) The electrode material, face width, and
the case for sections over 0.188-in. thick or for operating temperature
metals that require postheating or forging cycles (2) Abrasion by the drive rolls and the work
to produce the desired weld properties. Inter- (3) The metal being welded and its surface
rupted motion significantly reduces welding condition
speed because of the relatively long time re- The width of the weld cross section at the
quired for each weld. interface between the two workpieces should
With continuous motion, the welding cur- range from 1.5 to 3 times the thickness of the
rent must be increased and heat time decreased thinner section. The ratio of weld width to sheet
as welding- speed is increased to maintain weld thickness normally decreases as the thickness
quality and joint strength. There is some speed increases. The weld width is always slightly
beyond which the required welding current may less than the face width when commercial weld-
cause undesirable surface burning and electrode ing schedules are used.
pickup. This will accelerate electrode wear.

Flood, immersion, or mist cooling is com-
Seam welding electrodes are normally monly used with seam welding. This is generally
wheels with diameters ranging from 2 to 24 in addition to any internal cooling of the com-
inches. Common sizes have diameters of 7 to 12 ponents in the secondary circuit of the welding
in. and widths of 0. 375 to 0. 75 inches. machine. When external cooling is not used,
Various wheel contours are used, but the electrode wear and warpage of the work may be
four basic types are: flat, single-bevel, double- excessive. For welding nonferrous metals and
bevel, and radius-faced. These are shown in Fig. stainless steel, clean tap water is satisfactory.
1.18. The face contour used is determined by For ordinary steels, a 5 percent borax solution
the type of drive mechanism and the require- is commonly used to minimize rusting.

JOINT DESIGN Figure 1.19 shows several common designs

of seam welded joints that are generally similar
The various requirements that must be met to those used for spot welding applications. The
in designing spot welded joints also apply. to most conunonly used design, Fig. 1.19(A), is
seam welded joints. With seam welding, elec- the simple lap joint in which the pieces or edges
trode design together with mounting and leak- to be welded are overlapped sufficiently to pre-
tightness requirements place some limitations vent spitting of the weld metal from the edges
on design. of the stock. Common examples are the longi-
The wheel type electrodes are relatively tudinal seams in cans, buckets, water tanks,
large and require unobstructed access to the mufflers, and large diameter, thin-walled pipes.
joint. Since the electrodes rotate during welding, Flange joints are forms of lap joints. The
they cannot be inserted into small recesses or
design in Fig. 1.19(8), in which one of the
internal comers. External flanges must change
pieces is straight, is commonly used for weld-
direction over large radii to be able to produce
ing flanged ends to containers of various types.
a strong, leaktight seam weld.
In Fig. 1.19(C), both pieces are flanged. This
Curvature of the overlap plane is severely
design is used to join the two sections of auto-
restricted by the diameters of the wheel elec-
motive gasoline tanks. Often the flanged pieces
trodes. The smaller the radius of curvature, the
are dished to obtain added strength, in which
more difficult the welding operation becomes.
case it is necessary to mount one or both wheels
The diameter of the inside wheel must be less
at an angle to clear the work, as shown in Fig.
than twice the radius of curvature. The contact
1.19(0). A practical limit is 6 degrees because
length between the outside wheel and the work
greater angles cause excessive bearing thrust,
is shorter and the contact length with the inside
lack of bearing clearance, and the use of large
wheel is longer than with a flat flange. Welding diameter electrodes.
speed must be slower because of this condition.



Projection welding is primarily used to join In general, projection welding can be used
a stamped, forged, or machined part to another instead of spot welding to join 'small parts to
part. One or more projections are produced on each other or to larger parts. Economics of the
the parts during the forming operations. Fast- two processes should be considered in the selec-
eners or mounting devices, such as bolts, nuts, tion of one for a particular application. The
pins, brackets, and handles, can be projection chief advantages of projection welding include
welded to a sheet metal part. It is especially the following:
useful for producing several weld nuggets simul- (I) A number of welds can be made simul-
taneously between two parts. Marking of one taneously in one welding cycle of the machine.
part can be minimized by placing the projec- The limitation on the number of welds is the
tions in the other part. ability to apply uniform electrode force and
The process is generally used for section welding current to each projection.
thicknesses ranging from 0.02 to 0.125-in. (2) Less overlap and closer weld spacing
thick. Thinner sections require special welding are possible because the current is concentrated
machines capable of following the rapid col- by the projection, and shunting through adja-
lapse of the projections. Various carbon and cent welds is not a problem.
alloy steels and some nickel alloys can be pro- (3) Thickness ratios of at least 6 to I are
jection welded. possible because of the flexibility in projection
Projection Welding /29

However, weld quality will be better with clean

The process has several limitations in com-
parison to spot and seam welding; the most
important ones are:
(1) The forming of projections may require
an additional operation unless the parts are
press-formed to design shape.
(2) With multiple welds, accurate control
(A) (B) of projection height and precise alignment of
the welding dies are necessary to equalize the
electrode force and welding current.
(3) With sheet metal, the process is limited
to thicknesses in which acceptable projections
can be formed and for which suitable welding
equipment is available.

(C) (D)

Fig. 1.19-Common designs of seam-

welded joints

size and location. The projections are normally

placed on the thicker section.
(4) Projection welds can be located with
greater accuracy and consistency than spot
welds, and the welds are generally more con-
t t
sistent because of the uniformity of the projec- (A) (B)

tions. As a result, projection weld size can be

smaller than spot welds.
(5) Marking of the show surface can be
minimized by placing the projections in the
other part. Any slight deformation on the show
side can be sanded flush with the base metal.
(6) Large, flat-faced electrodes are used.
Consequently, electrode wear is much lower
than that with spot welding and this reduces
maintenance costs. In some cases, the flxturing
or part locators are combined with the welding
dies or electrodes when joining small parts
(7) Oil, rust, scale, and coatings are less
!C) (D)
of a problem than with spot welding because
the tip of the projection tends to break through Fig. 1.20-Formation of a projection
the foreign material early in the welding cycle. weld

(4) Multiple welds must be made simul-

taneously and this requires higher capacity
equipment than does spot welding. It also limits
the practical size of the component containing
the projections.
Projection wall
thickness should
TYPES OF JOINTS be at least 70%
As with spot and seam welding, lap joints of sheet thickness
can be produced by projection welding. Gen- Projection should blend into stock
erally, several domed or elongated projections surface without shouldering
are formed on one part. The number of pro-
Fig. 1.21- General design of a
jections used will depend upon the joint strength
projection for steel sheet
requirements, as with spot welding.
A forged or machined part can be welded
to a sheet section using an annular projection
on the part. Strong, leaktight joints can be pro-
duced. The projection is formed or machined on the other surface to welding temperature. If too
the end or shoulder of the part which, in turn, small, it will collapse before the other surface
may be aligned with or pass through a hole in is adequately heated.
the sheet. (3) Collapse without metal expulsion be-
tween the sheets or sheet separation after
(4) Be easy to form and not be partially
Projections may be formed on a sheet of sheared from the sheet during the forming opera-
metal by embossing, on a solid piece of metal tion. Such projections may be weak and the
by machining or forging, or on an edge of stamp- resulting welds may be easily torn from the
ings. The purpose of a projection is to localize sheet on loading.
the heat and pressure at a specific location on (5) Cause little distortion of the part during
the joint. Welding current density is determined forming or welding.
by the projection design. The general design of a projection suitable
The sequence of events during the forma- for steel sheet is shown in Fig. 1.21. This design
tion of a projection weld is shown schemati- avoids the tendency to form the projection by
cally in Fig. 1.20. In Fig. 1.20(A), the pro-
jection is shown in contact with the mating
sheet. In Fig. 1.20(B), the current has started
to flow through the projection, thereby heating Punch
it to welding temperature. The electrode fqrce
causes the heated projection to collapse rapidly
and then fusion takes place as shown in Fig.
1.20(C). The completed weld is shown in
Fig. 1.20(0).
Sheet Metal
A projection design for sheet metal should Point radius
meet the following requirements: "R"
(I) Be sufficiently rigid to support the in- Material: tool steel hardened to 50-52 H RC
itial electrode force before welding current is
applied. Fig. 1.22-Punch and die design for
(2) Have adequate mass to heat a spot on projections in sheet metal
Projection Welding /31

Punch and die dimensions for spherical dome projectionS'
Punch Die
Projection Point Hole Chamber
Thickness He1ght, Diameter, Diameter radius, diameter, diameter,
T H,±2% 0,±5% A R, ±0.002 B, ±0.005 D
0.022-0.034 0.025 0.090 0.375 0 .031 0.076 0.090
0.036-0.043 O.o35 0.110 0.375 0.047 0.089 0.110
0.049-0.054 0.038 0.140 0.375 0.047 0.104 0.130
0.061-0.067 0.042 0.150 0 .375 0.062 0.120 0.150
0.077 0.048 0.180 0.375 0 .062 0.144 0.180
0.092 0 .050 0.210 0.500 O.o78 0.172 0.210
0.107 0.055 0.240 0.500 0 .078 0 .196 0.240
0.123 0.058 0 .270 0.500 0 .094 0.221 0.270
0.135 0.062 0.300 0.500 01.09 0.250 0.300
0.153 0.062 0.330 0.500 0.125 0.270 0.330
0.164 0.068 0.350 0.500 0.141 0.297 0.360
0.179 0 .080 0.390 0.500 0.156 0.328 0.390
0.195 0 .084 0.410 0.500 0.156 0.338 0.410
0.210 0.092 0.440 0.500 0.187 0 .358 0.440
0.225 0. 100 0.470 0.500 0.187 0 .368 0.470
0.245 0. 112 0 .530 0.500 0. 187 0.406 0.530
a. All dimensions are in inches.

shearing of the sheet or by significant thinning

of the projection wall. The design of the punch
and die to form this projection shape is illus-
trated in Fig. 1.22. The projection sizes recom-
mended for various sheet thicknesses and the
i\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\3 punch and die dimensions to produce the pro-

jections are given in Table 1.1.
Projections may be elongated to increase
the nugget size and, thus, the strength of the
weld. In this case, the contact between the
(A) (B) projection and the mating section is linear.
Threaded boss Elongated projections are generally used for the
thicker sheet gages.
On thin sheet, an annular projection of
small diameter may be used instead of a round
projection. The annular projection has greater
stiffness to resist collapse when electrode force
is applied.
Machined or Forged Parts
Shoulder stud Annular projections are frequently used on
screw machine or forged parts to carry heavy
Fig. 1.23-Examp/es of annular loads and for applications that require a pressure-
projection welding tight joint around a hole between two parts.

Such preparation also produces a high strength For this reason, the projections should be
weld when a large stud or boss is welded to formed in the thicker of two pieces of the same
thin sheet metal. Figure 1.23 shows two appli- metal or in the section with higher electrical
cations of annular projections. Normally, the conductivity when dissimilar metals are being
projection has a 90 degree included angle at the joined. With high conductivity metals, heat dis-
nose. The nose should be rounded, particularly sipation is more rapid.
to improve heat balance with heavy sections. With unequal thicknesses, the projection
Relief, as shown in Fig. 1.23(C), should be design should be based on that required for the
provided at the base of the projection for the thinner section, even though the projection is
upset metal to fill as the projection collapses. formed in the thicker section.
This will assure a tight joint without a gap, as As with spot welding, the conductivity of
shown in Fig. 1.23(0). the electrode alloy can affect heat balance.
Various designs of weld fasteners are avail- Choice of electrode alloys can be used to im-
able commercially for projection welding appli- prove heat balance.
cations. Typical examples are shown in Fig.
1.24. Projection design and number depend
upon the application.
HEAT BALANCE Welding Current
The factors that affect heat balance are: The current for each projection is generally
(I) Projection design and location less than that required to produce a spot weld
(2) Thickness of the sections in the same metal and thickness combination.
(3) Thermal and electrical conductivities of The projection will heat rapidly and excessive
the metals being welded current will melt it and result in expulsion.
(4) Heating rate However, the current must be high enough to
(5) Electrode alloy create fusion before the projection has com-
The distribution of heat in the two sections pletely collapsed.
being projection welded together must be rea- For multiple projections, the total welding
sonably uniform to obtain strong welds, as in current will approximately equal the current for
spot welding. Maintenance of heat balance may one projection multiplied by the number of pro-
be a greater problem with projection welding jections. Some adjustment may be required to
because two or more welds are usually made account for normal projection tolerances, part
simultaneously. Uniform division of welding designs, and the impedance of the secondary
current and electrode force is necessary to ob- circuit.
tain even heating of all projections. However,
Weld Time
the resistance across the projections will vary.
Since the current paths are in parallel, the cur- Weld time is about the same for single or
rent will be distributed among them accordingly. multiple projections for the same design. Al-
Projections must be designed to support though a short weld time may be desirable from
the electrode force needed to obtain good elec- a production standpoint, it will require corre-
trical contact with the mating part and to col- spondingly higher amperage. This may cause
lapse rapidly when heated. With multiple pro- overheating and metal expulsion. In general,
jections, slight variations in projection heights longer weld times and lower amperages are used
can affect heat balance. This can occur with for projection welding than those for spot
wear of the projection-forming punches. welding.
The major portion of the heat develops in In some cases, multiple impulse welding
the projections during the welding operation. may be advantageous to control heating rate.
Projection Welding /33

TY Weld bolts
Weld pins

Weld nuts and pads

Fig. 1.24-Typical commercial projection weld fasteners

This is helpful with thick sections and with ELECTRODES AND WELDING DIES
metals of low thermal conductivity.
The areas of parts to be joined are fre-
Electrode Force
quently flat except for the projections. In such
The electrode force used for projection cases, large flat-faced electrodes are used. When
welding will depend upon the metal being the surfaces to be contacted are contoured, the
welded, the projection design, and the number electrodes are fitted to them. With such elec-
of projections in the joint. The force should be trodes, the electrode force can be applied with-
adequate to flatten the projections completely out distorting the parts, and the welding cur-
when they reach welding temperature, and to rent can be introduced without overheating the
bring the workpieces in contact. Excessive contact areas.
force will prematurely collapse the projections For a single projection, the electrode face
and the weld nuggets will be ring-shaped with diameter should be at least twice the diameter
incomplete fusion in the center. of the projection. With multiple projections, the
The welding machine must be capable of electrode face should extend a minimum of one
mechanically following the work with the elec- projection diameter beyond the boundary of the
trodes as the projections collapse. Slow follow- projection pattern.
up will permit metal expulsion before the work- The best electrode material is one that is
pieces are together. sufficiently hard (to minimize wear) but does not

Projection Steel pilot Sheet

weld nut metal Projection
weld bolt
Insulation Insulation

Fig. 1.25-Locating a weld nut with Fig. 1.26-Positioning a weld bolt

an insulated pin with an insulating sleeve

crack or cause surface burning on the part. If other assembly process. The welding dies should
burning or cracking is encountered, a softer meet the following requirements:
alloy of higher conductivity should be used. (I) Provide accurate positioning of the
With multiple projections, electrode wear can parts
upset the balance of welding currents and (2) Permit rapid loading and unloading
electrode forces on each projection . Then, the (3) Have no alternative path for the weld-
strength and quality of the welds may become ing current
unacceptable. (4) For ac welding, be made of nonmag-
Electrodes for large production require- netic materials
ments often have inserts of Resistance Welder (5) Be properly designed for operator
Manufacturers Association (RWMA) Group B safety
material at the points of greatest wear. In some The dies must be mounted solidly on the
cases, it is more economical and equally satis- welding machine. The parts are mated in one die
factory to use one-piece electrodes of RWMA and all the welds are made at once with one opera-
Group A, Class 3 alloy. tion of the machine . One part may be located in
Welding electrodes and locating dies for relation to the other by punching holes in one
projection welding are usually combined. With with semipunchings in the other to match. The
the proper dies, it is possible to attain accuracy projections can usually be embossed or forged
with projection welding equal to that of any in the same operation.

dJj Weld

Fig. 1.27- Use of a recessed electrode to position a weld nut

Projection Welding /35

installation of the dies. The check for parallel-

ism of the platens should be made under in-
tended operating forces. This can best be done
Projection by placing a steel block with smooth, parallel
Spring weld bolt faces between the platens, applying the intended
retainer Sheet electrode force, and then checking for gap with
feeler gages.
2:2ZZ~zzzzri2~~~z1metal The next step is to check the bases of the
die blocks. They must be clean, smooth, flat,
and free from burrs and nicks. If not, they
should be machined.
The dies are then installed on the machine.
Most machines have tee slots at right angles to
one another in the two platens to permit uni-
Fig. 1.28-Holding a bolt in the versal alignment of the dies. After the dies are
upper electrode with a spring properly lined up, they should be clamped se-
retainer curely to the platens. With the work in place in
the dies, the position of the ram or knee of the
machine should be adjusted for the proper stroke,
In some designs, insulated pins or sleeves including the necessary allowance for upset of
may be used in the electrode or dies to position the projections.
and align the parts. Simple examples are shown If the tips of the projections are in one
in Figs. 1.25 and 1.26. plane and of uniform height, the setup is ready
When the small part of an assembly can be for trial welds. Non-uniformity of current or
placed on the bottom and the large part on top, force on the projections may be caused by the
it is a simple matter to hold the small part in a following:
recessed lower electrode such as shown in Fig. (l) Shunting of current through locators
1.27. When it is desired to locate a small part on (2) Unequal secondary circuit path lengths
top of a larger part, a problem exists. Some- (3) Excessive play in the welding head
times the small part can be located and held by a (4) Too much deflection in the knee of the
removable device and then welded with a flat machine
upper electrode. Parts that nest into the upper The use of shims between die components
electrode may be held by spring clips attached or between dies and platens should be avoided.
to the electrode. Figure 1.28 shows a spring- If shims must be used, they should only be
loaded retainer through the side of the electrode clean, annealed, pure copper sheets of suffi-
holding a bolt for welding. Vacuum may also cient area to carry the secondary current.
be used to hold small parts in the upper elec- If projections are located on curved or
trode or die when part design permits. angled surfaces, accurate templates should be
The success of projection welding opera- provided for checking the dies. Also, when
tions in production with respect to the electrodes curved parts are welded, or two or more parts
depends largely upon the proper selection of are welded to others, the mill tolerances for the
materials, proper installation, and proper main- metal thicknesses involved may cause problems.
tenance. If the dies are correctly designed and These tolerances must be provided for in the
constructed, the installation is next in impor- design of the parts and arrangement of the
tance. First, the platens of the welding machine projections.
must be parallel to each other and perpendicular
to the motion of the ram. The platens should JOINT DESIGN
also be smooth, clean, and free of nicks and pit
marks. If they are not, the platens should be Lap joint designs for projection welding
removed and machined smooth and flat before are similar to those for spot welding. In general,

joint overlap and edge distances for projection uct is essentially the same regardless of the
welding can be less than for spot welding. Most method used.
applications use multiple projections where the Crossed wire products include such items
minimum distance between projections should as stove and refrigerator racks, grills of all kinds,
be twice the projection diameter. lamp shade frames, poultry equipment, wire
Part design at the joint location may be baskets, fencing, grating, and concrete reinforc-
significantly limited because the welding elec- ing mesh.
trodes normally contact several projections si- Wire racks may be welded in a press type
multaneously. The electrodes must be mounted projection welding machine or in special auto-
rigidly on the welding machine, and the support- matic indexing machines with hopper feed and
ing members must be strong enough to minimize a separate gun for each weld.
deflection when electrode force is applied. Concrete reinforcing mesh is made on con-
Press type welding machines are commonly tinuous machines. The stay wires are fed from
used for projection welding applications. wire reels and the cross wires are fed either
Fit-up is important with multiple projection from wire reels on the side of the machine or
welding. Each projection must be in contact from magazines of cut wire. The welded mesh
with the mating surface to accomplish a weld. is either rolled into coils like fencing or cut into
Uniformity of projection heights is a factor in mats and then stacked and bundled.
good fit-up. The welding dies must be carefully As in spot or projection welding, the wire
designed and accurately manufactured to mate or rod should be clean and free from scale or
with the parts at the weld locations. They should rust, dirt, paint, heavy grease, or other high re-
not have to deform the parts to obtain good sistance coatings. Plated or galvanized wire or
fit-up. rods may be used, but the coating at the weld
Where surface marking of one part must will be destroyed.
be minimized, the projections should be placed
in the other part. A large, flat electrode on the Metals Welded
show side of the joint should prevent electrode
marking, although slight shrinkage may occur Low carbon steel wire is the most com-
at each projection weld. This may be visible mon metal welded. TYpical machine settings for
after some finishing operations. cross wire welding of this type of material are
When projection welds are used to attach tabulated in Table 1.2. Next in importance are
other fasteners such as weld nuts and bolts, stainless steel and copper-nickel alloys. Com-
they must contain a sufficient number of pro- pared to the values given in Table 1.2, stainless
jections to carry the design load. The design steel will require the same weld time, 60 per-
should be proven by applicable mechanical cent of the amperage, and 2.5 times the elec-
testing. Production quality control should be trode force. Copper-nickel alloys will require
designed to ensure that weld quality does not about the same weld time and amperage and
drop below the design standards. about twice the electrode force.

Welding Technique
Normally, cross wire welds are not dressed
General Principles
after welding. Therefore, the major considera-
Resistance welding of crossed wires is, in tion may be appearance, with strength secondary
effect, a form of projection welding. In practice, i~ importance for some applications.
it usually consists of welding a number of parallel In setting up the welding machine, con-
wires at right angles to one or more other wires sideration must be given to the following:
or rods. There are many specific ways to per- (I) Design strength
form the welding operation, depending upon pro- (2) Appearance
duction requirements, but the final finished prod- (3) Welding electrodes
Projection Welding /37

Cross wire welding of low carbon steel wire
Cold drawn wire Hot drawn wire
Wire Weld Electrode Weld Weld Weld Electrode Weld Weld
dia., time, force, current, strength, time, force, current, strength,
in. cycles lbs. A lbs. cycles lbs. A lbs.
15% Setdown 15% Setdown
1/16 5 100 600 450 5 100 600 350
1/8 10 125 1,800 975 10 125 1,850 750
3/16 17 360 3,300 2,000 17 360 3,500 1,500
1/4 23 580 4,500 3,700 23 580 4,900 2,800
5/16 30 825 6,200 5,100 30 825 6,600 4,600
3/8 40 1,100 7,400 6,700 40 1,100 7,700 6,200
7/16 50 1,400 9,300 9,600 50 1,400 10,000 8,800
1/2 60 1,700 10,300 12,200 60 1,700 11,000 11,500
30% Setdown 30% Setdown
1/16 5 150 800 500 5 150 800 400
1/8 10 260 2,650 1,125 10 260 2,770 850
3/16 17 600 5,000 2,400 17 600 5,100 1,700
1/4 23 850 6,700 4,200 23 850 7,100 3,000
5/16 30 I ,450 9,300 6,100 30 1,450 9,600 5,000
3/8 40 2,060 11,300 8,350 40 2,060 11,800 6,800
7/16 50 2,900 13,800 11,300 50 2,900 14,000 9,600
1/2 60 3,400 15,800 13,600 60 3,400 16,500 12,400
50% Setdown 50% Setdown
1/16 5 200 1,000 550 5 200 1,000 450
1/8 10 350 3,400 1,250 10 350 3,500 900
3/16 17 750 6,000 2,500 17 750 6,300 1,800
I/4 23 1,240 8,600 4,400 23 1,240 9,000 3,100
5/16 30 2,000 11,400 6,500 30 2,000 12,000 5,300
3/8 40 3,000 14,400 8,800 40 3,000 14,900 7,200
7/16 50 4,450 17,400 11,900 50 4,450 18,000 10,200
1/2 60 5,300 21,000 14,600 60 5,300 22,000 13,000
Decrease in joint height x 100
a. Setdown. %
Dia. of smaller wire

(4) Electrode force are commonly used for cross wire welding,
(5) Weld time certain advantages are gained by shaping them
(6) Welding current (heat) to mate with the wires or rods being welded.
The particular application will determine Shaped electrodes provide better contact between
which is most important, strength or appearance, the electrode and the work.
when setting up for a particular crossed wire The electrode force depends upon the wire
welding application. It is normally assumed diameter, the specified setdown, the desired
that high strength welds with an acceptable appearance, and the weld design strength. The
appearance are desired. electrode force will affect the appearance of
The required electrode force, welding cur- the weld. The values given in Table 1.2 will
rent, and weld time depend greatly upon the produce welds with good appearance. Lower
amount that the wires or rods are to be com- weld strengths than those shown in the table
pressed together. This condition is called "set- will result if higher forces are used without
down." It is the ratio of the decrease in joint decreasing the weld time and increasing the
height to the diameter of the smaller wire. Weld welding current.
strength generally increases with "setdown" to The weld time needed will depend upon
a maximum. the diameter of the wire to be welded. For best
The welding electrodes must be of the results, the values shown in the table should
proper material and shape with provision for be used.
water cooling. RWMA Class II alloy electrodes The welding current depends upon the
usually have acceptable life, although electrode diameter and the specified setdown. It should be
facings of harder alloys are sometimes used for slightly less than that which will result in spitting
special applications. Although flat electrodes or expulsion of hot metal.


PROPERTIES INFLUENCING ment costs; therefore, metals of high electrical

WELDABILITY resistivity are considered to be more weldable
than those of low resistivity.
The following properties of metals have a
bearing on their resistance weldability: Thermal Conductivity
(I) Electrical resistivity
The thermal conductivity is important be-
(2) Thermal conductivity
cause part of the generated heat is lost through
(3) Thermal expansion
conduction into the metal. This loss must be
(4) Hardness and strength
overcome by greater power input. Therefore,
(5) Oxide-forming characteristics
metals of high heat conductivity are less weld-
(6) Plastic temperature range
able than those of low conductivity. Thermal
(7) Metallurgical characteristics
conductivity and electrical conductivity (re-
Electrical Resistivity ciprocal of resistivity) of the various metals
This is probably the most important prop- closely parallel one another. Aluminum, for
erty from a resistance welding standpoint, instance, is a good conductor of both heat and
since the heat generated by the welding cur- current, while stainless steel is a poor conduc-
rent is directly proportional to resistance. More tor of both.
current is required to generate the heat for weld-
Thermal Expansion
ing a metal of low resistivity than one of high
resistivity. High currents require large trans- The coefficient of thermal expansion is a
formers and power lines which increase equip- measure of the change in dimensions that takes
Metals Welded/39

place with a temperature change. When the co- tween these two extremes and the cleaning re-
efficient of thermal expansion is large, warping quirements will depend upon the oxidation
and buckling of welded assemblies can be behavior of the particular metal. Whether a
expected. cleaning operation is necessary depends upon
the amount of oxide present and how it will
Hardness and Strength affect weld properties. Surface resistance mea-
The hardness and strength of metals are surements may be used to control cleanliness. In
important to resistance welding. Soft metals can any case, all mill scale, heavy oxide from prior
be marked easily by the electrodes. Hard, strong heat treatment, and extraneous material, such
metals require high electrode forces. Metals as paint, drawing compounds, or grease, must
that retain their strength at elevated temperatures be removed prior to resistance welding.
may require the use of welding machines ca- Plastic Temperature Range
pable of applying a forging force to the weld.
If the metal melts and flows in a narrow
Oxide-Forming Characteristics temperature ~ange, the welding variables must
be more closely controlled than with a metal
All commonly used metals oxidize in air,
having a wide plastic temperature range. This
some more readily than others. The surface property may have considerable bearing on the
oxide normally has high electrical resistance.
welding procedure and equipment. Aluminum
If this oxide film is very thick, the resistance
alloys have narrow plastic ranges and require
may be so high that current can not flow through precise control of welding current, electrode
the pieces at normal secondary voltages. If the force, and electrode follow-up during welding.
oxide film is extremely thin, it may have very Therefore, projection welding of aluminum is
little effect. For oxide film thicknesses in be-
not done commercially. Low carbon steel has a
tween these two extremes, welding current may wide plastic range and is easily resistance
flow, but very localized heating may occur at welded.
the interfaces. In the case of spot welding, over-
heating between the electrodes and the work Metallurgical Characteristics
may cause surface flashing, pickup of metal
With resistance welding, a small volume
on the electrode, and poor surface appearance.
of metal is heated to its forging or melting tem-
Furthermore, if the oxide film thickness varies perature in a short time. The heated metal is
from one part to another, the weld strength may
then cooled rapidly by the electrodes and sur-
not be consistent. The oxide-forming charac-
rounding metal. Cold-worked metal will be
teristics of the metal should be thoroughly un-
annealed in the areas exposed to this thermal
derstood and suitable precautions be observed.
cycle. In addition, the rapid cooling may have
In welding aluminum alloys, for instance, the
a considerable hardening effect on some steels.
method of cleaning prior to welding and the
High carbon steel, for instance, may harden so
time interval between cleaning and welding are
rapidly that the welds crack. A postweld tem-
important variables.
pering operation is necessary to avoid this
Aluminum alloys form oxides rapidly and,
cracking. Figure 1.8 shows a postweld quench
therefore, welding must be done within a short
and temper cycle following the weld interval.
time after cleaning to avoid significant varia-
tions in surface contact resistance. Stainless LOW CARBON STEEL
steels, on the other hand, are oxidation-
resistant at room temperature and precleaning Low carbon steels generally contain less
is not usually necessary. The cleaning operation than 0.25 percent carbon. The overall weld-
at the mill prior to packaging and shipping ability of these steels is good. Their electrical
will usually be adequate for welding. Other resistivity is average. Hardenability is low.
metals have oxide-forming characteristics be- Welds with good strength can be obtained over

a wide range of current, electrode force, and Austenitic Type

weld time settings. There are a number of these steels, each
having suitable properties for particular uses.
HARDENABLE STEELS The most common ones contain 18 percent
Medium carbon steels may contain from chromium, 8 percent nickel, and approximately
0.25 to 0.55 percent carbon; high carbon steels 0.10 percent carbon. Some are susceptible to
may contain 0.55 to 1.0 percent carbon. Low carbide precipitation if heated for an appre-
alloy steels contain up to 5.5 percent total alloy- ciable time in a temperature range of 800" to
ing elements including cobalt, nickel, molyb- 1600° F. They can be resistance welded without
denum, chromium, vanadium, tungsten, alum- producing harmful carbide precipitation with
inum, and copper. Alloying additions produce short weld times. Less current is required than
certain desirable properties in steels. The steels for low carbon steels since their electrical re-
may respond to heat treatment and the welds sistances are approximately seven times greater.
may be hard and brittle unless a postweld tem- Relatively high electrode forces are needed be-
pering cycle is employed. With seam welding, cause of their high strengths at elevated tem-
travel must stop during weld and postheat times. peratures. Austenitic stainless steels have higher
Special controls are available to do this on coefficients of thermal expansion than carbon
standard machines. In general, the weldability steels. As a result, seam welded assemblies
of these steels is poorer, due to their harden- may warp excessively if the design and welding
ability, than that of mild steel. procedures do not provide for this. It is advan-
tageous to use short weld times to minimize
the total heat input.
Stainless steels contain relatively large
In general, nickel alloys are readily joined
amounts of chromium or chromium and nickel
by resistance welding. The general requirements
as alloying elements. They are divided into
for welding are high electrode force, accurate
three groups, namely, martensitic, ferritic, and
timing, and cleanliness. These alloys are subject
austenitic types. Whether the steel is harden- to embrittlement by sulfur, lead, and other low-
able or not depends upon the amounts of carbon, melting-point metals when exposed to them at
chromium, and nickel present.
high temperatures. Oils, grease, lubricants,
Ferritic and Martensitic Types marking materials, and other foreign material,
which might contain sulfur or lead, must be
These steels may be hardenable (marten- removed from the parts prior to welding or weld
sitic types) or nonhardenable (ferritic types). cracking may occur. Pickling prior to welding
When resistance welding the hardenable types, will only be necessary if a significant amount
the precautions given for high carbon and low of oxide is present as indicated by surface dis-
alloy steels must be followed. Hence, these coloration.
steels have poor weldability characteristics. The Pure nickel can be welded rather easily.
nonhardenable types also have poor weldability Some mechanical sticking of electrodes may be
characteristics because the weld zone will have experienced because of the high electrical con-
a characteristic coarse-grained structure and low ductivity of nickel. A restricted dome electrode
ductility. These steels are generally not suitable with a 170-degree cone angle is recommended
for applications where a ductile weld is required. for spot welding.
With the martensitic types, a postweld heat Monel 400' is an alloy of approximately two-
treatment improves weld ductility. However, thirds nickel and one-third copper. It has higher
postweld heat treatment of the ferritic types is
not beneficial. 7. A trademark
Metals Welded /41

electrical resistivity than mild steel and is con- Electronic control of current and time is also very
siderably stronger, particularly at elevated tem- desirable. Pure copper can not be spot, seam, or
peratures. Therefore, somewhat lower welding projection welded.
current and higher electrode force are required Copper-zinc alloys (brasses) become easier
for spot and seam welding this alloy. Projection to weld as the zinc content increases because
welding is accomplished without difficulty. the electrical resistivity increases. The red
Monel K-500', which can be age-hardened by brasses are difficult to weld while the brasses
a subsequent JIOOOF thermal treatment, has with high zinc content can be welded with a
higher thermal and electrical resistivities and is range of welding conditions, even though the
stronger than Monel 400. Therefore, slightly required energy input is high compared to carbon
lower welding current but higher electrode force steel. Relatively short welding times are recom-
is required for Monel K-500 than for Monel mended to prevent expulsion and sticking of the
400. Monel K-500 will crack in the age-hardened electrode to the work.
condition if subject to appreciable tensile stress Copper-tin alloys (phosphor bronze),
at llOO"F. Therefore, spot, seam, and projection copper-silicon alloys (silicon bronze) and copper-
welding should be done on annealed material. aluminum alloys (aluminum bronze) are rela-
lnconel 600' contains approximately 78 tively easy to weld because of their relatively
percent nickel, 15 percent chromium, and 7 per- high electrical resistance. These alloys, partic-
cent iron. It has even higher thermal and elec- ularly phosphor bronze, have a tendency to be
trical resistivities than Monel 400, and is quite hot short. This may result in cracking in the
strong at elevated temperatures. Lower welding welds.
currents and higher electrode forces than for
Monel 400 are required for this alloy. Recom- ALUMINUM AND MAGNESIUM
mended practices for spot welding are available. ALLOYS
Projection and seam welding are quite readily
accomplished using procedures similar to those All the commercial aluminum and magne-
for stainless steels. sium alloys that are produced in the form of sheet
Inconel X-750' and Inconel 722' are age- and extrusions may be spot and seam welded,
hardening variations of Inconel 600. They provided the thicknesses involved are not too
possess high strengths at elevated temperatures, great. Properly designed equipment, correct sur-
and have very high electrical resistances. Rela- face prepration, and suitable welding procedures
tively low welding currents and high electrode are necessary to produce satisfactory welds.
forces are used for these two alloys. Projec- Aluminum and magnesium alloys have
tion welding can be accomplished readily with comparatively high thermal and electrical con-
machines having adequate force capacity. These ductivities. To make spot and seam welds, high
alloys should be welded in the solution annealed welding currents and relatively short welding
condition only. times are necessary. One important factor in-
fluencing the choice of equipment for spot and
seam welding is the rapid softening of the alloys
at welding temperature. This necessitates fast
Copper alloys have a wide range of weld- movement of the welding electrode into the
ability that varies almost directly with their material as the nugget is formed. Although the
electrical resistance. When the resistance is low, distance is small, electrode movement must take
they are difficult to weld; when resistance is place in a very short time, perhaps 0.002 to
high, they are rather easy to weld. Machines 0.005 second. Rapid acceleration of the welding
having adequate current capacity and moderate machine head is necessary to maintain contact
forces are necessary. Because of the narrow between the electrodes and the work. For this
plastic range of these alloys, it is very desirable reason, low inertia equipment should be used.
to employ machines with low inertia heads. Projection welding of aluminum and magnesium

is not done commercially because of their nar- are the best preventive measures.
row plastic temperature range.
COATED AND PLATED STEELS When setting up for welding a particular
metal and joint design, a schedule must be
Many plated and coated steels can be spot, established to produce welds that meet the de-
seam, or projection welded, but the weld quality sign specifications. Previous experience can
usually is affected by the composition and the provide a starting point for the initial setup. If
thickness of the coating. Coatings on steel are the application is a new one, reference to pub-
usually applied for corrosion resistance, decora- lished information on the welding of the material
tion, or a combination of the two. Therefore, by the designated process will serve as a guide
the welding procedures should assure a reasonable for the initial setup.
preservation of the coating function as well as Sample welds should be made and tested
produce welds of adequate strength. Strength while changing one process variable at a time
requirements usually require machine settings within a range to establish an acceptable value
similar to those for bare carbon steel. Adjust- for that variable. It may be necessary to estab-
ments to compensate for the coating will be lish the effect of one variable at several levels
determined by a number of factors including of another. For example, weld or heat time and
its effect on contact resistance, acceptable elec- electrode force may be evaluated at several
trode marking, tendency of the coating to alloy welding currents. Visual examination and de-
with the base metal, and electrode sticking. structive test results can be used to select an
Coating thickness is the most important appropriate welding schedule. Finally, first pro-
variable affecting weldability. It varies over duction parts, or simulations thereof, should be
relatively wide ranges in commercial practice. welded and destructively tested. Final adjust-
When thickness presents problems in welding, ments are then made to the welding schedule
better welds can often be secured by decreasing to meet design or specification requirements.
the coating thickness. In some cases, it is pos- Starting schedules for many commercial
sible to redesign parts for projection welding alloys may be available from the equipment
to obtain strong welds without impairing the manufacturer. Some may also be found in the
corrosion resistance of the coating. following publications:
Satisfactory weld strength requires the de- (1) AWS CI.l, Recommended Practices
velopment of a weld nugget between steel for Resistance Welding
sheets which are initially separated by two (2) AWS Cl.2, Recommended Practices
layers of the coating metal. Coating thicknesses for Spot Welding Aluminum and Aluminum
vary so widely in commerical practice that Alloys
optimum machine settings for a particular appli- (3) AWS Cl.3, Recommended Practices
cation must be determined experimentally. A for Resistance Welding Coated Low Carbon
weld nugget of the desired size may be obtained Steels
without too much disturbance of the outside (4) AWS 08.5, Recommended Practices
surfaces by using higher welding current, greater for Automotive Portable Gun Resistance Spot
electrode force, and shorter weld time than for the Welding
same thickness of bare steel. Good electrode (5) AWS 08. 7, Specification for Auto-
contact reduces the tendency of the electrode to motive Weld Quality, Resistance Spot Welding
alloy with the coating. However, it is extremely (6) Resistance Welding Manual, Vols. 1
difficult to prevent alloying and pick-up around and 2, 3rd ed., Resistance Welder Manufac-
the periphery of the electrode face, particularly turers Association, 1956, 1961.
with low melting point coatings such as lead, (7) Metals Handbook, Vol. 6, Welding and
tin, and zinc. Short welding times, good tip Brazing, 8th ed., American Society for Metals,
maintenance, and attention to electrode cooling 1971.
Weld Quality /43

The weld quality required depends pri- However, they have identical surface appearance
marily upon the application. It is affected by the because all the welding current passes through
composition and condition of the base metal, the outside surface of both welds. This effect is
joint and part designs, electrode condition, and more severe for closely spaced welds, welds in
available equipment. In some applications, each metal of low electrical resistivity, and welds in
weld must meet the minimum requirements of a thick sheets (0.040-in. thick and greater).
rather stringent specification. This is true for Normally, the surface appearance of a spot,
aircraft and space vehicles. Other applications seam, or projection weld should be relatively
may have standards for satisfactory welds but smooth; round or oval in the case of contoured
permit some percentage of undersize or defective work; and free from surface fusion, electrode
welds. Automotive components are examples. • deposit, pits, cracks, deep electrode indentation,
Design requirements may include surface or any other condition that would indicate im-
appearance, minimum strength, and leaktight- proper electrode maintenance or equipment
ness with some seam welding applications. operation. Table 1.3 lists some of the more com-
These should be monitored by a system of mon undesirable surface conditions, the causes,
quality control that includes visual inspection and the effects on weld quality.
and destructive examination of test samples or
actual weldments. The most important factors
that affect weld quality are as follows: WELD SIZE
(1) Surface appearance The diameter or width of the fused zone
(2) Weld size must meet the requirements of the appropriate
(3) Penetration specifications or the design criteria. In the absence
(4) Strength and ductility of such requirements, either accepted shop prac-
(5) Internal discontinuities tices or the following general rules should be
(6) Sheet separation and expulsion used.
(7) Weld consistency (I) Spot welds that are reliably reproduced
under normal production conditions should have
SURFACE APPEARANCE a minimum nugget diameter of 3.5 to 4 times
The surface appearance of a resistance weld the thickness of the thinnest outside part of the
is no indication of its strength, size, or internal joint. In cases of three or more dissimilar
soundness. It is an indication of the conditions thicknesses, the nugget diameters between ad-
under which the weld was made, but it should jacent parts can be adjusted somewhat by the
not be used as the sole criterion for qualifying selection of the electrode design and materials.
production welds. For example, a group of spot (2) The individual nuggets in a pressure-
welds in a joint may have identical surface ap- tight seam weld should overlap a minimum of
25 percent. The width of the nugget should be
pearance, such as those shown in Fig. 1.29. Yet,
at least 3.5 to 4 times the thickness of the
all welds except the first may be greatly under-
thinnest outside part.
strength because of the shunting of current
(3) Projection welds should have a nugget
through adjacent welds. Figure 1.30 shows an
size equal to or larger than the diameter of the
example of this. The diameter of the fused
original projection.
zone of the second weld is appreciably smaller
There is a maximum limit to the nugget
than the first one due to shunting of current.
size of a spot, projection, or seam weld. This
limitation is based more on the economics and
8. The requirements are given in AWS 08.7, Speci- practical limitations of producing
a weld than on
fiCation for Automotive Welding Quality-Resistance the laws of heat generation and dissipation that
Spot Welding, latest edition. limit the minimum size of the weld. The maxi-

Fig. 1.29-Surface appearance of two succeeding spot welds in 0.046

in. stainless steel sheet

mum useful nugget size cannot be specified

in general terms . Each user should establish
this limit in accordance with the design require-
ments and prevailing shop practices.
- .... -----
Fig. 1.30- Cross section of spot welds
PENETRATION in Fig. 1.29 showing the effect of
current shunting
Penetration is the depth to which the nugget
extends into the pieces that are in contact with the
electrodes. The minimum depth of penetration is
generally accepted as 20 percent _of the thickness
of the outside piece. If penetration is less than
20 percent, the weld is said to be cold because
the heat generated in the weld zone is too small,
and normal variations in welding current, time,
electrode force, etc., will cause undesirable
c hanges in weld strength. In extreme cases, there
may be no weld at all. The depth of penetration
should not exceed 80 percent of the thickness.
Greater penetration will result in expulsion, ex-
cessive indentation, and rapid electrode wear.
Figure 1.31 shows normal, excessive, and insuf-
ficient penetration.
The depth of penetration into each outside Fig. 1.31-Penetration in spot welds;
piece should be approximately uniform for equal (A)-normal, (B)-excessive,
or nearly equal thicknesses. For dissimilar thick-
ness ratios of three or more to one, the depth of
penetration into the thicker piece need only be
equal to that in the thinner piece. welds are loaded in shear when the parts are
exposed to tension or compression loading. In
STRENGTH AND DUCTILITY some cases, the welds may be loaded in tension,
where the direction of loading is normal to the
Structures employing spot, seam, and pro- plane of the joint, or a combination of tension
jection welds are usually designed so that the and shear. In the case of flanged tank sections
Weld Quality/45

Table 1.3
Undesirable surface conditions for spot welds
Cause Effect
I. Deep electrode indentation Improperly dressed electrode face; Loss of weld strength due to re-
lack of control of electrode duction of metal thickness at the
force; excessively high rate of periphery of the weld area; bad
heat generation due to high con- appearance
tact resistance (low electrode
2. Surface fusion (usually ac- Scaly or dirty metal; low electrode Undersize welds due to heavy
companied by deep elec- force; misalignment of work; expulsion of molten metal; large
trode indentation) high welding current; electrodes cavity in weld zone extending
improperly dressed; improper through to surface; increased
sequencing of pressure and cost of removing burrs from
current outer surface of work; poor
electrode life and loss of pro-
duction time from more fre-
quent electrode dressings
3. Irregular shaped weld Misalignment of work; bad elec- Reduced weld strength due to
trode wear or improper elec- change in interface contact area
trode dressing; badly fitting and expulsion of molten metal
parts; electrode bearing on the
radius of the flange; skidding;
improper surface cleaning of
4. Electrode deposit on work Scaly or dirty material; low elec- Bad appearance; reduced corro-
(usually accompanied by trode force or high welding cur- sion resistance; reduced weld
surface fusion) rent; improper maintenance of strength if molten metal is ex-
electrode contacting face; im- pelled; reduced electrode life
proper electrode material; im-
proper sequencing of electrode
force and weld current
5. Cracks, deep cavities, or Removing the electrode force Reduction of fatigue strength if
pin holes before welds are cooled from weld is in tension or if crack or
liquidus; excessive heat genera- imperfection extends into the
tion resulting in heavy expul- periphery of weld area; increase
sion of molten metal; poorly in corrosion due to accumula-
fitting parts requiring most of tion of corrosive substances in
the electrode force to bring the cavity or crack
faying surfaces into contact

that are seam welded along the flanges, the The strength of spot and projection welds
seam welds may be subjected to peeling action. increases as the diameter becomes larger, even
The strength requirements for spot and though the average unit stress decreases. The
projection welds are normally specified in unit stress decreases because of the increasing
pounds per weld. For seam welds, the strength tendency for failure to occur at the edge of the
is usually specified in pounds per inch of joint nugget as its size increases. In low carbon steel,
length. It is good practice to specify weld for example, the calculated average shear stress
strength that is greater than that of welds of in good welds at rupture will vary from 10 to 60
minimum recommended nugget size, but not ksi. Low values apply to relatively large welds
more than 150 percent. and high values to relatively small welds. In

both instances, the actual tensile stress in the These methods are not always practical.
sheet at the weld periphery is at or near the For instance, the first will produce greater dis-
ultimate tensile strength of the base metal. This tortion of the assembly and reduce production
factor tends to cause the shear strength of circu- rates; the second and third methods require weld-
lar welds to vary linearly with diameter. ing machine controls that provide these features;
Single spot and projection welds are not the fourth method involves an additional opera-
strong in torsion where the axis of rotation is tion that may reduce the strength of cold worked
perpendicular to the plane of the welded parts. base metal. If the assembly is quenched from
This strength tends to vary with the cube of the annealing temperature, it may cause exces-
the diameter. Little torsional deformation is ob- sive distortion.
tained with brittle welds prior to failure. Angu-
lar displacements may vary from 5 to 180 de-
grees depending upon weld metal ductility. INTERNAL DISCONTINUITIES
Torsion is normally used to shear welds across Internal discontinuities include cracks,
the interface to measure the cross section. porosity or spongy metal, large cavities, and,
The ductility of a resistance weld is de- in the case of some coated metals, metallic
termined by the composition of the base metal inclusions. Generally speaking, these discon-
and the effect of high temperatures and sub- tinuities will have no detrimental effect on the
sequent rapid cooling on that composition. Un- static or fatigue strength of a weld if they are
fortunately, the standard methods of measuring located entirely in the central portion of the
ductility are not adaptable to spot, seam, and weld nugget. This is true because the stresses are
projection welds. The nearest thing to ductility
essentially zero in the central portion of the
measurement is the hardness test, since the hard- weld nugget. On the other hand, it is extremely
ness of a metal is usually an indication of its important that no defects occur at the periphery
ductility. For a given alloy, ductility decreases of a weld where the load stresses are highly
with increasing hardness, but different alloys of concentrated.
the same hardness do not necessarily possess Spot, seam, and projection welds in metal
the same ductility. thicknesses of approximately 0.040 in. and
Another method of indicating the ductility greater may have small shrinkage cavities in the
of a spot or projection weld is to determine the center of the weld nugget, as illustrated in Fig.
ratio of its direct tension strength to the tension- 1.32(A). These cavities are less pronounced in
shear strength? A Weld with good ductility has some metals than in others due to the difference
a high ratio; a weld with poor ductility has a low in forging action of the electrodes on the hot
ratio. metal. Such shrinkage cavities are generally not
There are various methods which can be
detrimental in the usual applications. However,
used in production welding to minimize the
the cavity that results from heavy expulsion of
hardening effect of rapid cooling. Some of these
molten metal, as shown in Fig. 1.32(8), may
take up a very large part of the fused area and
(I) Use long weld times to put heat into
must be considered a defect. A certain number
the work. of expulsion cavities are to be expected in the
(2) Preheat the weld area with a preheat production welding of most commercial steels.
Heavy expulsion of molten metal is a result of
(3) Temper the weld and heat-affected zones improper welding conditions, and the number
using a temper current at some interval after the of such welds that can be accepted should be
weld time. limited by specifications.
(4) Furnace anneal or temper the welded
Internal defects in spot, seam, and projec-
tion welds are generally caused by low elec-
9. These tests are described in Vol. I, Welding trode force, high welding current, or any other
Handbook, 7th ed.: 161-3. conditions that produce excessive weld heat.
Quality Control/41

They are also caused by removing the electrode faces due to the expansion and contraction of
force too soon after welding current stops. the weld metal and the forging effect of the
When this occurs, the weld nugget is not prop- electrodes on the hot nugget. The amount of
erly forged during cooling. Such action may separation varies with the thickness of the stock,
result with high-speed seam and roll spot increasing with greater thickness. Normal sep-
welding. aration is shown in Fig. l.3l(A).
Excessive sheet separation results from the
SHEET SEPARATION same causes as surface indentation, to which it
is related. Improperly dressed electrode faces
Sheet separation occurs at the faying sur- act as punches under high electrode force. This
tends to decrease the joint thickness, upset the
weld metal radially, and force the sheets up
around the electrodes. Excessive sheet separa-
tion is illustrated in Fig. l. 33 (note that one
sheet is laminated).

. ~' . -~~,
. \'i

• • • F • ~ ,

Fig. 1.32-Shrinkage cavities in spot

welds: (A)-small, (B)-large Fig. 1.33-Excessive sheet separation


Consistent weld quality can be maintained quality. Changes in base metal alloy, temper, or
with proper control of the factors that tend to surface conditions may require revision of the
produce variations in the final product. These welding cycle to produce acceptable welds.
factors include:
(1) Joint design and fit-up WELDING VARIABLES
(2) Material thickness tolerance
(3) Composition, temper, and surface con- When uniform parts are fed to a suitable
dition of the base metal welding machine operated to a qualified welding
(4) Electrode material and shape procedure specification, production of consis-
(5) Electrode and weldment cooling tently acceptable welds is routine. Uniform
(6) Welding cycle variables production welding is achieved if essentially con-
(7) Postweld thermal treatments stant conditions are maintained. When the elec-
The importance of joint design and fit-up trodes are properly dressed and the welding cycle
is discussed elsewhere in this chapter. Large is consistent, there should be very little variation
variations in part thickness, particularly with in weld quality. Since it is very difficult to achieve
three or more thicknesses, may produce incon- absolute uniformity in production operations ,
sistent fit-up which, in turn, can affect weld such operations always should be set up to allow

for some variations without causing significant type accessory are dual, triple, or multi-function
differences in weld properties. of the following: weld time, phase shift heat
Electrode force is usually determined from control, or complete timing and heat control
graphs relating air or hydraulic pressure to force schedule.
produced by the cylinder. Force gages are com- Any timing or level adjustment can be set
mercially available to verify settings for critical up on a multiple basis. The only requirement is
applications. In general, only static forces are that the control manufacturer be properly
measured. Proper maintenance and lubrication informed of the functional variables desired.
of moving parts help to assure uniformity of
applied forces. Periodic electrode dressing
assures the application of uniform pressures Monitoring devices are electronic units that
and current densities. Consistent secondary receive input signals from various points of the
currents can be assured by the use of current or welding process, compare these input signals to
voltage regulators, maintenance of proper line a preset standard, and then display the result as
voltage, consistent fit-up of parts, proper spac- acceptable or rejectable. Rejection can also be
ing of welds, and allowance for magnetic mate- expanded to over or under an acceptable range.
rials in the throat of the machine. Various types of monitors are:
(I ) Current detector, over and under
CONTROL ACCESSORIES (2) Voltage (line) detector, over and under
(3) Tip voltage monitor
Controls for resistance welding have ade-
(4) Weld energy monitor (can be used as
quate life, reliability, timing accuracy, and
firing precision for most applications. They monitor only or as feedback unit to control
weld time)
utilize semiconductor components for resistance-
capacitance timing as well as accurate cycle (5) Electrode movement monitor
(6) Electrode movement and current detector
counting. Maintenance of the control functions
alone will not compensate for all welding Types I and 2 are single-variable readout
variables. Changes in work and electrode con- devices; there are many specialized units that
ditions, line voltage fluctations, current shunt- fall into this category. This style unit, usually
ing, cable wear, and electrode force variations simple in nature, will tend to prevent weld
can gradually or suddenly affect weld quality. quality deterioration from excessive variations
A current regulator can compensate for some of of this single variable. An "out of tolerance"
these variations. Improved timing accuracy and signal from these units is in the form of an
current regulation will help to maintain weld isolated relay which may be used to turn on an
quality indirectly. Various control accessories alarm or lock out the main welding control.
are available that can improve weld quality by Type 3 is a more sophisticated monitoring
device. To some extent, it reads the combination
automatic adjustment of control functions or by
of secondary voltage, welding current, and
monitoring of the welding variables and indicat-
ing a malfunction. electrode force using the voltage across the
tips as its quality standard. If the input voltage,
Programmed Devices
input current, metal conditions, or electrode
force vary, they may produce a change in the
Specialized accessories are available to voltage across the electrodes. If the voltage
expand the capability of standard NEMA' 0 type change is large enough to exceed a preset high
weld controls. With these accessories, it is pos- or low limit, the unit will indicate the weld as
sible to increase overall weld quality. On oc- a "reject." As long as the tip voltage remains
casion, some dual or multi-function accessories within set limits, the unit will indicate weld
can be of extreme value. Some examples of this quality as "acceptable."
Type 4, the weld energy monitor, can be
10. National Electrical Manufacturers Association used either as a monitor only or as a monitor
Quality Control/49

with feedback control of the welding machine maintain a preset power level in the welding
control. As a monitor, the unit integrates sec- transformer.
ondary voltage or current signals, or both, with
an internal time base and calculates an energy Tip Voltage Regulator. Tbis regulator receives
input level for each weld. a feedback signal from terminals at the welding
The weld energy monitor is set up by run- electrodes. The unit compares the feedback sig-
ning a group of sample welds at various ma- nal to a previously set reference level and auto-
chine settings and recording the upper and lower matically adjusts the current control circuit to
readings of acceptable welds. The user can then maintain the correct power at welding electrodes.
decide at what level to set the high and low The reference signal is determined when accept-
limits on the unit. After this is accomplished, able welds are made in the manual mode. This
every weld reading that falls between these information is used to adjust the circuitry to the
settings is indicated as an acceptable weld. proper operating range. Circuitry also incor-
Each weld that falls outside of these limits is porated in this unit indicates when the unit can
indicated by a "reject" or "out of limits" signal. no longer maintain the preset level. Lights or an
The "accept" and "out of limits" signals, plus alarm indicate when the preset tolerances are
a number of other signals, can be interfaced out exceeded.
of the weld energy monitor for use elsewhere,
Resistance Feedback Accessory. The acces-
such as a computer or programmable control
sory combines the resistance drop principle as a
weld quality indicator with adjustable limit
timers and indicators to provide the operator
Adaptive Controls
with information on the condition of the welding
Adaptive or "feedback" control devices process. Also, the control makes in-process
are electronic units that operate on a closed- adjustments to the weld time to produce a good
loop or semi-loop principle. In general, this type weld.
system depends on signals generated by the The process variable monitored is the
welding process which are "fed back" into the change in the electrical resistance across the
circuitry and compared to a standard reference weld that occurs during the weld time. The re-
previously set up in the unit. As the weld time sistance of a spot weld varies according to a
progresses, the circuitry attempts to make adjust- predictable pattern as the nugget is being formed.
ments internally so that the feedback signal For the first few cycles of weld time, the re-
matches the standard reference. sistance may be erratic due to metal fit and sur-
Generally, the reference standard is set up face condition variables. However, the general
by making sample welds with the weld controller trend is for the resistance to increase as the metal
set in a manual mode. In these systems, there are is heated by the welding current.
usually adjustable high and low limits to set, and At some point, the resistance will peak
any weld exceeding these preset values will be and then begin to decrease. It is theorized that
indicated as a questionable weld. this decrease in weld resistance is due to metal
fusion and the resulting destruction of the inter-
Current Regulator. In this unit, the welding face resistance of the parts to be welded. It is
transformer primary current is monitored by a possible to roughly relate the percentage drop in
current transformer. The current transformer weld resistance from the peak value to weld
output is fed to a special electronic control nugget size. As an example, in the welding of
circuit. The output level of the control circuit two pieces of clean 0.060-in. thick mild steel, a
is related to the primary current demand of the resistance drop of 15 percent in a reasonable
welding machine. Changes in this level are weld time with reasonable electrode force will
sensed by additional electronic circuitry that be found to produce a good weld.
automatically adjusts the current control devices
to increase or decrease the primary current to Weld Energy Monitor. In addition to its

monitoring capability, the unit can be inter- INSPECTION AND TESTING

faced to the main welding control to control the
weld time. In this mode of operation, the device A satisfactory resistance weld is the result
uses the same input (secondary current squared of using correct welding settings and techniques
or secondary current combined with secondary and maintaining them for the duration of a par-
voltage) for information. ticular production run. Factors such as current,
time, electrode force, and material must be
With its added capability, the unit is in
properly controlled. This is best done by
active control of the process rather than merely
periodic testing of workpieces or test samples
a passive device. It displays an energy level on
for quality control.
a readout. Assuming that the proper energy level
The number of workpieces inspected as
for a good weld has been established, the unit
well as the inspection method may vary. The
can be placed in control of the weld time to
test pieces may be examined nondestructively or
produce the proper energy for each weld.
a certain number tested destructively. Statistical
Acoustic Emission Monitor. Acoustic emission methods are then used to predict the quality of
testing is based on the fact that solid materials the whole lot. In any case, an inspector must be
emit stress waves when stimulated mechanically able to (I) recognize conditions that may cause
or thermally. These waves can be picked up by variations in results, (2) make certain that the
a transducer and electronically processed for test pieces are representative samples, and (3)
monitoring and controlling. Monitoring spot ascertain that production pieces are made under
welds is an excellent example of in-process the same conditions as the test samples.
testing where the stimulus is provided by the The inspector has many inspection means
welding process itself. Starting with the electrode at his disposal, including visual, x-ray, IUagnetic
set-down and ending with the electrode lift-off, particle, fluorescent penetrant, and destructive
spot welding produces a complex acoustic emis- tests. For many types of weldments, the basis
sion signal. The distinguishable elements of this for acceptance is visual inspection. This may be
acoustic record are associated with a number of true even for some weldments that are later to
different physical changes that occur during the be tested by x-ray or other methods. It starts
welding process. The signals associated with with the material prior to fabrication. After the
expulsion (spitting or flashing) are generally of parts are assembled in position for welding, any
large amplitude. They can be easily distinguished incorrect alignment of faying surfaces and other
from the rest of the acoustic emission associated features of joint preparation that might affect
with nugget formation. the quality of the welded joint should be noted.
The expulsion can be visible when it takes A high-quality, consistent weld cannot be
place at the electrode tips and invisible when it judged entirely by appearance, but good welds
takes place between the metal parts. Expulsion should present a uniform and consistent appear-
occurs when an oversize weld nugget is formed, ance. The electrode indentation should not fade
and it is generally an indication of overwelding. out because this would indicate electrode de-
It will occur early in the weld cycle when the terioration or cold welds.
electrodes are clean or the metal is thin. It will No economical or practical nondestructive
occur later when the welding conditions have method of inspecting spot welds is available.
deteriorated. The detection of expulsion by Therefore, the practice is to periodically make
acoustical emission can be accomplished with a number of sample specimens for destructive
available techniques. Since the appearance of the testing. These pieces must be welded under the
first expulsion signal is the dynamic time-mark same conditions as the production parts. The
for the completion of a good weld, it can be material should be the same both in composition
used to signal the control to terminate welding and thickness. Surface cleaning and all machine
current. Thus, the unit forms a feedback path settings should be indentical. Care must be
between the welding process and the power taken to prevent misleading effects from current
input to the weld. shunting through adjacent welds.
Quality Control/51
Direction of rolling

r-1 / 2 in.-j (preferred)\

o i \
j_ Spot weld centered 1
as shown 1

T..____ L ----+~·1

I 2 3
: 0 0 0
: Spot welds centered
as shown

_1_ 1,..__u_se_th_i_rd_w_~_l_d_fo_r_t_es_t....J.-......,
T, in. W, in. L, in. D

up to 0.029 5/8 2 Minimum acceptable

0.030 to 0.058 1 3 weld spacing
0.059 to 0.125 1-1/2 4

Fig. 1.34-Pee/ test specimens

Fig. 1.35- Peel test


test for seam welds is the pillow test, a specimen

for which is shown in Fig. 1.36 . The specimen
is tested for leaks with internal hydraulic pres-
sure. An acceptable weld will not leak before
the specimen ruptures. Standard practice in
aircraft quality welding is to test welds for shear
strength using the specimen shown in Fig. 1.37.
This is done at intervals specified in the appro-
Drill hole in one piece and arc priate welding specification.
weld or braze a std. pipe nipple Sectioning of welded specimens is another
centrally over the hole method of weld evaluation. It consists of scrib-
ing the centerline of the weld, sawing to one
side of this line , and smoothing the cut surface
by grinding to the centerline. Etching allows
macroscopic examination of the weld nugget for
Fig. 1.36-Pillow test for seam welds
size, penetration, structure, and discontinuities.
The surfaces of a spot, seam, or projection
Commercial quality welds are normally weld should appear relatively smooth and free
visually inspected and peel tested. Peel test from surface melting, electrode deposits, pits,
specimen designs are shown in Fig. 1.34, and cracks, deep electrode indentations, or other
the method of testing in Fig. 1.35 . A similar conditions indicating that the proper electrode

Spot weld centered

_1__ as shown---./ .----::::t:-+
- -------------.

T w L
Thickness of Specimen Recommended
thinner sheet, in. width, in. length, in.
Up to 0.030 5/8 3
0.031 to 0.050 3/4 3
0.051 to 0.100 1 4
0.101 to0.130 1·1/4 5
0. 131 to 0.190 1· 1/2 5
0.191 and over 2 6

Fig. 1.37-Tension-shear test specimen


face contour was not maintained or that the formance of all production by analysis of
equipment was not functioning properly. The samples.
diameter of the fused area for resistance welds (3) Predict the future quality by consider-
must meet the standards required by the specifi- ing the trend of past and present quality.
cation or design drawings. Additional informa- The methods of sampling, extraction of
tion on testing is found in AWS Cl.l, Recom- data from the samples, and a decision as to
mended Practices for Resistance Welding whether to permit further use of the welding
(latest edition). procedure constitute the quality control system.
In connection with the selection of the sta-
tistical control system, it will function faster
STATISTICAL METHODS and more economically if the number of vari-
ables to be kept under control is small and the
The application of statistical control to charts and records that must be maintained are
production quality has three prime objectives: few in number. Obviously, the various ma-
(I) To reduce the number of rejections and chines that are used to weld the same or similar
machine shutdowns due to poor performance materials should be as nearly equal in adjust-
(2) To assist in establishing the optimum ment and performance as possible.
specification limits of satisfactory quality A complicated system could be adopted
(3) To provide a reasonably reliable mea- that would cover a number of machines with
sure of actual production quality different and varying characteristics. However,
If these objectives are achieved, the prod- a more economical system can be used if all the
uct will have high quality at low cost, and mini- machines are first stabilized and then similar
mumscrap. machines are standardized before applying the
The basic principles of statistical control statistical control.
are widely used in industry. Briefly these prin- The advantages, methods, and procedures
ciples are to: for statistical quality control of resistance weld-
(I) Select samples of actual production and ing are described in AWS Cl.l-66, Recom-
test them for performance to specifications. mended Practices for Resistance Welding,
(2) Estimate the probable quality or con- 102-111.


MECHANICAL electronic eye safety circuits, or similar devices

should be used.
Resistance welding equipment should be (3) Designing portable resistance welding
designed to avoid crushing of hands and other guns so that the hands placed on the operating
parts of the body. This may be achieved by: holders cannot be crushed, perhaps by suitably
(l) Arranging initiating controls, such as remote two-hand controls with appropriate
push buttons and foot switches, to prevent the guards.
operator from inadvertantly operating them.
(2) Guarding the operator of multi-gun ma- PERSONAL EQUIPMENT
chines or large platen type machines that may
require the hands to pass under the point of op- As with other welding operations, the per-
eration. Dual hand controls, physical barriers, sonal protective equipment required is dependent

upon the particular application. The following must be manufactured and installed in accordance
equipment is generally needed for resistance with the safety requirements of appropriate local
welding: and national standards and codes. High voltage
(I) Eye protection in the form of eye or face parts must be suitably insulated and protected by
shields or hardened lens goggles is recommended. complete enclosures with access doors and panels
Face shields are preferred. interlocked to electrically isolate the machine.
(2) Skin protection should be provided by Doors and access panels of live electrical
non-flammable clothing with the minimum equipment at production floor level must be kept
number of pockets and cuffs in which hot or locked or interlocked to prevent access by un-
molten particles can lodge. authorized persons.
(3) Protective footwear is advisable. All electrical equipment must be suitably
grounded and the transformer secondary may be
grounded or provided with equivalent protection.
ELECTRICAL External weld-initiating control circuits should
Resistance welding equipment should be operate at low voltage for portable equipment.
designed to avoid accidental contact with parts Additional information on safe practices for
of the system that are electrically hazardous. All re~istance welding is contained in ANSI Z49 .1,
electrical equipment including control panels Safety in Welding and Cutting (latest edition).

Metric Conversion Factors

1 in. = 25.4 mm
11bf = 4.45 N
1 ksi = 6.89 MPa
1 in./min. = 0.423 mm/s
tc = 0.56 (tF - 32)
Supplementary Reading /55


Adams, J. V., et al., Effect of projection ge- resistance spot welding machine for quality
ometry upon weld quality and strength. control. Welding Journal, 51(3): 122s-32s;
Welding Journal, 44(10): 466s-70s; 1965 1972 Mar.
Nadkarin, A. V. and Weber, E. P., A new di-
Andrews, D. R. and Broomhead, J ., Quality mension in resistance welding electrode
assurance for resistance spot welding. Weld- materials. Welding Journal, 56(11): 33ls-
ing Journal54(6); 431-5; 1975 June. 38s; 1977 Nov.
Buer, E Y. and Begeman, M. L., Evaluation of Riley, J. J. and Harris, J. E, Annual projection
resistance seam welds by a shear peel test. welding of tubular sections to low carbon
Welding Journal, 41(3): 120s-22s; 1962 steel sheet. Welding Journal, 45(7): 289s-
Mar. 304s; 1966 July.
Chang, U.l., Mitchell, J. W., and Young, L. G., Savage, W. E, Nippes, E. E, and Wassell,
Evaluation techniques for electrode caps E A., Static contact resistance of series
used in resistance spot welding. Welding spot welds. Welding Journal, 56(11): 365s-
Journal, 51(9): 617-25; 1972 Sept. 70s; 1977 Nov.
Chihoski, R. A., Variations in aluminum spot Savage, W. E, Nippes, E. E, and Wassell, E A.,
welds. Welding Journal, 51(12): 567s-78s; Dynamic contact resistance of series spot
1970Dec. welds. Welding Journal, 57(2): 43s-50s;
1978 Feb.
Cunningham, A., et al., An analysis of the nug-
get formation in projection welding. Weld- Ueda, T. and Kawataka, H., Fatigue strength of
ing Journal, 45(7): 305s-13s; 1966 July. spot welded joints. Welding Research
Abroad, 17(2): 39-52; 1971 Feb.
Czohara, C. A. and Kilmer, T. H., Advancing
the state of the art in resistance welding. Wu, K. C., Electrode indentation criterion for
Welding Journal, 55(4): 259-63; 1976 Apr. resistance spot welding, Welding Journal,
47(10): 472s-78s; 1968 Oct.
Eichhorn, E and Oppe, H. J., The projection
welding of zinc coated sheet metal. Weld- Wu, K. C., Resistance spot welding of high con-
ing Research Abroad, 16(8): 20-31; 1970 tact resistance surfaces for weldbonding.
Oct. Welding Journal, 54(12): 436s-43s; 1975
Johnson, K. I. and Needham, J. C., Design of
Flash, Upset, and Percussion Welding

Flash Welding . ............ ........... 58 Percussion Welding ............ ....... 82

Upset Welding ............ ........... 76 Safety ............ ............ ...... 88

Supplementary Reading List ............ 90

Chapter Committee

W. G. EMAUS, Chairman A. E. LOHRBER

Anderson Automation, Inc. Swift-Ohio Corporation
Weltronic Company Taylor- Winfield Corporation
Centerline (Windsor) Ltd. Newcor, Inc.
Aluminum Company of America KirkhofTransformer Division,
FLX Corporation

Welding Handbook Committee Members

Union Carbide Corporation Reynolds Metals Company

Flash, Upset, and Percussion Welding

Flash, upset, and percussion welding are a to bring the parts into intimate contact. It is the
family of welding processes that can be used to method of heating and time of force applica-
produce a butt joint between two parts of similar tion that distinguish these three welding pro-
cross section· by making a weld simultaneously cesses. Percussion welding may also be used to
across the entire joint area without the addition join the tip or end of a small part to a flat
of filler metal. Upsetting force is applied at some surface.
point before, during, or after the heating cycle

FUNDAMENTALS OF THE PROCESS then minute arcs form. This action is called
"flashing." As the parts are moved together at
Def'mition and General Description
a suitable rate, flashing is continued until the
Flash welding is a resistance welding pro- faying surfaces are covered with molten metal
cess in which coalescence is produced simul- and a short length of each part reaches forging
taneously over the entire area of two abutting temperature. A weld is consummated by the ap-
surfaces. Heat for welding is created by resis- plication of an upsetting force to bring the molten
tance at minute contact points to the flow of faying surfaces in contact and then forge the
electric current and by arcs between the faying parts together. Flashing voltage is terminated at
surfaces. Force is applied on the joint at the ap- the start of upsetting. The solidified metal ex-
propriate time to expel the molten metal from the pelled from the interface is called "flash."
joint and then upset the base metal.
Two parts to be joined are clamped in dies Principles of Operation
(electrodes) connected to the secondary of a re- Sequence of Welding. The basic steps in a
sistance welding transformer. Voltage is applied flash welding sequence are as follows:
as one part is advanced slowly toward the other. (I) Position the parts in the machine
When contact occurs at surface irregularities, (2) Clamp the parts in the dies (electrodes)
resistance heating occurs at these locations. (3) Apply the flashing voltage
High amperage causes rapid melting and explo- (4) Start platen motion to cause flashing
sion of the metal at the points of contact and (5) Flash at normal voltage

Flash Welding /59

the parts increase with time. Flashing action

(metal loss) increases with part temperature.
A graph relating part motion with time is
known as the flashing pattern. In most cases, a
flashing pattern should have an initial period of
constant velocity motion of one part toward the
other to facilitate the start of flashing. This
linear motion should then merge into an accel-
erating motion which should closely approx-
imate a parabolic curve. This pattern of motion
(B) is known as "parabolic flashing."
To produce a strong joint with uniform up-
set, the temperature distribution across the joint
should be uniform and the average temperature
of the faying surface should be the melting tem-
perature of the metal. Once these conditions are
reached, further flashing is not necessary.
The steepness of the temperature gradient
(C) corresponding to a stable temperature distribution
is a function of the part acceleration during para-
bolic flashing. In general, the higher the rate of
part acceleration, the steeper is the stable tem-
perature gradient produced. Thus, the shape of
the temperature distribution curve in a particular
application can be controlled by appropriate
choice of flashing pattern. Since the compres-
(D) sive yield strength of a metal is temperature
sensitive, the behavior of the metal during the
upsetting portion of the welding cycle is markedly
dependent upon the flashing pattern. Therefore,
Fig. 2. t-The basic steps in flash welding:
the choice of flashing pattern is extremely im-
(A) position and clamp the parts;
portant for the production of sound flash welds.
(B) apply flashing voltage and start platen
The minimum flashing distance is the amount of
motion; (C) flash; (D) upset and terminate
flashing required to produce a stable temperature
distribution. From a practical standpoint, the
flashing distance should be slightly greater than
the minimum acceptable amount to ensure that
(6) Terminate flashing a stable temperature distribution is always
(7) Upset the weld zone achieved.
(8) Unclamp the weldment
Upsetting. When a stable temperature distri-
(9) Return the platen and unload
bution is achieved by flashing, the two parts
Figure 2 .I illustrates these basic steps.
should be brought together rapidly and then up-
Additional steps such as preheat, dual-voltage
set together. The movable part should be accel-
flashing, postheat, and trimming of the flash
erated rapidly so that the molten metal on the
may be added as the application dictates.
flashing surfaces will be extruded before it can
Flashing. This action takes place between the solidify in the joint. Motion should continue
faying surfaces as the movable part is advanced with sufficient force to upset the metal and weld
toward the stationary part during welding. Heat the two pieces together.
is generated at the joint and the temperatures of Upsetting current is sometimes applied as

the joint is being upset to maintain temperature generally necessary and may require special
by resistance heating. This permits upsetting of equipment.
the joint with lower force than would be required (4) Alignment of workpieces with small
without it. Upsetting current is normally adjusted cross sections is sometimes difficult.
by electronic heat control on the basis of either (5) The parts to be joined must have al-
experience or welding tests. most identical cross sections.
Advantages and Limitations
8 utt joints between parts with similar cross
section can be made with friction• and upset Base Metals
welding as well as with flash welding. The major
Many ferrous and nonferrous alloys can be
difference between friction welding and the
flash welded. Typical metals are carbon and low
other two processes is that the heat for friction
alloy steels, stainless steels, aluminum alloys,
welding is developed by rubbing friction between
nickel alloys, and copper alloys. Titanium alloys
the faying surfaces rather than from electrical
can be flash welded, but an inert gas shield to
resistance. Upset welding is similar to flash
displace air from around the joint is recom-
welding except that the heat for welding is en-
mended to minimize embrittlement.
tirely from resistance heating at the joint; no
Dissimilar metals may be flash welded if
flashing action occurs.
their flashing and upsetting characteristics are
Some important advantages of flash weld-
similar. Some dissimilarity can be overcome
ing are:
with a difference in the initial extensions be-
(I) Cross-sectional shapes other than cir-
tween the clamping dies, adjustment of flashing
cular can be flash welded; for example, angles,
distance, and selections of welding variables.
H-sections, and rectangles. Rotation of parts is
Typical examples are welding of aluminum to
not required.
copper or a nickel alloy to steel.
(2) Parts of similar cross section can be
welded with their axes aligned or at an angle to Typical Products
each other, within limits.
(3) The molten metal film on the faying The automotive industry uses wheel rims
surfaces and its ejection during upsetting acts to produced from flash welded rings formed from
remove impurities from the interface. flat cold-rolled steel stock. The electrical industry
(4) Preparation of the faying surfaces is not uses motor and generator frames produced by
critical except for large parts that may require a flash welding plate and bar stock previously
rolled into cylindrical form. Cylindrical trans-
bevel to initiate flashing.
former cases, circular flanges, and seals for
(5) Rings of various cross sections can be
power transformer cases are other examples.
(6) The heat-affected zones of flash welds The aircraft industry utilizes flash welds in the
are much narrower than those of upset welds. manufacture of landing gear, control assemblies,
and hollow propellor blades.
Some limitations of the process are:
(I) The high single-phase power demand The petroleum industry uses oil drilling
produces unbalance on the three-phase primary pipe with fittings attached by flash welding. Sev-
power lines. eral major railroads are utilizing flash welding to
(2) The molten metal particles ejected dur- join track of relatively high carbon steel. In most
ing flashing present a fire hazard, possible in- cases: welding is done in the field using welding
jury to the operator, and damage to shafts and machmes and portable generating equipment
bearings. mounted on railroad cars.
(3) Removal of flash and upset metal is Miter joints are sometimes used in the pro-
duction of rectangular frames for windows, doors,
and other architectural trim. These products are
I. Friction welding is discussed in Chapter 7. commonly made of plain carbon and stainless
Flash Welding /61

steels, aluminum alloys, brasses, and bronzes. up to 1200 A from the power lines. Ignitron
Usually the service loads are limited, but appear- contactors are common on larger machines.
ance requirements of the finished joints are ex- Preheat and postheat cycles are normally
tremely stringent. controlled with electronic timers and phase-shift
heat controls. Timers for these functions may be
EQUIPMENT initiated manually or automatically in the proper
order during the welding period.
Typical Machine
A typical flash welding machine consists of
six major parts: Flash welding dies are not in direct contact
with the welding area as are spot and seam weld-
(I) The machine bed to which is attached the
fixed platen and a set of electrically insulateding electrodes. Dies may be considered work
ways to support the movable platen holding and current conducting clamps. Since
(2) The movable platen which is mounted the current density in these dies is normally low,
on the electrically insulated ways relatively hard materials with low electrical
(3) Two clamping assemblies, one of which conductivity may be used. However, water
is rigidly attached to each platen to align and cooling of the dies may be necessary in high
hold the parts to be welded production to avoid overheating.
(4) A means for controlling the motion of There are no standardized designs for these
the movable platen dies since they must fit the contour of the parts
to be welded. The size of the dies depends
(5) The welding transformer with adjustable
taps largely upon the geometry of the parts to be
(6) The controls welded and the mechanical rigidity needed to
Flash welding machines may be manual, maintain proper alignment of parts during up-
semi-automatic, or fully automatic in their op- setting. The dies are usually mechanically fas-
eration. However, most of them are either semi- tened to the welding machine platens.
automatic or fully automatic. With manual Electrode contact area should be as large as
practical to avoid local die burns. The contact
operation, the operator controls the speed of the
platen from the time that flashing is initiated surfaces may be incorporated in small inserts
until the upset is completed. In semi-automatic attached to the larger dies for low cost replace-
ment and convenient detachment for redressing.
operation, the operator usually initiates flashing
manually and then energizes an automatic cycle A facing insert of RWMA2 Group B material is
that completes the weld. In fully automatic frequently brazed to the die for maximum wear.
operation, the parts are loaded into the machine If the parts are backed up so that the clamp-
and the welding cycle is then completed auto- ing dies do not have to carry the upsetting force,
matically. The platen motion of many small clamping pressures need only be sufficient to
flash welding machines is provided mechanicallyprovide good electrical contact. If the work can-
by a cam that is driven by an electric motor not be backed up, it may be necessary to serrate
through a speed reducer. Large machines are the clamp inserts. In this case, they are usually
usually hydraulically operated. Equipment for made of hardened tool steel.
flash welding is discussed in Chapter 3. Flash welding dies tend to wear but do not
mushroom. As wear takes place, the contact
Controls and Auxiliary Equipment area may decrease and cause local hot spots
(die burns). The dies should be kept clean. Flash
Electrical controls on flash welding ma-
and dirt will tend to embed in the die and
chines are integral types designed to sequence
cause hot spots and die burns. All bolts, nuts,
the machine, control the welding current, and and other die-holding devices should be tight.
precisely control the platen position during
flashing and upsetting. Electronic (SCR) con-
tactors are widely used on machines drawing 2. Resistance Welder Manufacturers Association

Additional information on flash welding dies and vices. This may require insulation of pins and
materials is given in Chapter 3. locating strips.
Fixtures and Backups (3) Usually, nonmagnetic materials are pre-
ferred because any magnetic material located in
The function of fixtures for flash welding the throat of the machine will increase the elec-
are (I) to locate rapidly and accurately two or trical impedence and limit the maximum current
more parts relative to each other, (2) to hold which the machine can deliver.
them in proper location while they are being (4) It should be made so that the operator
welded, and (3) to permit easy release of the can load and unload the parts with safety. This
welded assembly. A fixture is either fastened to may require the use of swivel devices or slides
the machine or built into it. Parts are loaded di- so that the fixture can be moved out of the
rectly into the fixture and welded. machine.
Resistance welding processes are very rapid (5) A fixture must provide for movement
compared to other methods of joining. If max- ofthe parts as they are being clamped in the dies.
imum production is to be attained, fixtures must (6) All bearings, pins, slides, etc., should
be easily loaded and unloaded. The following be protected from spatter and flash.
factors should be considered when designing a Backups are needed when the clamping
fixture: dies cannot prevent slippage of the parts when the
(I) Quick-acting clamps, toggles, and other upsetting force is applied. Slippage usually
similar devices should be employed. Sometimes occurs when the section of the part in the die is
ejector pins are used to facilitate removal of the too short for effective clamping or the part is
finished assembly. unable to withstand sufficient clamping force
(2) It must be designed so that welding without damage.
current is not shunted through any locating de- A backup often consists of a steel bracket

Clamping die

T = Tube wall or sheet thickness H = Total upset

A = Initial die opening J = K = Material lost per piece
B = Material lost L = M = Initial extension per piece
C = Final die opening S = Minimum necessary length of
F = Total flash-off electrode contact
D = Diam. or min. dimensions of bars

Fig. 2.2- Setup •nd m•teTi•lloss dimensions loT fl•sh welding of tube, sheet, •nd b•T
Flash Welding /63

that can be bolted in various positions to the In the flash welding of extruded or rolled
platen. Brackets can have either fixe~ or adjust- shapes with different thicknesses within the
able stops against the parts. cross-section, the temperature distribution dur-
ing flashing will vary with section thickness.
This tendency can often be counteracted by
WELDING PROCEDURES proper design of the clamping dies, provided the
ratio of the thicknesses does not exceed about 4
Every welding operation involves num- to I.
erous variables that affect the quality of the re- The recommended maximum joint lengths
sulting weld. For this reason, a welding pro- for several thicknesses of steel sheet are given in
cedure should be developed that prescribes the Table 2.1. The maximum diameters for steel
settings for the welding variables to assure con- tubing of various wall thicknesses are listed in
sistent weld quality. Flash welding involves di- Table 2.2. The limits can be exceeded in some
mensional, electrical, force, and time variables. cases using special procedures and equipment.
The dimensional variables are shown in Figs. 2.2 When flash welding rings, there is some
and 2.3. The paths of the movable platen and ratio of circumference to cross-sectional area
the faying surfaces during flashing and upsetting below which shunting of current becomes a
are also shown on Fig. 2.3. The current, force, problem. The power Joss can be high. The mini-
and time variables are shown on Fig. 2.4. Most mum ratio will depend upon the electrical re-
operations do not utilize all of the variables sistivity of the metal to be welded. With metals
shown. A simple flash welding cycle involves of high resistivity, such as stainless steel, the
flashing at one voltage setting followed by ratio can be lower than with low resistivity
upsetting. metals, such as aluminum.

Joint Design
Three common types of welds made by Table2.1
flash welding are shown in Fig. 2.5. Several Recommended maximum joint lengths of
basic design rules for flash welding are as follows: flat steel sheet for flash welding
(I) The design should provide for an even Sheet Max. Sheet Max.
heat balance in the parts so that the ends to be thickness, joint length, thickness, joint length,
welded will have nearly equal compressive in. in. in. in.
strengths at the end of flashing time. 0.010 1.00 0.060 25.00
0.020 5.00 0.080 35.00
(2) The length of metal loss during flashing 45.00
0.030 10.00 0.100
(flash-off) and upsetting must be included in the 0.040 15.00 0.125 57.00
initial length when designing the part. With 0.050 20.00 0.187 88.00
miter joints, the angle between the two mem-
bers must be taken into account in the design.
(3) The parts must be designed so that they ·Table 2.2
can be suitably clamped and held in accurate Recommended maximum diameters of steel
alignment during flashing and upsetting with the
tubing for flash welding
joint perpendicular to the upset force direction.
Wall Max. tubing Wall Max. tubing
(4) The end preparation should be designed
thicknesses, diameter, thicknesses, diameter,
so that the flash material can escape from the in. in. in. in.
joint, and that flashing starts at the center or the 0.125 4.00
0.020 0.50
central area of the parts. 0.030 0.75 0.187 6.00
In general, the two parts to be welded 0.050 1.25 0.250 9.00
should have the same cross section at the joint. 0.062 1.50
Bosses may have to be machined, forged, or 0.080 2.00
0.100 3.00
extruded on parts to meet this requirement.


c: ....
~ "'c:
0. ~
~ 0.
"'c:0 ::c
...."' 0 "'~
.r:. E
"'c: '<0 c:
0 0.. 0
.!!! .!!! Q)
0 ....0
Q) Q)

"C "'
w "C

Note: The letters in parentheses refer to Fig. 2.2.
Fig. 2.3-Fiash welding dimensional variables and motions
Flash Welding /65


--.1------ Time at v 2
1------1--Manual flashing Postheating
time time
t----11- time ~-----Automatic flashing time ------i~~ Up-
1 - - - - - - - - - - - Flashing time--------~-· setting
1 - - - - - - - - - - - Welding time - - - - - - - - - - + - 1

1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - W e l d i n g period - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1


Fig. 2.4-Fiash welding current, force, and time variables

When heavy sections are welded, it is often each metal. Such behavior can be attributed to
advisable to bevel the end of one part to facilitate differences in electrical and thermal conductiv-
the starting of flashing. Such beveling may elim- ities or melting temperatures, or both. To com-
inate the necessity for preheating or initially pensate for this, the extension from the clamping
flashing at a voltage higher than normal. Sug- die of the more rapidly consumed part should be
gested dimensions for beveling plate, rod, and greater than that of the other part. In the case of
tubing are shown in Fig. 2.6. aluminum and copper, the extension of the alu-
minum part should be twice that of the copper
Heat Balance
Aligned Joints. When the two parts to be Miter Joints. Flash welding of nonaligned
welded are of the same alloy and cross section, sections (miter joints) may produce a joint with
the heat generated in each of the parts during the varying properties across it because of heat un-
weld cycle will be the same, provided the physi- balance across the joint. Since the faying sur-
cal arrangement for welding is uniform. Flash- faces are not perpendicular to their respective
off and upsetting will also be equal in each part. part lengths, the volume of metal decreases
In general, the heat balance between two parts across the joint to a minimum at the apex. Con-
of the same alloy will be adequate if their respec- sequently, flashing and upsetting at the apex may
tive cross-sectional areas do not differ by more vary significantly from that which occurs across
than normal manufacturing tolerances. the remainder of the joint.
When flash welding two dissimilar metals, Miter joints between round or square bars
the metal loss during flashing may differ for should have a minimum included angle of 150

tr:---I~----- ;t
Cross section after welding

(A) Axially aligned weld

Cross section after welding

(B) Miter weld

Cross section after welding

(C) Ring weld

Fig. 2.5-Common types offl•sh welds

Flash Welding /61

stock is greater than 20 times its thickness. If

service loading produces a tensile stress at the
apex, the outside corner should be trimmed to
remove the poor quality joint area.
Surface Preparation
Q =4
Surface preparation for flash welding is of
minor importance and in most cases, none is
(A) Rods and bars of 0.25 in.
and larger required. Clamping surfaces usually require no
special preparation unless excessive scale, rust,
grease, or paint is present. The abutting sur-
faces should be reasonably clean to accomplish
electrical contact. Once flashing starts, dirt or
other foreign matter will not seriously interfere
with the consummation of the weld.
Initial Die Opening
The initial die opening is the sum of the
initial extensions of the two parts, as shown in
(B) Tubing of 0.188-in. wall and larger
Figs. 2.2 and 2.3. The initial extension for each
part must provide for metal loss during flashing
(flash-off) and upsetting as well as some undis-
turbed metal between the upset metal and the
clamping die. Initial extensions for both parts are

determined from available welding data or from

welding tests. The initial die opening should not
be too large. Otherwise, nonuniform upsetting
and joint misalignment may occur.

~-· ,.,.,0"'-/c-r
It is important that the parts to be welded
t are properly aligned in the welding machine so
(C) Flat plate of 0.188-in. and thicker that flashing on the faying surfaces is uniform.
If the parts are misaligned, flashing will occur
Note: Bevel only one piece when D is 0.25 in. only across opposing areas and heating will not
or larger and T is 0.188 in. or greater.
be uniform. When upset, the parts will tend to
slip past each other, as illustrated in Fig. 2. 7.
Fig. 2.6-End preparation for one
Alignment of parts should be given careful con-
part to facilitate the flashing of sideration in the design ofthe machine, the parts
large sec:tions to be welded, and the tooling for welding them.
This is especially true when the ratio of the width
to thickness of sections is large.
Metal Loss
degrees. At smaller angles, the weld area at the
apex will be poor quality because of the lack of The final length of the welded assembly
adequate backup metal. Satisfactory miter joints will be less than the sum of the initial part
may be made between thin rectangular sections lengths because of flashing and upsetting losses.
in the same plane with an included angle as These losses must be established for each part of
small as 90 degrees, provided the width of the an assembly and then added to the part length so

II l Poor

Before welding After welding

II I Good \ !
Fig. 2.7-Effect of part alignment on joint geometry

that the welded assembly will meet design re- preheating operation:
quirements. Changes in welding procedures may (I) It raises the temperature of the parts
require modification of part lengths. which, in turn, makes flashing easier to start
and maintain.
Gas Shielding
(2) It produces a temperature distribution
In some applications, displacement of air with a flatter gradient which persists throughout
from the joint area by an inert or reducing gas the flashing operations. This, in turn, distributes
shield may improve joint quality by minimizing the upset over a longer length than is the case
contamination by oxygen, nitrogen, or both. when no preheat is employed.
However, gas shielding cannot compensate for (3) It may extend the capacity of a ma-
improper welding procedures, and it should only chine and permit the joining of larger cross sec-
be used when required to produce joints of ac- tions than would be otherwise possible.
ceptable quality. Since preheating is usually a manual opera-
Argon or helium is particularly effec- tion, even when the machine is capable of flash
tive when flash welding reactive metals, such welding automatically, the reproducibility of the
as titanium. At high temperatures, these metals preheating operation is largely a function of
are embrittled when they are exposed to air. Dry operator skill.
nitrogen may be effective with stainless and Welding
heat-resisting steels.
The value of a protective atmosphere de- Most commercial flash welding machines
pends upon the effectiveness of the shield design. are operated automatically. The welding sched-
The flash-off material may deposit on the gas ule is established for the particular operations
shielding apparatus and interfere with its opera- by a series of test welds that are evaluated for
tion. Provisions for platen movement must be quality. The machine is then set up to reproduce
provided in the design. the qualified welding schedule for the particular
The operator may load and unload the ma-
chine and observe the welding cycle for con-
During preheating, the parts are brought sistency of operation. In some applications,
into contact under light pressure and then the automatic feed and ejection devices may be in-
welding transformer is energized. The high cur- corporated on the machine.
rent density resistance heats the metal between
the dies. The temperature distribution across the
joint during preheating approximates a sinusoidal When welding steels with extremely high
waveform with the peak temperature point at the alloy or carbon content, cracking is possible if
interface. the weld is cooled too rapidly to room temper-
Three useful functions may be served by a ature. In some cases, this condition may be
Flash Welding /69

avoided by preheating large parts which, in turn, smoothed by filing or grinding.

will decrease the cooling rate subsequent to
welding. When preheating the parts is not suffi- PROCESS VARIABLES
cient, cracking may be prevented either by post-
heating the joint in the welding machine by Flashing
resistance heating or by immediately placing the Voltage. Flashing voltage is determined by the
weldment in a furnace operating at the desired welding transformer tap setting. It should be se-
temperature. lected to be as low as possible consistent with
A postheat cycle may be incorporated in a good flashing action. Electronic phase-shift heat
flash welding machine using an electronic timer control is not an effective means for reducing the
and phase-shift heat control. The postheat timer flashing voltage. The secondary voltage wave
can be initiated at the end of upset or after a form produced by this means is incompatible
time delay. The desired temperature can be with good flashing action.
attained by adjustment of the heat control. Heat Changes in flashing voltage should be made
will be transferred from the weldment to the only by changing the tap setting of the trans-
clamping dies during the postheat. This must be former. One system for providing two voltage
considered in the die design and material selec- ranges uses two primary contactors, each of
tion, and water cooling may be necessary. which is connected to separate transformer taps.
One contactor is energized to provide a high sec-
Flash Removal
ondary voltage during the initial stages of
It is frequently necessary to remove the flashing. The high voltage assists in starting the
flash material from the welded joint. In some flashing action. The other contactor is energized
cases, this is done only for the sake of appear- after a predetermined time in the flashing opera-
ance. A joint is somewhat stronger in tension if tion to provide a normal secondary voltage. The
the flash is not removed because of the larger first contactor is de-energized at the same time.
cross section of the upset material. The notch The best flashing action is achieved with this
effect at the weld line, however, may cause a arrangement.
reduction of fatigue strength. A portion of the Time. Flashing is carried out over a time in-
upset material may be left in place when the de- terval to obtain the required flash-off of metal.
sign of parts indicates that reinforcement is
The time required will be related to secondary
voltage and the rate of metal loss as flashing
It is generally easier to remove the flash progresses. Since a flashing pattern is generally
immediately after welding while the metal is parabolic, the variables are interrelated. In any
still hot. This can be done by a number of meth- case, smooth flashing action for some minimum
ods including machining, grinding, high-speed flashing distance during some time interval is
burring wheels, die trimming, oxyfuel gas cut- necessary to produce a sound, strong weld.
ting, high-speed sanding, and pinch-off type
clamping dies. With some alloy steels, flash Upsetting
removal with cutting tools is often difficult be-
In the production of a satisfactory flash
cause of their hardness. In these cases, either weld, the flashing and upsetting variables must
grinding or oxyfuel gas cutting is usually
be considered together since they are interrelated.
The upset variables include the following:
With soft metals such as aluminum and
(I) Flashing voltage cutoff
copper, the flash may be almost sheared off
(2) Upsetting rate
using pinch-off dies. These dies have sharp
(3) Upset distance
tapered faces which cut almost through the metal
(4) Upset current magnitude and duration
as upsetting takes place. The final die opening
is small. The partially sheared flash is then easily Flashing Voltage Cutoff. In most cases,
removed by other means. The joint can then be flashing voltage should be terminated at the same

time that upsetting of the weld commences, but into intimate metal-to-metal contact over the en-
not beforehand. The point of voltage termination tire cross section.
should be adjusted during actual welding tests The amount of upset required to obtain a
to ensure that it does not take place before the sound flash weld is related in some complex
faying surfaces make contact. way to the metal and the section thickness. Nor-
mally, an upset distance equal to one half of the
Upsetting Rate. Upsetting is initiated by in- part thickness should be adequate. If the flashing
creasing the acceleration of the moving part to conditions produce relatively smooth flashed
bring the faying surfaces together quickly. The surfaces, a considerably smaller upset distance
molten metal and oxides present on the surfaces
should be satisfactory for most metals. However,
are forced out of the joint as this occurs. Then some heat-resisting alloys may require upset dis-
the hot weld zone is upset. The upsetting rate
tances as large as I to 1.25 times the section
must be sufficient to expel the molten metal
thickness. Satisfactory welds are made in alumi-
before it solidifies and to produce the optimum
num with upset distances about 50 percent greater
upset while the metal has adequate plasticity.
than those employed with steels of similar
The welding machine must apply a force to
the movable platen to properly accelerate the
part and overcome the resistance of the parts to Upsetting Current. In some cases, the weld
plastic deformation. The force required depends zone may tend to cool too rapidly after flashing
upon the cross-sectional area of the joint, the is terminated. This may result in inadequate
pressure needed to upset the metal to be welded, upset or cold cracking of the upset metal. The
and the mass of the movable platen. Table 2.3 joint temperature can be maintained during up-
gives the approximate minimum upsetting pres- setting by resistance heating with current sup-
sures for flash welding typical alloys. These plied by the welding transformer. The current
values may be used for a first approximation of magnitude is commonly adjusted by electronic
the welding machine size required to flash weld heat control.
a particular joint area in one of these alloys. Normally, upsetting current would be ter-
minated at the end of upset. If the flash is to be
Upset Distance. The magnitude of the upset
mechanically trimmed immediately after weld-
distance must be sufficient to accomplish these
ing, upsetting current may be maintained for an
two actions: additional period to achieve the desired tem-
(I) The oxides and molten metal must be
perature for trimming.
extruded to the surface from the center of the
thickest section.
(2) The two faying surfaces must be brought WELD QUALITY
Effect of Welding Variables
Approximate minimum upset pressure Weld quality is significantly affected by the
requirements for flash welding various specific welding variables selected for the appli-
alloys cation. Table 2.4 indicates the effects of several
Minimum upset variables on quality when they are excessive or
pressure insufficient in magnitude. Each variable is con-
Material required, ksi sidered individually although more than one can
Plain carbon steels (0. 4C max.) 10 produce the same result.
Plain carbon steels (0.4C-1.2C), The discontinuities encountered in flash
low and medium alloy steels 15-20 welding may be divided into two categories:
Stainless steels (400 series) 20
Titanium alloys 20-25 metallurgical and mechanical.
Stainless steels (300 series) 20-30
High temperature alloys 40-50 Metallurgical Discontinuities
Aluminum alloys 10-50 Base Metal Structure. Metallurgical discontin-
Flash Welding /71

Table 2.4
Effect of variables on flash weld quality
Welding variable
variable Hashing Upsetting
Voltage Rate Time Current Distance or force
Excessive Deep craters Tendency to Metal too Burning of oxi- Tendency to
are formed freeze plastic to dation even to squeeze out
that cause upset the extent of too much
pockets and properly blowing out plastic metal;
inclusions in metal. Exces- flow lines bent
weld; cast sive defor- parallel to weld line
metal in weld mation
Insufficient Tendency to Intermittent Not plastic Longitudinal Failure to force
freeze; metal flashing, enough for cracking molten metal from
not plastic which makes proper up- through weld joint; cast metal
enough for it difficult set area. Inclu- retained in weld;
proper upset to develop sions and oxides, inclu-
sufficient voids not sions and voids
heat in the properly in weld
metal for forced out of
proper upset weld

uities that often originate from conditions pres- are usually limited to ferrous alloys. Their exact
ent in the base metal can usually be minimized cause is not certain. They appear in the form of
by the application of appropriate materials smooth, irregular-shaped areas on the fracture
acceptance specifications. The inherent fibrous surface through the weld interface.
structure of wrought mill products may cause There is excellent correlation between the
anisotropic mechanical behavior. An out-turned location of flat spots and localized regions of
fibrous structure at the weld line often results in carbon segregation in steels. In many cases, the
some decrease in mechanical properties as cooling rates associated with flash welds are
compared to the base metal, particularly in- rapid enough to produce brittle, high carbon
ductility. martensite at areas on the flashing interface
The decrease in ductility is not normally where the carbon content happens to be greater
significant unless: than the nominal composition of the alloy. Mi-
(I) The material is extremely inhomo- crohardness tests and metallographic examina-
geneous. Examples are severely banded steels, tion have confirmed the presence of high carbon
alloys with excessive stringer type inclusions, martensite in the region surrounding a "flat
and mill products with seams and cold shuts spot" in almost every case, even in plain carbon
produced during the fabrication process. steels. Furthermore, steels with banded micro-
(2) The upset distance is excessive. structures appeared significantly more suscep-
When excessive upset distance is employed, tible to this type of defect than unhanded steels.
the fibrous structure may be completely re- Die Burns. These are a type of discontinuity
oriented transverse to the original structure. produced by local overheating of the base metal
Oxides. Another source of metallurgical dis- at the interface between the clamping die and the
continuities is the entrapment of oxides at the part surface. They can usually be avoided com-
weld interface. Such defects are rare with good pletely when the parts are clean and mate prop-
practice since proper upsetting should expel any erly with the dies.
oxides formed during the flashing operation. Voids. Voids are usually the result of either
Flat Spots. These metallurgical discontinuities insufficient upset or excessive flashing voltage.

Deep craters on the faying surfaces produced by ment of the clamping dies and fixtures. Nonuni-
excessive flashing voltage may not be completely form upsetting may be caused by part misalign-
eliminated with the correct upset. Such discon- ment, insufficient clamping force, or excessive
tinuities are usually discovered during procedure die opening at the start of upset. The latter can be
qualification tests and are readily eliminated by corrected by decreasing the initial die opening
decreasing the flashing voltage or increasing the and then adjusting the welding schedule, if
upset distance. Figure 2.8 (A) and (B) indicate necessary.
the appearance of flash welds with and without
satisfactory upset.
Cracking. This type of discontinuity may be
No combination of presently known non-
internal or external. It may be related to the metal-
destructive tests can provide a conclusive eval-
lurgical characteristics of the metal. Alloys that
uation of the quality of a flash welded joint.
exhibit low ductility over some elevated temper-
Fortunately, one of the major advantages of
ature range may be susceptible to hot cracking.
flash welding is that it can be highly mechanized
Such alloys, known as "hot-short" alloys, are
and essentially automatic. Therefore, a consis-
somewhat difficult to flash weld, but usually can
tent quality level is readily maintained after
be welded with the proper conditions. Cold crack-
satisfactory welding conditions are established.
ing may be found in hardenable steels. It can
The fact that no filler metal is employed means
usually be eliminated by welding with conditions
that provide a slow weld cooling rate, coupled that the strength of the weld is primarily a func-
with heat treatment as soon as possible after tion of the base metal composition and properties.
Consequently, properly made flash welds should
welding. Insufficient heating prior to or during
exhibit mechanical properties almost identical to
upsetting may also cause cracking in the upset
those of the base metal.
metal, as shown in Fig. 2.8(C). This can be elim-
In commercial practice, both destructive
inated by increasing the flashing distance or by
and nondestructive tests are employed to ensure
resistance heating during upsetting.
maintenance of the quality level in critical flash
Mechanical Discontinuities. These include welded products. The process control procedure
misalignment of the faying surfaces prior to usually includes the following:
welding and nonuniform upsetting during weld- (I) Material certification
ing. They are easily detected by visual inspection. (2) Qualification of welding procedure
Misalignment of the parts is corrected by adjust- (3) Visual inspection of the product


(A) (B) (C)

Fig. 2.8-Visual indications of flash weld quality: (A) satisfactory heat and
upset, (B) insufficient heat or upset or both, (C) cracks due to insufficient
Flash Welding /73

(4) Destructive testing of random samples to the unaided eye. In critical applications, radio-
When the product is used in a critical appli- graphic examination may also be specified.
cation, the above procedure is supplemented by
Random Samples
other tests such as magnetic particle, fluores-
cent penetrant, and radiographic examination. Depending upon the size of the production
When the welded joint is subsequently machined, run, a specified number of randomly chosen
routine measurement of the hardness of the weld parts may be selected for destructive testing
area may also be specified. In addition, specifi- of the welds. The results of these destructive
cations may require proof testing of flash welded tests are normally subject to the same criteria
products. specified in the welding procedure qualification
test. A report of the results of all destructive
Material Certification
tests is then prepared to certify the maintenance
Since material defects may cause flash of the required average quality level for the lot.
weld discontinuities, each lot of raw material Bend Tests
should be carefully inspected upon delivery to
ensure that it meets specifications. Certified Notched bend tests may be used to force the
chemical analysis, mechanical property tests, fracture to occur along the interface for visual
macro-etch examination, and magnetic particle examination. A bend test may be useful as a
inspection may be applicable. qualitative means for establishing a welding
schedule. However, such tests are not generally
Procedure Qualification
used for specification purposes.
Each new combination of material and sec-
tion size to be flash welded normally requires WELDING OF STEEL
qualification of the welding procedure to be em-
Typical data for the flash welding of steel
ployed. This usually consists of welding a num-
tubing and flat sheets are given in Table 2.5.
ber of test specimens that duplicate the material,
For welding solid, round, hexagonal, square,
section size, welding procedure, and heat treat-
and rectangular steel bars, data are given in
ment to be used in producing the product. All
Table 2.6. Both tables are applicable to steels of
specimens should be visually inspected for low and medium forging strength. They give the
cracks, die bums, misalignment, and other dis-
recommended dimensions for setting up a flash
continuities. Where required, weld hardness
welding machine to weld the various sections.
should be measured. A tensile specimen should Total flashing time is based on welding without
be machined from a test weld using the entire preheating.
welded cross section where possible. The test
When setting up a schedule, the dimen-
results should be compared to the base metal
sional variables and flashing time are selected
properties and design requirements.
from the tables. The welding machine is ad-
All pertinent welding conditions used in
justed to the lowest secondary voltage at which
producing the qualification test should be re-
steady and consistent flashing can be obtained.
corded. The production run is then made using
The secondary voltages available are dependent
the same welding procedures.
upon the electrical design of the welding ma-
chine transformer.
Visual Inspection
The upsetting force used for a particular ap-
Each completed weld in the production run plication depends upon the alloy and the cross-
should be visually examined for evidences of sectional area of the joint. The selection of equip-
cracks, die bums, misalignment, or other ex- ment for steels should be based on the values
ternal weld defects. Where specified, magnetic of recommended upsetting pressures given in
particle or fluorescent penetrant inspection is Table 2.7. Such values are based on welding
performed to assist in detecting flaws not visible without preheat.

Table 2.5
Data for flash welding steel tubing and flat sheetsab
S, in.
Flash- S, in. with-
ing with out
T, A, B, c. F, H, J = K, L=M, time, D, loca- loca-
in. in. in. in. in. in. in. in. in. tor tor
0.010 0.110 0.060 0.050 0.040 0.020 0.030 0.055 0.40 0.250 0.375 1.00
0.020 0.215 0.115 0.100 0.080 0.035 0.058 0.108 0.80 0.312 0.375 1.00
0.030 0.325 0.175 0.150 0.125 0.050 0.088 0.163 1.25 0.375 0.375 1.50
0.040 0.430 0.230 0.200 0.165 0.065 0.115 0.215 1.75 0.500 0.375 1.75
0.050 0.530 0.280 0.250 0.205 0:075 0.140 0.265 2.25 0.750 0.500 2.00
0.060 0.620 0.330 0.290 0.240 0.090 0.165 0.310 2.75 1.000 0.750 2.50
0.070 0.715 0.385 0.330 0.280 0.105 0.193 0.358 3.50 1.50 1.000 3.00
0.080 0.805 0.435 0.370 0.315 0.120 0.218 0.403 4.00 2.00 1.250
0.090 0.885 0.475 0.410 0.345 0.130 0.238 0.443 4.50 2.50 1.750
0.100 0.970 0.520 0.450 0.375 0.145 0.260 0.485 5.00 3.00 2.000
0.110 1.060 0.570 0.490 0.410 0.160 0.285 0.530 5.75 3.50 2.25
0.120 1.140 0.610 0.530 0.440 0.170 0.305 0.570 6.25 4.00 2.50
0.130 1.225 0.650 0.575 0.470 0.180 0.325 0.613 7.00 4.50 2.75
0.140 1.320 0.700 0.620 0.510 0.190 0.350 0.660 7.75 5.00 2.75
0.150 1.390 0.730 0.660 0.530 0.200 0.365 0.695 8.50 5.50 3.00
0.160 1.470 0.770 0.700 0.560 0.210 0.385 0.735 9.00 6.00 3.25
0.170 1.540 0.800 0.740 0.580 0.220 0.400 0.770 9.75 6.50 3.50
0.180 1.620 0.840 0.780 0.610 0.230 0.420 0.810 10.50 7.00 3.75
0.190 1.690 0.870 0.820 0.630 0.240 0.435 0.845 11.25 7.50 4.00
0.200 1.760 0.900 0.860 0.650 0.250 0.450 0.880 12.00 8.00 4.25
0.250 2.010 1.010 1.000 0.730 0.280 0.505 1.005 16.00 8.50 4.50
0.300 2.245 1.120 1.125 0.810 0.310 0.560 1.123 21.00 9.00 4.75
0.350 2.460 1.210 1.250 0.880 0.330 0.605 1.230 27.00 9.50 5.00
0.400 2.640 1.290 1.350 0.930 0.360 0.645 1.320 33.00
0.450 2.780 1.350 1.430 0.970 0.380 0.675 1.390 38.00
0.500 2.910 1.410 1.500 1.020 0.390 0.705 1.455 45.00
0.550 3.040 1.465 1.575 1.055 0.410 0.733 1.520 50.00
0.600 3.135 1.505 1.630 1.085 0.420 0.753 1.568 56.00
0.650 3.245 1.555 1.690 1.125 0.430 0.778 1.623 63.00
0.700 3.360 1.610 1.750 1.160 0.450 0.805 1.680 70.00
0.800 3.525 1.675 1.850 1.210 0.465 0.838 1.763 83.00
0.900 3.660 1.730 1.930 1.250 0.480 0.865 1.830 97.00
1.000 3.800 1.800 2.000 1.300 0.500 0.900 1.900 110.00
<1. Dat~is hu~don welding two pi~~cs wdding ~.:hara~.:tcristks
with the s~mc withmu prcht:al.
h. Sec Fig 2.2 to identify the dimensions giwn.
Flash Welding/15

Table 2.6
Data for flash welding round, hexagonal, sguare, and rectangular steel barsab
S, in.
Flash- S, in. with-
ing with out
D, A, B, C, F. H, J = K, L=M, time, D, loca- loca-
in. in. in. in. in. in. in. in. in. tor tor
0.050 0.100 0.050 0.050 0.040 0.010 0.025 0.050 0.40 0.250 0.375 1.00
0.100 0.182 0.082 0.100 0.062 0.020 0.041 0.091 0.75 0.312 0.375 1.00
0.150 0.270 0.120 0.150 0.090 0.030 0.060 0.135 1.15 0.375 0.375 1.50
0.200 0.350 0.150 0.200 0.110 0.040 0.075 0.175 1.50 0.500 0.375 I. 75
0.250 0.430 0.180 0.250 0.130 0.050 0.090 0.215 1.90 0.750 0.500 2.00
0.300 0.5i0 0.210 0.300 0.150 0.060 0.105 0.255 2.25 1.000 0.750 2.50
0.350 0.600 0.250 0.350 0.180 0.070 0.125 0.300 2.75 1.50 1.000 3.00
0.400 0.685 0.285 0.400 0.205 0.080 0.143 0.343 3.25 2.00 1.25
0.450 0.770 0.320 0.450 0.230 0.090 0.160 0.385 3.75
0.500 0.850 0.350 0.500 0.250 0.100 0.175 0.425 4.25
0.550 0.940 0.390 0.550 0.280 0.110 0.195 0.470 5.00
0.600 1.025 0.425 0.600 0.305 0.120 0.213 0.513 5.50
0.650 1.100 0.450 0.650 0.325 0.125 0.225 0.550 6.75
0.700 1.180 0.480 0.700 0.350 0.130 0.240 0.590 7.50
0.750 1.260 0.510 0.750 0.375 0.135 0.255 0.630 8.25
0.800 1.340 0.540 0.800 0.400 0.140 0.270 0.670 9.00
0.850 1.420 0.570 0.850 0.425 0.145 0.285 0.710 9.75
0.900 1.500 0.600 0.900 0.450 0.150 0.300 0.750 10.50
0.950 1.580 0.630 0.950 0.475 0.155 0.315 0.790 11.75
1.000 1.660 0.660 1.000 0.500 0.160 0.330 0.830 13.00
1.050 1.740 0.690 1.050 0.525 0.165 0.345 0.870 14.75
1.100 1.820 0.720 1.100 0.550 0.170 0.360 0.910 16.50
1.150 1.900 0.750 1.150 0.575 0.175 0.375 0.950 18.25
1.200 1.980 0.780 1.200 0.600 0.180 0.390 0.990 20.00
1.250 2.060 0.810 1.250 0.625 0.185 0.405 1.030 22.50
1.300 2.140 0.840 1.300 0.650 0.190 0.420 1.070 25.00
1.400 2.300 0.900 1.400 0.700 0.200 0.450 1.150 30.00
1.500 2.460 0.960 1.500 0.750 0.210 0.480 1.230 38.00
1.600 2.620 1.020 1.600 0.800 0.220 0.510 1.310 45.00
1.700 2.780 1.080 1.700 0.850 0.230 0.540 1.390 54.00
1.800 2.940 1.140 1.800 0.900 0.240 0.570 1.470 63.00
1.900 3.100 1.200 1.900 0.950 0.250 0.600 1.550 75.00
2.000 3.260 1.260 2.000 1.000 0.260 0.630 1.630 90.00
a. Data is hasc:d on welding two pic~.·cswith the same welding ,,;hara~.·tcristil·~
without preheat.
h. Sec Fig. 2.2 to idcntil): tOC dimensions given.

Table 2.7
Upsetting pressures for various classes of steels
Strength pressure,
classification Examples ksi
Low forging SAE 1020, 1117, and
high strength, low alloy steels 10
Medium forging SAE 1045, 1065, 1335,4130,4140 15
High forging SAE 4340, 8740, 3XX and 4XX
stainless steels, high-speed tool steels 25
Extra high forging Steels with high compressive strengths
at elevated temperature 35

FUNDAMENTALS OF THE PROCESS formed products such as pipe and tubing
The first variation can also be accomplished
Definition by flash welding and friction welding. The sec-
Upset welding is a process which produces ond variation is also done with high frequency
coalescence simultaneously over the entire area welding.3
of two abutting surfaces or progressively along a
joint. The heat for welding is obtained from the BUTT JOINTS
resistance to the flow of electric current through
Metals Welded
the metal at the joint. Force is applied to upset the
joint and consummate a weld when the metal A wide variety of metals in the form of wire,
reaches welding temperature. In some cases, bar, strip; and tubing can be joined end-to-end
force is applied before heating starts to bring the by upset welding. These include:
faying surfaces in contact. (I) Carbon steels
(2) Stainless steels
Principles of Operation
(3) Aluminum alloys
With this process, welding is essentially (4) Brass
done in the solid state. The metal at the joint is re- (5) Copper
sistance heated to a temperature where recrystal- (6) Nickel alloys
lization can rapidly take place across the faying (7) Electrical resistance alloys
surfaces. A force is applied to the joint to bring Carbon steels, stainless steels, copper
the faying surfaces into intimate contact and then alloys, and many aluminum alloys are easily
upset the metal. Upsetting hastens recrystalliza- welded with this process. Some aluminum
tion at the interface and, at the same time, some alloys require precise control of the upsetting
metal is forced outward from this location. This force.
tends to purge the joint of oxidized metal. Sequence of Operations
Process Variations The essential operational steps to produce
Upset welding has two variations: an upset welded butt joint are as follows:
(I) Joining two sections of the same cross (I) Load the machine with the parts aligned
section end-to-end (butt joint) end-to-end
(2) Continuous welding of seams in roll- 3. High frequency welding is discussed in Chapter 4.
Upset Welding/77

(2) Clamp the parts securely the other factors are constant. As the temper-
(3) Apply a welding force ature of the joint increases, the contact resis-
(4) Initiate the welding current tance changes, but it finally becomes zero when
(5) Apply an upsetting force the weld is formed. Upset welding differs from
(6) Cut off the welding current flash welding in that no flashing takes place at
(7) Release the upsetting force any time during the welding cycle.
(8) Unclamp the weldment Generally, force and current are maintained
(9) Return the movable platen and unload throughout the entire welding cycle. Initially,
the weldment the force is low to promote high initial contact
The general arrangement for upset welding resistance between the two parts. It is increased
is shown in Fig. 2.9. One clamping die is sta- to a higher value to upset the joint when welding
tionary and the other is movable to accomplish temperature is reached. After the prescribed up-
upset. Upsetting force is applied through the set is accomplished, the welding current is cut
clamping die or a mechanical backup, or both. off and the force is removed.
Wire of small diameter is sometimes welded
Joint Preparation
with chisel-shaped ends produced by shearing
For uniform heating, the faying surfaces with a wire cutter. The wires to be joined are
should be flat, comparatively smooth, and per- placed in the welding machine with the chisel
pendicular to the direction of the upsetting force. edges in contact at 90 degrees to each other.
Prior to welding, they should be cleaned to re-
move any dirt, oil, oxidation, or other materials
that will impede welding across the interface. Equipment for upset welding is generally
The contact resistance between the faying designed to weld a particular family of alloys,
surfaces is a function of the smoothness and such as steels, within a size range based on cross-
cleanliness of the surfaces and the contact pres- sectional area. The mechanical capacity and
sure. This resistance varies approximately with electrical characteristics of the machine are
the reciprocal of the contact pressure, provided matched to suit the application. Special designs
may be required for certain aluminum alloys to
provide adequate control of upsetting force.
Electric current for heating is provided by
a resistance welding transformer. It converts line
power to low voltage, high current power. No-
load secondary voltages range from about 0.4
to 8 V, and the power line frequency may be 50
or 60 Hz. Secondary current is controlled by a
transformer tap switch or by electronic phase-
Basically, an upset welding machine has
force two platens, one of which is stationary and the
other movable. The clamping dies are mounted
on these platens. The clamps operate either in
straight line motion or through an arc about an
axis, depending upon the application. Force for

upset butt welding is produced generally by a
mechanical, pneumatic, or hydraulic system.

Finished upset weld Heat Balance

Fig. 2.9-General arrangement for upset Normally, the process is used to join to-
welding of bars, rods, and pipes gether two pieces of the same alloy and cross-

sectional geometry. In this case, heat balance CONTINUOUS SEAM WELDING

should be uniform across the joint. If the parts
to be welded are similar in composition and General Description
cross section but of unequal mass, the part of In the manufacture of continuously welded
larger mass should project from the clamping die pipe or tubing, coiled strip is fed into a set of
somewhat farther than the other part. With dis- forming rolls. These rolls progressively form the
similar metals, the one with higher electrical strip into cylindrical shape. The edges to be
conductivity should extend farther from the joined approach each other at an angle and cul-
clamp than the other. When upset welding large minate in a vee at the point of welding. A wheel
parts that do not make good contact with each electrode contacts each edge of the tube a short
other, it is sometimes advantageous to interrupt distance from the apex of the vee. Current from
the welding current periodically to allow the heat the power source travels from one electrode
to distribute evenly into the parts. along the adjacent edge to the apex, where weld-
ing is taking place, and then back along the
other edge to the second electrode. The edges
are resistance heated by this current to welding
Upset welding is used in wire mills and in temperature. The hot edges are then upset to-
the manufacture of products made from wire. In gether by a set of pinch rolls to consummate a
wire mill applications, the process is used for weld.
joining wire coils to each other to facilitate con-
tinuous processing. The process also is used for
fabricating a rather wide variety of products Figure 2.11 shows a typical tube mill that
from bar, strip, and tubing. '!ypical examples of utilizes upset welding for joining the longitudi-
the mill forms and products that have been upset nal seam. Figure 2.11(A) shows the steel strip
welded are shown in Fig. 2.10. Wire and rod entering the strip guide assembly and the first
from 0.05 to 1.25-in. diameters can be upset stages of the forming section. The heat regulator,
welded. located behind the forming section, can be ad-
justed pither manually or by phase-shift heat
control. Figure 2.11(8) shows the rotary type of
Weld Quality
oil-cooled welding transformer. This welding
Butt joints can be made that have about the equipment includes (l) a dressing tool assembly
same properties as the base metal. With proper for dressing the welding electrodes without
procedures, welds made in wires are difficult to removing them from the welding machine and
locate after they have passed through the draw- (2) a scarfing tool assembly that removes the
ing processes. In many instances, the welds are upset metal after welding. In the third step, the
considered part of the continuous wire. welded tube enters the straightening and sizing
Upset welds may be evaluated using ten- section, shown in Fig. 2.11(C). Following this,
sion tests. The tensile properties are then com- the tubing is cut to the desired length.
pared to those of the base metal. Metallo graphic Welding cari be done using either ac or de
and dye penetrant inspection techniques are also power. Alternating current machines may be
used. A common method for evaluating a butt operated on either 60 Hz single-phase power or
weld in wire is a bend test. A welded sample on power of higher frequency produced by a
is clamped in a vise with the weld interface lo- single-phase alternator. Direct current machines
cated one wire diameter from the vise jaws. The are powered by a three-phase welding trans-
sample then is bent back and forth until it breaks former-rectifiet unit.
in two. If the fracture is through the weld inter- Welding Procedures
face and shows complete fusion or occurs out-
side the weld, the weld quality is considered As the formed tube passes through the zone
satisfactory. between the electrodes and the pinch rolls, there
Upset Welding /79

Fig. 2.10-Typic./ mill forms and products joined by upset welding


(A) (B)

Fig. 2.11-TypiciJI tube mill using welding for joining the longitudinal seam: (A) the strip
guide assembly and first stages of the forming section; (B) the rotary type oil-cooled
welding transformer; (C) the straightening and sizing section
Upset Welding/81

is a variation in pressure across the joint. If no The longitudinal spacing of the stitches
heat were generated along the edges, this pres- must have some limit. The spacing is a function
sure would be maximum at the center of the of the power frequency and the travel speed of
squeeze rolls. However, since heat is generated the tube being welded. With 60 Hz power, the
in the metal ahead of the squeeze roll center speed of welding should be limited to approx-
line, the metal gradually becomes plastic and imately 90ft/min. To weld tubing at higher speeds
the point of initial edge contact is slightly ahead than this requires welding power of higher fre-
of the squeeze roll axes. The point of maximum quency. This is indicated in Table 2.8 which
upsetting pressure is somewhat ahead of the shows typical welding speeds using various
squeeze roll center line. sizes of 180 Hz power sources for steel tubing
The current flowing across the seam is dis- of several wall thicknesses.
tributed in inverse proportion to the resistance It is desirable to have the outside corners of
path between the two electrodes. This resistance, the edges close first as the formed tube moves
for the most part, is the contact resistance be- through the machine so that the stitches will
tween the edges to be welded. Pressure is effec- be inclined forward. This condition is known as
tive in reducing this contact resistance. As the an inverted vee. The advantages of using an in-
temperature of the joint increases, the electrical verted vee are twofold: (I) the angle deviation
resistance will increase and the pressure will de- from the vertical reduces the forces tending to
crease. A very sharp thermal gradient caused by expel any molten metal in the joint, and (2) the
the FR heating at the peaks of the ac cycle pro- major portion of the upset metal is extruded to
duce a "stitch effect." The stitch is normally of the outside where it is easily removed. The tub-
circular cross section, lying centrally in the weld ing is normally formed so that the included'angle
area and parallel to the line of initial closure of the of the vee is about 5 to 7 degrees.
seam edges. It is the hottest portion of the weld.
Surface Burns
The stitch area is molten while the area between
stitches is at a lower temperature. The patches of As in spot and seam welding, the current
molten metal are relatively free to flow under the that provides the welding heat must enter the
influence of the motor forces (current and mag- stock through electrode contacts. The resistance
netic flux) acting on them. Consequently, they are of these contacts must be kept to a minimum to
ejected from the stitch area. If the welding heat is avoid f'R losses sufficient to result in surface
excessive, too much metal is ejected and pinhole burns on the tube. Burns are actually surface por-
leaks may result. With too little heat, the individ- tions of the tube that are heated to their fusion or
ual stitches will not overlap sufficiently, resulting melting point. They tend to stick to or imbed
in an interrupted weld. themselves in the face of the wheel electrode. If

Table 2.8
Typical seam welding speeds for steel tubing using 180Hz power sources
Wall Speed, ft/min.
in. 125kVA 200 kVA 300 kVA 500 kVA
0.050 150 200
0.065 110 100 200
0.083 72 105 145
0.095 85 115
0.109 66 90
0.125 50 70 140
0.134 60 125
0.156 85

large steel particles become embedded in the of the tube to support the forces being applied.
electrode face, the contact resistance will in- The maximum permissible pressure in the weld-
crease and cause more severe burning. This ac- ing throat is a function of the yield strength of
tion continues to build up with each revolution the metal and the ratio of tube diameter to wall
of the electrode. To stop burning, the operation thickness (D/t ratio). In extreme cases where the
must be interrupted and the electrode cleaned D/t ratio is high, a backup mandrel must be used
or remachined. to prevent distortion of the tube wall and mis-
To eliminate burns, the area of contact and alignment of the joint.
the pressure between the electrode and the tube
must be adequate. As a rule of thumb, each
electrode should have sufficient contact area so
that the current density will be less than 50 000 Upset welds can be inspected and tested in
A/in~ The relative shapes of the formed tube and the same manner as flash welds. In general, the
the electrode should ensure that the maximum quality requirements for upset welds are not so
contact pressure occurs next to the seam. stringent as those specified for flash welds. The
Without the aid of some backup support, process normally can not produce welds with the
electrode contact pressure is limited by the ability consistency available with flash welding.


FUNDAMENTALS OF THE PROCESS In the application of the process, the two

parts are initially separated by a small projection
Definition and General Description on one part, or one part is moved toward the
Percussion welding is a joining process in other. At the proper time, an arc is initiated
which coalescence is produced simultaneously between them. This arc heats the faying surfaces
over the entire abutting surface by the heat from of both parts to welding temperature. Then, an
an arc. The arc is produced by a short pulse of impact force drives the parts together to produce
electrical energy. Pressure is applied percussively a welded joint. There are basically two variations
during or immediately following the electrical of percussion welding: magnetic force and capa-
pulse. citor discharge.
In general, "percussion welding" is the term Although the steps may differ in certain ap-
used in the electronics industry for joining wires, plications because of process variations, the
contacts, leads, and similar items to a flat sur- essential sequence of events in making apercus-
face. On the other hand, if the item is a metal sion weld are as follows:
stud that is welded to a structure for attachment (I) Load and clamp the parts into the
purposes, it is called "capacitor discharge stud machine.
welding"• even though the equipment and pro- (2) Apply a low force on the parts or release
cedures are similar to percussion welding. the driving system.
(3) Establish an arc between the faying
4. Capacitor discharge stud welding is discussed in Vol. surfaces with high voltage to ionize the gas be-
2, Welding Handbook, 7th Ed.; 262-3, 282-94. tween the parts or with high current to melt and
Percussion Welding /83

vaporize a projection on one part. Advantages and Limitations

(4) Move the parts together percussively
with an applied force to extinguish the arc and Advantages. The extreme brevity of the arc in
consummate a weld. both versions of percussion welding limits melt-
(5) Release the force. ing to a very thin layer on the faying surfaces.
(6) Unclamp the welded assembly. Consequently, there is very little upset or flash
(7) Unload the machine. on the periphery of the welded joint. Heat-
Percussion welding is analogous to capa- treated or cold-worked metals can be welded
citor discharge stud welding. The differences without annealing them.
between the two processes are the applications Filler metal is not used and there is no cast
and the type of power source. Percussion weld- metal at the weld interface. A percussion welded
ing may be used to join two parts of equal cross joint usually possesses higher strength and con-
section end-to-end. These include wire, rod, ductivity than does a brazed joint. Also, unlike
and tubing. Welding current is supplied by a brazing, no special flux or atmosphere is required.
capacitor storage bank in these applications. The A particular advantage of the capacitor dis-
process may also be used to weld wires or con- charge method is that the capacitor charging
tacts to large flat areas with power from a capa- rate is easily controlled and low compared to the
citor bank or a transformer. discharge rate. The line power factor is better
than with a single-phase ac machine. Both these
factors give good operating efficiency and low
Principles of Operation
power lirie demand.
Welding heat is generated by a high current Percussion welding can tolerate a slight
arc between the two parts to be joined. The cur- amount of contamination on the faying surfaces
rent density is very high, and this melts a thin because expulsion of the thin molten layer tends
layer of metal on the faying surfaces in a few to carry any contaminants out of the joint.
milliseconds. Then, the molten surfaces are Limitations. The percussion welding process
brought together in a percussive manner to con- is limited to butt joints between two like sections
summate a weld. and to flat pads or contacts joined to flat sur-
The two process variations differ in the type faces. In addition, the total area that can be joined
of power supply, method of arc initiation, and is limited since control of an arc path between
work drive motion. With the capacitor discharge two large surfaces is difficult.
method, power is furnished by a capacitor stor- Joints between two like sections can be
age bank. The arc is initiated by the voltage accomplished more economically by other pro-
across the terminals of the capacitor bank (charg- cesses. Percussion welding is usually confined
ing voltage) or a superimposed high voltage to the joining of dissimilar metals not normally
pulse. Motion may be imparted to the movable considered weldable by other processes and to
part by mechanical or pneumatic means. the production of joints where avoidance of
For magnetic force welding, power is sup- upset is imperative. Another limitation of this
plied by a welding transformer. The arc is in- process is that two separate pieces must be joined.
itiated by vaporizing a small projection on one It cannot be used to weld a ring of one piece.
part with high current from the transformer. The
vaporized metal provides an arc path. The per- APPLICATIONS
cussive force is applied to the joint by an electro-
Weldable Metals
magnet that is synchronized with the welding
current. Magnetic force percussion welds are The magnetic force method is primarily
made in less than one half cycle of 60 Hz. Con- used for joining electrical contacts to contactor
sequently, the timing between the initiation of arms. Combinations include copper to copper,
the arc and the application of magnetic force is silver-tungsten to copper, silver oxide to copper,
critical. and silver-cadmium oxide to brass. Areas from

0.040 to 1.27 in~ are being welded in produc- mainly those in the electrical contact or compo-
tion. Some metal loss occurs at the weld inter- nent field. Large contact assemblies for relays
face, and in most instances some flash must be and contactors are usually made on magnetic
removed from the periphery of the weld. Figure force percussion welding machines. Such ma-
2.12 shows several contact designs welded by chines can be automated for high production.
this process. Figure 2.13 shows a section Hand-held capacitor discharge equipment
through a typical weld. may be used to weld wires to pins. This is par-
The capacitor discharge method is usually ticularly applicable to aerospace equipment that
employed to produce the following types of is subject to shock and vibration. The process is
joints: also used to weld electronic components to
(I) Butt joints between wires or rods terminals .
(2) Lead wire ends to flat conductors or
(3) Contacts to relay arms
The wire is usually made of copper and Heat Effect
may be solid or stranded, bare or tinned . The A percussion weld is made in a very short
rods are usually copper, brass, or nickel-silver. time. It may take milliseconds when using mag-
Other alloys such as steel, alumel, chrome!, netic force welding. Because of this short time,
aluminum, and tantalum may be welded to them- the heat-affected zones of percussion welds are
selves or to other materials. The method is also shallow, usually less than 0.010 inch. There is
applicable to reactive , refractory, and dissimilar little oxidation of mating surfaces and a minimum
metal welds, because the short weld time limits of alloying between dissimilar metals. Since the
the contamination of the reactive metals and the heat-affected depth is so small, heat-treated
formation of low-strength intermetallic zones in metals may be welded without softening them .
the joints. The heat input is so concentrated and of such
Industrial Uses short duration that heat-sensitive components
near the weld area are not affected by the weld-
Companies using percussion welding are ing cycle.

Fig. 2.12-Typical electrical contacts joined by magnetic force percussion

Percussion Welding/85

Fig. 2.13-Photomacrograph of a section through a silver contact (top)

welded to a brass terminal (bottom)

Heat balance between parts is usually not a generally consists of a modified press type re-
factor of concern. Since percussion welding is sistance welding machine with specially de-
essentially a de process, polarity of the two parts signed transformer, controls, and tooling.
involved may be important in some cases, as in Figure 2.14 shows a typical machine used to
arc welding. weld the type of parts shown in Fig. 2.12. An
Metal Loss
The metal loss that occurs during a percus-
sion weld is not so great as in arc stud welding.
The loss varies with the area of the weld and the
type of welding machine. Metal loss can gen-
erally be ignored for parts to be joined by capa-
citor discharge percussion welding. However, it
should be considered in magnetic force percus-
sion welding.

This is the metal that is expelled at high
velocity from the weld interface during a per-
cussion weld. It can damage adjacent tooling
and affect accuracy of assembly. Any flash
attached to the weld joint should be removed so
that it will not cause a problem in service.


Welding Machines
These machines use a low voltage power
supply (20 to 35 volts from a transformer), a
projection type arc starter, and an electromag- Fig. 2.14-Magnetic force percussion
netic system'to produce the weld force. A unit welding machine

air cylinder provides the initial force to bring Joint Design

the parts together.
For welding two flat surfaces together, a
Magnetic force percussion welding ma-
projection similar to that for resistance welding
chines usually have an independent power source
must be formed on one piece as shown in Fig.
for the electromagnet so that the force magni-
2.15. Its diameter and height must be developed
tude and time of application can be varied with
for each application. The diameter must be large
respect to the initiation of welding current. This
enough to support the initial force applied to the
is accomplished by using two separate trans-
parts but too small to carry the welding current.
formers, one for welding power and one for the
The height determines the gap between the fay-
electromagnet power. The acceleration of the
ing surfaces and, thus, •the initial arc voltage.
force member can be controlled by adjusting
When large area contacts are welded, two pro-
the magnitude of the electromagnet current,
jections may be required.
thereby providing a duration control for arc time.
The surfaces to be joined must be flat and
Since welding is done during l/2 cycle of
60 Hz, current flow is unidirectional. In some parallel during welding so that arcing will occur
cases, the polarity of the two parts may have over the entire area. Areas that are not melted
will probably not weld when impacted together.
some effect on weld quality. In general, the
same conditions that prevail in de arc welding
Voltage and Current
are also in effect in percussion welding with re-
spect to polarity. The current is always passing It is necessary to establish and maintain the
through the transformer in the same direction desired magnitude of voltage and current for the
and the core can become partially saturated. required weld area. These are determined by the
Consequently, the electrical controls should pro- projection design, the capacity of the welding
vide a low amplitude 1/2-cycle pulse in the op- transformer, and the impedance of the secondary
posite direction to deflux the transformer and circuit. The transformer should be of low imped-
electromagnet. This can be done during the ance with secondary voltages higher than those
loading time. commonly used in resistance welding.

Silver cadmium

All dimensions are in inches



Fig. 2.15-Typical design of a magnetic force percussion welded contact

Percussion Welding /87

Arc Time The other system utilizes a low voltage,

high capacitance energy source. This has the ad-
Arc time can be considered as the time be-
vantages of a safe working voltage (about 50V),
ginning with the explosion of the projection and
a simple power supply, and low weld spatter. In
ending when the two parts come together and the
some designs, the high voltage power is dis-
arc is quenched. The timing between the initiation
charged through a transformer of low voltage
of the arc and the application of magnetic force
is very critical.
A low voltage system requires a 600V arc
The arc time is a function of:
starting circuit and special wire end preparation.
(I) Magnitude of magnetic force
Once the air gap is ionized with the 600V (low
(2) Timing of the magnetic force with rela-
amperage)circuit, the arc is sustained by the 50V
tion to welding current
circuit. The arc initiation circuit does no appre-
(3) Inertia or mass of the moving parts in
ciable melting.
the force system
One type of low voltage machine consists
(4) Height of the projection
of a hand-held gun and a portable power supply.
(5) Magnitude of the welding current and
The gun is designed to weld wires to terminals
the diameter of the projection
by holding a small flat or square terminal in one
Acceleration of the movable head is di-
set of stationary jaws and the wire to be welded
rectly proportional to the magnetic force applied in a set of movable jaws. When the gun is trig-
and inversely proportional to the mass . The gered, springs move the wire toward the terminal
acceleration of the movable head with the two- at a high velocity. A feather edge on the end
transformer system can be controlled by adjust- of the wire greatly improves arc starting. The
ing the magnitude of the force current, which arc is initiated at the point of contact of the wire
thereby provides a duration control for arc time, and terminal. The welding current melts the
within limits. feather edge on the wire faster than the wire is
moving toward the terminal. The arc spreads
over the wire area and melts a layer about 0.002
WELDING to 0 .003-in . thick in each part. The arc is ex-
Two types of machines are presently used. tinguished after about !SO to 600 microseconds
One utilizes a high voltage, low capacitance as the two parts come in contact.
system. Charging voltage ranges from I to 3 kV. Another version of a portable, low voltage
With this system, wire end preparation is not welding machine employs a high frequency
critical since the applied potential is sufficient pulse to initiate the arc . This feature eliminates
to ionize the air in the gap and start the arc. the need for a special shape on the wire end.

Fig. 2.16-A portable capacitor discharge percussion welding power supply

and hand-held gun

The machine uses an electromechanical actuator capacitance, and high frequency voltage when
to accelerate the wire and to provide the neces- it is used. Control of the motion mechanism is
sary forging force. One version of this machine also provided.
is shown in Fig. 2.16.
Low voltage semiautomatic and automatic
machines are used to weld assemblies similar to
the one shown in Fig. 2.17. Component leads are The quality of percussion welds can be
usually tinned annealed copper. Terminals may determined by metallographic examination and
be brass, tinned brass, or nickel-silver alloys. mechanical tests. Metallographic examination
Wires and leads of 0.006 to 0.102-in. diameters will show the weld interface and the widths of
can be welded to terminals and plates of various the heat-affected zones. In the case of dissimilar
thicknesses above 0.006 inch. metals, it may reveal the degree of alloying at the
Controls for capacitor discharge equip- interface. Micro hardness tests on a metallo-
ment usually include those for welding voltage, graphic section may indicate the effect of weld-
ing on the base metal.
Welded joints may be tested in tension,
bending, or shear, depending upon the joint
design. The effect of vibration may be important
in some applications. The test method should be
designed to qualify the welding procedures and
weld joint properties for the intended appli-
Where the electrical integrity of the joint
Printed circuit or
is important, appropriate resistance measure-
molded board
ments should be made before and after a test
Fig. 2.17-A typical percussion welded and then the results compared. Some slight
electronic assembly change in resistance may be expected.

The welding machine should be equipped All doors and access panels on machines
with appropriate safety devices to prevent injury and controls should be kept locked or interlocked
to the operator's hands or other parts of the body. to prevent access by unauthorized personnel.
Initiating devices, such as push buttons or foot When the equipment utilizes capacitors for
switches, should be arranged and guarded to energy storage, the interlocks should interrupt
prevent them from being actuated inadvertently. the power and short circuit all the capacitors
Machine guards, fixtures, or operating through a suitable resistive load when the panel
controls should prevent the hands of the operator door is open. A manually operated switch or
from entering between the work-holding clamps other positive device should also be provided in
or the parts. Dual hand controls, latches, addition to the mechanical interlock or contacts.
presence-sensing devices, or any similar device Use of this device will assure complete discharge
may be used for this purpose. of the capacitors.

PERSONAL worn by the operator.

Additional information on safe practices
Flash guards of suitable fire resistant ma- for welding may be found in the American Na-
terial should be provided to protect the operator tional Standard Z49 .I, Safety in Welding and
and avoid fires. In addition, personal eye pro- Cutting (latest edition), available from the Amer-
tection with suitable shaded lenses should be ican Welding Society.

Metric Conversion Factors

1 in. = 25.4 mm
1 in~ = 645 mm•
1 ft/min = 5.08 mm/s
1 psi = 6.89 kPa
1 ksi = 6.89 MPa


Hind, R. H., Butt Welding in the tool industry. 1960 Sept.
Production Engineering, 40(12): 785-793;
Moore, C. D., Flash welding aluminum to cop-
1961 Dec.
per. Machinery, 99: 790-792; 1%1, Oct. 4.
Holko, Kenneth H., Magnetic force upset weld-
ing dissimilar thickness stainless steel tee Petry, K. N., et al., Principles and practices in
joints. Welding Journal, 49(9), 427-439s: contact welding. Welding Journal, 49(2):
1970 Sept. 117-126; 1970 Feb.
King, P. P. and Schnepf, Arc percussive butt Savage, W. F., Flash welding: the process and
welding of fine wire conductors. Welding application. Welding Journal, 41(3): 227-
Journal, 44(2): 100-105; 1965 Feb. 237; 1962 Mar.
Kotechki, D. J., Cheever, D. L., and Howden, Savage, W. F., Flash welding: process variables
D. G., Capacitor discharge percussion weld- and weld properties. Welding Journal,
ing: microtubes to tube sheets. Welding 41(3): 109s-119s; 1962 Mar.
Journal, 53(9): 557-560; 1974 Sept.
Stieglitz, H. W., Flash welding copper to steel.
Makara, A. M. and Sakhatski, G. P., The flash Metal Progress, 80: 112; 1961 Nov.
welding of high tensile steels. Welding
Sullivan, J. F. and Savage, W. F., Effect of
Research Abroad: 44-48; 1969 Mar.
phase control during flashing on flash weld
Manning, R. F. and Welch, J. B., Percussion defects. Welding Journal, 50(5): 213s-221s;
welding using magnetic force-a production 1971 May.
process. Welding Journal, 39(9): 903-907;
Resistance Welding Equipment

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92 Resistance Welding Controls .......... 110

Spot and Projection Welding Electrical Characterisitcs .............. 120

Machines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
Electrodes and Holders ............... 124
Roll Spot and Seam Welding Power Supply .................... ... 138
Machines .................... .... 100
Safety .................... ......... 140
Flash and Upset Welding
Machines .................... .... 105 Supplementary Reading List ........... 143

Chapter Committee

W. G. EMAUS, Chairman A. E. LOHRBER

Anderson Automation, Inc. Swift-Ohio Corporation
Weltronic Company Taylor-Windfield Corporation
Centerline (Windsor) Ltd. Newcor, Inc.
KirkhofTransformer Division,
FIX Corporation

Welding Handbook Committee Members

Union Carbide Corporation Reynolds Metals Company

Resistance Welding Equipment

The selection of resistance welding equip- Machines in both groups may be designed to
ment is usually determined by' the joint design, operate on either single-phase or three-phase
materials of construction, quality requirements, power.
production schedules, and economic considera- Most resistance welding machines are the
tions. Standard resistance welding machines are single-phase direct energy type. This is the type
designed to meet the requirements of Bulletin of machine most commonly used because it is
No. 16, Resistance Welding Equipment Stan- the simplest and least expensive in initial cost,
dards, issued by the Resistance Welders Manu- installation, and maintenance. With properly
facturers Association (RWMA). These machines designed controls, it will normally produce welds
are capable of welding a wide variety of alloys of commercial quality comparable to those made
and component sizes. Complex resistance weld- with other types of machines. Actually, the
ing equipment of special design may be neces- mechanical systems and secondary circuit de-
sary to meet the economic requirements of mass signs are essentially the same for all types of
production. welding machines, but the transformer design
A resistance welding machine has three and control systems will differ considerably.
principal elements: A single-phase welding machine will have
(I) An electrical circuit consisting of a a larger volt-ampere demand than a three-phase
welding transformer and a secondary circuit machine of equivalent rating. The demand of a
including the electrodes which conduct the weld- single-phase machine causes unbalance on a
ing current to the work. three-phase power line. Also, the power factor is
(2) A mechanical system consisting of a relatively low because of the inherent inductive
machine frame and associated mechanisms to reactance in the machine. Single-phase demand
hold the work and apply the welding force. may not be a problem if the welding machine is
(3) The control equipment to initiate and a relatively small part of the total line load or a
time the duration of current flow. It also may number of single-phase welding machines are
control the current magnitude as well as the connected to balance the load on the three phases
sequence and the time of other parts of the weld- of the power line.
ing cycle. A three-phase direct energy machine draws
Resistance welding machines are classified power from all three phases of the power line
according to their electrical operation into two at a high power factor. The inductive reactance
basic groups: direct energy and stored energy. of the welding circuit is low because direct

Spot and Projection Welding Machines /93

current is used for welding. Consequently, the is to accumulate and store electrical energy
kVA demand of a three-phase machine is lower and then discharge it from storage to make the
than that of an equivalent single-phase machine. weld. The energy is normally stored electro-
This is a definite advantage where a large ca- statically in a capacitor bank. Single-phase
pacity machine is needed and the power line power is generally used for small bench models.
capacity is limited. The power demand is low because storage time
The principle of a stored energy machine is relatively long in comparison to the weld time.


ROCKER ARM TYPE can readily be changed by the substitution of
different horns. Some machines have adjustable
The simplest and most commonly used spot upper horns and, in some cases, adjustable lower
welding machine is the rocker arm design, so horns. With extended horns, rather larger assem-
called because of the rocker movement of ttie blies can be inserted into the machine throat,
upper horn. A horn is essentially a cylindrical but machine performance may be reduced be-
arm or extension of an arm of a resistance weld- cause of the increase in throat area.
ing machine which transmits the electrode force
and, in most cases, the welding current. This Electrode Position
type of machine is readily adaptable for the spot The travel path of the upper electrode is an
welding of most weldable metals. Three methods arc about the fulcrum of the upper arm. The elec-
of operation are available, namely: (I) air, (2) trodes must be positioned so that both are in the
foot, and (3) motor. plane of the horn axes. Also, the two horns
Air-operated machines, such as the one in should be parallel when the electrodes are in
Fig. 3.1, are the most popular type. With air contact with the work. Even with parallel horns,
operation, the welding cycle is generally con- electrode skidding can occur if the electrode
trolled automatically with a combination control holders or horns are not sufficiently rigid. Skid-
unit. They can operate very rapidly and are easily ding can be reduced by changing to more rigid
set up for welding. electrode holders, adjusting the position of the
Foot-operated machines are best suited for electrodes, or providing support to the lower
miscellaneous sheet metal fabrication, particularly horn. Because of the radial motion of the upper
for short production runs where consistent weld electrode, these machines are not recommended
quality is not required. Motor-operated machines for projection welding.
are normally used where compressed air is not
readily available.
Mechanical Design
Standard rocker arm machines are generally
available with throat depths of 12 to 36 in. and The machine frame houses the transformer
transformer capacity of 5 to 75 kVA. The gen- and tap switch and supports the mechanical and
eral construction of these machines is the same electrical components.
with all three types of operation. For air-operated machines, the stroke ofthe
A rocker arm type machine, however air cylinder must be proportioned to the required
operated, suffers a reduction of available weld- electrode spacing. Its diameter must be pro-
ing force and welding current as the throat depth portioned to the required electrode force and
is increased. On the other hand, the throat depth lever arm ratio Y/X in Fig. 3.1). For a given


A- Throat depth H · Lower horn

B - Horn spacing M -Rocker arm
C · Centerline of rocker arm N · Secondary flexible conductor
D · Lower arm adjustment R -Current regulator (tap switch)
E -Air cylinder S ·Transformer secondary
F -Air valve T · Electrode holder
G -Upper horn W · Electrode

Fig. 3.1-Air-operated rocker arm spot welding machine

cylinder diameter, the available welding force of possible erratic and inconsistent behavior of
will decrease as the throat depth is increased. the air cylinder.
Electrode spacing can be set by adjusting the With foot and motor operated machines,
position of the electrodes in the horns. In most the air cylinder is replaced by a stiff spring. The
cases, however, it is desirable to use a double- spring is compressed by a foot-operated lever
acting air cylinder with adjustable stroke. arm or a motor-driven cam as it exerts a force on
The force exerted by a piston is equal to the end of the rocker arm. The amount of force
the product of its area and the air pressure. Most is determined by the stiffness of the spring and
industrial air systems are operated at 80 psi pres- the compression distance.
sure minimum, and cylinder size is determined
on this basis.
Electrode force is the product of the piston
force and the lever arm ratio Y/X. Consequently, Press type machines are recommended for
it is in direct proportion to the air pressure as all projection welding operations and many spot
controlled by a pressure regulator. Air pres- welding applications. With this type of machine,
sures below 20 psi should not be used because the movable welding head travels in a straight
Spot arui Projection Welding Machines /95

line in guide bearings or ways. These bearings shown in Fig. 3.2.

must be of sufficient proportions to withstand Projection welding machines have platens
any eccentric loading on the welding head. on which dies, fixtures, and other tooling are
Standard press type welding machines are avail- mounted. The platens have flat surfaces and
able with capacities of 5 to 500 kVA and with usually have standard T-slots for bolting attach-
throat depths up to 36 inches. Nonstandard units ments. Machines designed for spot welding are
with lower ratings, such as bench types, are equipped with horns and electrode holders. A
widely used for radio, instrument, and jewelry combination unit will have both platens and
work. horns, as shown in Fig. 3.2. Such a machine
Press type machines are classified according will have one throat depth as a projection weld-
to their use and method of force application. ing machine and a greater throat depth as a spot
They may be designed for spot welding or pro- welding machine. The platens, the ram, and the
jection welding, or both. Force may be applied force cylinder are all on the same centerline.
by air or hydraulic cylinders, or manually with The distance from this centerline to the frame
small bench units. of the machine is the projection welding throat
A few general guidelines for the selection of depth. On standard machines with horns, the
a machine of this type are as follows: spot welding electrodes are located 6 in. farther
(I) Hydraulic operation is not normally used from the frame. This is true whether or not
on machines rated below 200 kVA because of platens are used. The design throat depth should
the higher cost compared to air operation. not be exceeded because the ram is not designed
(2) Air operation may be used on all sizes to take greater eccentric loading.
of machines. When high forces are required, On projection and combination machines,
however, air cylinders and valves will be quite the lower platen is mounted on a knee which
large, operation will be slow, and air consump- may be adjusted vertically. The knee may be of
tion will be high. When all factors are taken into cast iron, steel, copper, or bronze.
consideration, most machines of 300 kVA and
Mechanical Design
under are air operated, and machines of 500 kVA
and above are hydraulically operated. In be- Air-Operated Machines. These machines are
tween, they may be operated by either method. usually the direct-acting type where the electrode
Fast electrode follow-up is particularly force is exerted by the air cylinder through the
important when spot and projection welding rela- ram. Three general types of double-acting air
tively thin sections, particularly those of alumi- cylinders are employed. These are illustrated in
num and other nonferrous metals. Air operation Fig. 3.3. In all cases, air for the pressure stroke
provides much faster follow-up than does hy- enters at port A and exhausts at port B. For the
draulic operation because of the compressibility return stroke, the air enters at port B and ex-
of air. With hydraulic operation, follow-up must hausts at port A.
occur by fluid motion throughout the hydraulic Figure 3.3(A) shows a fixed-stroke cylinder
system. A precharged air accumulator is some- with stroke adjustment. The stroke adjuster K
times used with this system to improve follow- limits the travel of pistion P and the electrode
up. Other systems use springs in combination opening.
with the electrode holders. An adjustable-stroke cylinder with a dummy
piston is shown in Fig. 3.3(8). The dummy
General Construction
piston R is attached to the adjusting screw K
Standard press type welding machines are which positions this piston. Chamber L is con-
designed and built on the unit principle for nected to port A through the hollow adjusting
economy in manufacture. The same frame size screw. The stroke of the force piston P is ad-
is used with two or three transformers of dif- justed by the position of the dummy piston R
ferent kVA ratings and with a range of throat above it. This cylinder design responds faster
depths. A typical press type welding machine is than a fixed-stroke cylinder because the volume

A - Air or hydraulic cylinder F- Knee

B- Ram G -Flexible conductor
C - Spot welding attachment H -Transformer secondary
D -Upper platen J - Knee support
E -Lower platen

Fig. 3.2-Press type combin•tion spot •nd projection

welding m•chine

(L) above piston P can be made smaller than X. This determines the up position for piston P
that of a fixed-stroke cylinder of the same size. and the electrode opening for welding. When
A modification of the adjustable-stroke the air from chamber H is exhausted to atmo-
cylinder provides a retraction feature to provide sphere, piston P will lift piston R with it until
additional electrode opening for loading and un- stop X contacts the cylinder head. This will in-
loading of the machine or for electrode mainte- crease the electrode opening for loading and un-
nance. This adjustable-retractable stroke cylinder loading of the machine. Readmission of air to
is shown in Fig. 3.3(C). With this type, a third chamber H will return pistons P and R to weld-
port C is connected to chamber H above the ing position when the pressure in chamber H is
dummy piston R. If air is admitted to chamber slightly higher than that in chamber M. Flow
H at a pressure slightly higher than the operating control valves or cushions are usually used to
pressure in chamber L, piston R will move down control the operating speed of an air cylinder.
to a position determined by the adjustable stop Several optional features are available on
Spot and Projection Welding Machines/ 97

(A) (B) (C)

Fixed stroke Adjustable stroke Adjustable
retractable stroke

Fig. 3.3-Typical air cylinder designs for air-operated press type

welding machines

air-operated machines to provide either dual (I) A portable welding gun or tool
electrode force for forging action or fast follow- (2) A welding transformer and, in some
up of the electrodes as the weld nugget is cases, a rectifier
formed . Such features usually incorporate a (3) An electrical contactor and sequence
rubber diaphragm of some form to minimize timer
friction in the force system . (4) A cable and hose unit to carry power
and cooling water between the transformer and
Hydraulic Machines. With these machines, a
welding gun
hydraulic cylinder is used in place of an air cyl-
inder. The designs for hydraulic cylinders are A typical portable welding gun consists of
similar to those for air-operated cylinders (see a frame, an air or hydraulic actuating cylinder,
Fig. 3 .3). Hydraulic cylinders are generally hand grips , and an initiating switch. The unit
smaller in diameter than air cylinders because may be suspended from an adjustable balancing
higher pressures can be developed with a fluid unit. Some small units may use manual pres-
system . sure to apply the electrode force.
In the simplest type of hydraulic system, a There are two basic types of air or hy-
constant speed motor drives a constant pressure, draulically operated guns . One is the scissor
constant delivery pump. The output pressure of type which is analogous to a rocker arm spot
the pump is controlled by an adjustable relief welding machine. The other is the "C" type,
valve. Fluid delivery is controlled with a four- so-called because of its shape. This type has
way valve of similar design to that employed in action similar to a press type spot welding
an air system . Auxiliary devices include a sump, machine.
a filter, a heat exchanger, a gage, and, some- There are no standard designs for portable
times, an accumulator. spot welding guns. They are used for applications
where it is impractical to bring the work to the
welding machine. The design of the gun usually
is tailored to the configuration of the assembly
A typical portable spot welding machine to be welded. There may be some degree of
consists of four basic units: standardization of gun sizes and shapes by a

particular manufacturer or user that specializes MULTIPLE SPOT WELDING TYPE

in this type of equipment. These units may be
applicable to a number of similar part designs. A multiple spot welding machine is a spe-
The design of a gun is influenced by the cial purpose unit designed to weld a specific
electrode force required. To minimize the size assembly. This type of machine should be con-
and weight of a gun, a hydraulic cylinder is sidered when the production requirements and
commonly used to provide forces greater than the number of spot welds on an assembly are
750 lbs. However, air cylinders supplying up to so large that welding with a single spot machine
1500 lbs. are sometimes used for simplicity of is uneconomical. The principal advantages of
the equipment. these machines are:
Transformers for portable guns should pro- ( 1) A number of welds can be made at the
duce open-circuit secondary voltages that are same time.
two to four times greater than those of trans- (2) Part dimensions and weld locations
formers for stationary machines. The higher can be reasonably consistent.
voltages are needed because of the added im- (3) The equipment can be very reliable and
pedence of the cable between the transformer easy to maintain.
and the gun. The transformer is usually mounted Welding Station Design
some distance above the work to give more
freedom and flexibility to the gun, but it can be Multiple spot welding machines utilize a
close-coupled to minimize secondary impedance number of transformers, usually of dual sec-
losses. A current-controlling tap switch, an air ondary design. Figure 3.4 shows typical stan-
valve, and sometimes an air-hydraulic booster dardized components that are used in designing
or a rectifier unit are mounted on the trans- a wide range of multiple spot welding machines.
former. Force is applied directly to the electrode through
An air-hydraulic booster is a piston device a holder by an air or hydraulic cylinder. To make
for transforming air pressure into high hydraulic welds on close centers, the cylinder diameter
pressure. The pressure increase is inversely pro- must be small. This can be accomplished with
portional to the areas of the two pistons. The tandem pistons on the same shaft, as shown in
booster provides the necessary hydraulic pressure the illustration. A 2-in. diameter air cylinder
to the gun cylinder. of this design can develop an electrode force of
A combination control is required to operate 350 lb with normal shop air pressure. This force
a portable gun unit. It consists of a primary is adequate for spot welding two 0.025-in.
contactor and sequence timer. If an electronic thicknesses of cold rolled steel. Closer spot
tube contactor is used, the control is usually weld spacing may be obtained by using hy-
mounted separately but as close to the trans- draulic cylinders of smaller diameter. The com-
former as possible. If the contactor is a solid- bination cylinder and electrode holder assem-
state device, the compactness of this unit can blies are commonly called welding guns.
permit mounting the control directly on the trans- A welding transformer with two insulated
former. secondaries can power two separate welding
The cable and hose assembly between the circuits. This type of transformer is noted for its
transformer and welding gun consists of electri- compact design and narrow width. If desired,
cal cables, air or hydraulic hoses, water-cooling only one of the dual secondaries need be used
hoses, and a cable to the initiating switch. The at one time. For higher secondary voltage, the
gun cable is normally a concentric, kickless type. two secondaries can be connected in series to
The two conductors in the cable are intertwined feed one secondary circuit. To increase the weld-
in such a manner that the reactance is low. They ing current available to a single circuit, the
are operated at high current density to reduce secondaries can be connected in parallel. Weld-
bulk. As a result, water cooling is necessary to ing guns and transformer units of this type can
keep them from overheating. be designed to spot weld two sheets of cold
Spot and Projection Welding Machines /99

/ ~--, '\
( ' \ \ \
: I : : I
2 Dia. --t-----~ I I I :
min. 1
/-1 1 I I I 1
,. I +r I I I
- -l. -J

: 11 - I
~~-u I

I ~~~:ns

Flexible cables

Dimensions are in inches

Fig. 3.4-B•sic components of • multiple spot welding system

rolled carbon steel up to 0.125 in. thick. trode. The same basic welding gun is used for
For most applications, the lower electrode is these designs but it is mounted on a special "C"
made of a piece of solid copper alloy with one frame similar to that for a portable spot welding
or more electrode alloy inserts that <!ontact the gun. The entire assembly can move as electrode
part to be welded. It is normally water cooled force is applied to the weld location.
to remove heat. The inserts generally are de- Machine Designs
signed with large contact areas to resist wear.
Pointed electrodes are not normally used against Multiple transformer machines are used ex-
the show side to avoid marking . A typical ma- tensively in the manufacture of formed sheet
chine is shown in Fig. 3.5. metal products. Because of their broad usage
Equalizing gun designs are often used and requirements, many designs of multiple
where standard electrodes are needed on both transformer machines are available. The ma-
sides of the weld to obtain good heat balance chines may be designed as welding stations in
or where variations in parts will not permit con- large, high production, automated assembly
sistent contact with a large, solid lower elec- lines, or they may be used independently .

Fig. 3.5-A typical muhiple transformer spot welding machine

with a tilt table for loading parts

Independent machines may be loaded and un- (3) Required weld appearance
loaded either manually or automatically. (4) Production rate requirements
In designing a machine for a particular (5) Available equipment (presses, frames,
assembly, a number of factors must be con- and dial tables)
sidered. These include: (6) Changeover time for different assem-
(I) Shape, size, and complexity of the part blies
(2) Metal composition and thickness (7) Cost of the equipment


A roll spot or seam welding machine is stituted for the electrode tips used in spot weld-
similar in principle to a spot welding machine ing. Both roll spot and seam welding can be
except that wheel-shaped electrodes are sub- performed on the same type of machine.
Roll Spot and Seam Welding Machines /101

The essential elements of a standard seam machine is shown in Fig. 3.6.

welding machine are as follows: (2) Longitudinal, where the axes of rota-
(I) A main frame that houses the welding tion of the electrodes are parallel to the front of
transformer and tap switch the machine. This type is used for such applica-
(2) A welding head consisting of an air tions as the welding of side seams in cylindrical
cylinder, a ram, and an upper electrode mount- containers and short seams in flat work.
ing and drive mechanism (3) Universal, where the electrodes may be
(3) The lower electrode mounting and set in either the circular or longitudinal position.
drive mechanism, if used This is accomplished with a swivel type upper
(4) The secondary circuit connections head in which the electrode and its bearing can
(5) Electronic controls and contactor be rotated 90 degrees about a vertical axis. Two
(6) Wheel electrodes interchangeable lower arms are used, one for
The main frame, transformer, tap switch, circular operation and the other for longitudinal
ram, and air.cylinder are essentially the same as operation.
those of a standard press type spot or projection Figure 3.7 shows the electrode arrange-
welding machine. Hydraulic cylinders are sel- ments for standard types of machines as well as
dom used on seam welding machines because methods of electrode drive.
the electrode force requirements are not normally
high. To provide for electrode wear, either an
adjustable connection is used between the ram ELECTRODE DRIVE MECHANISMS
and the piston rod or an adjustable-stroke air
cylinder is employed. In addition, the position Knurl or Friction Roller
of the lower electrode and its mounting arrange- The knurl or friction roller drive has either
ment is sometimes adjustable. This adjustment the upper or the lower electrode, or both, driven
is used to position the work at a proper height by a friction wheel on the periphery of the elec-
for convenient operation. trode. When these friction rolls have knurled
Most seam welding of thin gages is done teeth, they are known as knurls or knurl drives.
using continuous drive systems. With thick Knurl or friction roller drive will maintain a
gages, intermittent drive systems must be used constant welding speed as the electrode diameter
to maintain electrode force on the weld nugget decreases from wear. Typical drive arrangements
as it solidifies. The thickness range that can be are shown in Figs. 3.7 (A), (B), (D), and (E).
welded with each drive system will depend upon A knurl drive is commonly used on ma-
the metal being joined. chines for seam welding galvanized steel, teme
The majority of continuous drive mecha- plate, scaly stock, or other materials where the
nisms use a constant speed, ac electric motor electrodes are likely to pick up surface material
with a variable speed drive. The speed range from the parts being welded. The knurl drive
depends upon the drive design and the electrode wheel tends to break up the material on the elec-
diameter. Good flexibility may also be obtained trode face. Where the nature of the work permits,
with a constant torque, variable speed de drive. both electrodes should be knurl-driven to pro-
vide a more positive drive and lessen the possi-
bility of skidding.
Gear Drive
There are three general types of seam weld-
ing machines: With this method, the electrode shaft is
(I) Circular, where the axis of rotation of driven by a gear train powered by a variable-
each electrode is perpendicular to the front of speed drive, as shown in Figs. 3.7 (C) and (F).
the machine. This type is used for long seams Only one electrode should be driven to avoid
in flat work and for circumferential welds, such skidding. Otherwise, a differential gear box is
as welding the heads into containers. Such a necessary. This type of drive is generally less

Fig. 3.6-A standard circular seam welding machine with a

special fixture
Roll Spot and Seam Welding Machines /103

(A) (B) (C)

(D) (E) (F)

(A) Circular with double knurl or friction roller drive

(B) Circular with upper knurl or friction roller drive
(C) Circular with upper gear drive
(D) Longitudinal with double knurl or friction roller drive
(E) Longitudinal with upper knurl or friction roller drive
(F) Universal with upper gear drive

Fig. 3.7-Typic:al seam welding elec:trode and drive arrangements

desirable than a knurl drive because the welding electrode diameters exceeds about 2 to 1, the
speed decreases as the electrode wears. This can smaller electrode should be driven and the large
be compensated for by gradually increasing the one should idle to minimize electrode skidding.
drive speed.
The most important applications for a
gear-driven machine are the welding of alumi- Special purpose machines are available for
num and magnesium and the fabrication of specific applications. Such machines can be
small diameter containers. Standard seam weld- generally grouped as traveling electrode type,
ing machines are designed with some minimum traveling fixture type, and portable seam weld-
distance between electrode centers for each ing machines.
machine size. If one of the electrodes must be
Traveling Electrode Type
small to fit inside a container, the other must
be correspondingly larger to account for the re- With this type of machine, the seam to be
quired center distance. If the ratio of the two welded is clamped or otherwise positioned on a

fixed mandrel or shoe of some type and the ram chine, such as the one shown in Fig. 3. 9.
and wheel electrode are moved along the seam.
Portable Type
The mandrel or shoe is the lower electrode. The
ram and electrode are moved by an air or hy- Portable seam welding guns may be used
draulic cylinder or by a motor-driven screw. for work that is too large and bulky to be fed
Sometimes two upper electrodes operating in through a standard machine. The gun consists of
series are used side by side or in tandem. Figure a pair of motor-driven wheel electrodes and
3.8 shows a typical traveling electrode machine. bearings, together with an air cylinder and asso-
ciated mechanism for applying the electrode
Traveling Fixture Type
force. Welding current is supplied in the same
In the traveling fixture type, the upper manner as for portable spot welding. A variable-
electrode remains in a fixed position. The fixture speed de drive may be used where a wide range
and work are moved under the electrode by a of welding speeds is desirable. The motor and
suitable driving system. Multiple electrodes can speed reducer are mounted directly on the weld-
also be used to advantage with this type of rna- ing gun frame.

Fig. 3.8-Traveling electrode seam welding machine

Flash and Upset Welding Machines /105

Fig. 3.9-Tr~ve/ing fixture se~m welding m~chine with two

electrodes in t~ndem

COOLING jets spraying on both the work and the welding

One requirement in seam welding is the electrodes are usually satisfactory. Welding
proper cooling of the machine, the electrodes, under water may be done in special cases.
the current-carrying bearings, and other com- Another method of cooling the weldment
ponents of the secondary circuit. Cooling of the is a water mist that removes the heat by evapora-
work is also important in most applications to tion. A mist is produced by mixing air and water
minimize warpage from the local heating. Water in proper proportions in a nozzle.


Flash and upset welding machines are join continuously the seam in pipe or tubing.
similar in construction. The major difference is Flash welding machines are generally of much
the motion of the movable platen during weld- larger capacity than upset welding machines.
ing and the mechanisms used to impart the mo-
tion. Flash welding is generally preferred for FLASH WELDING MACHINES
joining components of equal cross section end-
General Construction
to-end. Upset welding is normally used to weld
wire, rod, or bar of small cross section and to A standard flash welding machine basically

consists of a main frame, a stationary platen, a completed weld in the machine can be done with
movable platen, clamping mechanisms and fix- appropriate controls.
tures, a transformer, a tap switch, electrical
Flashing and Upsetting Mechanisms
controls, and a flashing and upsetting mecha-
nism. The stationary platen is generally fixed in In the operation of a flash welding ma-
position, although some designs provide a limited chine, the parts are moved together using a pre-
amount of adjustment for electrode and work determined travel pattern. This movement must
alignment. The movable platen is mounted on be carefully controlled to consistently produce
ways on the frame and connected to the flashing sound welds. After the appropriate flashing time,
and upsetting mechanism. Both platens are the pieces are rapidly brought into contact and
usually of cast or fabricated steel, although upset. The upsetting action must be accurately
some small welding machines may have cast synchronized with the termination of flashing.
bronze, cast iron, or copper platens. The platens The type of mechanism used for flashing
are connected to the transformer secondary. and upsetting will depend upon the size of the
Electrodes that hold the parts and conduct the welding machine and the application require-
welding current to them are mounted on the ments. Some mechanisms permit the faying sur-
platens. The transformer and tap switch are faces to be butted together under pressure and
generally located within or immediately behind then preheated. After the appropriate temperature
the frame with short, heavy duty copper leads is reached, the pieces are separated and then the
to the platens. flashing and upsetting sequence is initiated. The
The depth of the frame and, consequently, movable platen may be actuated with a motor-
the width of the platens depends upon the size driven cam or with an air or hydraulic cylinder.
of the parts to be welded as well as the clamp- Motor-operated machines normally use an
ing mechanism design. Upsetting force should ac motor with a variable speed drive which, in
be aligned as nearly as possible to the geometric turn, drives a rotary cam. The cam is designed
center of the parts to minimize machine deflec- to produce a specific flashing pattern. It may
tion. Dual flashing and upsetting cylinders or contain an insert block to upset the joint at the
cams are sometimes used with wide platens to end of flashing. The speed of the cam determines
provide uniform loading or clearance for long the flashing time. The platen may be moved di-
pieces to extend over the mechanism. rectly by the cam or through a lever system. The
Trasformer and Controls motor may operate intermittently for each weld-
ing cycle or continuously. With continuous
A flash welding transformer is essentially operation, the drive is engaged through a clutch
the same as those used for other types of single- on the output shaft of the speed reducer. A
phase resistance welding machines. A tap switch typical motor-operated flash welding machine is
in the primary circuit is normally used to adjust shown in Fig. 3.10.
flashing voltage. An autotransformer is some- A motor-driven flashing cam may be used in
times used to extend the range of adjustment of combination with an air or hydraulic upsetting
secondary voltage. The primary power to the mechanism, particularly on larger machines.
transformer is switched with an electronic con- Such a combination provides adjustment of
tactor. Phase-shift heat control may be used with upset speed, distance, and force independently
the contactor to provide low power for preheat- of the flashing pattern.Current flow is synchro-
ing or postweld heat treatment in the machine. nized with the mechanical motion of the platen
With ignitron contactors, auxiliary load resistors by limit switches.
must be connected in parallel with the trans- Medium and large flash welding machines
former primary for proper operation of the use hydraulically operated flashing and upset-
ignitrons. ting mechanisms. These machines are capable of
Programming of secondary current for pre- applying high upsetting forces for large sections.
heating prior to flashing and post heating of the They are accurate in operation and are readily
Flash and Upset Welding Machines /107

Fig. 3.10-Automatic motor-operated flash welding machine

set up for a wide range of work requirements. A Clamping Mechanisms and Fixtures
large hydraulic flash welding machine is shown
in Fig. 3.11. A servo system is used to control Several designs of clamping mechanisms
the platen motion for flashing and upsetting. are available to accommodate different types of
The servo system may be actuated by a pilot parts. These designs may be grouped generally
cam mechanism or by an electrical signal as operating in either the vertical or the horizon-
generated from the secondary voltage or the pri- tal position. In special cases, the mechanisms
mary current. Choice of operating mode depends may be mounted in other positions.
upon the application. The control may be pro- Vertical Clamping. The movement of the
grammed to include preheating and postheating. electrode may be in a plane perpendicular to
An accumulator is generally required to provide the platen ways. The electrode may move either
an adequate volume of hydraulic fluid from the through a slight arc or in a straight line. If operat-
pumping unit during upsetting. ing through an arc, a clamping arm pivots about
Electro-hydraulic servo systems are gen- a trunnion. This design is generally known as
erally of two designs. In one design, the servo the "alligator" type. A machine with this type
valve meters the fluid directly to the hydraulic of clamping arrangement is shown in Fig. 3.12.
cylinder for position control. With the other Clamping force may be applied by an air or hy-
design, the servo valve meters the fluid to a draulic cylinder operating directly or through a
small control cylinder that operates a follower leverage or cam-operated mechanism. Vertical
valve on a separate hydraulic system. The first clamping is commonly used for bar stock and
design is simple and straightforward, but the other compact sections.
second system has two distinct advantages.
First, it has two separate hydraulic circuits for Horizontal Clamping. With thi~ design, the
improved valve life. Second, the speed of re- motion of the electrodes is paralletto the platen
sponse is fast and control of the platen position ways and generally in a straight line, as shown
is accurate. in Fig. 3.11. The major advantage of this type of

Fig. 3.11-Automatic hydraulically operated flash welding machine with

horizontal clamping

Fig. 3.12-An automatic flash welding machine with vertical alligator

type clamping
Flash and Upset Welding Machines /109

Fig. 3.13-An ~ir-oper~ted autom~tic upset welding machine

clamping mechanism is that the secondary of the UPSET WELDING MACHINES

welding transformer can be connected to both
halves of the electrodes for uniform transfer Upset welding machines are quite similar
of welding current into the work. This arrange- to flash welding machines in principle except
ment is highly desirable for welding parts with that no flashing mechanism is required. A typical
large cross sections. Clamping force can be upset welding machine, such as the one in Fig.
applied with one of the mechanisms described 3.13, consists of a main frame that houses a
for vertical clamping. transformer and tap switch, electrodes to hold
the parts and conduct the welding current, and
Fixtures. Fixtures may be used to support and means to upset the joint. A primary contactor is
align the parts for welding as well as to back up used to control welding current.
the parts to prevent slippage in the electrodes The simplest type of upset welding machine
during upsetting. They are usually adjustable to is manually operated. In this machine, the
accommodate the geometry and length of the pieces to be welded are clamped in position in
parts. The design must be sturdy to withstand the electrodes. A force is exerted on the movable
the upsetting force without deflecting. When the platen with a hand-operated leverage system.
parts can be backed up, the clamping force on Welding current is applied, and when the abut-
the electrodes can be limited to that needed to ting parts reach welding temperature, they are
ensure good electrical contact and maintain upset together to accomplish the weld. The
satisfactory joint alignment. current is manually shut off at the proper time

during the welding cycle. The work is then re- Normal upset forces are 12, 70, and 120 lb, re-
moved from the electrodes. A limit switch or a spectively. However, larger units are available.
timing device may be used to terminate the Upset welding is used extensively for the
welding current automatically after the weld has welding of small wires, rods, and tubes in the
upset a predetermined amount. manufacture of items such as chain links, re-
Automatic machines may use springs or air frigerator and stove racks, automotive seat
cylinders to provide upset force (see Fig. 3.13). frames, and for joining coils of wire for further
Either device can provide uniform force con- processing. This process is often selected for
sistently. Spring or air operated machines are applications where the upset is not objectionable
particularly adapted for welding nonferrous for the design. It is best adapted for joints be-
metals having narrow plastic ranges. tween parts with relatively small cross section
There are three standard sizes of upset where uniformity of welding current is not a
welding machines rated at 2, 5, and 10 kVA. problem.


The principal functions of resistance weld- also control other mechanical movements of the
ing controls are to ( 1) provide signals to control machine such as driving or indexing mecha-
machine actions, (2) start and stop the flow of nisms. Sequence weld timers are used on spot,
current to the welding transformer, and (3) con- seam, and projection welding machines.
trol the magnitude of the current. There are three The four basic steps in any spot, seam, or
general groups of controls: timing and sequenc- projection welding cycle are as follows:
ing controls, welding contactors, and auxiliary (1) Squeeze time
controls. If the machine is simple in construc- (2) Weld time
tion, such as a foot-operated spot welding ma- (3) Hold time
chine, its controls are simple. If the welding (4) Offtime
cycle is complex, such as that used in weld- Squeeze time is the interval between the initial
ing heat-resistant alloys to military specifica- application of electrode force on the work and
tions, the machine controls are complex. Many the first application of current. Weld time is the
types of resistance welding machine controls are duration of welding current flow with single
available. Most are produced to the require- impulse welding. Hold time is the period during
ments of the National Electrical Manufacturers which the electrode force is maintained on the
Association (NEMA) standard'. weld after the last impulse of current ceases. Off
time is the period during which the electrodes
TIMING AND SEQUENCE are retracted from the work during repetitive
CONTROLS welding. During off time, the work is moved to
the next weld location.
Sequence Weld Timers Certain welding machines are manual or
A sequence weld timer is a device to con- motor-operated. With these machines, a cam
trol the sequence and duration of the elements may be used to initiate a weld timer that con-
of a complete resistance welding cycle. It may trols only the duration of welding current.
A multiple impulse weld timer provides
I. Standard Publication No. ICS 5-1978, Resistance for a number of current pulses with an interval
Welding Control, National Electrical Manufacturers between them. It controls the duration of each
Association, Washington, DC. pulse, called heat time, as well as the interval
Resistance Welding Controls /lll

between them, or cool time. The sum of the heat state current. The transients in the secondary
and cool times is know as the weld interval. winding of the transformer are not so great, but
Timers and combination controls are di- they are sufficient to materially affect the energy
vided into two types: nonsynchronous and delivered to the weld.
synchronous precision. The first type is less ex-
pensive than the second because timing accuracy Nonsynchronous Controls
requirements are not so stringent. A synchronous A nonsynchronous control utilizes a weld
precision control can be used for applications or weld interval timer that may initiate or termi-
where a nonsynchronous one is adequate. How- nate the flow of welding current at any time
ever, a nonsynchronous control may not be with respect to the line voltage wave form. Con-
suitable for some applications where timing sequently, time as well as current input can vary.
accuracy is important. In addition, timing accuracy may not be equiva-
Single-phase and three-phase resistance lent to that of synchronous precision timers.
welding controls are similar except for the fir- However, this type of control is adequate for
ing sequence of the rectifier devices in the con- most commercial applications on steel products.
tactor and the techniques of electronic heat
control. The timing and control functions are Classifications of Sequence Weld Timers
about the same except that terminology may Sequence weld timers are classified by
vary between the two types of equipment. NEMA according to the functions they control
Three-phase controls are predominently syn- and the timing precision. These are as follows:
chronous precision types. (1) Types lA, lAS, and AlA that control
weld time only.
Synchronous Precision Controls
(2) '!Ypes lB and lBS that control heat and
This type of control utilizes synchronous cool times for multiple impulse welding opera-
precision timers for accurate timing of all periods tions.
of current flow. The timer closes the primary (3) '!Ypes 3B and A3B which are sequence
circuit of the welding transformer at precisely timers that control squeeze, weld, hold, and off
the same point (electrical angle) with respect to times.
the ac line voltage. Another distinction of a (4) Types 3C and A3C which are similar to
synchronous precision timer is that accuracy is Type 3B except that a squeeze delay or initial
absolute and equal to the set value. Thus, the squeeze timer is provided to account for the
current wave form and the energy delivered to electrode travel time to contact the work. These
the welding transformer are consistent for each types of timers are used for high-speed repetitive
weld. A synchronous precision control always welding.
contains an electronic heat control unit. (5) '!Ypes 5B and A5B, which are also sim-
Control of the exact time when the primary ilar to a '!Ype 3B, are designed for multiple
circuit is closed is vital for precise results. impulse welding applications. They control heat,
If a highly inductive circuit, characteristic of a cool, and weld interval times instead of weld
welding transformer, is connected to the primary time.
lines at a point corresponding to zero current (6) '!Ype 7B is a sequence timer used in
(if current were flowing), then no transient will conjunction with a synchronous precision weld
occur. The current during the first half cycle will timer (Type lAS) to control squeeze, weld,
be practically the same as the steady-state cur- hold, and off times.
rent throughout the weld. On the other hand, (7) '!Ype 9B is similar to a '!Ype 7B except
when the primary circuit is closed at the time that a synchronous precision multiple impulse
the current would be maximum (if current were weld timer (Type lBS) is used with it.
flowing), a transient current occurs in the In the designations, S indicates a syn-
primary. Its peaks are greater in magnitude chronous precision timer and the prefix A in-
than those corresponding to normal or steady- dicates an absolute cycle timer. The latter type

is 100 percent accurate and synchronous. Welder

AC supply
Timing Mechanisms
Several types of timers are employed to
control the duration of various functions during
the welding cycle. The two most common types
are RC timers and digital counters.
RC Timer. This type is based on the constant
time interval required to either charge or dis-
charge a condenser through a resistive circuit. Protective
The timing accuracy decreases with increasing Fuse thermostat
time span. This timer is the one most often used
in electronic welding controls.
Digital Counter. This type is accurate regard- Fig. 3.14-A single-ph•se welding
less of the set time. It employs semiconductor machine with an ignitron contactor and
circuits to count the actual number of power control circuit
supply frequency cycles and to initiate some ac-
tion after a preselected number of cycles has
elapsed. other the negative half cycles of current. In the
Others. Some operations, such as postheating case of single-phase equipment, only one set is
of flash or upset welds, are not critical with re- needed in one of the power lines, as shown in
spect to timing accuracy. Pneumatic or motor- Fig. 3.14. With a three-phase frequency converter
operated timers may be suitable for these appli- machine, one set is required in each leg of the
cations. Timing ranges may vary from a few transformer for a total three sets, as shown in
seconds to several minutes. Fig. 3.15.
An ignitron tube is constructed as shown in
Fig. 3.16. It consists of a vacuum-tight stain-
less steel container with a pool of mercury in the
A contactor is used to close and open the bottom which serves as the cathode. A graphite
primary power line to the welding transformer. anode is supported at the top by an insulating
Electronic contactors are normally used with re- glass bushing to which the power lead is con-
sistance welding machines that are controlled nected. An ignitor above the mercury pool starts
by electronic timing controls. Magnetic con- the flow of current through the tube. The tube
tactors may be used with some low power ma- has a cooling water jacket to remove the heat
chines where timing is not critical, such as generated by the conducting arc within the tube.
manually-operated spot welding machines or Current flows in one direction only from the
upset welding machines. graphite anode to the mercury cathode.
Combination controls, both synchronous The ignitor will initiate primary current
precision and nonsynchronous types, incorporate conduction when some minimum voltage drop
electronic contactors to switch the primary cur- exists across the tube. This is done by sending
rent to the machine transformer. Either ignitron a pulse of current from the ignitor to the mer-
tubes or silicon-controlled rectifiers (SCR) are cury pool at some instant during the half cycle.
used as switching devices. The choice will de- The ignitron tube will continue conducting cur-
pend upon the performance requirements of the rent until the applied voltage ceases at the end
equipment. of the half cycle. The ignitor must start conduc-
Electronic contactors have two inversely tion for each half cycle during the period that
connected ignitron tubes or SCRs in a power line primary current flow is desired.
to control the current flowing in that line. One The control circuit of an ignitron contactor
device conducts the positive half cycles and the with nonsynchronous timing is very simple, as
Resistance Welding Controls /113

Shell type single

lgnitron phase core

power @ circuit

Fig. 3.15-E/ectrica/ arrangement of a three-phase frequency converter

spot welding machine

Fig. 3.14 indicates. The rectifiers in the ignitor

circuit allow current flow from the ignitor to the
mercury pool only. The ignitron tubes will fire
during the time that the initiating switch is
closed to energize the ignitors. The switch is
normally actuated by a timer.
connection The contactor energizes the welding circuit
when the control circuit is closed. This control
Insulating circuit requires no additional power since its
Water seal
outlet power is obtained from the main circuit. Each
ignitron tube is fired for the appropriate half
cycle by its ignitor as long as the control circuit
Thermostat is energized.
bracket A thermostatic switch is mounted on one
steel or both of the ignitron tubes to stop operation
jackets if the tube temperature becomes too high.
With synchronous precision timing and
electronic heat control, ignitron tube conduction
must be initiated at a specific point on the half-
cycle voltage wave. This is done by controlling
the ignitor circuits with SCRs, as shown in Fig.
Cathode 3.17, or with thyratron tubes in older units. The
control signals the SCRs or thyratrons when to
conduct current to the ignitors. With this arrange-
Fig. 3.16- Cross section of an ment, the control circuit need not carry ignitor
ignitron tube current.


Control Control

Fig. 3.17-An ignitron contactor with silicon-controlled rectifiers

to initiate tube firing

The effect of duty cycle on the selection former. This is not possible with ignitron tubes
of ignitron tube size for a particular application which must be mounted vertically.
is as important as the current rating of the tube.
Duty cycle averaging time is a matter of a few AUXILIARY CONTROLS
seconds, depending upon the tube size. Tube
Heat Control
manufacturers' rating charts should be consulted
when selecting the tube size for a specific The control of the heat or current ouput of
application. the welding machine can be accomplished with
Ignitron tubes require a minimum load cur- adjustable taps on the welding transformer pri-
rent to ensure satisfactory operation. If the mary and with electronic heat control. A tap
primary current demand will be less than 40 A, switch changes the ratio of transformer turns for
an auxiliary load resistor should be permanently major adjustment of welding current. When an
connected in parallel with the welding trans- intermediate setting is needed or for fine adjust-
former. This resistor will always provide the ment, electronic heat control is used.
required minimum loading on the tubes. In electronic heat control circuits, SCRs or
If sufficient current for proper ignition is thyratron tubes are used to control the ignitor
not furnished to the ignitors, the ignitor circuit circuits ofthe ignitron tubes (see Fig. 3.17). The
will try to carry the welding transformer load. ignitron conduction can be delayed from the start
Obviously, this action could severely overload of the half cycle by withholding the signal to
the ignitor circuit and damage it. Ignitor cir- the ignitor. This delay is normally controlled by
cuits are usually protected by fuses to avoid a heat adjustment dial. With an SCR contactor,
this problem. the action is similar.
Water-cooled, silicon-controlled rectifiers Referring to Fig. 3 .17, if the ac voltage
are availabi"e as functional replacements for produced by the control is 180 degrees out of
ignitron tubes. They come in a variety of sizes. phase with the ac supply voltage, the SCRs can-
Their selection for resistance welding controls not conduct. The ignitor circuits do not fire, and
must be approached in the same manner as for the ignitron tubes block the flow of primary cur-
ignitron tubes. SCR firing circuits are somewhat rent. As the out-of-phase or delay angle of the
different from those for ignitron tubes and the control voltage is decreased to approximately
designs vary among control manufacturers. One 130 degrees, the SCR will fire the ignitor of the
feature of SCR controls is the ability to mount associated ignitron tube late in the half cycle.
them in any position on a gun welding trans- Current will flow through the ignitron tube, but
Resistance Welding Controls /115

the rms value will be low. As the delay angle is 440 volt systems. With SCR contactors, the
decreased, the ignitor will fire the ignitron tube limiting values are significantly lower.
earlier, and it will conduct current for a greater Automatic heat control is normally the basis
part of the half cycle. The rms current will in- of all auxiliary controls that change the welding
crease. When the delay angle equals the power amperage during a welding sequence. These in-
factor angle of the load, 100 percent rms primary clude current and voltage regulators as well as
current will be conducted to the welding trans- upslope, downslope, and temper controls.
former. Figure 3.18 illustrates this concept for To minimize variations in welding current,
welding machine loads with four different power the heat control should be operated as near to
factors. The higher the power factor (lower full heat as possible. At low settings, a small
angle), the wider is the range of heat control. change of the dial setting can significantly change
The reduction in heat or energy varies as the rms current. Line voltage disturbances, such
the square of the current. Thus, if the rms cur- as the operation of another welding machine,
rent can be varied from 100 to 20 percent, the can distort the line voltage wave form sufficiently
heat will vary from 100 to 4 percent. to produce such a change. Major changes in
Complete control from 100 percent to zero welding transformer output should be made by
is not feasible. With ignitron tubes, the limiting changing the tap switch.
minimum value is 40 percent rms current for The power demand is always greater when
220 volt systems and 20 percent rms current for heat control is used to adjust the magnitude of


600- 1
power 0.707
...., ~ r...;: K.
factor r-45°-f+

"· 1\\\
/ ~ r-.\ .....
~~,· ' L"""Applied
' voltage
I ...~

u ·;

"'E 50
0 40 / I~
c: ~~
20 / \
10 / ' \
20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180
Delay angle in degrees

Fig. 3.18-The relationship between percent of rms current and firing delay
angle for different power factors

the welding current. In general, the kVA demand to minimize the cooling rate and the cracking
with heat control follows a linear relationship tendency.
with current. For example, if the welding current Upslope and downslope of welding current
is adjusted by heat control to 80 percent of its are illustrated in Fig. 3.19. The accepted no-
maximum value, the kVA demand will be about menclature for the various parts of a welding
80 percent of maximum. However, if the welding current cycle are also shown.
current is reduced to 80 percent of its maximum
value by changing the transformer tap switch, Quench and Temper Control
the kVA demand will be only about 64 percent The quench and temper control is a device
of maximum. that applies a temper cycle to the completed
Upslope and Downslope Controls weld after a quench period during which no cur-
rent flows. In each case, the time period is ad-
Upslope control is used to start the welding justable. Temper current magnitude is normally
current at some low value and control its rate of adjustable with heat control.
rise to some maximum value during a period of This control is frequently used when spot
several cycles. It is frequently used to minimize welding hardenable steels in thickness ranges of
or prevent the expulsion of molten metal from 0.016 to 0.125 inch. After the weld is made, it
between the faying surfaces when welding is then rapidly cooled during quench time to
coated steels and some nonferrous metals, par- hasten formation of martensite. The quench time
ticularly aluminum. must be long enough for martensite to form. The
Downslope control is used to decrease the minimum time will depend upon the weld thick-
welding current from maximum to a lower value ness and steel composition. A current pulse is
called the postheat current. The gradual decrease then applied to reheat the weld zone and thus
in current reduces the cooling rate of the weld. temper (soften) the martensite. Although this
It may be useful when welding hardenable steels cycle cannot duplicate furnace heat treatment,


,-/(" 1\- -~11-1\Ti-...,

Initial -(
.... /( n-r-11 ~~-n
current /\ \ I I \
t I 4
' 'I
~ v u

u v
V Dowml:,,j
• time

1+-------Weld heat time ------+~-----Postheat time ----+-1

1 + - - - - - - - - - - - - - W e l d time - - - - - - - - - - - - - + - 1

Fig. 3.19-Welding current with upslope and downslope features

Resistance Welding Controls /ll7

it usually will prevent weld cracking. resistance welding machines having two or more
transformers. This control distributes the elec-
Forge Delay Control
trical power demand by energizing the welding
This control will initiate a forging force transformers in sequence on one or more phases.
at a definite time interval after the start of weld Reconnection is normally provided to energize
time or weld interval. It is used to apply two the transformers simultaneously on two or more
levels of force to a weld, namely, a welding phases.
force and a forging force. Obviously, the weld- This control generally contains several
ing machine must be designed to perform a dual single-function timers to control mechanical
force function. functions, such as squeeze and hold timers, and
Dual force is used for spot welding some two or more weld periods. In addition, it has a
aluminum alloys. The principle is to produce the contactor for each transformer. The weld timers
weld and then apply a high force during cooling are a function type but are weld safe; that is, the
to avoid the formation of cracks. It is common termination of weld time is not dependent upon
to downslope the welding current to retard the conduction of a single electronic device. Acces-
cooling rate with the application of forging sories such as heat control and upslope control
force. are occasionally added to this type of control.
A less expensive version of this control
Electronic Current Regulator uses only one ignitron or SCR contactor and a
An electronic current regulator is designed series of magnetic contactors. The ignitron or
to maintain a constant welding current under SCR contactor switches the primary current on
adverse conditions. This device will make cor- and off. The magnetic contactors connect the
rections for either line voltage fluctuations or welding transformers in succession to the con-
impedance changes generally caused by inser- tactor circuit during a nonconductive period.
tion of magnetic material into the throat of the
welding machine.
It first compares the primary current, as
measured by a current transformer or other de- Resistance welding control functions can
vice (feedback signal}, to a previously adjusted vary from control of only weld time, in the case
satisfactory level (command signal); then it of manually operated spot welding machines,
varies the phase-shift heat control network to to sequencing and timing a number of events
make these signals equal and opposite. with automatic spot and seam welding machines.
Electronic Voltage Regulator A typical complex weld cycle is shown in Fig.
3.20. It is evident that a control unit for this
An electronic voltage regulator is designed type of operation requires a number of timing
to maintain a constant voltage at the welding and sequencing features.
machine transformer in the presence of line Standard NEMA single-phase resistance
voltage variation. There are various forms of this welding controls and the types of timers that are
device. Some designs make an arbitrary correc- used with each control are given in Table 3.1.
tion that is dependent upon voltage rise or drop, Timer and auxiliary control functions and the
and others compare the line voltage (feedback) standard timing ranges for single-phase controls
to a previously adjusted (command) operating are given in Table 3.2. The functions performed
voltage. Both types cause the phase-shift heat by a particular control unit depend upon the
control network to respond and change the igni- intended applications of the welding machine.
tron tube conduction point. This type of regulator Timer and auxiliary control functions and
is simpler than the electronic current regulator. their timing ranges for three-phase controls are
similar to those for single-phase controls. Tim-
Load Distribution Control
ing ranges for specific functions may vary
A load distribution control is used with slightly because a three-phase machine is nor-

1+--- Preweld---1+---- Weld---+-----*-Postweld

process times


Electrode force

Solenoid valve
Forge solenoid
valve voltage
pression --+o---~

Timer functions pression
and times

Y - Machine operating time

1 - Heat Weld interval
2 -Cool

Note. When weld delay is required, it occurs before the start of weld time;
forge delay time then will be initiated at the beginning of weld delay time.
Both preheat and weld delay are not used in the same sequence.

Fig. 3.20-A complex weld cycle with multiple impulses

mally used for welding nonferrous metals, pri- monitor specific welding variables or actions that
marily aluminum. occur during the welding cycle. If the monitor
detects a fault, it can do one or more of the
CONTROLS (I) Set off an alarm or signal light
(2) Document the information
There are a number of factors that affect (3) Reject or identify the faulty part
the consistency of resistance spot welds during a (4) Interrupt the process until the problem
production run. These include line voltage varia- is corrected
tions, electrode deterioration, changes in surface (5) Alter time or current for the next weld
resistance, shunt paths, and variations in the force (6) Change a variable during the weld cycle
system. There are several systems available to to ensure a good weld
Resistance Welding Controls /ll9

Variables that affect process stability and

Table3.1 weld consistency include weld time, welding
Standard NEMA single-phase current, impedance, energy, and electrode force.
resistance welding controls Physical changes that take place in the weld
zone are temperature, expansion and contraction,
Control Timer
type types Applications electrical resistance, and, in some cases, metal
Nonsynchronous types
Monitoring devices can compute either weld
NIA lA Single weld pulse energy or impedance by measuring welding
NIB 18 Multiple weld pulse
N2 38 Single-pulse voltage, current, resistance, or time. When the
weld sequence computed value falls outside acceptable limits,
N3 58 Multiple-impulse the unit can notify the operator or automatically
weld sequence adjust one or more of the variables prior to the
N6 3C Single-pulse
next weld.
weld sequence
Another monitoring device uses an acoustic
Synchronous precision types
emission device to sense the first sound gen-
SIH lAS or ICS Single weld pulse
S2H lAS and7B Single-pulse erated by metal expulsion between the faying
weld sequence surfaces. The device immediately terminates the
S3H, S4H 18Sand9B Multiple-impulse welding current. The principle behind this device
weld sequence is that every weld reaches its maximum size,
S5H IBS Multiple weld sequence
as limited by expulsion.

Table 3.2
Timing ranges of standard single-phase resistance welding timers
Timing range, cycles (60Hz)
Function Nonsynchronous Synchronous Absolute cycle
Timer functions
Squeeze 3-120, 3-30 1-99, 1-59
Squeeze delay 1 3-30 1-59
Initial squeeze 1 3-60
Weld 3-120, 2-30 1-60, 1-10 1-99, 1-59
Weld interval 9-360 (1-8 heat times)'
Heat 3-30 1-30 1-99
Cool 3-30 1-30 1-29
Hold 3-60, 2-30 1-99, 1-29
Off 3-60, 3-30 1-99, 1-29

Auxiliary control functions

Upslope 3-30 1-10, 1-30 1-9, 1-29
Weld heat 3-60 1-60 1-99
Weld interval heat 3-180 3-180 (1-8 heat times)'
Downslope 3-30 1-10, 1-30 1-9, 1-29
Quench 9-360 9-360 1-99
Temper 3-120 1-120 1-99
Forge delay 3-360 1-360,0.1-59.9 1-99,0.1-99.9
Preheat 3-120 1-120 1-99
Precompression 3-10 1-9
Delay after
precompression 3-10 1-9
I. Only one of these functions is used.
2. The timer l·ounts the numherofheat times mther than the overall time.


SINGLE-PHASE EQUIPMENT where: kYA 1 =maximum input power

k YAr = standard power rating at 50 percent
The typical electrical system of a single- duty cycle
phase resistance welding machine consists of (I) DC =operating duty cycle, percent
a transformer, (2) a tap switch, and (3) a sec-
ondary circuit including the electrodes. For example, a welding transformer rated at
The welding transformer, in principle, is the 100 kYA may be operated at 141 kYA at 25
same as any other iron-core transformer. The percent duty cycle without overheating.
chief difference is that its secondary circuit has Tap Switches
only one or two turns. Stationary machines
have only one turn. Portable gun welding trans- Tap switches are devices for connecting
formers may have two turns that can be con- various primary taps on the transformer to the
nected in series or parallel, depending upon the supply lines. They are usually rotary type and
output requirements. designed for flush mounting in an opening in the
machine frame or, in some cases, directly on the
Transformer Rating transformer. The switches are designed to ac-
Resistance welding transformers are nor- commodate the arrangements of the transformer
mally rated on the basis of temperature rise limi- taps. Straight rotary designs are normally used
tations on the components. The standard rating in with 4, 6, or 8 tap transformers. In addition,
kYA is based on the ability of a transformer to there may be a series-parallel switch that con-
produce that power at a 50 percent duty cycle nects two sections of the primary in series or in
without exceeding design limitations. This parallel. This provides a wider range of secondary
means that a transformer can produce its rated voltages.
power for a total time of 30 seconds during each Most switch handles have locking buttons
minute of operation without exceeding temper- so that the contacts are centered in each operat-
ature limitations if it is being properly cooled. ing position. In addition, some switches have an
Duty cycle is the percentage of time that the "off' position which acts as a disconnect. A tap
transformer is actually producing power during a switch should not be operated when the trans-
one minute integrating period. It is expressed former is energized. Otherwise, arc-over be-
by the formula: tween points will damage the contact surfaces
of the tap switch.

Duty cycle, percent = AC Secondary Circuit

Weld time, cycles (60Hz) x (welds/min) The geometry of the secondary circuit or
36 loop, the size of the conducting components,
and the presence of magnetic material in the loop
will affect the electrical characteristics of an ac
For example, if a machine is producing 36
welding machine. Available welding current and
welds per minute with a weld time of 12 cycles
kYA demand will be influenced by the imped-
(60Hz), its operating duty cycle is 12 percent.
ance of the secondary circuit.
If a welding .transformer is operated at less
The electrical impedance of an ac welding
than 50 percent duty cycle, it can be operated
machine should be minimized to permit the de-
at a higher power level than its thermal rating.
livery of the required welding current at mini-
The maximum permissible kYA input for a stan-
mum kYA demand. The electrical impedance
dard resistance welding transformer at a partic-
will be smaller when:
ular duty cycle can be determined using the
(I) The throat area of the welding machine
following equation:
is decreased.
(2) The electrical resistance of the secondary
kYAt = 7.07 kYAr/(DC) 112 circuit is decreased.
Electrical Characteristics /121

(3) The sizes of the secondary conductors fore, spe~ial high voltage electrical control
are increased. panels are normally required. A protective over-
(4) The amount of magnetic material in the voltage device, a discharge resistor, and a contact
throatofthe machine is decreased. to ground are generally provided for safe opera-
tion and maintenance.
Three-phase welding systems have largely
Power Factor Correction
replaced single-phase series capacitor installa-
Series Capacitors. Welding machines of good tions. A welding machine with an inherently
design effectively minimize the impedance of good power factor is generally less troublesome
the secondary circuit. However, the size of the than a series capacitor installation.
work to be welded and associated fixturing may
Shunt Capacitors. Shunt capacitors are seldom
require a large throat depth or throat height.
used with resistance welding equipment. The
This requirement may add considerable induc-
initial high inrush of current may actually in-
tance to the secondary circuit. The increased in-
crease the line demand. However, shunt capac-
ductance causes a reactive voltage drop which
itors may be preferred to series capacitors if the
in turn decreases the power factor. To compen-
welding time is comparatively long, as in non-
sate for this, a higher secondary voltage will be
interrupted resistance seam welding.
required and the necessary electrical kVA de-
mand will be increased. DC Secondary Circuit
Low power factor and intermittent, high
electrical demand are not desirable to the elec- One method of decreasing impedance
tric utility, which must maintain a stable power losses in the secondary circuit is to rectify the
supply to other customers. One method of re- secondary power to de. Single-phase de resis-
ducing line kVA demand and improving power tance welding machines utilize a center-tapped
factor is the use of series capacitors in the pri- secondary and a full wave silicon diode rectifier
mary circuit. A specific amount of capacitance bank. With this system, kVA rating of a ma-
can be connected in series with the transformer chine does not 'have to be increased to provide
of a welding machine to neutralize the induc- for a larger throat area. For a given size and
tance of the machine and improve the power application, the kVA demand of a de machine
factor. This, in turn, will reduce the demand will be significantly lower than that of an ac ma-
from the power line. chine. The reason for this is the high power factor
This power factor correction method will of about 90 percent for de machines, compared to
increase the voltage applied to the welding 25 to 30 percent for ac machines.
machine transformer. High voltage insulation is This type of power is particularly useful
therefore required. A transformer tap switch is for portable gun welding applications. The im-
not used because it changes the series resonant pedance loss in the cable connecting the gun and
condition. The welding current is changed with transformer is much lower with de than with ac.
phase-shift heat control or a tapped auto- This, in turn, decreases the kVA demand and
transformer. the required size of the welding transformer. It
The resistance of the secondary circuit is also advantageous for spot and seam welding
limits the current in any high power factor sys- operations where the amount of magnetic ma-
tem. Since the metal being welded has resis- terial in the machine throat increases or decreases
tance, the welding current may vary significantly as welding proceeds.
with slight changes in metal thickness or clean-
liness. This may affect weld consistency
and quality, particularly with alloys of high DIRECT ENERGY
Voltages appearing across the welding ma- Frequency Converter Type
chine transformer and the series capacitors are
higher than the electrical supply voltage. There- This type of machine has a specially de-

signed transformer with three primary windings, ing current limited to about 50 percent of maxi-
each of which is connected across one or the three mum. Specially designed massive transformers
input phases. There is one secondary winding may permit the use of high current for the longer
which is interleaved among the primary windings time period.
and connected to the secondary conductors. Figure 3.21 shows a typical current-force
Referring to Fig. 3.15, the transformer pri- diagram for this type of machine. Programming
mary windings are connected to the power lines may be provided for other functions such as pre-
by three electronic contactors. Ignitron tubes or heat current, precompression force, and temper
SCRs may be used as contactors. A welding con- current. Single- or multiple-impulse welds
trol causes ignitron tubes A, B, and C to conduct maybe made.
in sequence. With the correct sequence and con-
DC Rectifier Type
duction time, current is passed through the three
primary windings in the same direction. This A three-phase de rectifier type of welding
causes unidirectional current to flow in the secon- machine is similar to the single-phase type in
dary circuit. Ignitron tubes A, B, and Care then that a welding transformer powers a rectifier
shut off at the end of a preselected time. lgnitron bank. The output of the rectifiers is fed into the
tubes A', B', and C' are caused to conduct next welding circuit. Some machines use half-wave
with the correct sequence and conduction time, rectification as shown in Fig. 3.22(A). In this
and current will flow in the opposite direction case, the transformer secondary is wye con-
through the primary windings and the secondary nected. Other machines, particularly earlier ver-
circuit. This action effectively applies a reversing sions, have full-wave rectification with the trans-
"de" voltage to the primary windings. former secondary connected in delta arrange-
The maximum duration of unidirectional ment as shown in Fig. 3.22(8).
primary current flow is governed primarily by the Welding current is controlled by electronic
size of the transformer and its saturation charac- heat control, sometimes in conjunction with a
teristics. It is common practice to have two maxi- transformer top switch. The design of the pri-
mum de pulse lengths. One is a short time of mary circuit and control varies among equip-
about 5 cycles (60 Hz) for high current applica- ment manufacturers. The secondary current out-
tions and the other is usually 10 cycles with weld- put of a three-phase machine is much smoother

Forge delay time 1 £_ Final force

,-- ------,I
t----- Weld time -7--+--1

'' \
I \
--1 5.queeze 1 - - - - - - T o t a l weld time

Fig. 3.21-Typk•l current-force diagr•m for frequency converter

or de rectifier types of three-ph•se spot welding m•chines
Electrical Characteristics /123

High current
transformer rectifiers


L2 Work
Work L3--~

Primary Secondary
Primary Secondary
(B) Full-wave rectifier
(A) Half-wave rectifier

Fig. 3.22-Eiectrical arrangements for three-phase de rectifier

welding machines

than that of a single-phase machine. In addition, of machine is similar to that of Fig. 3.21. In
power demand is balanced on the power line. addition, programming may be provided for
The three-phase rectifier consists of silicon other functions such as preheating, upslope,
diodes mounted on water-cooled conductors. The downslope, and tempering. Single- or multiple-
arrangement of conductors and diodes is electri- impulse welds may be made.
cally symmetricaL The impedance of each diode
circuit must be similar so that each diode will STORED ENERGY EQUIPMENT
share the load (current) equally. The diodes Equipment of this type is usually confined
themselves must have similar electrical charac- to small units suitable for bench mounting. They
teristics. Each diode has long life if it is properly are powered from a single-phase line. Many
applied and used. Welding current may be pro- designs of welding heads or portable tongs that
vided continuously as long as the thermal rating are connected to their power units with cables
of the machine is not exceeded. are available _They are used for a wide variety
A typical current-force diagram for this type of applications including assembly of small

Fig. 3.23-A bench-mounted stored energy spot welding machine


electrical components of nonferrous alloys and

the spot welding of foils.
Electrode force may range from a few
ounces to several pounds. Calibrated springs are
used in a manual force system to apply the elec-
trode force. Stored energy is used to produce the
welding current pulse. The welding current am-
plitude, duration, and wave shape are determined
by the electrical characteristics of the power
source including capacitance, reactance, re-
sistance, and capacitor voltage. Welding times
are often substantially shorter than one half cycle
of60 Hz.
Figure 3.23 shows a typical foot-operated
bench type welding machine of this type with a
maximum electrode force of either 8 or 20 lb, de-
pending upon the spring size. Electrode force is
applied by actuation of a foot pedal mounted
Time, ms
beneath the welding head. A typical power
source is rated at 40 watt-seconds, has 600 micro-
farads of capacitance, and can be adjusted for Fig. 3.24-Typical time-current wave
welding outputs as indicated by the curves in forms of a 40 watt-second stored
Fig. 3.24. energy spot welding machine


The perishable tools used in resistance quire special electrode designs. If it should be
welding are the electrodes, which may be in the necessary to compromise the design, it may
form of a wheel, roll, bar, plate, clamp, chuck, affect electrode life, weld quality, production
or some modification thereof. Most spot weld- rate, or all three. Consequently, selection of the
ing applications utilize electrode holders or electrode material is very important for good
adaptors for mounting the electrodes in the performance.
A welding electrode may perform one or ELECTRODE MATERIALS
more of the following functions:
(1) Conduct welding current to the parts Standard resistance electrode materials are
(2) Transmit a force to the joint classified by the RWMA.Z They are divided into
(3) Fixture or locate the parts in proper two groups: copper-base alloys and refractory
alignment metal compositions. In addition to these standard
(4) Remove heat from the weld or adjacent materials, there are a number of proprietary
part alloys available from the various electrode manu-
The electrode design should always have facturers. For some applications, commercially
sufficient mass to transmit the required welding
force and current and provisions for adequate 2. Standard electrode materials are described in ANSI/
RWMA Bulletin No. 16, Resistance Welding Equip-
cooling when needed. High production applica- ment Standards, Resistance Welder Manufacturers
tions sometimes involve thick sections that re- Association, Philadelphia, PA.
Table 3.3
Minimum properties for RWMA electrode materials
Proportional limit Ultimate tensile Elongation, %
tension, psi Hardness, Rockwell B Conductivity, <;<• strength, psi in 2 in. or 4 diameters
Group A
alloys Class I Class 2 Class 3 Class I Class 2 Class 3 Class I Class 2 Class 3 Class I Class 2 Class 3 Class I Class 2 Class 3

Rod diam., in. Round rod stock (cold worked)

Up to I 17,500 35,000 50,000 65 75 90 80 75 45 60,000 65,000 100,000 13 13 9

Over I to 2 15,000 30,000 50,000 60 70 90 80 75 45 55,000 59,000 100,000 14 13 9
Over2 to 3 15,000 25,000 50,000 55 65 90 80 75 45 50,000 55,000 95,000 15 13 9
Thickness, in. Square, rectangular, and hexagonal bar stock (cold worked)
Up to I 20,000 35,000 50,000 55 70 90 80 75 45 60,000 65,000 100.000 13 13 9
Over I 15,000 25,000 50,000 50 65 90 80 75 45 50,000 55,000 100,000 14 13 9
Thickness, in. Forgings
Up to I 20,000 22,000° 50,000 55 65 90 80 75 45 60,000 55,000 94,000 12 13 9
Over I to 2 15,000 21,000° 50,000 50 65 90 80 75 45 50,000 55,000 94,000 13 13 9
Over2 15,000 20,000° 50,000 50 65 90 80 75 45 50,000 55,000 94,000 13 13 9 tl"l
Castings ....
All 20,000 45,000 55 90 70 45 - 45,000 85,000 - 12 5 1}

Table 3.3 (continued) z
Minimum Properties for RWMA electrode materials m
Group A Proportional limit Ultimate tensile Elongation, <kin 2 in. :;;
copper-base alloys tension, psi Hardness, Rockwell Conductivity,%-" 3:
strength, psi or 4 diameters m
Class 4 Alloys
Cast 60,000 33C 18 (Average) 90,000 0.5
Wrought 85,000 33C 20 (Average) 140,000 1.0
Class 5 Alloys, cast
TypeH 16,000 888 12 70,000 2
TypeS 12,000 658 15 65,000 12
Group 8 Ultimate compression
refractory metals strength, psi
Class 10-Rods, bars, and inserts 728 45 135,000
Class !!-Rods, bars, and inserts 948 40 160,000
Class 12-Rods, bars, and inserts 988 35 170,000
Class 13-Rods, bars, and inserts 698 30 200,000
Class 14-Rods, bars, and inserts 858 30
a. International Annealed Copper Standard.
b. Hot worked and heat treated but not cold worked.
Electrodes and Holders /127

available copper alloys (brasses or bronzes) or trodes of this alloy is the welding of heat re-
steels may be used for welding electrodes. Table sistant alloys that retain high strength proper-
3.3 gives the minimum properties for alloys to ties at elevated temperatures. Welding of these
meet the various RWMA classification require- alloys requires high electrode forces which, in
ments. The specific alloy compositions are tum, require a strong electrode alloy. TYpical
not specified, and they will vary among the heat resistant alloys are some low alloy steels,
manufacturers. stainless steels, and nickel-chromium-iron alloys.
Class 3 alloy is especially suitable for many
Group A-Copper-Base Alloys
types of electrode clamps and current-carrying
The copper-base alloys are divided into structural members of resistance welding ma-
five classes. Class I alloy is a general purpose chines. Its properties are similar in both the
material for resistance welding applications. It cast and wrought conditions because it develops
may be used for spot and seam welding elec- most of its mechanical attributes from heat
trodes where electrical and thermal conductiv- treatment.
ities are of greater importance than mechanical Class 4 alloy is an age-hardenable type
properties. Other applications are seam welding that develops the highest hardness and strength
machine shafts and welding fixtures. This alloy of the Group A alloys. Its low conductivity and
class is recommended for spot and seam welding tendency to be hot-short makes it unsuitable for
electrodes for aluminum, brass, bronze, magne- spot or seam welding electrodes. It is generally
sium, and metallic coated steels because of its recommended for components that have rela-
high electrical and thermal conductivity. tively large contact area with the part. These
Class I alloy is not heat treatable. Its include flash and projection welding electrodes
strength and hardness are increased by cold and inserts. Other applications are part backup
working. Therefore, it has no advantage over un- devices, heavy-duty seam welding machine bear-
alloyed copper for castings and is rarely used ings, and other machine components where re-
or fabricated in this form. sistance to wear and high pressure are important.
Class 2 alloy has higher mechanical prop- Class 4 alloy is available in both cast and
erties but somewhat lower electrical and thermal wrought forms. Because of the high hardness
conductivities than Class I alloy. It has good after heat treatment, it is frequently machined
resistance to deformation under moderately high in the solution-annealed condition.
pressures, and is the best general purpose alloy. Class 5 alloy is available principally in the
This alloy is suitable for high production spot form of castings with high mechanical strength
and seam welding of clean mild and low alloy and moderate electrical conductivity. It is recom-
steels, stainless steels, low-conductivity copper- mended for large flash welding electrodes,
base alloys, and nickel alloys. These materials backing material for other electrode alloys, and
comprise the bulk of resistance welding appli- many types of current-carrying structural mem-
cations. bers of resistance welding machines and fixtures.
Class 2 alloy is also suitable for shafts,
Group 8-Refractory Metal Compositions
clamps, fixtures, platens, gun arms, and various
other current-carrying structural parts of resis- These materials contain a refractory metal
tance welding equipment. This alloy is heat in powder form, usually tungsten or molyb-
treatable and may be used in both wrought and denum. They are made by the powder metal-
cast forms. Maximum mechanical properties are lurgy process. Their chief attribute is resistance
developed in wrought form by cold working after to deformation in service. They function well for
heat treatment. achieving heat balance when two different elec-
Class 3 alloy is also heat treatable but it trode materials are needed to compensate for a
has higher mechanical ,properties and lower difference in thicknesses or alloys being welded.
electrical conductivity than Class 2 alloy. The Class 10, 11 , and 12 compositions are mix-
chief application for spot or seam welding elec- tures of copper and tungsten. The hardness,

strength, and density increase and the electrical Other Materials

conductivity decreases with increasing tungsten A number of unclassified copper alloys and
content. They are used as facings or inserts where other materials may be suitable for resistance
exceptional wear resistance is required in various welding electrodes. Suitability of a particular
projection, flash, and upset welding electrodes. material for electrodes will depend upon the
It is difficult to establish guidelines for the appli- application. Although most requirements are met
cation of each grade. The electrode design, weld- by materials meeting RWMA standards, there
ing equipment, opposing electrode material, and are cases where other materials will function as
workpiece composition and condition are some well or better. For example, steel may be used
of the variables that should be considered in for flash welding electrodes for certain aluminum
each case. applications.
Class 13 and Class 14 are commercially Dispersion-strengthened copper is an un-
pure tungsten and molybdenum, respectively. classified material that may be used for elec-
They are generally considered to be the only trodes. It is high purity copper that contains
electrode materials that will give good perfor- small amounts of submicroscopic aluminum
mance when welding nonferrous metals with oxide uniformly distributed in the matrix. The
high electrical conductivity. The welding of aluminum oxide significantly strengthens the
braided copper wire or copper and brass wires to copper matrix and raises the recrystallization
themselves or to various types of terminals are temperature of cold worked material. The high
typical uses for Class 13 and 14 materials. recrystallization temperature of wrought material

RWMA Major
taper diameter


e ~



Fig. 3.25-Stand ard RWMA spot welding electrode face and taper designs
Electrodes and Holders /129

sure densities in the weld zone. Figure 3.25

shows the standard RWMA electrode face and
taper designs. The radius and dome contours are
the most commonly used for all metals. The
flat-faced electrode is used to minimize surface
marking or to maintain heat balance.
The face may be concentric to the axis of
the electrode as in Figs. 3.25(A), (B), (C), (E),
and (F); eccentric or offset as in Fig. 3.25(0);
or at some angle to the axis as in Fig. 3.26. So-
called offset electrodes with eccentric faces are
used to make a weld near a comer or in other
less accessible areas. This is illustrated in Fig.
3.27. A facing of Group B material may be brazed
to a shank of a Group A alloy to produce com-
posite electrodes for special applications as
shown in Fig. 3.28.
The shank of an electrode must have suffi-
cient cross-sectional area to support the electrode
force and carry the welding current. The shank
may be straight, as in Fig. 3.25, or bent as in
Fig. 3. 29. The standard shank diameters are
shown in Fig. 3.25.

Fig. 3.26-Speci•l spot welding

electrodes with the f•ces •ngled •t 30

provides excellent resistance to softening and

mushrooming of electrodes. This significantly
contributes to long electrode life. The mechanical
properties and electrical conductivity of disper-
sion-strengthened copper bars meet the require-
ments for RWMA Group A, Class I and 2 alloys.


A spot welding electrode has four features:
(l) the face, (2) the shank, (3) the end or attach-
ment, and (4) provision for cooling.
The face of the electrode is that portion
which contacts the work. Its design is influenced
by the composition, thickness, and geometry of
the parts to be welded. In tum, the electrode Fig. 3.27-An •pplic•tion of TypeD
face geometry determines the current and pres- offset spot welding electrodes

Tapered electrodes Straight-shanked electrodes are used with

high welding forces, especially the 5/8 and 3/4-
in. diameters . The base of the electrode bears
against the holder socket. The water seal is an
"0" ring in a recessed groove in the holder. The
electrode is mechanically held in place by a
coupling or collar.

Dome Flat Insert

Wherever practical, spot welding electrodes
Threaded electrodes should have an internal cooling passage extend-
ing close to the welding face. This passage
should be designed to accommodate a water
inlet tube and provide for water out around the
tube. The tube should be positioned to direct the
cooling water against the tip of the electrode. In
Flat Flat most cases, the tube is a component of the elec-
trode holder. An exception is bent electrodes.
Fig. 3.28-Typic•l Group B electrode Where internal cooling is not practical, external
f•ces brued to Group A •lloy sh•nks cooling of the electrodes by immersion, flooding,
or attached cooling coils should be considered.

Attachment Two-Piece Electrodes

The method of attaching the shank end to Two-piece or cap-and-adaptor electrodes
the holder is usually one of three general types: are available with both male and female caps,
tapered, threaded, or straight-shank. as shown in Fig. 3.31. They are available with
RWMA tapered attachments use the Jarno straight and bent shanks. Use of this electrode
taper as the standard. This taper offers the follow- design is a matter of economics. Tip maintenance
ing advantages : costs may be lower because only the cap needs
(I) The taper number multiplied by 1/8 in . to be replaced with wear. On the other hand, the
gives the nominal major diameter. For example, resistance of the cap-to-adaptor interface may
RWMA No.5 taper has 5/8 in. diameter. contribute to electrode heating and wear. Their
(2) The taper numbers progress in sequence use should be evaluated for each application
from 3 to 7. compared to the one-piece design.
(3) The RWMA taper is a uniform 0.600
in ./ft for all sizes .
The electrode diameter and taper length in-
crease as the taper number increases. Longer
tapers can support higher electrode forces, but Table3.4
there is a maximum force that should be used Recommended maximum electrode force
with each electrode size. Recommended maxi- for standard spot welding electrodes
mum electrode forces for the various sizes are Shank Face Maximum
given in Table 3.4. Thper diam., diam., electrode
Threaded attachments are used where high no. in. in. force,lb
welding forces would make removal of tapered 4 0.482 0.19 800
electrodes difficult, or where electrode position 5 0.625 0.25 1500
is critical. lYpical threaded electrodes are shown 6 0.750 0.28 2000
7 0.875 0.31 2400
in Fig. 3.30.
Electrodes and Holders /131

Fig. 3.29-Typic al single and double bent spot welding electrodes

Method of Manufacture Maintenance

Straight electrodes are machined from A spot welding electrode has a specific
cold worked rods. Bent electrodes may be pro- face area in contact with the work. In use, this
duced by cold forming of straight electrodes, area will grow by mushrooming and the current
by forging, or by casting. Forging or casting is and pressure densities will decrease at the same
normally used where the required shape cannot time. As a result, the weld will become smaller.
be produced by cold forming. Most bent elec- In addition, the electrodes tend to pick up metal
trodes are cold formed ¥cause they have dis- from the parts being welded. A small amount of
tinct advantages over the others, including the pick up may not be harmful, but a considerable
following: amount will cause the electrodes to over-
(1) The physical and mechanical properties heat and mushroom faster.
of cold-drawn rod It is not possible to predict how many welds
(2) Placement of a water tube in the cooling can be made with a given setup before redressing
hole prior to forming of the electrodes is necessary. A periodic check
(3) Lower manufacturing costs of the weld quality as well as the electrode

shape will help in determining the number of

welds or assemblies that can be made before
redressing. Then, a schedule of electrode redress-
ing should be set up as preventive maintenance
to maintain weld quality.
A minor amount of redressing of electrodes
in the machine is permissible using a plastic or
metal paddle contoured on both sides to match
the electrode face contour. The paddle is wrapped
with fine abrasive cloth. The electrodes are
brought against the abrasive cloth under a light
load. The paddle is then rotated to redress the
electrode faces.
Where a major amount of redressing is
necessary, the electrode should be removed
from the machine and refaced on a lathe.
Flat face Truncated Eccentric Alternatively, major redressing of the elec-
cone trode may be done in the machine with a
Fig. 3.30-Typical threaded spot welding manual or power-operated dressing tool.
electrodes A file should never be used for redressing
electrodes in the machine because the resulting
electrode faces may be irregular in size and
contour. Poorly dressed electrodes will reduce
the quality of weld.
The following suggestions may be helpful
in correctly applying spot welding electrodes.
(I) Use standard electrodes and holders
wherever possible.
(2) Use the proper electrode material
recommended for the application and the metal
to be welded.
(3) Use adequate water cooling and circu-
late it in the correct direction in the electrodes.
(4) Align the electrodes properly. Elec-
trodes should not skid against the parts or be
out of alignment when they are in contact
with the parts.
(5) Use only rawhide or rubber mallets
for tapping electrodes into position and only
ejector type holders or the proper tools for re-
moving electrodes from the machine.
(6) See that the machine is Set up properly.
The electrodes must contact the parts with
minimum impact before current flows and must
remain in contact until termination ofthe current.
Specifications and Identification
Fig. 3.31~Male and female
design~ of two-piece spot Spot welding electrodes are covered by
welding J!lectrodes two standards:
Electrodes and Holders /133

(I) ANSI/RWMA Bulletin No. 16, Re- design principles are generally employed for
sistance Welding Standards, published by the special holders, with or without adaptors, for
Resistance Welder Manufacturers Association. use with a great variety of special or standard
(2) AWS 08.6/SAE HS-J 1156, Standard electrodes.
for Automotive Resistance Spot Welding Elec- The three types of standard holders are
trodes, published by the American Welding available as nonejector and ejector types.
Society and the Society of Automotive En- Straight electrode holders of both types are
gineers. shown in Fig. 3.32. With the ejector type, the
These standards provide a code system electrode is removed by striking the ejector
for the various standard electrode designs. head or button with a hammer. With the non-
The code identifies the nose style, alloy class, ejector type, the electrode taper is released by
shank size, and length. Methods are also given rotating the electrode with a wrench. Holders
to identify bent electrode shapes, special-faced are available in different lengths and several
electrodes, and cap electrodes. diameters.
Straight electrodes are identified by a let- Offset and universal holders are produced
ter followed by four numbers with the follow- with 90° and 30° heads as shown in Fig. 3.33.
ing meanings: Low inertia holders which incorporate a spring
(I) The letter indicates the nose style as for rapid follow-up are also available.
shown in Fig. 3.25. From the many available holder and elec-
(2) The first digit indicates the Group A trode designs, it usually is possible to find a
alloy class as shown in Table 3.3. combination to fit most requirements. Ex-
(3) The second digit indicates the taper. amples of various electrode and holder com-
(4) The third and fourth digits indicate binations are also shown in Fig. 3.33.
the overall length in 0.25-in. units. Multiple electrode holders are available
For single bent electrodes, two digits are for producing two or more spot welds simul-
placed ahead of the letter to indicate the bend taneously in parallel. These holders have
angle in degrees. For single and double bent spring, mechanical, or hydraulic force equaliz-
electrodes, two additional digits are added to ing systems. The lower electrode may be a flat
indicate the offset distance in 0.062-in. units. block that opposes all upper electrodes or in-
dividual electrodes mounted in a block. Since
the welds are made by parallel circuits, the
proper division of current to each weld will
depend upon the relative resistances of the paths.
ELECTRODE HOLDERS The path of lowest resistance will conduct more
current than the others, and weld size may vary
Electrodes are mounted on a spot weld- with the current magnitude.
ing machine by means of electrode holders.
Various holder designs permit positioning the
electrodes properly with respect to the work.
The holders are clamped to the arms of the PROJECTION WELDING
welding machine. Most of them have provi- ELECTRODES
sions for conducting cooling water to the
electrodes, and some have an ejector mecha- Projection welding electrodes must have
nism for easy removal of the electrode. flat surfaces that are larger than the projection
There are three fundamental holder de- diameter. It is common practice to use large,
signs: straight, offset, and universal or adjust- flat electrodes or rectangular bar stock.
able offset. These three basic types are avail- Projection welding electrodes are frequently
able in standard sizes and designs for use with composed of an internally water-cooled holder
standard spot welding electrodes. Similar with replaceable inserts at the projection Ioca-

Water tube
Return spring Ejector tube

1 - - - - - - - -Barrel l e n g t h - - - - - -- - - !


Ejector tube

1---------Barrellength --------~


~ f!
~ ~ ~~------------------~~~
w"" '""'
1...,.._- - - -- - - - Barrellength - - - - -- - - o - l1

Fig. 3.32-Typical straight spot welding electrode holders: (A) and (8) ejector types,
(C) nonejector type
Electrodes and Holders /135

Eccentric electrode


Offset Universal
holders holders

Fig. 3.33-Various combinations of electrodes and holders


eccentric electrode


Button type

Paddle type holder

with truncated

Fig. 3.33 (cont.)-Various combinations of electrodes and holders

tions. These inserts may be threaded electrodes disks. The five basic considerations are face
or pieces of Group A or B electrode materials contour, width, diameter, cooling, and method
pressed or otherwise secured in the holder. of mounting. The diameter and width of the
An example of this design is shown in Fig. 3.34. wheel are usually dictated by the thickness,
Since the area of contact between each size, and shape of the parts. The face contour
electrode and the adjacent part is larger than in depends upon the requirements for current and
spot welding, current and pressure densities are pressure distribution in the weld nugget and the
lower. Therefore, electrode deterioration from type of drive mechanism. The four basic face
wear, deformation, or pickup is not nearly so contours in common use are flat, single-bevel,
rapid as with spot welding. The electrodes do, double-bevel, and radius as shown in Fig. 3.35.
however, eventually become pitted or deformed The electrodes are usually cooled by either
at the projection weld locations. When this inter- flooding or directing jets of water on both of
feres with the proper electrode contact or weld the electrodes and the work from top ~nd bot-
quality, the electrodes or inserts must be re- tom. Where that method of cooling is unsatisfac-
dressed or replaced. tory the electrodes and shafts can be designed
Selecting the best combination of opposing for internal cooling.
electrode materials for good heat balance will Cooling by simple flooding alone is notal-
minimize deterioration. Regular cleaning of the ways adequate. A steam pocket may develop at
electrodes to remove grease, dirt, flash, or other the point where the electrode meets the work
contamination will prolong electrode life. and keep cooling water from the immediate
Multiple projection welding electrodes can area. When flood cooling is unsuitable, water
be designed to automatically compensate for mist or vapor cooling may be effective.
height variations or wear. These equalizing A seam welding electrode is generally
electrodes generally employ some hydraulic or attached to the shaft with a sufficient number of
mechanical method to provide automatic float- bolts or studs to withstand the driving torque.
ing or equalizing features. The contact area with the shaft must be great
enough to transmit the welding current with
minimum heat generation.
Peripheral drive mechanisms, such as knurl
Seam welding electrodes are wheels or or friction drives running against the electrode,
Electrodes and Holders I 137

Upper block

replaceable inserts

Water out

Water in

Lower block

Fig. 3.34-Typical projection welding multiple electrode construction

require adequate work clearance. A knurl drive Seam welding electrodes, like spot weld-
will mark the electrode face, which in tum will ing electrodes, have a predetermined area of
mar the surface of the weld. However, a knurl contact with the parts that must be held within
drive wheel tends to clean surface pickup from limits if consistent weld quality is to be main-
the electrode face. tained. Only minor dressing or touch up with
Although the work and drive may require light abrasives should be attempted with the
flat-faced electrodes with or without beveled electrode in the machine. Wheel dressers may
edges, they are more difficult to set up, control, be used for continuous electrode maintenance.
and maintain than radius-faced electrodes. In Machining in a lathe is the preferred method of
addition, radius faces give the best weld ap- redressing an electrode to its original shape.
pearance. Precautions must be taken to prewnt foreign


Gear-driven or
idling electrodes

Single Double
bevel bevel -f.-

~\·1~ Electrode width

Fig. 3.35-Seam welding wheel face contours


materials from becoming embedded in the elec- the current without overheating, and that the
trode wheel or work. Rough faces do not im- electrodes be rigid enough to maintain work
prove traction. Welding should be stopped while alignment and minimize deflection.
the electrodes are still on the work. The electrodes are mechanically fastened
to the welding machine platen. They can be
FLASH AND UPSET WELDING solid, one-piece construction of one the RWMA
ELECTRODES Group A electrode materials of Classes I through
5. Service life can sometimes be increased by
Flash and upset welding electrodes usually using Class 2, 3, and 5 material with replace-
are not in direct contact with the weld area as are able inserts of Class 3, 4, or one of the Group B
spot and seam welding electrodes. They function materials at the wear points.
as work-holding and current-carrying clamps, A varying amount of wear inevitably
and are often referred to as such. They are occurs, and this may result in decreased con-
normally designed to contact a large area of the tact area and localized burning of the work. The
workpiece, and the current density in the contact electrodes should be kept cool, clean, and free
area is relatively low. Accordingly, relatively of dirt, grease, flash, and other foreign particles
hard electrode materials with low conductivity for good service. An antispatter compound may
can give satisfactory performance. help prevent flash adherence. All fasteners and
Since the electrodes must conform to the holding devices should be tight and properly
parts to be welded, there are no standard de- adjusted, and their gripping surfaces should be
signs. Two important requirements are that the properly maintained to avoid work slipping dur-
materials have sufficient conductivity to carry ing welding.


Power demand from the line depends upon feeder and produces 230 or 460 V power. It
the welding method and the design of the weld- should not be confused with the welding trans-
ing machine. An adequate power supply is one former mounted in the welding machine. The
of the prerequisites for high-production resis- power supply conductors are the leads between
tance welding. A major part of the power supply the power supply transformer and the welding
system for an industrial plant is within the plant machine.
itself. That part consists of the power supply The adequacy of the power supply trans-
transformers and conductors. former and supply conductors is governed by
two factors: the permissible voltage drop and
the permissible heating. The permissible voltage
POWER SUPPLY TRANSFORMERS drop is the determining factor in the majority
of installations, but consideration must be also
In considering the installation of a resis- given to heating.
tance welding machine, it is necessary to deter- It is relatively simple to determine the size
mine if the plant supply is adequate. This in- of a power transformer for a single welding
cludes the kVA rating of the power supply machine on the basis of heating alone. The weld-
transformer and the size of the power supply ing machine transformer is rated on a heating
conductors. The power supply transformer is basis and a definite ratio exists between the two
usually connected to a 2300 or 4800 V primary ratings. Power transformers are usually rated for
Power Supply /139

to determine the maximum permissible voltage

Table 3.5 drop specified by the machine manufacturer.
Equivalent continuous loading of Normally, it should not be greater than 5 per-
resistance welding machines cent. When the same power transformer is used
Equivalent with two or more machines, the voltage drop
continuous caused by one machine will be reflected in the
'1YJ>e of welding load, operation of the second. Then, it is advisable
percent of
sum of name- to confine the total voltage drop to not more
plate ratings than 5 percent for consistent weld quality. Volt-
Spot, projection (single-impulse) 20 age drop should be measured at the machine
Spot, projection (multiple-impulse) 40 location. The percentage voltage drop is calcu-
Flash, multipoint spot, or projection 20 lated by the following formula:
Seam 70
Voltage drop, % =
(No-load voltage) -(Full-load voltage) X 100
continuous or 100 percent duty cycle operation No-load voltage
compared to 50 percent for a resistance welding
transformer. The equivalent rating of a power BUS OR FEEDER SYSTEM
transformer required to supply a given welding
machine on a heating basis only will be equal to In general, the bus or feeder from the trans-
70.7 percent of the welding transformer rating former to the machines should always be as short
at 50 percent duty cycle. For example, the size as possible and of low reactance design to min-
of the power transformer required for the proper imize the voltage drop in the line. The simplest
operation of a 200 kVA seam welding machine and most economical power line consists of in-
is 141.4 kVA. For a single machine, the next sulated wires taped together in a conduit. When
largest size power transformer would be used. only two or three machines are to be served at a
If more than a single machine is to be common location, this construction is economi-
served from a common power supply trans- cal and effective. Bus duct construction that
former, a study must be made of actual operating permits easy tap connections at frequent intervals
duty cycles for all machines as well as of the along its length is desirable in production plants
operating diversity factor 3 between machines. where manufacturing layouts are cont.inually
Welding machines normally are operated below changing.
their maximum thermal capacity. The approxi- Systems are available to interlock two or
mate continuous loading for a number of similar more machines to prevent simultaneous firing
welding machines, expressed as the percentage and the accompanying excessive voltage drop.
ofthe total kVA of the welding machine ratings, Any scheme of interlocking will cause some
is given in Table 3.5. For example, if the ma- curtailment in production. However, this can be
chines are predominately spot or projection minimized with a voltage monitoring type which
welding types producing single-impulse welds, operates only when the voltage drops below a
a power supply transformer with a rating of preset value.
about 20 percent of the sum of the machine
nameplate ratings would, in most cases, be ade- INSTALLATION
quate with respect to permissible heating.
Resistance welding machines should be
To determine the size of the power supply
transformer required to serve a welding machine connected to the power line in accordance with
on the basis of voltage drop, it is first necessary the applicable electrical codes and the recom-
mendations of the machine manufacturer. The
primary cable size should be adequate on both
3. Diversity factor is the ratio of the sum of the indi-
vidual maximum demands of the various machines to a thermal and a voltage drop basis.
the maximum demand of the whole installation. Because many control units contain phase-

shift heat control, the control power must be in from two to four times the machine nameplate
phase with the welding power. The control rating. One oft he advantages of a circuit breaker
power should be fused separately from the weld- is that a pushbutton can be located on the weld-
ing power. ing machine. The operator can quickly open the
Enclosed fusible isolation switches are fre- circuit in an emergency by hitting this button.
quently used for the power or welding circuit. When fuses are used, their size should be
These switches seldom have adequate interrupt- that recommended by the machine manufac-
ing capacity for safe disconnection under load. turer. The manufacturers normally provide wir-
For emergency disconnecting purposes, it is ad- ing diagrams in which recommended fuse ratings
visable to use a circuit breaker. The rating of the are shown. The fuses should function for any
breaker in carrying capacity should be sufficient normal demand or operation of the machine. The
to carry the maximum demand of the machine purpose of fuses is almost solely to interrupt a
when its welding circuit is shorted. It may be short circuit in the electrical system.


Resistance welding processes are widely latches, blocks, barriers, or dual hand controls.
used in high production operations, including All non-portable, single-ram welding ma-
the automobile and appliance industries. These chines should be equipped with one or a com-
processes include projection, spot, seam, flash, bination of the following:
upset, and percussion welding in a wide range (I) Machine guards or fixtures which pre-
of machine types. The main hazards which may vent the operator's hands from passing under
arise with the processes and equipment are as the point of operation.
follows: (2) Dual-hand controls, latches, proximity-
(I) Electric shock due to contact with high sensing devices, or any similar mechanism
voltage terminals or components which prevents operation of the ram while the
(2) Ejection of small particles of molten operator's hands are under the point of operation
metal from the weld All chains, gears, operating linkages, and
(3) Crushing of some part of the body be- belts associated with the welding equipment
tween the electrodes or other moving compo- should be protected in accordance with ANSI
nents of the machine Standard Bl5.1, Safety Standard for Mechanical
Power Transmission Apparatus (latest edition).
Static Safety Devices
On press type, flash, and upset welding ma-
chines, static safety devices such as pins, blocks,
Initiating devices on welding equipment, or latches should be provided to prevent move-
such as push buttons and switches, should be ment of the platen or head during maintenance
arranged or guarded to prevent the operator or setup for welding. More than one device may
from inadvertently activating them. be required, but each device should be capable
In some multiple-gun welding machine in- of sustaining the load.
stallations, the operator's hands can be expected
Portable Welding Machines
to pass under the point of operation. These ma-
chines should be effectively guarded by a suit- Support Systems. All suspended portable
able device such as proximity-sensing devices, welding gun equipment, with the exception of

the gun assembly, should have a support sys- must be provided with suitable interlocks, and
tem that is capable of withstanding the total the contacts must be wired into the control
shock load in the event of failure of any com- circuit.
ponent of the system. The system should be fail The interlocks must effectively interrupt
safe. The use of adequate devices such as cables, power and discharge all high voltage capacitors
chains, or clamps is considered satisfactory. into a suitable resistive load when the door or
Movable Arm. Guarding should be provided panel is open. In addition, a manually operated
around the mounting and actuating mechanism switch or suitable positive device should be pro-
of the movable arm of a welding gun if it can vided to assure complete discharge of all high
cause injury to the operator's hands. If suitable voltage capacitors.
guarding cannot be achieved, two handles should
Locks and Interlocks
be used. Each handle should have an operating
switch that must be actuated to energize the All doors, access panels, and control panels
machine. These handles must be located at safe of resistance welding machines must be kept
distances from any shear or pinch points on locked or interlocked. This is necessary to prevent
the gun. access by unauthorized persons.
Stop Buttons Grounding
One or more emergency stop buttons should The welding transformer secondary should
be provided on all welding machines, with a be grounded by one ofthe following methods:
minimum of one at each operator position. (I) Permanent grounding of the welding sec-
ondary circuit
(2) Connection of a grounding reactor
Eye protection against expelled metal par- across the secondary winding with a reactor tap
ticles must be provided by a guard of suitable to ground
fire-resistant material or by the use of approved As an alternative on stationary machines, an
personal protective eye wear. The variations in isolation contactor may be used to open all of the
resistance welding operations are such that each primary lines.
installation must be evaluated individually. For The grounding of one side of the secondary
flash welding equipment, flash guards of suit- windings on multiple spot welding machines can
able fire-resistant material must be provided to cause undesirable transient currents to flow be-
control flying sparks and molten metal. tween transformers when either multiphase pri-
mary supplies or different secondary voltages, or
both, are used for the several guns. A similar
condition can also exist with portable spot weld-
ing guns when several units are used on the same
ELECTRICAL fixture or assembly or on another that is nearby.
Such situations require use of a grouodi'ng reactor
Voltage or isolation contactor.
All external weld initiating control circuits
should operate on low voltage. It should not be
more than 120 V for stationary equipment and
36 V for portable equipment.
All equipment should be installed in con-
formance with the ANSI/NFPA No. 70, National
Resistance welding equipment and control Electric Code (latest edition). The equipment
panels containing capacitors involving high volt- should be installed by qualified personnel under
ages must have adequate electrical insulation and the direction of a competent technical supervisor.
be completely enclosed. All enclosure doors Prior to its production use, the equipment should

be inspected by competent safety personnel to resistance welding equipment may be found in

ensure that it is safe to operate. ANSI Z49.1, Safety in Welding and Cutting
Additional information on safe practices for (latest edition).

Metric Conversion Factors

1 in= 25.4mm
1 lb force = 4.45 N
1 psi = 6.89 kPa
1 W•s = 1 J
Supplementary Reading List /143


Beemer, R. D. and Talbot, T. W., Analyzer for Johnson, K. 1., ed., Resistance Welding Con-
nondestructive process control of resistance trol and Monitoring, Cambridge, England:
welding. Welding Journal, 49(1): 9s-13s; The Welding Institute, 1977.
1970 Jan.
Mollica, R. J ., Adaptive controls automate re-
sistance welding. Welding Design and Fab-
Blair, R. H. and Blakeslee, R. C., Half-wave
rication, 51(8): 70-72; 1978 Aug.
and full-wave resistance welding power
supplies. Welding Journal, 50(3): 174-6; Parker, F., The logic of de resistance welding.
1971 Mar. Welding Design and Fabrication, 49(12):
55-58; 1976 Dec.
Dilay, W. and Zulinski, E., Evolution of the
silicon-controlled rectifier for resistance Sherbondy, G. M. and Motto, J. W. Jr., Cur-
welding. Welding Journal, 51(8): 554-9; rent ratings of power semiconductors. Weld-
1972 Aug. ing Journal, 51(6): 393-400; 1972 June.
High Frequency Welding

Fundamentals of the Process .......... 146 Equipment ......................... 158

Process Variations ................... 150 Welding Procedures ................. 162

Advantages and Limitations ........... 153 Weld Quality ....................... 163

Applications ........................ 154 Safety ............................. 165

Supplementary Reading List ........... 167

Chapter Committee

W. C. RUDD, Chairman G. A. SMITH, JR.

Thermatool Corporation Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corporation
Consulting Engineer Welding Consultant

Welding Handbook Committee Members

Union Carbide Corporation Reynolds Metals Company

High Frequency Welding
DEFINITIONS AND and magnetic properties of the metal. As the
GENERAL DESCRIPTION frequency is increased, the depth of penetration
decreases and the current is more concentrated.
High frequency welding includes those Heating to welding temperature can be accom-
processes in which coalescence of metals is plished at much lower amperages than with con-
produced by the heat generated from the elec- ventional resistance welding. The location of this
trical resistance of the work to the flow of high concentrated current path in the part can be con-
frequency current with or without the application trolled by the location of the electrical contacts
of an upsetting force. There are two processes with HFRW or the design and position of the in-
that utilize high frequency current to produce duction coil with HFIW.
the heat for welding: namely, (1) high frequency While the welding process depends upon
resistance welding (HFRW), and (2) high fre- the heat generated from the resistance of the
quency induction welding (HFIW), sometimes metal to the flow of high frequency current,
called induction resistance welding. other factors must also be considered for suc-
The heating of the work in the weld area and cessful high frequency welding. The speed of
the resulting weld are essentially identical with welding depends upon the type of metal and its
both processes. With HFRW, the current is con- thickness at the joint. Flux is not normally used
ducted into the work through electrical contacts except when welding some brasses. Inert gas
that physically touch the work. With HFIW, the shielding of the welding area is needed only
current is induced in the work by coupling with for joining metals, such as titanium, that react
an external induction coil. There is no physical/ very rapidly with oxygen and nitrogen. Welding
electrical contact with the work. of carbon steels and many other alloys can usu-
With conventional resistance welding pro- ally be accomplished while water or soluble oil
cesses, the current is normally 60 Hz alternat- coolant flows over the actual weld area. High
ing or direct current. High amperages are re- welding speeds make the process attractive for
quired to resistance heat the metal, and large many high production applications, such as the
electrical contacts must be in close proximity to manufacture of pipe and tubing.
the desired weld area. The voltage drop across The basic high frequency welding applica-
the weld is low, and the current flows along the tions are shown in Fig. 4.1.
path of least resistance from one electrode to the
With high frequency welding, the current
flow is concentrated near the surface of the part. High frequency current in metal conductors
The depth of current penetration is influenced tends to flow at the surface of the material at
by the current frequency and also the resistivity relatively shallow depths. This is commonly

Fundamentals of the Process /147

Continuous seam welding

(A) Tube butt seam (B) Tube butt seam

(C) Tube mash seam

(D) Strip butt

(F) Spiral tube

(G) Spiral tube fin
Finite length welding

(H) Pipe butt

(J) Melt spot (K) Strip butt

Fig. 4.1- B~sic high frequency welding ~pplic~tions

20 ~

0.50 ::c
10 ~ Ci
~ ::c
8 'T1
~ 0.25 tr1
6 t-o.... 0
5 c:
4 l"l
0.13 -<
3 ~
E 2 0
E z
0.06 Cl
c: 1.0
·;:; 0.8 0.03
~., 0.6 c:
.,c.c: 0.5
....c: 0.4

............ ·K "'··
~ ""'- .....
0.04 ~
4 10 100 200 300 450 1000
Frequency, kHz

Fig. 4.2-The effect of frequency on depth of current penetr~tion into v~rious met~ls ~t selected temper~tures
Fundamentals of the Process /149

called skin effect. Figure 4.2 shows the decrease creased, the current is confined to a smaller
in depth of penetration of high frequency cur- area near the surface. This concentration of cur-
rent into various metals with increasing fre- rent is advantageous because extremely high
quency at room and elevated temperatures. For heating rates can be achieved in a very localized
example, the depth of current penetration in path.
steel at 800°C is about 0.03 in. with 500 kHz Figure 4.4 compares current patterns in the
and nearly 0.25 in. with 10kHz. work at frequencies of 60 and 10 000 Hz. It
High frequency current may have its path also shows the effect of the shape and location
within the workpiece controlled by either varia- of the proximity conductor. In Fig. 4.4(A), a
tions in the inductance of the circuit or the near- 1/4-in. thick steel plate is acting as one conductor
ness of its own return flow path, or both. This for 60 Hz current. The return conductor is a
phenomenon, called the proximity effect, is illus- copper tube positioned very close to and parallel
trated in Fig. 4.3. with the plate. The 60 Hz current flowing in
Both the skin effect and proximity effect the steel plate travels opposite to the current in
become more pronounced with increasing fre- the adjacent proximity conductor. In this 60 Hz
quency. Therefore, the effective resistance of the case, the size and the shape of the proximity
current path in the work increases as a function conductor have a negligible effect on the dis-
of increasing frequency. As frequency is in- tribution of the current in the steel plate. As a

Current path Steel plate /Proximity conductor

~""~''" ''"'
in work

I 60Hz
I Current flows throughout whole area
I with little effect by the proximity
I conductor
I (A)
Return I Work
conductor I
I \ I
I I @ rSteel plate
I I ~~-----:?52?~~-/.~----~,~J
I I ~•~ 10 OOOHz
I I Current confined to narrow zone
L __

Effect of proximity conductor shape,
placement, and magnetic core on
current current at 10 000 Hz

Fig. 4.3-Restriction of the flow p~th of
high frequency current by the proximity Fig. 4.4- Current depth ~nd distribution
effect of the return conductor ~dj~cent to v~rious proximity conductors

result, the 60Hz current flows almost completely cular proximity conductor. In this case, the dis-
through the plate cross-sectional area, as shown. tribution of current in the work will be quite
When 10 000 Hz current is applied to the broad, as shown, because of the height of the
same system, as shown in Fig. 4.4(B), the cur- conductor.
rent in the work is confined to a relatively narrow If both conductors are sheets placed edge-
band immediately beneath the proximity con- to-edge in a plane with a small gap between
ductor. This narrow band is the region of lowest them, the proximity effect will cause the two
inductive reactance in the plate and the closest adjacent edges to heat. The skin effect will con-
path to the current in the proximity conductor. fine the current to the metal at those edges.
The shape and magnetic surroundings of the Proper placement of a laminated magnetic
proximity conductor have considerable effect on core on three sides of the conductor confines
the distribution of the current in the work but the current in the work to a very narrow line
have no effect on the depth of current penetration. and produces heating directly beneath the prox-
Figure 4.4(C) shows two round proximity con- imity conductor.
ductors at different distances from the work. The Almost all high frequency welding tech-
closer the proximity conductor, the more con- niques employ some force to bring the heated
fined the current. Also shown is a rectangular metals into close contact during coalescence.
proximity conductor with the narrow edge at the During the application of force, an upset (or
same distance from the work as the closest cir- bulging of metal) occurs in the weld area.

HIGH FREQUENCY ing speed and power level are adjusted so that
RESISTANCE WELDING the two edges are at welding temperature when
brought together. At that point, pressure rolls
High frequency resistance welding has
forge the hot edges together and upset them to
three specific variations. These are:
produce a weld. Hot metal, containing impurities
(I) Continuous seam welding
from the faying surfaces of the joint, is squeezed
(2) Finite length butt welding
out in both directions. The upset metal is
(3) Melt welding
normally trimmed off flush with the base metal.
Continuous Seam Welding
Finite Length Welding
Continuous HFR seam welding is generally
used to weld long length products. 'JYpical ex- Techniques are available for welding the
amples are shown in Fig. 4.1. High frequency abutting ends of two strips together. This is done
current of about 400 kHz is introduced into the by passing a high frequency current through the
work with a pair of small sliding contacts. They joint area. The high frequency current is con-
are on either side of the seam to be welded as fined to the joint area by proper positioning of a
shown in Fig. 4.5. The faying surfaces are return or proximity conductor over the weld
brought together at an angle of about 4 to 7 de- joint. By selection of the proper frequency, the
grees. The apex of the vee-shaped opening is depth of penetration of the current can be ad-
downstream from the contact, in the direction justed to heat the joint uniformly through its
oftravel. thickness. When the joint reaches welding tem-
The high frequency current follows a lo- perature, forging force is applied and the hot
calized path down one side of the vee and back metal upsets. Joints with small upsets are made
along the other due to the skin and proximity in this fashion at very high rates of speed. Figure
effects. The resistance of the metal to the flow of 4.6 shows the arrangement of the welding head
current heats the edges to a shallow depth. Weld- for this type of welding.
Process Variations /151

Fig. 4.5-Joining a tube seam by high frequency resistance welding

small volume of metal between electrodes that

contact the parts, usually in less than I second.
The molten metal flows together producing a
welded joint between the parts. At this time, the
process is in the early stages of commercializa-
tion. One of the intended uses is the welding of
stacks of electrical motor or transformer lami-
nations together. A proximity conductor placed
perpendicular to the steel laminations confines
current flow to a very narrow, shallow path
across the stack of laminations, as shown in
Fig. 4.7. Figure 4.8 shows a welded lamination
stack and Fig. 4.9 is a section through a typical
weld joining a stack together.

Fig. 4.6-Joining strips together using
high frequency resistance welding Tube Seam Welding
This application of HFIW is similar to .con-
tinuous HFR seam welding except that the cur-
Melt Welding rent is magnetically induced into the work. There
Another version of the HFR welding pro- are no electrical contacts. It can only be used
cess is called spot or line melt welding. In melt where there is a complete current path or closed
welding, the high frequency current melts a loop wholly within the work. The induced

force --. 7 - . ....... -
Ill ,~ , ,

~- '1


Fig. 4.8-Melt welds on a motor

lamination stack

Melt HF
or tubing. The two ends are pressed together
Contact with a force sufficient to upset the metal when it
reaches welding temperature. An induction coil
Fig. 4.7- HFR melt welding of steel
motor laminations is placed around the joint. High frequency cur-
rent in the coil induces a circulating current in
the butted pipe joint. Resistance heating due to
the induced current heats the ends of both pieces
very rapidly. When the metal reaches welding
current circulates through the weld area as well
temperature, the metal is upset to produce a
as, by necessity, through other portions of the solid-phase forge weld. The upset metal is
work . Its primary application is for welding
usually left in place . Figure 4.1(H) shows the
tubing . The tube edges are brought together in
placement of the coil. This process is used for
the same manner as in HFRW. An inductor or
welding tubes with diameters of I to 3 in. and
induction coil of copper tubing or bar circles
wall thicknesses up to 0.375 in . for the fabrica-
the tube at the open end of the vee, as shown in
tion of high-pressure boilers . Welding times may
Fig. 4.10. High frequency current in the inductor
range from 10 to 60 seconds.
induces a circulating current in the tube. The
current flows around the outside surface of the Welding With a Magnetic Pulse
tube and along the edges of the vee. This cur-
Another form of HFIW utilizes a magnetic
rent heats the edges to welding temperature. The
pulse to forge the two parts together at welding
weld is consummated in the same manner as
temperature . It is applicable to lap or sleeve
with HFR tube welding . The induction method
of tube welding is advantageous for coated tub-
ing, small or thin-wall tubing, and avoids sur-
face marking by electrical contacts. With HFIW,
there is current flowing around the outside of the
tube that is electrically in series with the welding
current flowing in me vee . The resistive heat
losses over the circumference of the tube are
higher than those with HFRW. In general, the
HFIW process is less efficient than the HFRW
process, particularly when welding large sizes
of pipe and tube.

Welding of Hollow Pieces

HFIW of individual pieces can be done

only when the induced current can circulate in a Fig. 4.9-Photomicrograph of section
closed-circuit path. A typical application is the through a melt welding lamination stack
welding of butt joints between sections of pipe (X50)
Advantages and Limitations /153

joints between two pipes. After the lap joint that flows in the opposite direction to that in
reaches welding temperature, a pulse of current the coil. The two currents produce very large
from a capacitor bank is discharged through the magnetic forces that repel each other. This motor
inductor surrounding the joint. This current pulse effect drives the hot outer piece against the hot
of lO kA to 150 kA lasts for approximately 50 inner piece and forges them together, producing
microseconds. The rapidly rising and falling a welded sleeve joint. Steel-to-steel and copper-
current induces a current in the outer workpiece to-aluminum joints may be made by this process.


The high frequency welding processes offer ing, therefore, is developed in a small volume of
several advantages over the conventional 60 Hz metal along the edges to be joined. A narrow
resistance welding processes. One characteristic heat-affected zone is desirable because it tends
of the processes is that they can produce welds to give a stronger welded joint than with a wider
with very narrow heat-affected zones. The high zone produced by many other welding processes.
frequency welding current tends to flow only Any molten metal is squeezed out of the joint
near the surface of the metal because of the skin during the upsetting or forging portion of the
effect. Also, it flows along a narrow path be- cycle. Consequently, any low-melting phases
cause of the proximity effect. The heat for weld- that normally contribute to weld cracking are

Fig. 4. 10-Joining • tube se•m by high frequency induction welding


eliminated. With some alloys, the narrow heat- from the power lines can appear as useful heat
affected zones and absence of cast structure may in the work. Most high frequency welding ma-
eliminate the need for postheat treatments. These chines derive their energy from a balanced three-
treatments normally improve the metallurgical phase input power system.
characteristics of welded joints. Because the time at welding temperature is
One major advantage of HFW is the ability very short and the heat is localized, oxidation
to weld a given tube shape with less power than and discoloration of the metal as well as dis-
required with 60 Hz power. Also, it can be used tortion of the parts are minimized. Metal sheaths
to weld very thin tube forms. Wall thicknesses used to shield materials that would normally be
of 0.030 in. and thinner can be butt welded by damaged from prolonged exposure to heat can
either the induction or the contact process. be fabricated with one of the high frequency
Another advantage of a high frequency welding processes. An example of this is the
process is that it reduces electrical contact prob- continuous welding of electrical cable sheathing
lems. Introducing currents of 1000 to 2000 A with the cable inside of it.
through rubbing contacts is much easier at 450 As with any process, there are also limi-
kHz than at 60 or even 10 000 Hz. Because tations. Because the process utilizes localized
nearly all metals have an oxide on their surfaces, heating in the joint area, proper fitup is impor-
commercial metal products may have an oxide tant. Equipment is usually incorporated into mill
film or scale of appreciable thickness. At low or line operation and must be fully automated.
frequencies, the contact has to break through The process is limited to the use of coil, flat, or
this skin and make contact with the metal; other- tubular stock with a constant joint symmetry
wise, considerable heating will result from the throughout the length of the part. Any disruption
contact resistance. With high frequency power, in the current path or change in the shape of the
the voltage is high and there is continuous arcing vee can cause significant problems. Also, special
or puncturing of surface films under the contact. precautions must be taken to protect the operators
Most of the current is carried by the arc. In any and plant personnel from the hazards of high
event, the contact does not need to break through frequency current.
the oxide film. Only enough pressure is needed Since the equipment operates in the broad-
on the contacts to assure continuous contact cast radio frequency range, special care must be
with the surface. This feature makes it possible taken in its installation, operation, and mainte-
to weld thin materials without bending or col- nance to avoid radiation interference in the plant
lapsing them. Contact wear is not a major vicinity. The manufacturer's recommendations
problem. should be followed.
As much as 60 percent of the energy drawn

GENERAL Metals that may be welded with continuous
High frequency resistance welding, where high frequency resistance welding include car-
the current is introduced by means of direct bon steel, alloy steel, copper, aluminum, zir-
contact, may be utilized for a variety of con- conium, titanium, and nickel. Finite length
figurations and types of welding. It may be welding is usually limited to the welding of
used for continuous seam welding and for finite carbon steels and stainless steels. The various
length welding where the entire seam to be products in Fig. 4.11 illustrate the types of joints
welded is heated uniformly. that may be welded.
Applications /!55

Fig. 4.11-Some products produced by high frequency welding

Numerous factors must be considered in of steel to obtain unusual sonic prop-

determining whether a metal is weldable in a erties
given configuration by any high frequency weld- (2) Carbon steel to OFHC copper to pro-
ing process. Of prime importance is the require- duce a strong electrical bus bar
ment that a properly shaped vee be obtainable (3) OFHC copper to an aluminum alloy to
for continuous seam welding. In general, it might produce a high-strength, lightweight
appear that high-strength alloys are more diffi- conductor
cult to weld because of problems in producing (4) Tool steel to carbon steel for band
a properly shaped vee. This is not the case. Other saw blades
properties of the metal being joined appear to (5) Beryllium copper to brass for electrical
have greater influence on weldability than its contacts
strength. In general, it appears that the carbon (6) "JYpe 430 stainless steel to galvanized
steels are quite weldable. On the other hand, carbon steel for automotive trim
some of the aluminum alloys appear to have (7) Structural shapes of carbon and alloy
rather poor weldability. Welding conditions have steels for architectural use or strength
to be held in a narrow range to ensure good welds. improvement
High frequency resistance welding can be (8) Clad steel to carbon steel sheet
used to weld dissimilar metals together, some High frequency induction welding can be
examples of which follow: used only where there is a closed-loop path or a
(I) Double-walled tubing made of two types complete circuit for the flow of current entirely

within the work. 'TYpical applications are shown and fed into the welding station.
in Figs. 4.1(8), (H), and (1). High frequency resistance welding is uti-
lized to produce pipe and tubing of diameters
PIPE AND TUBE WELDING ranging from 0.5 to over 50 in. and with wall
thicknesses of from 0.010 through I inch. Any
One of the major applications of the con- metal can be welded with this technique. Weld-
tinuous high frequency welding process is high-
ing speeds range from 25 to over 1000 ft/min .,
speed welding of the longitudinal seam in pipe depending upon the metal and product size.
and tubing. It is applicable to both ferrous and High frequency induction welding is suit-
nonferrous pipe and tubing . HFRW and HFIW able for tubing made of any metal. Tubes may
are both applicable, as shown in Figs. 4.5 and range in diameters from approximately 0.5 to
4.10. Heating of the edges can be done so rapidly 6 in. with wall thicknesses of from 0.006 to
that very high welding speeds are possible, much 0.375 inch . Welding speeds range from 25 to
higher than with arc welding. Welding speeds
over 1000 ft/min., depending upon the appli-
for tubing or pipe of several wall thicknesses of cation.
steel and aluminum using HFRW and a 160 kW,
400 kHz power supply are given in Table 4 .1.
Figure 4.12 shows a large mill for the production STRUCTURAL BEAMS
of 24-in. diameter pipe having a wall thickness HFRW is used for the production of struc-
of 0.5 inch. Pipe sections are formed to diameter tural shapes, such as I and H beams, in sizes up

Fig. 4.12- Mill for high frequency resist~nce welding 24-inch di~meter pipe
Applications /157

cess can be used to manufacture structural shapes

Welding speeds for pipe or tubing of that cannot be hot rolled. It permits the joining
various wall thicknesses using of strips with different mechanical properties,
high frequency resistance welding such as high-strength steel flanges to a low car-
bon steel web, and also the fabrication of sec-
Wall thickness, Welding speed, ft/min.
tions of high-strength, low alloy steels . Figure
in. Steel Aluminum
4.13 shows the arrangement of an I or H beam
O.Q3 900 I ,000
0.06 500
mill with the location of the contact and the
0.10 300 360 straightening rolls enlarged for clarity.
0.16 175 225
to 20 in. with webs up to 3/8-in. thick . In this Spiral pipe and tube may be manufactured by
type of operation, strips from three coils are fed HFR welding. In this case, strip is fed con-
into a welding mill. Simultaneously, two high tinuously into a forming mill that bends it heli-
frequency resistance welding machines make the cally (like a barber pole) into a cylindrical
two T-joints between the web and flanges. Weld- section . The seam is continuously butt or lap
ing speeds range from 25 to 200ft/min. This pro- welded together by HFRW process . Figure 4 .11

A · Uncoilers and flatteners

B · Cut flange reeder
C · Web upsetter
D · Flange prebender
E · Welding stat ion
F · Cooling zone
G .Straighteners, longitud inal and flange
H - Cutting saw
I Runout and take-away
J · Scarfing station



Courtesy of the Welding Research Council

Fig. 4.13-Mill•rr•ng ement for f•brintingl or H be•ms by high frequency
resist•nce welding


Heated area
of tube

Fig. 4.14-High frequency l•p welding

Heated edge of fin

shows an example of spiral welded pipe, and

Fig. 4.14 shows the pipe emerging from the Courtesy of the Welding Research Council
welding station of the mill.
Fig. 4.15-Arr•ngement for welding •
spir•l fin into tubing
Spiral and longitudinal fins can be welded
to tubing with the HFRW process. Figure 4.15 10 inches. Fin pitch can vary from less than
shows the arrangement for welding a spiral fin one to six turns per inch. '!ypical fin heights
on tubing. Finned tube can be made in many equal the radius of the tube. Fin thickness may
combinations of metals, such as stainless steel be as large as 0.25 inch, except that it is limited
tube with a mild steel fin, cupronickel tube with by the thickness of the tube wall since the tube
an aluminum fin, or mild steel tube with a mild must resist the forging force on the fin. Various
steel fin. Tube diameters range from 0.625 to types of serrated or folded fins may also be used.

POWER SOURCES perage power to low voltage, high amperage
power for welding.
Units for providing high frequency power For frequencies in the range of 3 to 10 kHz,
include motor-generators and solid-state invert- welding power is usually produced by solid-
ers for frequencies up to 10 kHz, and vacuum
tube oscillators for frequencies from 100 to 500
kHz. Vacuum tube oscillators are available in Tank
sizes ranging from 1 to 600 kW of power output circuit
with frequencies in the 200 to 500 kHz range.
Figure 4.16 shows a basic circuit for oscillator
type power sources in the 200 to 400 kHz range.
The transformer and rectifier are used to convert Output
Plate Vacuum
plant line voltage to high voltage, direct current transformer
transformer tube
and welding
power for the oscillator circuit. The oscillator oscillator
circuit converts direct current to high frequency
current for the output transformer. The output Fig. 4.16- B•sic circuit of •n
oscill•tor type
transformer converts the high voltage, low am- power source of the 200 to 400 kHz r•nge
Equipment I 159

state inverters that operate on de from a rectifier. high frequency insulation, such as teflon, trans-
These inverters have replaced motor-alternator former oil, or solid material potting compounds
or motor-generator power sources. The inverter should be used.
portion of the equipment is a solid-state device The secondary winding of the impedance
in which silicon-controlled rectifiers are fired by matching transformer, in series with the induc-
a timing circuit and thus create high frequency tion coil or contact system and workpiece, forms
current. the low voltage, high current welding circuit.
The connecting leads should have the lowest
IMPEDANCE MATCHING possible impedance to obtain high efficiency
TRANSFORMERS and minimize the voltage drop in the leads. This
Vacuum tube osciilators inherently have may be achieved by using short leads made of
high output impedance and must be fed into flat plates spaced 1/16 inch apart. The power
high impedance loads. The inductors and the losses in poorly designed leads or incorrectly
contact-workpiece circuits in high frequency matched transformers can prevent successful
welding are low impedance loads. An impedance performance of a high frequency welding
matching transformer is required to transfer operation.
energy efficiently from the osciilator to the Both rotating generator and solid-state in-
work. High frequency current can only transfer verter power sources have output voltage typi-
power efficiently from the high frequency gen- cally in the 200 to 1000 V range. Their current
erator to the work when the impedance of the is fed by cables to the primary coil of a lami-
work circuit matches the impedance of the power nated iron core transformer. Capacitors are con-
source. nected in parallel with the primary of the trans-
The impedance matching transformer is former to improve the system power factor.
placed as close as possible to the welding The rotating generator or solid-state inverter is
operation. It is connected by a transmission line operated as close to unity power factor as pos-
directly to the oscillator, which is often at a sible for maximum efficiency and performance.
convenient distance from the welding station. In These transformers lower the voltage and in-
crease the current of the generators and inverters.
some installations, capacitors are connected
The transformer provides power to an induction
across the impedance matching transformer
coil or contact system through relatively short,.
primary to improve both the power transfer and
closely-spaced leads. The transformer winding
the electrical power factor.
The impedance matching transformer con- ratio must be selected to give optimum power
struction is quite simple. It usually consists of a transfer between the generator or inverter and
the welding load. These ratios commonly range
primary winding of water-cooled copper tubing
from 4:1 to 13:1.
inside a cylindrical secondary winding of one or
more turns of water-cooled copper sheet. To
improve the magnetic coupling between the pri- CONTACTS
mary and secondary turns, a water-cooled, fer- The high frequency current transfer con-
rite magnetic core may be used. Because the tacts, either sliding or fixed, are usually made of
output voltage of the oscillator often is in the copper alloys or hard metallic particles in a cop-
range of 10 to 25 kV, the insulation between per or silver matrix. The contacts are silver brazed
the windings must be designed with care. The to heavy water-cooled copper mounts. Replace-
transformer may be insulated with air. In these ments can be made by exchanging the mount and
instances, the magnetic coupling between the contact tip assembly.
primary and secondary will be relatively poor Contact tip sizes range from 0.25 to I in.2
because of the large air gap required between depending upon the amperage to be carried.
the transformer coils to prevent arcing. A small Welding curents are usually in the range of 500
gap is needed to achieve good magnetic coupling to 5000 A. Consequently, both internal (water)
between the primary and secondary coils. Good and external (water or soluble oil) cooling is

provided for the contact tips and mounts. sired inside current and increases the outside
The force of the contact tips against the current in the weld zone. This results in higher
work is usually in the order of 5 to 50 pounds welding speeds for a given power input. Im-
for continuous welding systems and 5 to 100 peders are usually made of one or more ferrite
pounds for static welding operations. The re- bodies. They are water cooled to keep their
quired forces are dependent upon the thickness operating temperature below that at which they
and surface condition of the parts being joined, would lose their magnetic properties.
as well as the amperage.
Contacts used for continuous seam welding CONTROL DEVICES
of nonferrous metals may have triple the life of
Input Voltage Regulators
those used with ferrous materials. Welding of
High-speed, high frequency seam welding
300 000 ft of nonferrous tubing with one set of
requires accurate control of the welding power
contacts is common. On stationary welding oper-
level. Relatively brief power fluctuations can
ations, contacts may last thousands of operations
result in weld imperfections. Thus, it is impor-
before requiring dressing or replacement.
tant that the power be automatically and con-
tinuously regulated. Several regulation systems
are available. The choice depends upon the input
An induction coil, also called an inductor, power conditions, the welding requirements, and
is generally fabricated of copper tubing, copper the power rating of the high frequency power
bar, or copper sheet. It is water cooled. The source. The following are the most commonly
best efficiency is obtained when the induction used regulators.
coil completely surrounds the workpiece. The Motor-Generators. These units provide con-
coil may have one or more turns, as required by stant voltage power by utilizing the flywheel
the application. It is designed to fit in close prox- effect of high mechanical inertia. The power is
imity to the workpiece at the area to be heated. supplied to one or more high frequency power
The strength of the magnetic field, which in- sources of the vacuum tube or solid-state type.
duces the heating current in the workpiece, Electromechanical Induction Regulators.
diminishes rapidly as the distance between the Regulators of this type may be installed on indi-
coil and work is increased. The sharpness with vidual pieces of equipment or on a group of
which the heating pattern in the workpiece machines. They are used when there are no large
mirrors the shape of the coil improves as fre- or rapid variations in the input power. Nearby
quency increases and distance decreases between equipment that demands heavy current inter-
the coil and the workpiece. Typical spacing be- mittently may cause power line voltage fluc-
tween the coil and workpiece is 0.08 to 0.25 tuations that are beyond the response capability
inch. of such regulators.
Saturable Core Reactors. These magnetic
devices have better response than mechanical
induction regulators.
When tube and pipe welding with both the Silicon-Controlled Rectifiers. These power
HFRW and HFIW processes, current can flow control devices can be used in conjunction with
on the inside surface of the tube as well as on the other solid-state devices. They normally are
outside surface. This additional current, which arranged in the circuit to regulate the input wave
flows in parallel with the welding current, results form by blocking a portion of the wave. Their
in power loss. To minimize this loss, a mag- control circuits can be designed to respond rapidly
netic core or impeder is placed inside the tube to changes in input voltage.
weld area. The impeder increases the inductive All of the above input voltage regulators
reactance of the current path around the inside can include weld power control. In addition,
wall ofthe tube. This, in turn, reduces the unde- electronic and saturable core types can include
Equipment /161

overload protection, system fault detection de- ripple can cause intermittent lack of fusion along
vices, and monitoring systems for associated the seam. These intermittent discontinuities are
handling equipment employed in the welding called "stitches." Inductive-capacitive filters
operation. are normally used on the rectifier output to re-
duce the ripple to less than I percent.
High Frequency Generator Power Controls
Speed-Power Control
A control must be provided to raise and
lower the high frequency power to meet the de- An automatic speed-power control may be
mands of the welding operation. There are many used for continuous HFRW or HFIW with a
types of high frequency power controls, all of vacuum tube oscillator power source. This auto-
which vary the current flowing in the contacts matic device controls the SCR system in the
or the inductor coil. Controls normally used for primary of the main plate transformer and ad-
high frequency welding are saturable reactors, justs the power output of the oscillator with
silicon-controlled rectifiers, variable impedance changes in welding speed. For example, assume
devices, vacuum tubes, and field current regula- that a weld is being produced at 200ft/min when
tors on generators. a problem with the mill requires that the travel
A saturable reactor located in the circuit speed be decreased. Without automatic speed-
ahead of the main plate transformer provides a power control, the welding power would need to
variable power control. With the addition of a be turned off as soon as the slowdown started.
magnetic amplifier and appropriate instrumenta- However, with speed-power control, the welding
tion, automatic control of welding power may power remains on during the slowdown. It is
be achieved. automatically adjusted to produce a good weld
Silicon-controlled rectifiers (SCR) may be as the speed decreases. The control can adjust the
placed in the primary circuit of the plate trans- welding power level to near zero. A good weld
former for vacuum tube oscillators or in the SCR is achieved almost to the stop condition. Such
rectifier system on solid-state inverters to control control minimizes the loss of material in the mill.
welding current. The speed-power control automatically
A variable impedance can be used in series raises the power level as the mill speed increases.
with the secondary winding of the welding trans- The power required for welding is not directly
former and the inductor or contacts. It is the proportional to speed. The control is designed to
most direct method of varying the high frequency automatically compensate for this.
power level and does not alter the basic charac- Timing Controls
teristics of the high frequency generator. Gen-
erally, this control is manually adjusted for the For timed high frequency resistance or
desired power level. induction welding, weld duration may be con-
A controllable vacuum tube device can trolled by motor-driven or electronic timers.
control power output. These operate in a manner They actuate the main contactor in the power
similar to a variable resistor connected in series source. In very high-speed production using
with the de output of the oscillator power supply. equipment with vacuum tube oscillators, it is
In generator units, power control is per- possible to tum the grids of the oscillator tubes
formed manually or automatically by varying on and off with a small contactor. Very short
the field strength of the generator. weld times can be produced and controlled by
For continuous operations, it is essential this means. In some cases, movement of the
that the welding power be relatively ripple-free, workpieces during weld upset is used to actuate a
particularly when welding thin-walled nonfer- switch. The switch turns off the welding current
rous metals at high speeds. Excessive power when the desired upset has occurred.

of the vee and the contact-to-vee apex distance
must be closely controlled.
In general, a number of surface condition- There is no question about the need for ac-
ing operations that aid in producing a sound curate control of relative positions when welding
weld take place during the welding cycle. First, two edges together. The ideal relationship is, of
faying surfaces are heated to high temperatures, course, to have the edges parallel and matched
usually above the melting point. Then relatively in the vertical direction. Mismatch will cause
large amounts of plastic deformation are used to uneven heating of the faying surfaces . Serious
remove contaminated metal from the faying sur- angular mismatch may cause excessive melting
faces and bring clean surfaces into intimate of the edges and arcing near the apex of the vee.
contact. Special surface treatment operations, In general, it is probably best to be sure that
such as brushing or solvent cleaning, are gen- the faying surfaces are parallel and at the same
erally unnecessary. level. In welding thick skelp into pipe, deliberate
angular mismatch may be us.ed. In this case, the
ALIGNMENT AND FIT-UP inside edges of the faying surfaces are melted,
and, as the edges approach the apex of the vee,
In continuous seam welding, the edges of
they approach parallelism.
the parts to be joined are brought together in the
form of a vee. The shape of the vee is important
in producing satisfactory welds. Normally, the
mill is set to produce a vee with an included The proper design of fixturing and tooling
angle of 4 to 7 degrees . If the angle is less than is critical to successful application of high fre-
4 degrees, the apex (weld point) will not stay at quency resistance welding. Precise alignment of
a fixed point, and inconsistent welding will
occur along the joint. Also, arcing may occur
across the vee, upstream from the weld point.
Maximum usage of the proximity effect is
limited in high frequency resistance welding
because the strip separation must be sufficient
to prevent arcing across the vee. Arcing is un-
desirable because it causes nonuniform heating
of the strip and may pit the edges to be joined.
The tendency for arcing and the strip separation
required to prevent arcing vary with the welding
conditions and metals being welded.
If the angle is greater than 7 degrees, me-
chanical and thermal control of the edges may be.
lost and they may wrinkle or stretch. Alignment
of the weld joint is important, and the joint must
be held tightly together until it cools.
Variations in the separation and length of
the vee during welding will cause corresponding
changes in the amount of power drawn from the
power source and in the heat developed at the
edges . Variation in the width of the vee changes
the current distribution at the edges , the depth of Fig. 4.17-Section through • high
heating, and the final surface temperature of the frequency resist•nce weld showing
edges. To produce consistent welds, the width the upset
Weld Quality /163

the edges of the material must be controlled In both static and continuous welding, upsetting
throughout the welding process. Some applica- of metal occurs in the weld area when pressure
tions of the HFW processes include the forming is used. A section through such a weld is shown
of flat stock into tubing that requires precision in Fig. 4.17. The upset metal may be left in place
tooling to produce an acceptable welded seam. or removed, depending upon the use of the prod-
Mismatch of the edges can cause uneven heating uct. In continuously welded products such as
that results in poor quality welds. tubing, the upset is often continuously removed
Almost all high frequency welding varia- from both sides of the weld by scarfing or plan-
tions employ pressure to produce a sound weld. nishing equipment.

A number of discontinuities often found Material-induced discontinuities may also
in other types of welded joints are rarely found be encountered. The most common type is the
in high frequency welded joints containing upset outbent fiber crack found in carbon and low
metal. Since metal is expelled from a properly alloy steel welds. Figure 4.19 shows this type of
made joint, porosity and other discontinuities discontinuity. It is produced by a stringer inclu-
produced by freezing segregation are eliminated. sion in the steel being bent outward when the
The weld zones are very narrow and have narrow hot metal is upset to complete the weld.
heat-affected zones. Joint strength equal to that A third type of discontinuity is a small,
of the base metal can be obtained in a variety of unbonded flat spot or area along the weld line.
metals. For example, welds can be made in These areas sometimes extend completely
carbon steels that have tensile strengths equal to through the weld and can leave leaks in the wall
the base metal strength. of a pipe. Figure 4.20 shows an example of a
High frequency welded joints have the same flat spot. They are apparently caused by a com-
chemical composition as the metal being welded. bination of inclusions in the metal and improper
Consequently, the weld zone responds to heat welding conditions. A at spots are formed when
treatment in the same way as does the base metal. nonmetallic material is trapped at the bond line
High frequency welds with upset can con- of the weld.
tain discontinuities resulting from improper The short time at temperature and the de-
welding conditions (current, speed, upset, or formation of upsetting tend to restrict grain
joint preparation). For example, unwelded areas growth in the weld zone. Rapid cooling rates
may occur in the joint as shown in Fig. 4.18. may cause quench hardening of the weld zone in
some carbon and alloy steels. Such hardening
may decrease ductility below acceptable limits,
and a postweld heat treatment may be required
to obtain the desired properties. Welding of
work-hardened metals that do not quench
harden (stainless steels, for example) always
produces a weld zone that is softer than the
wrought base metal.


Courtesy of the Welding Research Council Inspection of longitudinal butt joints in
Fig. 4.18- Cross section of~ butt joint in tubular products made by this process is di-
c~rbon steel cont~ning ~n unwelded rected towards in-plant quality control and is
portion often required by some specification. Prefer-

Courtesy of the Welding Research Council Courtesy of the Welding Research Council

Fig. 4.19- Outbent fiber cr•ck in • butt Fig. 4.20- Cross section of • butt joint in
joint in c•rbon steel. Pier•/ etch, x30 c.rbon steel showing • fl•t spot
(reduced 25%)

ably, the inspection is performed continuously, coil which induces eddy currents within the tube.
immediately following the welding station. De- Changes in the coupling between the coil and
tection of out-of-tolerance discontinuities as the the tube and also in the electrical character-
tube is welded will reduce scrap and eliminate istics of the tube due to certain types of dis-
subsequent rejection, particularly if the tube is continuities will cause variations in the loading
processed in fabricating a product. and tuning of the generator. The changes are
Eddy current inspection is employed al- detected by the differentially-wound detector
most exclusively. Basically, the welded tube is coil and are reflective in meter readings or
passed through an encircling electromagnetic by recording devices for permanent record.

Instrumentation is also available for limit warn- is required that contains precision-machined
ing signals. The frequencies employed are us- discontinuities matching the degree of accept-
ually in the range of 1 to 25 kHz. The method ability required by the specification.
is applicable to testing of welds in both non- Magnetic particle and liquid penetrant in-
ferrous and ferrous metals in diameters from spection methods are slow. These methods can
0.125 to 16 inches. Testing speeds range from be justified only when the end use justifies the
25 to 500ft/min. cost to ensure the highest possible quality. In
'fYpical discontinuities that are readily de- some cases, these methods usually supplement
tected by the eddy current technique are laps, other methods.
cracks, slivers, pits, unbonded areas, misaligned In-process inspection for tubular products
welds, and pin holes. A basic requirement is may also include destructive testing of short
a reliable and consistent means for setting the sections of tube removed from production. A
degree of sensitivity of the test equipment to the section is tested by placing an open end over a
required level. A standard reference specimen conical die mounted in an arbor press. Force is
is required for this purpose. The reference speci- applied to the other end of the tube to expand it
men has typical discontinuities deliberately over the die. Examination of the sample may
fabricated into it that represent the require- reveal unbonded areas and offset joint edges.
ments of a particular application or specification. In conjunction with this test, a finite length of
This testing method can also detect surface tube is leak tested by pneumatically pressuriz-
flaws in the base metal. ing the tube internally and immersing it in water.
Ultrasonic testing is another method used This test will reveal discontinuities extending
for inspection of tubular products. This testing through the welded seam, indicated by bubbles
technique is normally restricted to finite tube emerging from the flaw.
lengths, using the immersion method automati- Inspection of other joint types, such as
cally. This technique is more sensitive than web-to-flange and end-to-end butt joints, may
the eddy current method to minor surface be accomplished by metallographic techniques
scratches and to elongated discontinuities such and mechanical testing methods to determine
as the incomplete removal of the flash. As with joint strength and ductility.
the eddy current method, a reference specimen


Consideration must be given to the health frequency or high frequency. Proper care and
and safety of the welding operators, mainte- safety precautions should be taken while work-
nance personnel, and other personnel in the area ing on high frequency generators and their
of the welding operations. Good engineering control systems to prevent injury. Modem units
practice must be followed in the design, con- are equipped with safety interlocks on access
struction, installation, operation, and mainte- doors and automatic safety grounding devices
nance of the equipment, controls, power sup- that prevent operation of the equipment when
plies, and tooling to assure conformance to the access doors are open. The equipment
Federal (OSHA), State, and local safety reg- should not be operated with panels or high
ulations, as well as those of the using company. voltage covers removed or with interlocks and
High frequency generators are electrical grounding devices blocked.
devices and require all the usual precautions The output high frequency primary leads
in handling and repairing such equipment. should be encased in metal ducting and should
Voltages are in the range from 400 to 20 000 not be operated in the open. The induction
volts and are lethal. These voltages may be low coils and contact systems should always be

properly grounded for operator protection. High by induction and cause fires or burns.
frequency currents are more difficult to ground Injuries from high frequency power, espe-
than low frequency currents, and grounding cially at the upper range of welding frequencies,
lines should be kept very short and direct to tend to produce severe local surface tissue
minimize inductive impedance. Care should be damage but are not likely to be fatal, since
taken that the magnetic field from the output current flow in the victim's body is shallow.
system does not heat adjacent metallic sections

Metric Conversion Factors

tc = 0.556(tF - 32)
1 in. = 25.4 mm = .025 m
1ft= 0.305m
1 tt/min = 5.08 mm/s
11bf = 4.45 N
1 psi= 6.89 kPa
1 degree (angle)= (1.75 x 1o·•) rad
Supplementary Reading List /167


Brown, G.H., Hoyler, C.N., and Bierwith, seam welding of ferrous and non-ferrous
R.A., Theory and Applications of Radio tubing. Welding Journal, 35 (12): 1199-
Frequency Heating, New York: D. Van 1206; 1956 Dec.
Nostrand Co., Inc., 1957.
Osborn, H.B., Jr., High frequency welding of
Dailey, R.E, Induction welding of pipe using pipe and tubing, Welding Journal, 42 (7):
10 000 cycles. Welding Journal, 44 (6): 571-577; 1963 July.
475-479; 1965 Jun.
Rudd, W. C., High frequency resistance weld-
Harris, S. G., Butt welding of steel pipe using ing. Welding Journal, 36 (7): 703-707;
induction heating, Welding Journal, 40 (2): 1957 July.
57s-65s; 1961 Feb.
Rudd, W.C., High frequency resistance welding
Johnstone, A.A., Trotter, EJ., and a'Brassard, of cans, Welding Journal, 42 (4): 279-284;
H. E, Performance record of the Thermatool 1963 Apr.
high frequency resistance welding process.
Rudd, W. C., High frequency resistance weld-
British Welding Journal, 7 (4): 238-249;
ing. Metal Progress: 239-40, 244; 1965
Koppenhofer, R. L. et al., Induction-pressure
Rudd, W. C., Current penetration seam welding
welding of girth joints in steel pipe. Weld-
-a new high speed process. Welding
ing Journal, 39 (7): 685-691; 1960 July.
Journal, 46 (9): 762-766; 1967 Sept.
Oppenheimer, E. D., Helical and Longitudinally
Rudd, W.C. and Udall, H.N., High frequency
Finned Tubing by High Frequency Resis-
melt welding. Welding Journal, 56 (4):
tance Welding, Dearborn, MI.: Soc. of
28-32; 1977 Apr.
Manufacturing Engineers, 1967; ASTME
Tech. Paper AD 67-197. Wolcott, C. G., High frequency welded struc-
tural shapes. Welding Journal, 44 (11):
Osborn, H. B., Jr., High frequency continuous
921-926; 1965 Nov.
Electron Beam Welding
Fundamentals of the Process .......... 170 Metals Welded .................... .. 201

Characteristics of Welds .............. 177 Applications .................... .... 204

Equipment .................... ..... 180 Weld Quality .................... ... 206

Welding Procedures ................. 196 Safe Practices .................... ... 273

Selection of Welding Variables ......... 199 Supplementary Reading List ........... 275

Chapter Committee

D. E. POWERS, Chairman G. H. LOAN

Leybold-Heraeus Vacuum Systems Inc. Nuclide Corporation
Westinghouse Electric Corporation Ford Motor Company
Los Alamos Scientific Laboratories Argonne National Laboratories
A. 0. Smith Corporation Union Carbide Corporation
Chrysler Corporation Babcock and Wilcox Company

Welding Handbook Committee Member

Scott Paper Company

Electron Beam Welding


DEFINITION trode and the emitter are both at the same elec-
Electron beam welding (EBW) is a process trical potential, and together are referred to as
that produces coalescence of metals by the heat the cathode. In a triode (cathode-grid-anode)
obtained from a concentrated beam of high gun, the emitter is at one potential and the beam-
velocity electrons impinging upon the surfaces shaping electrode can be biased to a slightly
to be joined. The electron, a basic particle of more negative potential to control beam current
matter, is characterized by a negative charge and flow. In this case, the emitter alone is referred
a very small mass. to as the cathode, and the shaping electrode is
The beam of electrons is produced and called the bias electrode or "grid cup." The
accelerated by an electron beam gun. 1}'pical accelerating anode is incorporated into the elec-
components of the gun are an emitter, a bias tron gun, making beam generation completely
electrode, and an anode. The emitter is some- independent ofthe workpiece.
times called the filament or cathode; the bias The electrons, accelerated to speeds in the
electrode is also called the grid or grid cup. range of 0.1 to 0.7 times the speed of light, pass
Auxiliary mechanical and electrical compo- through a small hole in the center of the anode
nents, which may include beam alignment, and continue toward the workpiece. After the
focus, and deflection coils, are used in con- electrons leave the anode, they generally diverge
junction with the electron beam gun. The whole because of random thermal radial velocity spread-
assembly is called the electron beam gun ing and geometric mutual repulsion, as shown
column. in Fig. 5.1. To counteract the inherent diver-
gence effects, an electromagnetic lens system
GENERAL DESCRIPTION is used to reconverge the beam and focus it on the
work. This beam divergence and convergence
The heart of the electron beam welding is of such a gradual nature that the useable focal
process is the electron beam gun, a simplified range or depth of focus may extend over a dis-
representation of which is shown in Fig. 5.1. tance of an inch or so.
Electrons are generated by heating a negatively The heat intensity imparted to the weld
charged emitting material to its thermionic emis- joint is controlled by four basic variables:
sion temperature range. The electrons "boil off" (I) The number of electrons per second
this emitter and are then given speed and direc- impinging on the workpiece (beam current)
tion by their attraction to a positively charged (2) The kinetic energy of these electrons
anode. A precisely configured electrode sur- (accelerating voltage)
rounding the emitter electrostatically shapes the (3) The diameter of the electron beam at
ejected electrons into a beam. In a diode the workpiece (beam spot size)
(cathode-anode) gun, this beam-shaping elec- (4) The travel speed with which the work-

Fundamentals of the Process /171

u....---Emitter (-) than it is wide, and the heat-affected zone is very

narrow. For example, the width of a butt weld
V ~Beam-shaping or
in 0.5-in. thick steel plate may be as small as
bias electrode (-)
0.060 in. when made in a vacuum. This stands
in remarkable contrast to the weld zone in arc
and gas welded joints.
Because of the deep penetrating capability
of an electron beam, the angle of incidence
with which the beam impinges on the surface of
a workpiece will affect the final angle at which
Focal range the resulting weld zone is formed with respect
1+-1----- Focal point to that surface.

Fig. 5.1-A simplified representation of an
electron beam gun column
There are three variations or modes of the
electron beam welding process: high vacuum
(EBW-HV), medium vacuum (EBW-MV), and
nonvacuum (EBW-NV). The principal differ-
piece or electron beam gun is being translated ence between these process modes is the ambient
(welding speed) pressure at which welding is done. With the
Accelerating voltages and beam currents high vacuum mode, welding is done in the pres-
employed for typical electron beam gun sys- sure range of 10·3 to 10·6 torr.' For medium vac-
tems vary over the ranges of 30 to 175 kV and uum, the pressure range is 10·3 to 25 torr. Within
50 to 1000 rnA, respectively. The electron beam this range, the pressure span from about 10'3 to
produced by these guns can be focused to diam- 1 torr is commonly called a "soft" or "partial"
eters in the range of 0.01 to 0.03 inch. The re- vacuum, and from about 1 to 25 torr, a "quick"
sulting power density attainable can reach values vacuum. Nonvacuum electron beam welding is
up to l0 6 W/in.2, a level significantly higher done at atmospheric pressure. In all cases, the
than that possible ~ith arc welding processes. electron beam gun must be held at a pressure of
A comparative measure of electron beam 10'4 torr or less for stable and efficient operation.
systems, generally used to indicate their probable High vacuum and medium vacuum welding
welding capability, is the maximum power are done inside a vacuum chamber. This im-
density that a system is capable of delivering to poses an evacuation time penalty to take ad-
the workpiece. This comparison factor is totally vantage of the "high purity" atmosphere. The
dependent upon the maximum beam power (cur- medium vacuum welding machine retains most
rent x voltage) and minimum beam spot size of the advantages of high vacuum welding but
attainable with each system. Electron beam with improved production capability. Chamber
welding systems capable of producing beam evacuation times are much shorter, resulting in
power levels up to 100 kW and power densities higher production rates. Nonvacuum welding,
in excess of 10'W/in? have been built, but they although it incurs no pumpdown time penalty,
are not yet used commercially. is unsuitable for some applications because the
At very high power densities, the elec- welds are generally wider and shallower than
tron beam is capable of instantly penetrating into welds made with equal power in vacuum.
the workpiece and forming a "vapor hole." The
walls of the vapor hole are molten. The molten
metal from the forward portion flows around the
periphery of the hole and solidifies at the rear to I. A torr is the accepted industry term for a pressure
of one millimeter of mercury. One standard atmo-
form weld metal as the beam advances along the sphere can be expressed as 760 torr or 760 mm of
joint. Hence, the weld metal is much deeper mercury.

With medium vacuum operation, the (2) Maximum weld metal purity is possible
beam is generated in high vacuum and then due to the absence of contaminating gases.
projected into a welding chamber operating at (3) The relatively long gun-to-work dis-
higher pressure. This is accomplished through tances possible with this method enhance the
an orifice of special design that is large enough ability to observe the welding process and pro-
to pass the beam but too small to allow signifi- vide the ability to weld relatively inaccessible
cant back diffusion of gases into the gun joints.
chamber. An electron beam is scattered by collision
In nonvacuum electron beam welding of the electrons with any gas molecules that
equipment, the beam is generated in high vacuum may be present in its path. The frequency at
and then projected through a series of orifices which these collisions occur will vary directly
and differentially-pumped chambers. It finally with both the concentration of gas molecules
emerges into a work environment that is at present and the total distance traveled.
atmospheric pressure. Figure 5.2 shows the three The high vacuum minimizes exposure of the
basic modes of electron beam systems. weld zone to oxygen and nitrogen contamination
while hot. It also causes evolved gases to rapidly
High Vacuum Welding
move away from the weld metal, thereby im-
High vacuum (10· 3 torr or lower) is the proving weld metal purity. Thus, high vacuum
natural environment for all electron guns. Al- welding is better suited for welding highly
though special devices enable the electron beam reactive metals than the other two process
to be brought into an environment of higher variations.
pressure, the gun itself cannot operate effec- Production of high vacuum requires pump-
tively at pressures greater than 10·3 torr. ing time which significantly limits production
The principal advantages which accrue as rates. This can be offset somewhat by welding a
a result of welding in high vacuum are as follows: number of assemblies in a single load and by
(1) Maximum weld penetration and mini- keeping the chamber volume to a minimum.
mum weld width can be achieved, thereby pro- However, chamber size limits the number of
ducing a minimum of weld shrinkage and dis- parts per batch that can be accommodated for
tortion. welding. Consequently, high vacuum welding is


Fig. 5.2-The basic modes of electron beam welding

Fundamentals of the Process /173

Fig. 5.3-Eiectron beam welding a gear in medium vacuum

generally considered to be a relatively low pro- involved. A welding chamber of minimum vol-
duction type of operation. ume is used. For example, gears can be success-
fully welded to shafts in their final machined or
stamped condition with no subsequent finishing
Medium Vacuum Welding
needed. Such an operation is shown in Fig. 5.3.
A principal asset of medium vacuum weld- Close tolerances can be maintained.
ing is the fact that its requirements can be met Because welding is done at pressures where
without pumping the welding chamber to very the concentration of air is significant (100 ppm),
low pressure (high vacuum). With small welding medium vacuum welding is less desirable than
chambers, pumping times may be a matter of high vacuum welding for reactive metals. How-
seconds. This is of major importance in terms of ever, medium vacuum welding may be accept-
commercial and economical processing. This able for refractory metal welding where absorb-
variation is ideally suited for the mass produc- lion of very small amounts of oxygen and nitro-
tion of parts where repetitive production tasks are gen can be tolerated.

The higher concentration of air will also with high and medium vacuum welding, even
tend to scatter the electron beam, producing an when inert gas shielding is used.
increase in beam diameter and a decrease in Operating conditions for nonvacuum weld-
beam power density. This results in welds that ing differ from the other two variations. Beam
are slightly wider, more tapered, and less pene- dispersion increases rapidly with ambient pres-
trating than similar type welds produced under sure, as shown in Fig. 5.4. Therefore, at atmo-
high vacuum conditions. spheric pressure the gun-to-work distance must
As with high vacuum welding, a limitation be less than I. 5 inches. This restriction limits the
is imposed on the work size by the vacuum shape of the workpiece near the weld joint.
chamber, and the chamber must be evacuated The depth of penetration in nonvacuum
prior to welding. Therefore, production rates are electron beam welds is affected by beam power
generally lower than those attainable with non- level, travel speed, gun-to-work distance, and the
vacuum welding . ambient atmosphere through which the beam
Nonvacuum Welding passes. Figure 5.5 shows penetration as a func-
tion of travel speed for three different power
The major advantage of nonvacuum weld- levels, indicating the significant increase in
ing is that the work is not enclosed in a vacuum travel speed that can be used by increasing power
chamber. Therefore, production rates can be for a given penetration.
higher and costs lower than with the other varia- Figure 5 .6 shows the effect of the ambient
tions because time is not needed for chamber atmosphere and the gun-to-work distance on the
evacuation. Also, th<t size of the weldment is penetration-travel speed relationship. Penetra-
not limited by a chamber. tion is greater with helium, which is lighter than
These advantages are gained at the expense air, and lower with argon, which is heavier
of low weld depth-to-width ratios, reduced weld than air. For a given penetration and gun-to-work
penetration, and small gun-to-work distances. distance, helium shielding will permit welding
The welding atmosphere is not as "pure" as at a significantly higher travel speed.

760 TORR 500 TORR ?..50 TORR 50 TORR 5 TORR

Fig. 5.4-Eiectron beam dispersion characteristics at various ambient pressures

Fundamentals of the Process /175

1.000 r--.---.------.-----,----- -,----,---,-------,-----,

1/4 in. work distance

100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800

Speed, ipm

Fig. 5.5-Effect of travel speed on penetration of non vacuum electron beam

welds in steel (175 kV in air)

Nonvacuum electron beam welding appears The following are some of the definite
to demonstrate more efficient penetrating capa- advantages of electron beam welding:
bility at power levels above 50kW. This apparent (I) The ability to produce weld metal with
capability probably results from the decrease in a cross section that is deeper and narrower than
ambient air (or gas) density produced by local those of arc welds in most metals. This ability
heating of the air (or gas) as the beam passes to attain an extremely high weld depth-to-width
through it. ratio permits single-pass welding of joints that
Many materials have been welded success- would normally require multipass arc welds.
fully using the nonvacuum technique. They in- (2) The total heat input per unit length for
clude carbon, low alloy, and stainless steels; a given depth of penetration can be much lower
high temperature alloys; refractory alloys; and than with arc welding. This gives a much nar-
copper and aluminum alloys. Some of these rower head-affected zone, noticeably less dis-
metals can be welded in air while others require tortion, and fewer thermal effects compared to
inert gas protective atmospheres to avoid exces- arc welding.
sive oxygen and nitrogen contamination. (3) A high purity environment (vacuum) for
With 60 kW nonvacuum equipment, it is welding minimizes contamination of the metal
possible to produce single-pass welds in many by oxygen and nitrogen.
metals of l-in. thickness at relatively high speeds. (4) The ability to project the beam over a
Figure 5.7 is a cross section of a nonvacuum distance of several feet in vacuum often allows
weld in 3/4-in. Type 302 stainless steel plate. welds to be made in otherwise inaccessible
(5) Rapid travel speeds are possible be-
cause of the high melting rates associated with
Electron beam welding has some unique this concentrated heat source. This reduces the
performance cApabilities, such as its environ- time required to accomplish welding and in-
ment, high power densities, and outstanding con- creases the productivity and energy efficiency
trol capabilities, that permit the solution of a of the process.
wide range of joining problems. (6) Reasonably square butt joints in both

. ........

.... ~:~


~ -..o
0.2 ~

Air Gun-to-work distance
.s: 0.4
o 1/4 in.

"<:0 o 1/2 in.
'""" 61 in .
c.. ~

~ ~
0.1 ~ ...._ ~

~ _-
.. b:r---.. -L:J
0 25 50 75
Travel speed, ipm

Fig. 5.6-Penetration vs travel speed for nonvacuum electron beam welds

in A/SI 4340 steel in helium, air, and argon with three gun-to-work
distances (175 kV, 6.4 kW)

thick and relatively thin plates can be welded in tron beam welding are as follows:
one pass without filler metal addition. (I) The equipment costs are generally
(7) Hermetic closures can be welded with higher than those of arc welding equipment.
the high or medium vacuum modes of opera- However, final system cost depends strongly
tion while retaining a vacuum inside the com- upon the particular welding requirements; final
ponent. part costs can be highly competitive with arc
(8) The beam of electrons can be mag- welding.
netically deflected to produce various shaped (2) Proper utilization of the high weld
welds and magnetically oscillated to improve depth-to-width ratio can require precision ma-
weld quality or increase penetration. chining of the joint edges, exacting joint align-
Some of the probable limitations of elec- ment, and good fit-up. In addition, joint gap
Characteristics of Welds /177

must be minimized to take advantage of the

small size of the electron beam. However, these
precise part requirements are generally not man-
datory where high depth-to-width ratio welds
are not required. ·
(3) For high and medium vacuum welding,
work chamber size must be large enough to
accommodate the assembly operation. The time
needed to evacuate the chamber will influence
production costs.
(4) With the nonvacuum mode of electron
beam welding, the restriction on work distance
from the bottom of the electron beam gun column
to the work will impose limitations on the prod-
uct design in areas directly adjacent to the weld
(5) Because the electron beam is deflected
Fig. 5.7-A cross section of a nonvacuum
by magnetic fields, nonmagnetic or properly
electron beam weld in 3/4-in. stainless
degaussed metals should be employed for tooling
steel plate made in air with 12 kW
and fixturing that will come into close proximity
of power
to the beam path.


The electron beam welding process pro- about 5 in./min. Thick weld joints, which would
duces weld metal geometries that differ sig- require multiple-pass arc welding procedures,
nificantly from those made by conventional arc can be made with a single-pass electron beam
welding processes. 'JYpical transverse cross sec- welding procedure in considerably less time .
tions through electron beam and gas tungsten Second, the rate (travel speed) at which welding
arc welds are shown in Fig. 5.8. The geometry can be accomplished is much greater than with
of a typical electron beam weld exhibits a weld arc welding. Thus, the electron beam welding
depth-to-width ratio that is very large in com- process is a very rapid one .
parison to that of arc welds. This feature is due High vacuum welds with depth-to-width
to the high power density of the electron beam. ratios of 50: I are possible in a number of alloys.
The beam is concentrated in a small area. Elec- The welding of heavy sections in a single pass
tron beam power density can exceed the power is practical using a square-groove butt joint. F:or
densities obtained with arc welding by several example, aluminum plates up to 18 in . thick
orders of magnitude. have been welded. While some problems re-
The high depth-to-width ratios of electron main with joining thick sections, production
beam welds account for two important advan- applications in steel extend up to 6 inches . The
tages of the process. First, relatively thick joints medium vacuum mode sacrifices some penetra-
can be welded in a single pass. Figure 5. 9 is an tion in comparison to the high vacuum mode .
example of a single-pass electron beam weld in a With the nonvacuum mode, the maximum pene-
4-in . thick carbon steel section. It was made with tration attainable is generally about 2 inches.
a beam power of 33 kW and a travel speed of The ability to produce welds with these

Welding conditions
Gas tungsten arc weld
Electron beam
weld 1st Pass • 2nd Pass b Total
Voltage, V 30 X 10 3 11.7 13.0
Current, A 200x 10-a 270. 270.
Welding speed, in./min 95 6.5 7.5
Power,kW 6 3.2 3.5 6.7
Energy, kJ/in. 3.8 29.6 28.0 57.6
a. Without wire
b. With 0.062 in. dia. Type 2319 AI filler metal

Fig. 5.8- Comparison of electron beam (left) and gas tungsten arc (right) welds
in 1/2-in. thick Type 2219 aluminum alloy plate

characteristics depends upon the process mode: melting point, heat capacity, thermal diffusivity,
high, medium, or nonvacuum. In all cases, it and vapor pressure. This process, particularly in
is highly dependent upon the beam spot size its high vacuum mode, is an excellent tool for
and the total beam power. Figure 5 .10 gives a the welding of parts of dissimilar metals or dif-
general indication of the effect of ambient pres- ferent masses, and the repairing of welded
sure on weld metal profile and penetration when components impossible to salvage with other pro-
all other operational variables are essentially cesses. The low total heat input to the workpiece
constant, but not necessarily optimum . The noticeably minimizes weld joint distortion. Here
depth-to-width ratio is also critically dependent again, the high and medium vacuum modes are
upon base metal physical properties, such as the most advantageous, although the nonvacuum
Characteristics of Welds /179

mode offers some notable advantages over con-

ventional arc welding processes.
Because the high power density produces
welds that are not controlled by thermal con-
duction, metals of significantly different thermal
conductivities can be welded together. In weld-
ing a joint between two pieces of different thick-
ness, the unequal heat loss due to the difference
in mass is not a significant problem. Also, fusion
can be accomplished without significant need for
heat sinks that would be required for arc welding.
The beam energy is usually concentrated on the
thick section at the joint, and the power is ad-
justed for penetration through the thin section.
Arc welding procedures often require the
use of preheat for thick sections of a metal hav-
ing a high thermal conductivity, such as alumi-
num or copper. Little or no preheat is required
for electron beam welding high conductivity
metals with the available power density.
Reactive and refractory metals are detri-
mentally affected by very small amounts of
gaseous contaminants, such as oxygen, nitrogen,
and hydrogen. However, these metals may be
electron beam welded without introducing these
Fig. 5.9-Single-p~ss electron be~m weld
contaminants. Such metals include tungsten,
in a 4-in. thick c~rbon steel section
molybdenum, columbium, tantalum, zirconium,

Pressure, torr
211 158 105 54 0.6 10 ..

'. .
;~.J '" ' .. ·-· , ... -
if;~ '•' I •

Atmospheric pressure
(760 torr)

Fig. 5.10-Eiectron beam weld profile change with increasing ambient pressure
when all other operating variables are essentially constant

and titanium. The high vacuum mode of welding Since the electron beam welding process is
is the most suitable one for joining these metals. capable of producing weld metal with a width as
The other two modes offer decreasing weld per- small as 1/10 or 1/20 of the thickness of the
formance capabilities, although they still permit part, the process is ideally suited to weld com-
satisfactory application in select cases. ponents of a critical nature or components that
Although electron beam welding is a high must utilize maximum material and design
power density process, it is also a low energy allowances.
process. That is, the energy required to weld a The weld metal geometry produced by this
joint of a given thickness is considerably less than process can be used to control distortion in weld-
that required by more conventional arc welding ments. In this type of weld (Fig. 5.8 [left]), the
processes. Two advantages can result from the weld metal is essentially parallel-sided except
low energy input: First, it minimizes distortion where the electron beam first impinges on the
and reduces the size of the weld heat-affected top surface of the abutted members. Contraction
zones. Second, the high cooling rates associated of the metal during cooling is fairly uniform
with narrow electron beam welds can affect through the joint. When the weld metal has a
metallurgical reactions, such as phase changes. characteristic V-shape, as in arc welding, there
However, the fundamental rules of metallurgy is significant warpage from unequal thermal con-
regarding cooling rates and the resulting micro- traction across the joint.
structure still apply. The weld metal will have Since the electron beam can penetrate
mechanical properties normally associated with through extremely thick sections, beveling or
the bulk properties of the microstructure. chamfering one or both edges of abutting mem-
Another aspect of electron beam welding bers is not necessary. However, closer machin-
involves the control of the process. Accurate ing tolerances may be required for electron
control of the electron beam has always per- beam welding than for arc welding.
mitted a high degree of reliability and the result In medium vacuum welding, weld metal
is reproducible welding. At present, incorpora- cross sectjon configurations are similar to those
tion of minicomputers and microprocessors of high vacuum welding, but the depth-to-width
offers additional control of the welding condi- ratios are somewhat smaller. With nonvacuum
tions. electron beam welding, the weld bead may be
Control of the environment where welding as wide as a typical gas tungsten arc weld. The
is taking place can affect the composition of the weld metal may possess all the characteristics of
weld metal. Electron beam welding in a high that produced by the more conventional welding
vacuum will permit gases to escape and high processes if insufficient power or large gun-to-
vapor pressure metals to evaporate. At the other work distances are employed. However, at high
pressure extreme, nonvacuum electron beam power and speed, depth-to-width ratios on the
welding in air may increase the nitrogen and order of 5 to I are feasible with the nonvacuum
oxygen in the weld metal. welding mode.

Electron beam welding equipment is class- more vacuum pumping systems, and a power
ified as high vacuum, medium vacuum, and supply. High and medium vacuum equipment
nonvacuum, depending upon the environment operate with the work in an evacuated welding
in which welding takes place. All three types chamber. Although the work does not need to be
employ an electron beam gun column, one or placed in an evacuated welding chamber for
Equipment /181

nonvacuum electron beam welding, a vacuum major design effort must be given to the proper
environment must be provided for the electron electrode configuration, and, hence, beam-
beam gun column portion of the system. shaping, careful attention also must be paid to the
All three modes of welding can be per- emitter portion. The emitter may be either (1) a
formed with high voltage equipment. The gun directly (resistance) heated wire or ribbon type
column may be fixed in position or have limited filament or (2) a rod or disc type filament indi-
movement. Low voltage equipment is only suit- rectly heated by an auxilliary source, such as
able for high and medium vacuum operations. electron bombardment or induction heating. The
With high vacuum, the gun may be fixed in choice of emitter design will affect the charac-
position on the chamber or be mobile inside teristics of the final beam spot produced on
the chamber. With medium vacuum, the gun the work.
must be fixed in position on the chamber. Only self-accelerated guns, similar to the
A mobile, low voltage gun column can Pierce and Steigerwald telefocus gun configura-
usually be moved in they and z directions during tions, are used for electron beam welding. They
operation while the work carriage moves in the have superior focusing and power capabilities,
x direction. Gun movement is achieved by action and also permit placing the gun anode and work-
of the welding operator or by automatic pro- piece at earth ground potential.
gramming. The Pierce gun originally was designed as
a diode configuration capable of producing a
rapidly converging beam with the primary focal
ELEORON BEAM GUNS point close to the anode. Beam divergence was
In general, electron beam welding guns are uniform thereafter. The Steigerwald telefocus
operated in the space-charge-limited condition. gun was designed as a triode configuration which
If the gun is operated in this condition, the beam produced a gradually converging beam with the
current produced at any accelerating voltage is primary focal point some distance from the
proportional to the 3/2 power of the accelerating anode. Current designs of Pierce and telefocus
voltage (I = KV3/2 ), where the constant of pro- type guns are modifications of the original de-
portionality, K, is a function of gun geometry. sign configurations. Present day reference to use
Besides acceleration voltage, a broad range of a Pierce or telefocus type gun in any partic-
of conditions must be satisfied if an electron ular type of electron beam equipment generally
gun is to deliver the required power and power indicates only whether a low voltage diode gun
density. Design, configuration, emitter charac- or a high voltage triode gun is being employed.
teristics, total power capabilities, and focusing When a change in beam current is desired
provisions contribute to optimum gun character- at a given accelerating voltage in a diode gun,
istics. For a given metal and joint thickness, mechanical change of the cathode-to-anode
characteristically narrow welds can be made if spacing of the gun is necessary. This changes
(1) sufficient beam power is available to permit the proportionality constant, K, of the gun.
rapid travel speed, and (2) the beam power den- Several spacers are supplied by the manufacturer
sity is great enough to develop and continuously to provide a wide range of operating conditions.
maintain a vapor hole to the depth of penetra- Operation with the proper spacer permits ade-
tion required. quate beam power, beam spot size, and control
An electron beam gun generates, accel- sensitivity. Diode guns can also be operated in
erates, and focuses a beam of electrons. The the temperature-limited condition: that is, the
components of a gun can logically be divided beam current at a given voltage is determined by
into two categories: (1) the elements necessary controlling the power to, and thus the temper-
for the generation of free electrons (the emitter ature of, the electron emitter. Electron emis-
portion) and (2) the field-shaping elements for sion is related to both emitter temperature and
the production of a useful beam (the beam- accelerating voltage.
shaping electrode and the anode). Although The triode type gun is similar to the diode

gun except that the beam-shaping electrode similar quality welds in most metals. However,
("grid cup") is biased with a variable negative differences in weld geometry can exist because
voltage relative to the emitter. This makes it one system operates with low voltage and high
possible to easily vary the beam current at any amperage and the other with high voltage and
constant accelerating voltage; thus, both the low amperage. High voltage equipment is the
accelerating voltage and beam current can be only suitable type for nonvacuum electron beam
varied independently within limits. welding applications.
Full control of beam current with a bias High voltage equipment requires special in-
voltage permits rapid change in beam current. sulating techniques that limit the mobility of the
Electronic switching circuits in some equipment electron beam gun. Although for some applica-
provide rapid pulsing of the beam. Beam cur- tions a sliding vacuum seal permits limited move-
rent pulsing can minimize heat input and yet ment, the gun is usually fixed on the welding
produce deep weld penetration, but it is not chamber. Low voltage guns may be mounted on
used extensively for welding. Accurate control the chamber in fixed position or on a travel car-
of current slope rates to and from welding power riage inside the chamber for mobile operation.
level may be extremely useful in many appli-
All guns focus the electron beam to a small
spot on the workpiece with an electromagnetic The power supply of an electron beam
lens. Furthermore, the beam can be oscillated welding machine is an assembly of at least one
in a repetitive or nonrepetitive manner by means main power supply plus one or more auxiliary
of a suitable set of magnetic deflection coils and power supplies. It produces high voltage power
controls. The coils are positioned immediately for the gun and auxiliary power for the emitter
below the electromagnetic focusing lens where and beam control. Depending upon whether a
they can deflect the electron beam from its nor- diode type or a triode type of gun is used, the
mal axial position. Simultaneous use of two high voltage power supply consists of two or
sets of deflection coils at 90 degrees allows the more ofthe following components:
formation of the classical lissajous figures on (I) A main high voltage de power source
the work surface. Sinusoidal beam deflection that delivers the electron beam accelerating
perpendicular to the direction of welding permits voltage and the total beam current
broadening of the weld bead to simplify manual (2) An emitter power supply with either ac
tracking of weld seams. Circular and elliptical or de output
deflection tends to reduce weld porosity. More (3) An electrode bias supply that impresses
complex deflection patterns may be employed to a voltage between the emitter and the bias elec-
enhance penetration and improve weld quality. trode (grid cup) to control beam current
Electron beam welding guns are designed (4) Special electronic supplies, such as a
for either low voltage or high voltage operation. beam pulser or a beam current regulator
Low voltage guns operate below 60 kV and are The main high voltage power source and
generally modified Pierce types. High voltage the auxiliary power supplies are frequently
guns operate above 60 kV and are generally the placed together in a common oil-filled tank. A
modified telefocus types. Similar power levels high purity, electrical grade transformer oil
are available with either low or high voltage serves both as an electrical insulating medium
guns. Beam power is the product of the accel- and as a heat transfer agent to carry heat from
erating voltage and the beam current. Therefore, the electrical components to the tank walls. The
operation at high voltage requires less beam components are typically supported from the
current than operation at low voltage for equiv- cover plate of the tank so that they can be re-
alent power. In general, the use of either low moved from the tank with the cover plate. The
voltage or high voltage equipment in high or oil. need not be removed except for periodic
medium vacuum applications will produce filtering or replacement.
Equipment /183

Another high voltage insulating material, desired quality of beam focus. Excessive volt-
used infrequently in a power supply, is sulfur age ripple will produce undesirable ripple in the
hexafluoride gas at a pressure of 45 psi. A power beam current that may be reflected in weld qual-
supply with this gas insulation is considerably ity. Therefore, maximum ripple voltage is usually
more compact and lighter than an oil-insulated one percent or less.
unit ofthe same rating. The inherent decrease in output voltage
The components in both the main high volt- with increasing load is typically in the range of
age power supply and the auxiliary supplies are 15 to 20 percent. Various controls and regulators
primarily transformers, diodes (rectifiers), are used to compensate for this voltage decrease
capacitors, and resistors. Electron tube diodes and to minimize the effects of line voltage varia-
were initially used in the main power supply tions as well as the effects of temperature and
by some manufacturers, but solid-state diodes, other factors influencing the output voltage.
either selenium or silicon, are usually em- Sophisticated controls are designed to eliminate
ployed now. Cost, regulation, physical size, and all of the effects mentioned and to maintain a
ability to absorb transients of voltage and cur- stable accelerating voltage to within I percent of
rent are some of the considerations affecting the the selected value. Other less costly controls
choice of components. eliminate only some of the effects and are ade-
quate for less critical applications. Some of the
Main High Voltage Power Source
controls used, in approximate order of increasing
This unit converts three-phase line power sophistication and performance, include:
to high voltage de power for the electron beam (I) Line voltage regulator (constant voltage
gun. Common power ratings are in the range of transformer)
3 to 35 kW; the maximum is 60 kW Units are (2) Servo-operated variable transformer
designed to provide the output voltage and beam with feed-back from the high voltage output
current for a particular electron beam gun type (3) Motor-generator with electronic exciter
(high or low voltage). Typical machine ratings and feedback from the high voltage output
are given in Table 5 .I. (4) Electronic regulation with both current
The requirements for maximum voltage and voltage feedback available
ripple in the de output vary depending upon the Emitter Power Supply
Directly heated wire or ribbon emitters are
typically formed in a hairpin-like shape. The
Typical electron beam welding heating current can be either ac or de. Direct
machine ratings
current is preferred because the magnetic field
Rating, Output created by the heating current can influence the
kW kV,max rnA, max direction of the beam. The cyclic nature of ac
1.25 25 50 heating will cause the beam spot to oscillate
3 30 100 with a small, but significant, amplitude about a
3 60 50 fixed point.
6 30 200
7.5 150 50 Since the magnitude of any such magnetic
9 30 300 effect will increase with the amount of heating
15 30 500 current employed, it is necessary to use filtering
15 60 250 even with de heating currents to reduce any
15 150 100
100 ripple to 3 percent or lower.
17.5 175
25 175 144 Current and voltage ratings of a filament
30 60 500 power supply depend upon the type and size of
35 150 230 directly heated filament used. For 0.020-in.
35 200 175 diameter tungsten wire filaments, the supply
60 175 345
would be rated for 30A at 20V. Ribbon type

filaments are employed to provide a much larger across the coil changes with temperature varia-
emitting area than that of a wire type filament. tions.
Ribbons require power supplies rated for higher Beam deflection coils are also powered by
currents and lower voltages (30 to 70A at 5 to solid-state devices. Two sets of coils at 90 de-
IOV). grees are usually placed at the base of the gun
Indirectly heated emitters are also in com- column for x andy deflection of the beam. Pro-
mon use. Here, an auxiliary source of either the gramming of the power sources for the two sets
bombardment or inductive type is used to indi- of coils can provide beam movement along
rectly heat the gun emitter to electron emission either axis or both axes simultaneously. Geo-
temperatures. The power supplies, therefore, metric beam patterns (circle, ellipse, square, and
differ from those employed with directly heated rectangle) can be produced by electronic control.
filaments. A typical rating of a power supply for The ripple on the de input to both the deflection
an auxiliary electron gun that heats a disc emitter coils and the electromagnetic lens must be low
by bombardment would be 100 to 200 rnA at to minimize any adverse effects of beam insta-
several kilovolts. bility on weld quality.

Bias Voltage Supply

The bias voltage supply for a triode type
Vacuum pumping systems are required for
gun is usually designed to give complete control
evacuation of the electron beam gun chamber,
of beam current from zero to maximum. To do
the work chamber for high and medium vacuum
this, the de power supply applies a variable
modes, and the orifice assembly at the exit of the
voltage on the beam-shaping electrode (grid
gun column for medium vacuum and non vacuum
cup), negative with respect to the emitter. A
welding. Two basic types of vacuum pumps are
voltage in the range of 1500 to 2000V is needed
used in these systems. One is a mechanical piston
to cut off the beam current. For maximum beam
or vane type used to obtain a pressure ~eduction
current, the voltage requirement decreases to the
from I atmosphere to about 0 .I torr. For medium
200 to 300V range. As with the high voltage
vacuum welding, these mechanical pumps are
power supply, the bias supply must also pro-
generally operated in conjunction with a Roots
duce well-filtered voltage that does not intro-
type blower, another kind of mechanical pump.
duce more than one percent ripple in the beam
The other type is an oil diffusion pump used to
reduce the pressure to J0· 4 torr or lower. The
Some electron beam equipment uses a self-
sequencing of these pumps to produce the needed
biasing system. The bias voltage is derived par-
vacuum can be accomplished by either manual
tially from the main accelerating voltage through
or automatic operation of valves in the system.
a voltage divider, and partially from the voltage
In commercial electron beam welding equip-
across a series resistor in the main power circuit.
ment, automatic valve sequencing is virtually
This system does not have a separate bias supply
per se.
The vacuum system for an electron beam
Electromagnetic Lens and Deflection gun chamber consists of a mechanical roughing
Coil Power Supplies pump and a diffusion pump. A similar system
is used to evacuate the work chamber in the
The electromagnetic lens (focusing coil) is high vacuum mode of operation. In both these
generally powered by a constant current power cases, the system may be ducted to the chamber
source of solid-state design. The strength of the through a water- or liquid nitrogen-cooled (op-
magnetic field is directly related to the current tically dense) baffle, if necessary, to minimize
flowing through the coil. The current provided backstreaming of diffusion pump oil into the
to the coil must remain constant for consistent chambers. A combination diffusion and mechan-
beam spot size, even when the voltage drop ical pumping system is shown in Fig. 5 .II.
Equipment /185

The vacuum pumping system can be Cryogenic traps, such as liquid nitrogen
mounted on the same base as the vacuum cham- (LN), are not usually used on electron beam
ber and connected with rigid ducting, except for welding systems unless pressures of I0- 6 torr or
the mechanical roughing pump. The roughing lower are required.
pump is connected to the system with a flexible For medium vacuum welding, the work
tube to minimize vibration ofthe welding cham- chamber is evacuated with a mechanical vacuum
ber. A large diameter vacuum valve isolates the pumping system of high capacity. The types
diffusion pump from the chamber during the and sizes of mechanical pumps used in the sys-
roughing portion of the pumping cycle. A small tem will depend upon the work chamber size,
mechanical pump holds the isolated diffusion the workload, and the desired production rate.
pump at low pressure. Automatic evacuation cycles are used to enhance
The roughing and diffusion pumping pe- high speed production capability.
riods are normally controlled by automatic se- With nonvacuum welding equipment, the
quencing of pneumatic or electric vacuum valves. electron beam gun chamber is evacuated with a
Automatic evacuation cycles are accomplished combination mechanical-diffusion pumping sys-
with pressure-sensing relays that activate the tem. The various pressure stages in the orifice
appropriate valves in the preprogrammed se- assembly through which the electron beam exits
quence. The control units are designed to protect from the gun are pumped with a series of me-
the vacuum system in case of accidental pressure chanical vacuum pumps.
rise in the chamber. The evacuation process and its rate depend

Vacuum Exhaust



Valves Vacuum sensors

V-1 - high vacuum S-1 - ion type
V-2 - roughing S-2 - thermocouple type
V-3 - backing S-3 - thermocouple type
V-4 - holding S-4 - thermocouple type
V-5 - vacuum release S-5 - ion type
V-6 - vacuum release

Fig. 5.11-V~cuum pumping system for high v~cuum oper~tion


upon the capacities of the pumps, the work and of the weld seam. It is used for setup opera-
fixturing load, the size of the chamber, and tions, inspection of the weld, alignment of the
the total leakage rate of the system. The total weld joint with respect to the electron beam,
leakage rate is the increase in chamber pressure and positioning of the gun to center the sharply
per unit of time attributed to both real leaks and focused electron beam on the weld seam.
virtual leaks in the system. Closed-circuit television is used to provide
Real leaks are actual holes or voids in the a better viewing system. It may have both a
chamber capable of passing air or gas. A virtual light source and a television camera mounted
leak is the semblance of a real leak being present in a serviceable location outside the chamber.
somewhere in the vacuum system resulting from An optical protection system is mounted inside
the outgassing of adsorbed or occluded gases the chamber to shield the viewing equipment
on the interior surfaces of the system when under from metal splatter and metal vapor deposition.
vacuum. For satisfactory system operation, no The closed-circuit television system permits
in-leakage (real leaks) should be detectable continuous monitoring of welds and minimum
when a helium mass spectrometer leak detector, exposure to the intense light from the weld.
having a sensitivity of I x 10"7 standard cm'/s Computer control and numerical control
of helium, is employed to leak-check the system.> are available for automatic programming of
A customary limiting value for an acceptable beam power and travel speed as a function of
rise rate test is in the range of l to 2 X I0- 2 torr gun position.
per hour, averaged over a 10-hour test pe-
riod. This test is conducted by isolating the
chamber to be tested from the pumping sys- HIGH VOLTAGE SYSTEMS
tem (without exposing it to atmosphere)
High voltage electron beam systems oper-
immediately after a four-hour preparatory
ate above 60 kV. The equipment is designed
pumpdown of the chamber. The 10-hour
to operate at voltages between 100' kV and
period starts when the vacuum level reaches
200 kV, with beam powers of up to 100 kW.
I XIO"' torr.
The electron beam gun of a high vacuum
welding machine is housed in an external
LOW VOLTAGE SYSTEMS vacuum chamber mounted on top of the welding
chamber with either stationary or sliding vacuum
Work chambers of low voltage machines
seal, as shown in Fig. 5.12. In the latter case,
are usually made of carbon steel plate. The
motion of the gun is limited to they axis, with
thickness of the plate is designed to provide both
x axis motion provided by the weldment car-
adequate x-ray protection and the structural
riage. Other motions, such as z axis movement,
strength necessary to withstand atmospheric
are provided by special jigging of the work.
pressure. Lead shielding may be required in
Computer- and numerically-controlled electron
certain areas of the chamber to ensure total
beam power and travel speed are also available.
radiation tightness ofthe system.
The external location of the gun reduces
The weldment inside the chamber may be
its maneuverability, but provides ready access
observed by direct viewing through leaded glass
to the gun components for service. This arrange-
windows. However, the effectiveness of this
ment also provides the operator with a view of
technique depends upon the distance between
the beam spot and the weld through optics that
the operator and the weld joint and the shape
are coaxial with the electron beam (Fig. 5.12).
of the workpieces. When direct viewing is diffi-
A view through a coaxial optical system is
cult, an optical viewing system may be pro-
shown in Fig. 5.13. In addition, direct viewing
vided to give the operator a magnified view
is provided through lead glass windows in the
chamber walls.
2. See ASTM E498 for a description of this method Work chambers for this equipment are usu-
of leak testing. ally carbon steel boxes of ribbed design with
Equipment /187



lens ------;::::===~~


- T o vacuum

Fig. 5.12-A typical high voltage electron beam welding machine


an external cladding of lead for adequate x-ray SEAM TRACKING METHODS

Nonvacuum electron beam welding ma- With electron beam welding, as with other
chines do not require a vacuum chamber around automatic welding processes, it is important that
the workpiece. The gun column may be fixed the relative positions of the beam spot and
atop an x-radiation shielding box containing the weld joint be established accurately prior to
the workpiece and travel carriage. Another ar- initiation of the welding cycle. This .relation-
rangement is to place the gun column and the ship must then be accurately maintained through-
workpiece in an x-ray shielded room where both out the entire welding cycle. This total require-
the gun and workpiece may be traversed. The ment is somewhat complicated in electron beam
equipment is operated remotely from outside welding because (1) the beam spot is very small
the room. and produces a relatively narrow weld bead; (2)

Fig. 5.13-A sighting on an electronic component through a coaxial

optical system of a high voltage electron beam gun

welding is performed at relatively high travel beam-to-joint alignment is desirable. Direct

speeds; and (3) the workpiece is contained in a optical viewing of welding and manual correc-
vacuum chamber or radiation enclosure making tion for deviations in the joint path is, at best,
continuous observation of welding somewhat a difficult task, although some equipment is
difficult. utilized in this fashion.
As previously mentioned, most high vac- There are two methods for maintaining
uum electron beam machines are equipped with beam position on a nonlinear joint. The first
some type of viewing system that permits the involves programming by analog means or con-
operator to observe the weld joint and the beam tinuous path numerical controls. This method
spot. The initial correct position of the electron is applicable if the parts are machined pre-
beam in relation to the joint can easily be estab- cisely to the required contour and are accurately
lished with a viewing system. On medium vac- positioned for welding.
uum and nonvacuum machines, where operator A second method for tracking the joint is
viewing of some sort is not normally provided, an adaptive electromechanical control. This
this initial beam-to-joint alignment is accom- control uses a tracking device that follows the
plished through precise handling (tooling and weld joint and signals the control to adjust the
fix turing) of the part. work or gun position to keep the beam on the
For welding long or slightly irregular joints, joint. Two seam tracking devices that employ
a m eans for automatically maintaining proper the same electrical circuitry and are quickly
Equipment /189

interchanged to accomplish various tracking the electron beam column centerline. From the
requirements are the stylus and contour types. oscilloscope display, the operator can tell quickly
The stylus type seam tracking system is and precisely the position of the electron beam
based on a probe, or stylus, that rides in the column centerline with respect to the joint. From
joint. Lateral (cross seam) movements of the this information, necessary adjustments can be
probe, resulting from a change in joint position, made to assure proper positioning of the elec-
are converted to electrical signals by a trans- tron beam with respect to the joint. Excessive
ducer. The electrical signals drive a positioning weld joint gap and runout are also easily detected
servomotor that maintains preset alignment of with this system.
the joint-to-gun focus. The electrical signals All of the above seam tracking devices
from this system define a right-error, a left- can be used in conjunction with a record-and-
error, and the null or correct gun position. Al- playback device that allows the joint to be traced
ternatively, the electron beam can be deflected and its location recorded. Then the joint can be
electronically to accommodate changes in the welded using playback programmed control of
location of the joint. the beam or work position.
A simple modification of the stylus type
seam tracking system permits the edge welding
of certain types of assemblies by using the WORK HANDLING EQUIPMENT
weldment as a cam. A preloaded ball type stylus Once the relative positions of the electron
rides against the edge of the weldment as it is beam and the weld joint are established, it is
rotated or driven linearly. In some cases, the important that this relationship be maintained
device may trace a replica of the joint con- during the entire welding operation. Therefore,
figuration. As a proximity control to accommo- the work motion mechanisms must be accurate
date changes in vertical position of the weld and well defined. Their design and manufacture
joint, the system is modified to maintain a should follow good machine tooling practices.
constant gun-to-work distance by applying the Ruggedness, repeatability, smoothness, and ac-
tracking signal to a servomotor drive on the curacy are prime requirements. Since travel
z axis. speed affects weld geometry, it is important
An electronic seam-locating system is also that this variable be controlled accurately and be
available to provide seam tracking capability repeatable. In general, electric motor drives
that can be used in a two-step operation. The having an accuracy of about ± 2 percent of set
first step is to visually verify that the weld speed are adequate.
joint and weld travel direction are parallel with Most electron beam welding machines pro-
the workpiece clamped into position. This is a vide standard mechanisms for linear and rotary
mechanical adjustment of the fixturing in the motion of the workpiece relative to the electron
welding chamber. beam. Linear motion in the horizontal plane is
The vacuum chamber is then closed and usually provided either by movement of a work
evacuated to the welding pressure. A finely fo- table or by movement of the electron gun. Rotary
cused electron beam of less than I rnA is aimed motion about a vertical axis is achieved with a
at the weld joint and oscillated across the joint motor-driven horizontal rotary table. Machines
at 60Hz. The reflected electrons from this scan- can be equipped with an external platform so that
ning beam are deflected by a pickup plate, anq the work table and any work-handling mecha-
the resulting signal is displayed as a visible nisms can be withdrawn from the vacuum cham-
trace on an oscilloscope. A discontinuity in the ber for ease of loading and fixturing.
oscilloscope line trace indicates the seam loca- Figure 5.14 shows an x-y work table on its
tion, which is used for the initial electron beam external platform. An adjustable (0 to 90 degree)
column centerline-to-joint alignment. Any shift rotary work positioner and tailstock are mounted
in the discontinuity position relative to a null on the table. Rotary motion about the horizontal
location, when traversing the weld joint, indi- axis can be accomplished with the rotary posi-
cates a change in joint position with respect to tioner and tailstock. The positioner is power-

Fig. 5. 14-An X-Y work table with a rotary positioner on the run-out platform
of the electron beam welding machine

driven. Simple linear, rotary, and circular welds cult to rotate the entire piece about the center of
can be made with these mechanisms. the weld.
It is often desirable to produce circular Multiple-spindle rotary fixtures are fre-
welds in several parts as a single load in the quently used to make circumferential welds in a
chamber. In this case, the components are ar- group of similar parts. The parts are successively
ranged on an eccentric table that travels in a indexed into welding position by a motor drive.
circular manner. The circle diameter can be The joint on each part can be positioned for
changed by a simple adjustment of the table. The welding by linear movement of the work table
eccentric table is positioned on the work table. on which the rotary fixture is mounted. It is
Each piece in turn is moved into position, and possible to automate the entire operation. An
the circular weld motion is made with the ec- example of a special purpose rotary fixture is
centric table. Programmed indexing from piece shown in Fig. 5.15.
to piece can be added. This eccentric table can Since all operating variables of electron
be used for single circular welds in large or odd- beam welding are machine controlled, this pro-
shaped pieces where it is inconvenient or diffi- cess is readily adaptable to computerized nu-
Equipment /191

merical control. Movement of the workpieces beam welding is basically a modification of

or the gun, as well as electron beam deflection, standard high vacuum equipment. A diffusion
can be preprogrammed in any combination. pump and an "aperture" tube (an orifice that
The beam current itself is also programmable. allows beam passage, but impedes gas flow) are
It can be changed from one discrete level to added to the beam column. A column valve is
another, or changed at a specified rate. Other used to isolate this separately pumped gun
variables, such as accelerating voltage, emitter region from the work chamber region, so that the
power, and chamber pressure as well as auxili- gun remains under vacuum when the chamber
ary functions, can be part of the program for is vented to atmosphere. Once a part is in place,
either control or monitoring. Electron beam the work chamber is rapidly pumped down to
welding systems use this computerization capa- some medium vacuum level and then the column
bility for contour welding of intricately-shaped valve is opened. In this manner, a high vacuum
parts, or for monitoring the welding variables of of JQ-4 torr or better is always maintained in the
parts requiring precise process control. beam-generating section of the column, but the
beam can be impinged on the workpiece in its
medium vacuum environment. Low and high
MEDIUM VACUUM EQUIPMENT voltage systems are produced for this mode of
Equipment for medium vacuum electron General purpose medium vacuum machines,

Fig. 5.15-A loaded rotary welding fixture in location beneath the

electron beam gun

Fig. 5.16-A general purpose medium vacuum electron beam welding


such as the one in Fig. 5.16, are employed ad- Another method for achieving high produc-
vantageously in short production runs. How- tion with medium vacuum equipment is shown
ever, most medium vacuum machines are special in Fig. 5 .18. Here, a sliding seal is used to
purpose ones tooled for particular assemblies. provide intermediate vacuum zones before and
Figure 5.17 illustrates some typical medium after the separately pumped medium vacuum
vacuum tooling concepts. In each case, the welding chamber. This method of maintaining a
work chamber and tooling are an integral assem- series of continuously pumped vacuum zones
bly, specifically designed for a single part design. eliminates the need for evacuation time and en-
Medium vacuum welding machines of a ables the high production capability of a dial
great variety are in operation for high produc- feed table to be fully utilized.
tion applications . For example, a machine with
a single welding station and multiple loading
stations can have production capability in the
region of 200 parts per hour. A dual welding A beam of electrons passing through a
station machine, on the other hand, could in- gas is primarily scattered by the shell electrons
crease the production capability up to 500 parts of the gas atoms or molecules. As the gas pres-
per hour. The production rates in the final an- sure increases, scattering becomes more severe
alysis are dependent upon the design of the parts. (Fig . 5.4). This effect produces a noticeable
Equipment /193

broadening of the beam profile and a decrease in ocity (accelerating voltage) must be high to
beam power density, but not necessarily a loss minimize the scattering effect of the gas atoms
in total beam power. or molecules.
An electron beam must be generated in high A series of chambers operating at succes-
vacuum. To weld with the beam at atmospheric sively higher pressures is obtained by staging
pressure, the beam must pass through a series of (differentially pumping) the vacuum over some
chambers or stages operating at progressively finite length with an orifice system through
higher pressures. In addition, the electron vel- which the electron beam passes. The orifice sys-

Part being

Carriage assembly

Ball joint assembly

Diaphragm assembly Housing assembly

Fig. 5.17-Typical tooling concepts in special purpose medium vacuum

electron beam welding machines

Automatic unload

To vacuum


Fig. 5.18-A medium vacuum electron beam welding system with a

prepumping zone for continuous part feed capability

tern design must be capable of producing not trode of the gun. The beam is focused by an
only the atmospheric-to-high vacuum gradient electromagnetic lens to the minimum diameter
required, but also the type of gas dynamic char- of the orifice system shown in the lower part of
acteristics needed in this type of staging system. the figure. It emerges from the vacuum environ-
A beam of relatively high speed electrons is ment into air at atmospheric pressure through the
produced with high accelerating voltage; about lower orifice. Inert gas shielding can be added,
150 kV minimum is required to produce a prac- if desired. The workpiece is placed near the
tical working distance between the final orifice lower orifice. A high vacuum is maintained
and the workpiece. In addition, the beam power continuously in the gun area during operation by
level and the ambient atmosphere through which an oil diffusion or turbomolecular pump. Higher
the beam passes can greatly influence the useful pressures are maintained in the interim pressure
working distance attainable. stages by mechanical pumps. In most cases, the
Figure 5.19 illustrates a nonvacuum elec- work is moved in front of the gun column. The
tron beam gun column assembly with an orifice gun can be placed in either a vertical or a hori-
system. The electron gun is typical of those used zontal position. The welding area must be
for the other variations of electron beam weld- shielded to prevent external x-radiation as with
ing. Accelerating voltages are in the range of high vacuum and medium vacuum modes.
150 to 200 kV. Beam current and, thus, power Figure 5. 20 shows another type of non-
are controlled by the voltage on the bias elec- vacuum electron beam welding gun column and
Equipment /195

its power supply and controls. This particular column assembly during operation. The gun and
type features a gas-filled, high voltage power power supply can be traversed along a weld
supply that can be mounted directly on the gun joint during operation.

Cable socket
and insulator ---r-..._--11~--1


First stage
pumping line

External airjet

Fig. 5.19-A nonvacuum electron beam gun column assembly


Fig. 5.20-Nonvacuum electron beam gun column and its gas-filled

power source, disassembled



Butt, corner, lap, edge, and T-joints can be For most applications, the fit-up of parts
made by electron beam welding using square- must be more precise than for arc welding pro-
groove or seam welds. Fillet welds are difficult cesses. This is due to the very small diameter of
to make and are not generally used. Typical the electron beam as compared to a welding arc.
electron beam weld joint designs are shown in ' The beam must impinge on and melt both mem-
Fig. 5.21. Modifications of these designs are bers simultaneously, except for seam welds
frequently made for a particular application. where the beam penetrates through the top sheet.
Square-groove welds require fixturing to Also, in most cases, filler metal is not needed
maintain fit-up and alignment of the joint. They to fill a joint gap or provide reinforcement to the
can be self-aligning if a rabbet joint design is weld. To avoid underfill or incomplete fusion,
used. The weld metal area can be increased joints must be carefully prepared to provide
using a scarf joint, but fit-up and alignment of good fit-up and alignment.
the joint are more difficult than with a square- A metal-to-metal fit between parts is de-
groove weld. Edge, seam, and lap fillet welds sirable but difficult to obtain. Normally, the gap
are primarily used to join sheet gage thicknesses. or opening between the faying surfaces should
Welding Procedures /197

Electron beam
Electron beam
~ ~

~ I
I.... ____ j I
L - - -......


! __,

Square-groove weld, Square-groove weld,

butt or corner joint self-aligning butt or
corner joint

Electron beam

Scarf butt joint

Edge weld, corner flange joint

Electron beam

D- ""'I""


Square-groove weld, Seam weld, T-joint


Electron beam

Electron beam

---~~"""~ '
Seam weld, Fillet weld, lap joint
lap joint

Fig. 5.21-Typical electron beam weld joint designs


not be more than 0.005 inch. The acceptable gap removed by mechanical or chemical means. Flat
for a particular application will depend upon the surfaces of soft metals, such as magnesium,
process mode employed, the type of base metal, aluminum, and copper, can be scraped by hand.
the thickness of the joint, and the required weld Machining without coolant is preferred for all
quality. In general, sheet sections require a fit-up but very hard metals where grinding must be
of Jess than 0.005 in.; plate sections may tol- used. Surfaces that are not prepared by ma-
erate somewhat more than this amount. Alumi- chining should be chemically cleaned. Wire
num alloys can tolerate somewhat larger gaps brushing is not generally recommended because
than steel. Beam deflection or oscillation with it tends to embed contaminants in the metal sur-
high and medium vacuum welding, to widen face. Grit blasting and grinding are not recom-
the fusion zone, and nonvacuum welding may mended for soft metals, including soft steels,
permit larger gaps. However, the acceptable because the grit may be embedded in the sur-
joint gap and tolerance should be determined faces. Nonvacuum welding will generally re-
for each application to avoid unnecessary costs. quire Jess stringent precleaning than vacuum
In general, roughness of the faying sur- welding.
faces is not critical so long as the surfaces can be
properly cleaned to remove any contamination.
Burrs on the sheared edges of sheet are not detri- FIXTURING
mental unless they separate the faying surfaces All electron beam welding is done by
oflap joints. either machine or automatic operation. The
parts must be fixtured to align the joint, unless
the design is self-fixturing, and then either the
assembly or the electron beam gun column must
Cleanliness is a prime requisite for any be moved to accomplish the weld.
welding process where high standards are to be Where practical, self-fixturing joint de-
met. The particular requirement will depend signs should be used. A pressed or shrink fit
upon the end use of the welded product. Con- can be used to position circular parts for weld-
tamination of the weld metal is likely to cause ing. However, these methods require close
porosity or cracking, or both, as well as a deteri- tolerance machining, which may not be econom-
oration of mechanical properties. Improper ical for high production welding.
cleaning of the components to be welded may Fixturing for electron beam welding does
cause chamber evacuation time to be excessive not have to be as strong and rigid as that re-
with the vacuum modes. quired for automatic arc welding. The reason is
Acetone is a preferred solvent for cleaning that electron beam welds are generally made
electron gun components and workpiece parts, with much lower power than arc welds. There-
but it is highly flammable and must be handled fore, stresses in the weldment caused by ther-
accordingly. Chlorinated hydrocarbon solvents mal gradients are significantly lower.
should not be used because of their detrimental The close joint fit-up and alignment for
effect on high voltage equipment operation. If electron beam welds generally require that the
a vapor degreaser containing a chlorinated hydro- fixturing be made to close tolerances. If nec-
carbon solvent must be used for heavy degreas- essary, copper chill blocks may be used to re-
ing, the parts should be thoroughly washed in move heat from the joint. A backup of the
acetone afterward. Another alternative is to use same metal as the workpieces should be posi-
a fluorocarbon type solvent in the degreaser. tioned at the back side of the weld to protect
Mter final cleaning, the joint area should not the part or fixture from an exiting electron
be touched by hand or tools to avoid contam- beam.
ination. Work tables and rotating positioners should
Surface oxides and other forms of contam- have smooth and accurate motion at the re-
ination that solvents will not dissolve should be quired travel speeds. All fixturing and tooling
Selection of Welding Variables /199

should be made of nonmagnetic metals to pre- metallurgical purposes. Wire feed is not em-
vent magnetic deflection of the beam. All mag- ployed exclusively. The dilution obtained from a
netic metals should be demagnetized before dissimilar filler metal added as wire at the sur-
welding them. face does not occur uniformly to any great
The entry and exit of the electron beam depth. In the case of heavy plate, filler metal
tends to produce underfill at both ends of the in the form of a thin shim must almost always be
welded joint. To minimize or eliminate this employed. The presence of the filler shim re-
defect, tabs of the same metal as the workpieces quires that beam oscillation or a large diameter
are fitted tightly against both ends of the joint. spot be used to melt the shim and the base metal
The beam is initiated on the starting tab, tra- on both sides of the joint. This is not the case with
versed across the weld joint, and terminated thin metal weldments where filler wire can be
on the runoff tab. Later, the tabs are cut added and dilution will occur throughout the en-
off flush with the ends of the workpiece by tire joint. Typical examples of filler metal addi-
machining. tion for metallurgical reasons are the welding of
Type 6061 aluminum alloy using Type 4043 alu-
minum filler metal and the welding of beryllium
When the faying surfaces of butt joints using aluminum or silver filler metal.
are fitted together with acceptable tolerances, Filler metal may be added to fill the joint
filler metal is not normally needed to obtain a during a second pass after the penetration pass
full thickness weld. As welding processes along has been made. This is done to provide a full
the joint, weld metal flows from the leading thickness weld.
edge to the trailing edge of the vapor hole. Filler wire feeding equipment is usually
This action, combined with thermal contraction either a modified version of that used for gas
as welding progresses, usually produces a tungsten arc welding or specially designed units
welded joint free of underfill when proper weld- for use in a vacuum chamber. Filler wire diam-
ing procedures are used. However, there are eters are generally small, 0.020 in. and under.
applications when it is desirable or necessary The wire feeder must be capable of uniformly
to add filler metal to obtain an acceptable feeding small diameter wire into the leading
welded joint. edge of a small molten weld pool. The wire
Filler metal may be added to produce cer- feeding nozzle should be made of a heat-
tain physical or metallurgical characteristics in resistant metal.
the weld metal. Some weld metal characteris- For welding in a vacuum chamber, the
tics that may be altered or improved by filler filler wire drive motor must be sealed in a
metal addition are ductility, tensile strength, vacuum-tight chamber. Otherwise, the motor
hardness, and resistance to cracking. For ex- will contribute significantly to the outgassing
ample, addition of a small amount of alumi- load and increase evacuation time. Provisions
num wire or shim can produce a "killing" for adjustment of the wire feed nozzle to posi-
action in steel, which will reduce porosity. tion the wire with respect to the electron beam
Filler metal is often added to the joint for and the weld joint must be located externally.


The expression most widely accepted for sionis:

the rate of energy input to the workpiece is
joules per inch.3 The equation for this expres- .
Energy mput, J/"m. = -S-
El =-s-
3. Energy input to the weld from a heat source is dis-
cussed inCh. 2, Welding Handbook, Vol. 1, 7th ed., where: E = beam accelerating voltage, V
p.35-6. I = beam current, A

P = beam power, W or J/s Once the required energy input per unit
S = travel speed, in./s length is determined for a given metal thickness,
The above equation and data for welding the travel speed can be selected and the required
various thicknesses of a metal provide for inter- welding power defined or vice versa. The beam
polation of welding variables for that metal by voltage and current can now be selected to
graphical means. A curve relating energy input produce the required power.
per unit length with thickness for a particular The beam size selected will be dependent
family of alloys can be determined from a few upon the desired weld bead geometry. To main-
tests to establish the welding conditions for tain a selected beam spot diameter at the sur-
typical metal thicknesses. Figure 5. 22 shows face of the workpiece, it is necessary to cor-
several such curves. Such graphs are useful to respondingly increase the focus coil current as
determine initial welding power and travel speed the accelerating voltage is increased, since the
settings for a particular alloy and thickness. This beam spot size is a dependent function of the
is possible because of three factors. First, the accelerating voltage. If the accelerating voltage
welding machine settings are usually regulated is maintained constant but the gun-to-work
by closed-loop servocontrols that ensure stability distance is increased, a corresponding decrease
and reproducibility. Second, the adjustment of in focus coil current is necessary to maintain a
each variable is independently controlled, thus selected beam spot diameter at the surface of the
permitting flexibility in selection. Third, there workpiece.
are only four basic variables to adjust: accelerat- Changes in individual welding variables
ing voltage, beam current, travel speed, and will affect the penetration and bead geometry
beam focus. These factors combine to make the as follows:
process of establishing the welding schedule (l) Accelerating Voltage. As the accelerat-
relatively simple. ing voltage is increased, the penetration of the

60 30 0 2 3
Power, kW Thickness, in.

Fis. 5.22-Hi&h v•cuum electron be•m we/dins enersy requirements for

complete penetr•tion welds in sever•/ met•ls •s •
function of joint thickness
Metals Welded/201

weld will also increase. For long gun-to-work and the penetration will decrease.
distances or the production of narrow, parallel- (4) Beam Spot Size. Sharp focus of the
sided welds, the accelerating voltage should be beam will produce a narrow, parallel-sided
increased and the beam current decreased to weld geometry because the effective beam
obtain maximum focal range (see Fig. 5.1). power density will be maximum . Defocusing
(2) Beam Current. As the beam current is the beam, either by overfocusing or by under-
increased, penetration of the weld bead will also focusing, will increase the effective beam diam-
increase. eter and reduce beam power density. This, in
(3) Travel Speed. As the travel speed is in- turn, will tend to produce a shallow or V-shaped
creased, the weld bead will become narrower weld bead. These effects are shown in Fig. 5.23.

\I \I
\ I


! I
Over focus Sharp focus Underfocus

Fig. 5.23-Effect of electron beam focusing on weld bead geometry

and penetration

In general, metals and alloys that can be alloy or of combinations of alloys will depend
fusion welded by other welding processes can upon their metallurgical characteristics, part
also be joined by electron beam welding.• This configurations, joint design, process variation,
includes similar and dissimilar metal combina- and welding procedure.
tions that are metallurgically compatible. The
narrow weld metal geometry and thin heat-
affected zones, especially in the high vacuum STEELS
process mode, favor welded joints with better
Rimmed and Killed Steels
mechanical properties and fewer discontinuities
than arc welded joints . However, electron In rimmed steel, the chemical reaction
beam welds in alloys that are subject to hot that occurs between carbon and oxygen to form
cracking or porosity will likely contain such dis- a gas (CO) will occur in the molten weld pool.
continuities. The weldability of a particular As a result, violent weld pool action, spatter,
and porosity in the weld metal are expected
4. The weldability of various metals is covered in
with this type of steel.
Sec. 4, Metals and Their Weldability, Welding Hand-
book, 6th ed. This section will be revised as Vol. 4, Electron beam welds in rimmed steel can
7th ed. be improved if deoxidizers, such as manganese,

silicon, or aluminum, are incorporated through less steel. The weld metal becomes austenitic
filler metal additions. Deoxidizers can also be during welding and remains austenitic during
added locally to the joint area by painting, cooling. In the more martensitic types, such
spraying, and shim inserts. as 17-4 PH' and 15-5 PH; the low carbon con-
Welding of rimmed steel can also be some- tent precludes formation of hard martensite in the
what enhanced by the proper selection of elec- weld metal and heat-affected zone.
tron beam welding conditions, such as slow Some of the precipitation-hardening stain-
travel speed, to produce a wide and shallow less steels have poor weldability because of their
weld cross section. The conditions should be high phosphorus content. Steels 17-10 P and
selected to provide time for gases to escape HNM are not usually electron beam welded.
from the molten weld metal. Then a weld of
reasonable quality can be obtained, The use of
beam deflection may also be effective in re- ALUMINUM ALLOYS
ducing weld porosity. In general, aluminum alloys that can be
Hardenable Steels readily welded by gas tungsten arc and gas metal
Thick sections of hardenable steels may arc welding can be electron beam welded. Two
crack when electron beam welded without pre- problems that may be encountered in some alloys
heat. Very rapid cooling in the fusion and heat- are hot cracking and porosity.
affected zones will result in the formation of The non-heat treatable series of alloys
hard martensite. The combination of a hard, (1xxx, 3xxx, and 5xxx) can be electron beam
brittle microstructure and residual stresses can welded without difficulty. Welded joints will
cause crack formation. Cracking can be pre- possess mechanical properties similar to an-
vented by preheating, which can be done with nealed base metal.
a defocused electron beam in many applications. The heat treatable alloys (2xxx, 6xxx, and
However, careful programming and monitoring 7xxx) are crack sensitive to varying degrees
are necessary to achieve the proper preheat when electron beam welded. Some may also be
temperature with this method of heating. prone to weld porosity. Aluminum alloy l)rpes
6061-T6 and 6066-T6, which are considered
Stainless Steels difficult alloys to join, can be successfully
welded by the electron beam process. Best re-
Austenitic Stainless Steels. The high cooling
sults with these alloys are obtained by using
rates typical of electron beam welds help to
small amounts of Type 4043 aluminum filler
inhibit carbide precipitation because of the short
time that the steel is in the sensitizing temper-
As-welded joints in 1.5-in. thick l)rpe
ature range.
7075-T651 aluminum alloy exhibit lower me-
Martensitic Stainless Steels. Although these chanical properties than unwelded plate. The low
steels can be welded in almost any heat-treated weld properties are caused by overaging in the
condition, a hard martensitic heat-affected zone heat-affected zone. Postweld solution treating
will result. Hardness and susceptibility to crack- and aging will produce heat-treated properties
ing increase with increasing carbon content and in the welded joint. At high travel speeds, weld
cooling rate. porosity may result from vaporization of certain
elements in the alloy. The high zinc content of
Precipitation-Hardening Stainless Steels.
Type 7075 aluminum alloy is responsible for
These types of steels can, in general, be elec-
vapor formation. At low travel speed, the vapor
tron beam welded to produce good mechanical
has time to escape to the surface before the
properties in the joints. The semiaustenitic types,
weld metal solidifies. Zinc-free aluminum
such as 17-7PH' and PH14-8 Mo; can be welded
alloys can be welded at higher speeds without
as readily as the 18-8 types of austenitic stain-
encountering a severe porosity problem. It is
5. Trademarks advantageous to weld thermally hardened alumi-
Metals We/ded/203

num alloys at high travel speed to minimize the to fabricate a composite structure of thin welded
width of the softer weld and heat-affected zones. sections rather than to weld a single thick sec-
tion. Freedom from impurities such as oxygen,
TITANIUM AND ZIRCONIUM nitrogen, and carbon is important. Alloys of
metals containing rhenium are best suited for
Titanium and zirconium absorb oxygen and welding because they remain ductile at lower
nitrogen rapidly at welding temperatures and temperatures than the pure metals do.
this reduces their ductility. Acceptable levels of
oxygen and nitrogen are quite low. Therefore, DISSIMILAR METALS
these materials and their alloys must be welded
in a relatively inert environment. High vacuum Whether two dissimilar metals or alloys
electron beam welding is best for both metals, can be welded together successfully depends
but medium vacuum and non-vacuum with inert upon their physical properties, such as melting
gas shielding may be acceptable for some titan- points, thermal conductivities, atomic sizes,
ium applications. Most zirconium applications and thermal expansions. Weldability is usually
require welding in a vacuum or inert gas because predicted by empirical experience in this area.
of corrosion resistance requirements. A generalization of weldability can be made by
examining the alloy phase diagram ofthe metals
REFRACTORY METALS to be welded. If intermetallic compounds are
formed by the metals to be joined, the weld
Electron beam welding is an excellent will be brittle.
process for joining the refractory metals because Information on the relative weldability of
the high power density allows the joint to be some dissimilar metals is given elsewhere in the
welded with a minimum of heat input. This is Handbook.6 However, the information must be
important with molybdenum and tungsten be- reviewed in the light of each particular appli-
cause fusion and recrystallization raise the cation with regard to joint restraint and service
ductile-to-brittle transition temperatures of these environment.
metals above room temperature. The short time The problem of metallurgical incompati-
at temperature associated with electron beam bility can sometimes be solved by the use of a
welding minimizes grain growth and other re- filler metal shim or by welding each of the
actions that raise transition temperatures. materials to a compatible transition piece. Ex-
The refractory metals can be divided amples are given in Table 5.2. Thble 5.3 pre-
basically into two groups: rhenium, tantalum, sents a summary of the weldability of various
and columbium (readily welded) and molyb- metal combinations derived from phase diagram
denum and tungsten (difficult to weld). information and accumulated practical experi-
Molybdenum and tungsten can be success- ence.
fully electron beam welded provided the joints 6.Sec. 4, Metals and Their Weldability, Welding
are not restrained during welding. Thin sec- Handbook, 6th ed. This section will be revised as
tions are easy to handle, and it may be better Vol. 4, 7th ed.

Examples of filler metal shims for electron beam welding
Metal A MetalB Filler shim
Thugh pitch copper Thugh pitch copper Nickel
Tough pitch copper Mild steel Nickel
Hastelloy xa SAE 8620 steel 321 stainless steel
304 stainless steel Monel• Hastelloy B 8
A-286 stainless steel SAE4140steel Hastelloy B 8
lnconel713 8 lnconel 713 8 Udimetsoo•
Rimmed steel Rimmed steel Aluminum
a. 1\'adenames

Weldability of dissimilar metal combinations
Aluminum 2 1. Very desirable
(solid solubility in all combinations)
Gold 1 5
2. Probably acceptable
Beryllium 5 2 5 (Complex structures may exist)
Cobalt 3 5 2 5 3. Use with caution
(Insufficient data for proper evaluation)
Copper 2 2 5 2
4. Use with extreme caution
Iron 3 5 2 5 2 2 (No data available)
Magnesium 5 2 5 5 5 5 3 5. Undesirable combinations
(Intermediate compounds formed)
Molybdenum 3 5 2 5 5 3 2 3
Columbium 4 5 4 5 5 2 5 4 1
Nickel 2 5 5 2 5 5 5
Platinum 5 5 I I 5 2 5 1
Rhenium 3 4 4 5 1 3 5 4 5 5 3 2
Tin 2 2 5 3 5 2 5 5 3 5 5 5 3
Thntalum 5 5 4 5 5 3 5 4 5 5 5 5
Titanium 2 5 5 5 5 5 5 3 5 5 5 5
1\mgsten 3 5 4 5 5 3 5 3 1 5 5 3 1 2
Zirconium 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 3 5 5 5 5 5 2 5

e e "e e
.. ="
e .. 8..., -8&l>.= :se" ] "e
" ~ 8. -~ e e e =
! ·a" :9 ..
·a" sc ·a" ...,
.E! 8

• ~ u.E!0 .!:!z ~=
>. &l c. c "'
~ 8 u ,g ::E
i:ii < ~ .~
0 E= ~ E-o

Electron beam welding is primarily used producibility and reliability of electron beam
for two distinctly different types of applications: welding if a high purity environment is not re-
high precision and high production. quired. These desired characteristics permit
High precision applications require that the welding of components in the semifinished or
welding be accomplished in a high purity en- finished condition using both medium and non-
vironment (high vacuum) to avoid contamina- vacuum equipment. Typical examples are gears,
tion by oxygen or nitrogen, or both, and under frames, steering columns, and transmission and
minimum heat effects and maximum reproduci- driveline parts for automobiles; thin-wall tubing;
bility conditions. These types of applications are handsaw and hacksaw blades, and other bimetal
mainly in the nuclear, aircraft, missile, and elec- strip applications. Figure 5.24 shows a bimetal-
tronic industries. 1Ypical products produced in- lic strip welding machine where individual
clude nuclear fuel elements, special alloy jet strips are fed continuously into and out of the
engine components, pressure vessels for rocket weld chamber through a series of pressure zones.
propulsion systems, and hermetically-sealed Nonvacuum electron beam welding has
vacuum devices. found its major application for high volume
High production applications can take ad- production. One example is the automotive in-
vantage of the low heat input and the high re- dustry where nonvacuum welding is employed
Applications /205

for many large volume applications, two of ample. Integrated welding machine/tube mill
which are shown in Figs. 5.25 and 5.26. The units have been built to weld copper or steel
manufacture of welded tubing is another ex- tubing continuously at speeds up to 100ft/min.

Fig. 5.24-A continuous process strip electron beam welding machine

Fig. 5.25-Nonvacuum electron beam welded automotive frame (top)

formed from a welded blank (bottom)

Fig. 5.26-Nonvacuum electTon beam welded toTque conveTteT assembly


INTRODUCTION Unlike a cast ingot, weld metal grains usually

grow from partially melted grains at the fusion
To produce welds that meet the require- line. The phenomenon is called epitaxial solidi-
ments of specifications set forth in the welding fication. The nature of the weld metal structure
industry, it is necessary to exercise good con- is controlled by the size and orientation of the
trol over the three factors that are primarily re- base metal grains and by the thermal gradients
sponsible for electron beam weld quality: (l) in and the shape of the weld pool.
joint preparation, (2) welding procedure, includ- The nature of the stress resulting from
ing provisions for keeping the beam on the fusion welding is also important. Metal immed-
seam, and (3) characteristics of the metals iately adjacent to the moving weld pool is first
being welded. The first two of these are cov- heated; it expands against the restraining forces
ered in other sections ofthis chapter. of the surrounding cold base metal; then it
The third factor relates to the physical cools and contracts. In effect, metal is plasti-
and mechanical properties of the metals being cally deformed (upset) during the heating cycle
welded, as well as to their metallurgical char- and restrained in tension during cooling. A
acteristics. Weld discontinuities of metallurgi- series of residual tensile and compressive
cal origin are cracking and porosity. stresses surround the weld zone, often resulting
Weld zones constitute regions of different in warpage of the welded assembly.
microstructures within the base metal structure. In considering these factors, it would ap-
Weld Quality /207

pear that electron beam welding offers the fol- (7) Lack of fusion
lowing unique characteristics for controlling the The probability of encountering these types
weld joint properties: of discontinuities is more pronounced in weld-
(l) Base metal recrystallization and grain ing thick sections. A knowledge of the causes
growth can be minimized. of the discontinuities and a means of avoiding
(2) Beam oscillation and travel speed can them are essential for the production of high
be used to control the shape of and the tem- quality welds in thick sections. As an example,
perature gradients in the weld pool. in welding thick sections in the horizontal posi-
(3) Low heat inputs result in low thermal tion, holes and porosity can be avoided by
stresses in the base metal and!hence, low dis- tilting the beam axis a few degrees in the plane
tortion. Also, residual stresses are symmetri- of welding. Equally important is a reliable non-
cally distributed due to the characteristic two- destructive testing method, such as ultrasonic
dimensional symmetry (parallel sides) of the inspection, to determine the presence of certain
electron beam weld zone. types of defects that are not detectable by radi-
It is, however, not always possible to ography.
realize the full potential of the process, and the
weldability of the metal ultimately is controlled POROSITY AND SPATTER
by the metallurgical factors. In this respect,
electron beam welds exhibit most of the com- Porosity in electron beam welds is caused
mon discontinuities associated with fusion by the evolution of gas as the metal is melted
welding. A possible exception is hydrogen- by the beam. The gas may form as a result of
induced cold cracking of carbon steel weld- (1) the volatilization of high vapor pressure
ments because normally there is no source of elements in the alloy, (2) the removal of dis-
hydrogen in an autogenous electron beam weld. solved gases, or (3) the decomposition of com-
One type of discontinuity sometimes found pounds such as oxides or nitrides. Copper-
in partial joint penetration welds is large voids zinc (brasses) and aluminum-magnesium alloys
at the bottom of the weld metal. In all prob- are difficult to electron beam weld because of
ability, a large number of these voids will be metal vapor formation. Both zinc and magnes-
aligned and appear as linear porosity rather than ium have low boiling points. Dissolved gases
scattered porosity. When the weld just pene- and compounds are more likely to be present
trates through the joint, root porosity will ap- in alloys originally melted in air or other pro-
pear as a lack of fill accompanied by spatter on tective gas atmospheres.
the back side of the weld. Spatter is caused by the same factors as
Another occurrence peculiar to the vacuum porosity. The rapid evolution of gas or metal
mode of welding is the release of trapped air vapor causes the ejection of drops of moiten
through the molten weld metal. This sometimes weld metal that scatter over the work surface
creates a defect. It only happens when one and interior of the chamber. Spatter and porosity
attempts to weld a gas-filled container that is can even occur in vacuum remelted alloys when
not properly vented to vacuum. a residual phase volatizes under the intense
·Other discontinuities are generally the heat of the electron beam. Examples of spatter
same as those found in other types of fusion and porosity in HP 9-4-25 steel' are shown in
welds. Electron beam weld discontinuities Figs. 5.27 and 5.28 respectively.
include: An effective means of preventing porosity
(I) Porosity and spatter and spatter is the use of vacuum melted or
(2) Shrinkage voids fully deoxidized metals for electron beam weld-
ing applications. When gas-emitting or high
(3) Cracking
(4) Undercutting vapor pressure alloys must be welded, special
(5) Underfill
(6) Missedjoints 7. A high-strength alloy steel.

Fig. 5.27-Spatter on the surface of a weldment

techniques are required to minimize porosity. may be effective in reducing porosity. In ex-
The addition of filler metal containing a deox- treme cases, it may not be possible to avoid
idizer may be helpful in welding metals that porosity completely, but remelting the joint a
are not completely deoxidized. Slow welding second or third time will reduce it. However,
speeds will provide time for gas bubbles to these techniques reduce joint strength in age-
escape from the molten metal. hardening alloys that are heat-treated prior to
The use of oscillatory beam deflection welding .

Shrinkage voids may occur between the
dendrites near the center of the weld metal.
These voids are characterized by irregular out-
lines in contrast to the generally round outlines
of porosity. Shrinkage voids usually occur in
alloys having high volumetric shrinkage on
solidification. In electron beam welds where the
bond lines are essentially parallel, solidification
proceeds uniformly from the base metal to the
center of the weld. When solidification shrink-
age of the metal is great, voids will form if the
face and root surfaces freeze before the center
of the weld. An example of shrinkage voids in
an electron beam weld in 15-7Mo PH stainless
steel is shown in Fig. 5 .29 . Low travel speed
or beam oscillation may eliminate or minimize
shrinkage voids by increasing the volume of
molten metal and decreasing the solidification
rate . However, these conditions will generally
Fig. 5.28-Porosity near the bottom of produce a wider fusion zone than would be
electron beam weld beads obtained otherwise.
Weld Quality /209

Fig. 5.29-Shrinkage voids in an electron beam weld

CRACKING in the base metal at the edges of the weld bead,

as shown in Fig. 5.30(8). The defect occurs
Hot or cold cracks may occur in electron when the weld metal does not wet the base
beam welds in alloys that are subject to these metal. Undercutting is promoted by very high
types of cracking. Hot cracking is generally travel speeds, improper cleaning procedures, or
intergranular and cold cracking is transgranular. beam asymmetry (usually occurs on one side
Hot cracks form in a low-melting grain bound- only). Alloy additions that reduce surface ten-
ary phase during solidification of the weld metal.
Cold cracks form after solidification as a result
of high internal stresses produced by thermal
contraction of the metal during cooling . Acrack
originates at some imperfection or point of
stress concentration in the metal and propagates
through the grains by cleavage.
Hot cracking may be minimized by weld-
ing at high travel speeds with minimum beam (B)
energy. Cold cracking may be overcome by reinforcement
redesigning the joint to eliminate points of stress (A)

concentration or by changing the welding pro-
cedures to minimize porosity. Preheating
quench-hardenable steels to a suitable temper-
ature to control the fonnation of martensite in Lack of
the weld zone will prevent cracking.
(C) (D)
Fig. 5.30-Correct (A) and incorrect (8, C,
Undercutting refers to grooves produced and D) electron beam weld geometries

sion or increase fluidity, such as aluminum joint is not required. These applications gener-
additions to carbon steel welds, have a bene- ally use seal welds or welds subjected to shear-
ficial effect. ing forces only. In these cases, the sharp notch
at the root of the weld is acceptable. However,
when a welded joint must support a transverse
tensile stress at the root of the weld, full joint
Electron beam welds with good bead ge- penetration is required.
ometry have essentially parallel bond lines Lack of penetration may be caused by low
with a uniform crown or buildup of weld metal beam power, high travel speed, or improper fo-
on the top surface, as shown in Fig. 5.30(A). cusing of the beam. This condition is shown in
Full (100 percent) penetration welds will have Fig. 5.30(D).
a uniform root surface, the width of which is
dependent upon the welding conditions. In thick MISSED JOINTS
sections of metal, such as 3-in. stainless steel,
When a small diameter electron beam is
the face and root surface shapes are dependent
upon the surface tension supporting the column used to make a long joint in a thick section, the
of molten metal as it is being transported along beam axis must be in the same plane as the
the weld joint. At slow welding speeds, the joint faces and aligned with the joint along its
molten weld metal will sag due to insufficient entire length of travel. Otherwise, the possibility
surface tension and the force of gravity. This of missing the joint at some location is great.
will form an extremely heavy root reinforce- Even when the beam is properly aligned with
ment and the weld face will show severe under- the joint, electrostatic or magnetic forces can
fill (concavity), as shown in Fig. 5.30(C). cause beam deflection, resulting in portions of
Various techniques can eliminate this condition. the joint being missed. An electrostatic field
These include the use of a backing strip, a step can be generated by the accumulation of an
joint, or welding in the horizontal or the vertical electrical charge on an insulated surface, such
position. as the glass in the vacuum chamber windows.
Excessive sagging of the rcrv~ surface The electron beam will be deflected away from
usually results when the beam energy is too the charged surface if the beam passes too close
high or the molten weld metal is too wide. This to it.
can be reduced by proper adjustment of the Residual magnetism in a ferromagnetic
welding variables. If underfilling persists at the base metal or in the fixturing can cause unex-
best beam operating conditions, filler metal pected beam deflection. For example, a steel
must be added to fill the groove. A number of part may be magnetized during grinding if it is
techniques are effective in providing the re- held by a magnetic chuck, and the residual
quired filler metal. One is to place a narrow magnetism in the part will cause the beam to
strip over the face of the joint and then weld deflect and miss the joint. This can be avoided
through it. The thickness of the strip must be by demagnetizing all ferromagnetic parts before
slightly greater than the depth of any undercut, welding and by using nonmagnetic materials
so that the undercut will be entirely in the strip. for fix turing.
Filler metal wire may similarly be added to the Unexpected beam deflection can occur
face of the weld as it is being made or during a when welding dissimilar metals, especially
subsequent smoothing pass made with a defo- when one is ferromagnetic. An example of this
cused beam. is shown in Fig. 5.31, a weld between a non-
magnetic nickel-base alloy and a magnetic
maraging steel. Residual or induced magnetism
in the steel deflected the electron beam and
There are numerous applications of electron caused lack of fusion at the root of the joint. If
beam welding in which full penetration of the dissimilar materials are to be welded in produc-
Weld Quality /211

made with insufficient beam power. Figure

5.32 shows an example of this in an electron
beam weld in a titanium alloy. Lack of fusion
generally can be avoided by using properly ad-
justed welding variables. There are circum-
stances, however, where partial penetration
welding is required. One example is the welding
of circular joints where the beam power and
penetration must be decreased as the end of the
weld overlaps the start to avoid crater forma-
tion. A partial penetration weld is formed in
the overlap and lack of fusion can occur. An-
other example is the welding of thick sections.
1Wo partial penetration weld passes, one from
each side of the joint, may be required when
the metal thickness is too great to be penetrated
in a single pass.
Welding with a slightly defocused beam
and low travel speed (to compensate for the
lower energy density) is effective in eliminating
lack of fusion . Beam oscillation, either circular
or transverse, is sometimes effective. Preheating
Fig. 5.31-Be~m deflection when welding is helpful because it reduces the thermal grad-
dissimil~r met~ls
ient at the root of the weld.
Lack of fusion is difficult to locate nonde-
structively because it is similar to fine cracks
and usually can not be detected with x-ray in-
tion, it is important that test welds be made spection. Penetrant tests are ineffective because
and examined to determine whether beam de- the unfused areas do not usually extend to the
flection will occur. surface.
Ultrasonic testing is the only nondestruc-
tive test method that can detect lack of fusion
in electron beam welds . Experienced nonde-
structive test personnel are required to perform
In most cases, lack of fusion occurs in the test and interpret the results. Even then, the
partial penetration welds. However, it can also test method is not suitable for many appli-
occur near the root of full penetration welds cations.

Fig. 5.32-Lack of fusion or spiking in vertical (top) and horizontal (bottom)

sections through an electron beam weld in a titanium alloy
Safe Practices /213


Since electron beam welding machines suming proper design. All high voltage ma-
employ a high energy beam of electrons to chines utilize lead lining to block x-ray emission
provide the thermal energy for welding, the beyond the chamber walls. Lead glass windows
process requires the user to observe various are employed in both high and low voltage elec-
safety precautions not normally necessary with tron beam systems. Generally, the shielded
other types of welding equipment. The four vacuum chamber walls provide adequate protec-
primary potential dangers associated with elec- tion for the operator.
tron beam equipment are: electric shock, x-radi- In the case of nonvacuum systems, a radia-
ation, fumes and gases, and damaging visible tion enclosure must be provided to assure the
radiation. Precautionary measures must be taken safety of the operator. Thick walls of high-den-
at all times to assure that proper protective pro- sity concrete or some other similar material may
cedures are always observed. AWS F2.1, Rec- be employed instead of lead, especially for
ommended Safe Practices for Electron Beam large radiation enclosures on nonvacuum instal-
Welding and Cutting, and ANSI Z49.1, Safety in lations. In addition to the normal precautions
Welding and Cutting, (latest editions) give the necessary for ensuring that large radiation en-
general safety rquirements that should be strictly closures are properly shielded, special safety
adhered to at all times. precautions should be imposed to prevent per-
sonnel from accidently entering or being trapped
ELECTRIC SHOCK inside these enclosures when equipment is in
Every electron beam welding machine op- A complete x-ray radiation survey of the
erates with high voltage that can cause fatal in- electron beam equipment should always be made
jury, regardless of whether it is referred to as a at the time of installation and at regular inter-
low voltage or a high voltage machine. The vals thereafter. This should be done by personnel
manufacturers of electron beam equipment, in trained in the proper procedures for doing a radia-
meeting various underwriter requirements, pro- tion survey to assure initial and continued com-
duce machines that are well-insulated against pliance with all radiation regulations and stan-
the danger of high voltages. However, all pre- dards applicable to the site where the equipment
cautions should be exercised with all systems in is installed.
which high voltages are present.


The x-rays generated by an electron beam It is unlikely that the very small amount of
welding machine are produced when electrons, air left in a high vacuum electron beam cham-
traveling at a high velocity, collide with matter. ber would be sufficient to produce ozone and
The majority of x-rays are produced when the oxides of nitrogen in harmful concentrations.
electron beam impinges upon the workpiece. However, nonvacuum and medium vacuum
Substantial amounts are produced when the beam electron beam systems are capable of producing
strikes gas molecules or metal vapor in both the these by-products, as well as other types of air-
gun column and work chamber. Underwriters borne contaminants, in concentrations well
and Federal regulations have established firm above acceptable levels.
rules for permissible x-radiation exposure levels, Adequate area ventilation should be em-
and producers and users of equipment must ob- ployed to reduce concentrations of any airborne
serve these rules. contaminants around the equipment below per-
Generally, the steel walls of the chamber are missible exposure levels, and proper exhausting
adequate protection in systems up to 60 kV, as- techniques should be employed to maintain

residual concentrations in the chamber or enclo- by the molten weld metal can be harmful to eye-
sure below these same limits. sight. In the presence of intense light, proper
eye protection is necessary. Optical viewing
should be done through filters in accordance
VISIBLE RADIATION with ANSI Z87.1, Occupational And Educa-
Direct viewing of visible radiation emitted tional Eye and Face Protection (latest edition).

Metric Conversion Factors

1 in. = 25.4 mm
1 torr= 133.3 Pa
1 W/in~ = 1.55x10:SW/m2
1 in./min = 0.423 mm/s
1 kJ/in. = 39.4 kJ/m
1 STD • cm 3 /s = 1.04x10·5 micron • ft3 /h
1 psi = 6.89 kPa
Supplementary Reading List /215


Bench, F. K. and Ellison, G. W. EB welding of nal, 55(8): 230s-240s; 1976 Aug.
304L stainless steel with cold wire feed.
Welding Journal, 53 (12): 763-766; 1974 Murphy, J. L. and Thrner, P. W., Wire feeder
Dec. and positioner for narrow groove electron
beam welding. Welding Journal, 55 (3):
Ben-Zvi, 1., Bogart, L., and Thrneaure, J. P., 181-190; 1976 Mar.
Simple device for controlling 100% pene-
tration in electron beam welds. Welding O'Brien, T. B., el a!., Suppression of spiking in
Journal, 51 (12): 842-843; 1912 Dec. partial penetration EB welding. Welding
Journal, 53 (8): 332s-338s; 1974 Aug.
Bibly, M. J., Burbridge, G., and Goldak, J. A.,
Gases evolved from electron beam welds Passoja, D. E., Heat flow in electron beam
in plain carbon steels. Welding Journal, 51 welds. Welding Journal, 45 (8): 379s-384s;
(12): 844-847; 1972 Dec. l966Aug.

Bibly, M. J., Burbridge, G., and Goldak, J. A., Privoznik, L. J., Smith, R. S., and Heverly, J. S.,
Cracking in restrained EB welds in carbon Electron beam welding of thick sections of
and low alloy steels. Welding Journal, 54 12% Cr turbine grade steel. Welding Jour-
(8): 253s-258s; 1975 Aug. nal, 50 (8): 567-572; 1971 Aug.

Dixon, R. D. and Pollard, L. Jr., Effect of Sandstrom, D. J., Bucken, J. F., and Hanks,
accurate voltage control on partial penetra- G. S., On the measurement and interpreta-
tion EB welds. Welding Journal, 53 (11): tion and application of parameters impor-
495s-497; 1974 Nov. tant to electron beam welding. Welding
Journal, 49(7): 293s-300s; 1970 July.
Duhamel, R. F., Nonvacuum electron beam
welding technique development and prog- Schumacher, B. W., Atmospheric EB welding
ress. Welding Journal, 44 (6): 465-474; with large standoff distance. Welding Jour-
1965 June .. nal, 52 (5); 312-314; 1973 May.

Fink, J. H., Analysis of atmospheric electron Schwartz, M. M., Electron Beam Welding, New
beam welding. Welding Journal, 54 (5): York: Welding Research Council, 1974July;
137s-143s; 1975 May. Bulletin 196.

Hinrichs, J. F., eta!., Production electron beam Tews, P., et a!., Electron beam welding spike
welding of automotive frame components. suppression using feedback control. Welding
Welding Journal, 53 (8): 488-493; 1974Aug. Journal, 55(2): 52s-55s; 1976 Feb.

Lubin, B. T., Dimensionless parameters for the Tong, H. and Geidt, W. H., A dynamic interpre-
correlation of electron beam welding vari- tation of electron beam welding. Welding
ables. Welding Journal, 41 (3): l40s-144s; Journal, 49 (6): 259s-266s; 1970 June.
1968 Mar. Weber, C. M. and Funk, E. R., Penetration
Mayer, R., Dietrich, W., and Sundermeyer, D., mechanism of partial penetration electron
New high-speed beam current control and beam welds. Welding Journal, 51 (2): 90s-
deflection systems improve electron beam 94s; 1972 Feb.
welding applications. Welding Journal, 56 Weidner, C. W. and Schuler, L. E,, Effect of
(6): 35-41; 1977 June. process variables on partial penetration
Metzger, G. and Lison, R., Electron beam electron beam welding. Welding Journal,
welding of dissimilar metals. Welding Jour- 52 (3): 114s-119s; 1973 Mar.
Laser Beam Welding and Cutting

Fundamentals of the Process .......... 218 Laser Cutting and Drilling ............. 232

Laser Welding .................... ... 223 Safety ............................. 236

Supplementary Reading List ........... 238

Chapter Committee


Welding Consultant Westinghouse Electric Corporation
United Technologies GTE Sylvania
Research Center R. J. SAUNDERS
S. R. BOLIN Coherent, Inc.
Raytheon Laser Center

Welding Handbook Committee Member

Welding Consultant

Laser Beam Welding and Cutting


DEFINITION AND (Nd-YAG) crystal rods to produce a continuous
GENERAL DESCRIPTION monochromatic output; power levels to 1 kW
have been attained. Also, electrically excited gas
The word laser is an acronym for "light lasers that produce continuous-wave (cw) energy
amplification by stimulated emission of radia- have been developed. Multikilowatt laser beam
tion." From an engineering standpoint, the laser equipment based on C0 2 is capable of full pene-
may be considered as an energy conversion de- tration, single-pass welding of steel to 3/4-in.
vice in which energy from a primary source thickness.
(electrical, chemical, thermal, optical, nuclear)
is transformed into a beam of coherent electro-
magnetic radiation at ultraviolet, visible, or in- PRINCIPLES OF OPERATION
frared frequency. Transformation is facilitated by SoHd-State Lasers
certain solids, liquids, or gases which, when
excited on a molecular or atomic scale by special Solid-state lasers are based on single crystals
techniques, produce coherent "light." Such light or glasses doped with small concentrations of
is monochromatic (single wavelength) and co- transition elements (such as chromium in ruby)
herent; i.e., all waves are in phase. Because or rare earths (such as neodymium in glass and
high-energy laser beams are coherent, they can YAG). Electrons in the atoms of the transition or
be highly concentrated with transmitting or re- rare earth element can be selectively excited to
flective optics to provide the high-energy density higher energy levels upon exposure to intense in-
required for welding, cutting, and heat treating. coherent optical radiation (white light), as shown
The first laser beam was produced in 1960 in Fig. 6.1. Selective excitation of a specific
using a ruby crystal pumped by a flash lamp. energy level (pumping) is the key to laser opera-
Such lasers can produce only short pulses of tion since it permits establishment of a "popula-
light energy at a repetition frequency limited by tion inversion." A population inversion exists
heating of the crystal. Therefore, even though when the number of particles at a given energy
individual pulses may exhibit instantaneous level substantially exceeds that corresponding to
peak power levels in the megawatt range, pulsed thermal equilibrium. Without such an inversion,
ruby lasers are limited to low average powers. photons generated by stimulated emission would
Currently, pulsed and continuously-operating be absorbed within the medium and lasing could
solid-state lasers capable of welding and cutting not occur. Once excited, the electrons return to
thin sheet metal are available. The latter utilize their normal energy state in one or more steps,
neodymium-doped, yttrium aluminum garnet each involving loss of a discrete quantity (quan-

Fundamentals of the Process /219

tum) of energy. Lasing occurs if one of these Reflecting

energy losses results in the emission of a quantum
of electromagnetic radiation {photon).
An example of a solid-state laser is a ruby
crystal consisting of aluminum oxide with a small Crystal or
concentration of chromium atoms in solution. glass laser rod
When ruby is exposed to the intense radiation
from one or more xenon or krypton flash lamps, cavity
some of the electrons in the chromium are ex~ited
to a high energy level. These electrons imme- Focusing optics
diately drop to an intermediate energy level, re- Workpiece
sulting in the evolution of heat. Then, they return Partially
to the ground energy state on emission of a photon transmitting mirror
of red light having a wavelength of0.69 JLm. An
Fig. 6.2-Eiements of a solid-state laser
electron at the intermediate energy level returns
to the ground state faster when it is stimulated by
the red light output of its neighbors. When a large
number of electrons is involved, amplification of spaced wavelengths may actually be seen due to
the red light output occurs. the fine structure of the energy levels in the lasing
The amplification effect is accentuated by medium. Beam divergence occurs due to diffrac-
shaping the ends of the crystal and mirror-coating tion and to system imperfections (multiple-mode
them (or by using external mirrors) so that the operation, scattering, etc.). The former is inherent
emitted light is reflected back and forth along the in any optical system of finite size, while the
crystal. If some of the light is then allowed to latter can be reduced with improved components
escape from one end through a partially transmit- and techniques. At the energy levels used for
ting mirror, a nearly monochromatic and nondi- welding, typical pulsed ruby laser beam diver-
vergent output beam is obtained. Several closely- gence falls within an included angle of 0.25 to
0.75 degrees.
The wavelength of all solid-state laser light
is determined by the fluorescence spectrum of
Energy absorbed the dopant element. Both Nd-glass and Nd-YAG
from flash lamp lasers emit near infrared radiation with a wave-
(2) Energy emitted length of 1.06 JLm. Simple optical systems can
as heat be used to concentrate the beam into a small
spot. The components of a solid-state laser sys-
tem are shown in Fig. 6.2, and an operating unit
is shown in Fig. 6.3.
The laser cavity that couples the output from
the flash lamp to the lasing medium is an in-

~:l ~~~~ons teresting feature of the apparatus. In many sys-

tems, the cavity comprises a highly polished
___{_,.,~@ Nucleus elliptical cylinder with the flash lamp and laser
medium at alternate foci. In this arrangement, the
flash lamp output is focused on the laser crystal.
orbits Sometimes multiple elliptical cylinders are em-
ployed so that more than one lamp can be used
Energy emitted to pump a single crystal. Arrangements of one,
as light (photon)
two, or four lamps in conjunction with a single
Fig. 6.1-Electron energy absorption and crystal are common. Other reflective cavities are
emission during laser action used in which helical, hollow flash tubes sur-

round the crystal. Inert gas discharge or quartz-

iodine ("sun") lamps are used to generate a con- Laser gas Excitation
inlet power supply
tinuous output.
Because solid-state lasers are, at best, only
about 3 percent efficient and may have average exhaust

powers of a few hundred watts, large quantities
of heat are generated as an adjunct to the laser
process. Therefore, a high capacity cooling sys- Beam
tem is needed to remove the heat developed.
Typically, a closed-loop system is used with de-
ionized water as the cooling agent. The water
flows around the laser rod and flash lamps and mirror
additionally cools the cavity walls . For a solid-
state laser with a 400 W average output, the cool- Fig. 6.4-Basic gas laser system
ing system must remove approximately 15 kW
gas lases when it is selectively excited between
of waste heat.
a totally reflecting mirror at one end of the tube
Gas Lasers and a partially transmitting mirror at the other.
Many gas lasers have been developed; the most
Fi~ure 6.4 is a diagram of a simple gas common of these is the red output helium-neon
laser. It consists basically of a tube through which is used in myriad alignment, measure-
which the lasing gas mixture is circulated. The ment, and other tasks. Most gas lasers are limited

Fig. 6.3-Pulsed laser welding system

Fundamentals of the Process /221

to milliwatt continuous power levels. A few, have been developed. Notable among these is
such as the argon laser, have been developed the gas dynamic laser represented by Fig. 6.5.
withcw outputs of tens of watts, and one, the C0 2 In such a system, fuel and oxidizer are chosen to
laser, is capable of durable multikilowatt opera- yield combustion products suitable for lasing.
tion. For example, combustion of CO and CH 4 with
In a C0 2 laser suitable for industrial use, 0 2 and N2 yields C0 2 , N2 , and H 20, the latter
C0 2 molecules are vibrationally excited in an substituting for helium in the carbon dioxide
electric discharge. Because the direct vibrational lasing process. Vibrational excitation of N 2 and
excitation of C0 2 by an electric discharge is C0 2 occurs due to the elevated temperature of
relatively inefficient, N2 is added to the medium. the products. On rapid expansion through a su-
Nitrogen accepts energy effectively from the dis- personic nozzle, the static gas temperature is
charge and, because the vibrational energy quickly reduced. A set of small nozzles is used
levels of nitrogen are very close to some of those rather than a large single unit to decrease ex-
of carbon dioxide, the C0 2 is excited by resonant pansion time. Due to differences in the times
energy exchange with N2 ; this two-step process required for various species to assume the energy
is much more rapid and efficient than the direct distribution appropriate to the reduced temper-
C0 2 process. Transition from the upper vibra- ature, selected high-energy states may be mo-
tional energy state in C0 2 to an intermediate mentarily "frozen." A nonequilibrium condition
level then occurs with the emission of a photon; occurs which promotes establishment of the pop-
the energy difference between the two levels ulation inversion necessary for laser action.
corresponds to a characteristic wavelength of Gas dynamic laser systems developing
10.6 J.l.ffi in the infrared. Carbon dioxide mole- short duration continuous power outputs to 100
cules at the intermediate level must then return kW have been reported. One such unit, operating
to the ground state in order to complete the at 90 kW, was used to demonstrate the capability
process. Helium added to the lasing mixture for full penetration, single-pass welding of 1.5-
expedites this transition. Collisions between C0 2 inch thick steel at 120 in./min. Due to the high
molecules and helium result in the transfer of cost of operation, however, the gas dynamic
residual excitation energy to the helium; this laser is not suitable for industrial welding and
energy is then removed as waste heat. cutting applications.
As with solid-state lasers, the operation of a The convectively cooled, electrically ex-
gas laser requires the establishment of a non- cited C0 2 laser is currently the basis for high
equilibrium, population inversion condition. power, production rated equipment to 20 kW
This is accomplished electrically with a high continuous output. Rapid flow of the laser gases
voltage glow discharge. Unfortunately, a glow
discharge tends toward instability at current
levels above approximately 300 rnA independent
of chamber size. If the glow discharge trans-
forms to an arc, thermodynamic equilibrium con-
ditions are established and lasing cannot occur.
It has therefore been necessary in some cases to
stabilize the glow discharge in high power sys-
tems by an auxiliary ionization means. Radio-
frequency (r-t) electric power and high voltage
electron beams have been utilized for this pur-
pose. Currently, high power C0 2 lasers are avail-
able that operate solely with a de electric dis-
charge requiring no auxiliary ionization pro-
Other means of generating high laser power Fig. 6.5-Gas dynamic laser

is utilized to remove waste heat from the laser power levels of approximately 1 kW or above
cavity. Since such lasers typically exhibit an are required for deep penetration (keyhole)
electrical-to-optical conversion efficiency of 10 welding. Below approximately I kW, laser
to 15 percent, effective waste heat removal is welding is currently limited to the conduction
essential to continuous operation. To minimize mode.
operating costs, a gas-to-liquid heat exchanger
is used and the laser gases are recirculated Low Power Lasers
through the system. Only a small quantity of Most solid-state lasers are operated in the
gas is consumed due to the requirement for con- pulsed mode and most gas laser systems may
tinual removal and replenishment of a small also be operated in this manner. Outputs may
amount of the laser gas mixture to prevent build- be in the magnitude of hundreds of kilowatts
up of contaminants generated by dissociation of during a millisecond pulse at a pulse repetition
C0 2 and N 2 in the discharge. frequency of l Hz, yielding average powers of
Gas flow in the C0 2 laser may be coaxial several hundreds of watts. For either solid-state
with or transverse to the laser beam. Typical or gas lasers, peak power decreases as the
operating pressure is 80 torr or less, although pulse length and repetition frequency increase;
pulsed C0 2 laser operation has been attained at i.e., average power remains essentially un-
atmospheric pressure. With coaxial flow, several changed. Carbon dioxide lasers are available
tubes may be arranged electrically in parallel that will produce pulse peaks of 3 kW at fre-
and optically in series to produce high output quencies of up to 2.5 kHz from a nominal 500 W
power. Physically parallel tube arrays are used average power unit.
to reduce system length. Such configurations While their usual operating mode is pulsed,
are optically connected in series by means of neodymium-YAG lasers can also be designed for
mirrors. With transverse flow, mirrors are used continuous power output. In this case, a crystal
to reflect the beam back and forth within a single medium such as yttrium aluminum garnet
discharge chamber. Multiple beam passes are (YAG) is a more suitable host for neodymium
required to effectively remove available optical (Nd) than glass because a crystal can better with-
energy from the entire lasing medium. In both stand the temperature gradient and heat dissipa-
cases, a totally reflecting mirror is utilized at tion requirements of cw operation. A steady
one end and a partially transmitting (at the laser source of incoherent light is used instead of a
wavelength of 10.61£m) mirror is used as the out- flash lamp. Commercial versions of the Nd-
put window. For power levels to several kW, YAG laser are available to power levels of sev-
coated semiconductor materials, notably zinc eral hundreds of watts in continuous operation.
selenide (ZnSe ), serve effectively as output Another version of the Nd-YAG laser can emit a
windows. However, such materials are not dur- continuous train of extremely short pulses. An
able at higher power levels; hence, an annular example of this performance is the generation of
metal mirror is used to facilitate partial trans- pulses of 25 picosecond (25 X I0-12s) duration at
mission. Output is then beamed through an intervals of2.5 nanoseconds (25 x I0-9s).
"aerodynamic window," an opening across Solid-state lasers dominate the commercial
which a controlled high velocity flow of com- field in numbers of units in operation in the low
pressed air maintains the pressure difference average power pulsed range. In low power cw
between the laser chamber and the atmsophere. applications, C0 2 laser systems are predominant
as they are in the high power area.
High Power Lasers
Lasers can be arbitrarily divided into low At present, all high power laser systems are
and high power types on the basis of their aver- of the continuous C0 2 type. Commercial units
age power output. From a welding viewpoint, based on either coaxial or transverse flow range
a logical division is at I kW since continuous from about 2 to lO kW output. Experimental
Laser Welding /223

transverse flow units capable of outputs to 20 kW MW/in.2 corresponds to a thermal source tem-
are in laboratory use. perature of about 13 000 K.
A laser beam can be transmitted for
CAPABILITIES AND LIMITATIONS appreciable distances through air without se-
rious power attenuation or degradation of optical
A laser beam and an electron beam pro- quality. On the other hand, an electron beam is
duce similar welding behavior and exhibit char- rapidly dispersed by electron collisions with air
acteristic similarities and differences. The laser molecules. Out-of-vacuum working distances
beam consists of a stream of photons moving at for electron beams are therefore relatively short.
the velocity of light, and the electron beam is a A laser beam is partially reflected or de-
stream of electrons moving at a speed propor- flected by smooth metallic surfaces while an
tional to the square root of the accelerating volt- ·electron beam is not. Significant laser beam
age.' The energy of a beam photon corresponds reflection may occur, thereby inhibiting energy
to the wavelength and is of the order of 0.1 to transfer to a workpiece. Conversely, an electron
2.0 eV, while that of a beam electron is numer- beam is deflected by electrostatic or electromag-
ically equivalent to the beam voltage (typically netic fields or a magnetic material, while the
30 to 150 keY). The laser beam can be focused laser beam is not.
and directed by optical means (mirrors and lenses)
When a high power electron beam strikes
and the electron beam by electrostatic and mag-
a metal surface, x-rays are generated. Adequate
netic means. Both beams can be concentrated
x-ray shielding is therefore required to protect
into a very small area, producing power den-
personnel from exposure. Laser beams do not
sities greater than I MW per square inch. For
generate x-rays during normal metal processing
reference, it is noted that a power density of 1
operations. However, they do produce high-in-
tensity light which can damage eyesight or cause
I. An electron beam and the devices used to generate severe burns. Appropriate safety provisions and
and manipulate it are discussed in Chapter 5. procedures must therefore be established.


For welding, the laser beam must be focused nique. In conduction limited welding, the beam
to a small diameter to produce high power den- impinges on and is absorbed by the metal sur-
sity. This is accomplished with transmitting face. The inner portions of the material are heated
optics for low power lasers and with reflective entirely by conduction from the surface. This
optics for high power lasers. Minimum beam type of welding is frequently done with low
size can be adjusted by the optics design. Al- power cw and pulsed laser beams.
though variable focus optics can be designed, The keyhole (deep penetration) welding
customary practice involves control of the in- mode, illustrated in Fig. 6.6, is used to produce
cident spot diameter by varying the position of high depth-to-width ratio welds with pulsed or
the workpiece surface relative to the plane of cw laser systems. In this welding mode, the in-
optimum focus of fixed optics. The depth of tense energy concentration at the workpiece
focus determines the permissible tolerance on the surface induces local vaporization. A vapor
work-to-lens or mirror distance. cavity surrounded by molten metal is formed as
As with electron beam welding, laser welds the beam starts to move along the joint. The
can be produced by the conventional conduc- cavity is maintained against the fluid dynamic
tion limited manner and by the keyhole tech- forces of the liquid metal surrounding it by the

absorption occurs for pulsed lasers when power

density exceeds a certain threshold value. Typ-
ical threshold levels are 10• W/m 2 for carbon
steel, 10• W/m 2 for aluminum and copper, and
10 10 W/m 2 for tungsten.
In high power C0 2 laser welding, absorp-
tion is enhanced by the deep penetration cavity
which forms at power densities exceeding ap-
proximately 10 8 W/m 2• As the beam passes into
the material, multiple reflections and absorp-
tions occur. Cumulative absorption is therefore
quite high due to this geometric blackbody effect.
Direct calorimetric measurements have shown
absorption levels above 90 percent in alloy steels,
and levels greater than 50 percent have been
noted in aluminum alloys.

Fig. 6. 6- Characteristics of deep

penetration laser welding
With a pulsed solid-state laser system, the
joint penetration is primarily determined by the
pressure of the vaporized metal. Metal is pro- pulse energy and duration. Overlapping spots are
gressively melted at the leading edge of the used to form a seam weld at a speed governed by
moving molten pool and flows around the deep the pulse repetition frequency. To generate a
penetration cavity to the rear of the pool where sound weld, the laser beam must deliver suffi-
it solidifies in a characteristic chevron pattern. cient energy to the workpiece to melt adequate
In the keyhole mode, penetration is not limited material for the fusion joint. Pulse duration must
by the thermal diffusivity of the material be- be long enough to enable conduction and melt-
cause beam energy penetrates directly into the ing to the desired depth. Since pulse energy
cavity. The process may be visualized in terms and duration specifically fix beam power, power
of a taut hot wire being drawn through a cake of intensity at the workpiece surface must then be
ice. Due to beam penetration into the material, controlled by the focusing optics and the loca-
high depth-to-width ratio welds are formed tion of the surface relative to the plane of opti-
rather than the characteristic hemispherical ones mum focus. Conditions must be chosen to avoid
formed by conduction welding processes. vaporization. This requirement is complicated
Effective laser beam welding depends upon by the fact that the energy distribution across the
absorption of beam energy by the workpiece. incident spot may not be uniform. Often, the
Unfortunately, shiny metal surfaces at room tem- energy peaks at the center cause local vapor-
perature are quite reflective to light at laser wave- ization. Under these conditions it is necessary
lengths. For example, absorption of a low-inten- to defocus the beam; a slight increase in pulse
sity C0 2 beam may be only 40 percent for stain- energy may then be required to compensate for
less steel and as low as I percent for polished the reduced average power intensity. In usual
aluminum or copper. Absorption levels are practice, such adjustments can be made quickly
higher for Nd-YAG and even higher for ruby, by trial and error procedure.
but significant reflection still occurs. Pulsed weld penetration is governed by
Despite the above, acceptable absorption laser process and material variables. Increased
levels occur during welding. Absorption in- pulse energy and duration lead to increased
creases as metal temperature and incident beam penetration. The limit on penetration occurs with
power intensity increase. A sharp increase in incipient vaporization at the material surface. For
Laser Welding /225

SSt Ti AI Travel speed, mm/s

25 15 10 5 2.5 1.5 0.5

1.5 1.1 1.0 50

E ~
E 'S
·.::; --....,>

...~ E'
"'c "'c
Cl. 0.8 0.6 0.5 20

0.4 0.3 0.2 10

0.2 0.2 0.1
100 60 40

Fig. 6.7-Dependence of penetration in three metals on the operating conditions,

for pulsed lasers of three power ratings

a given pulse energy and duration, shallow in sheet metals at high speeds using the keyhole
penetration is attained in a material with high mode. The latter mode can also be used at lower
thermal diffusitivity. High pulse energy and short speeds to generate high depth-to-width ratio
pulse duration (higher power) are appropriate for welds in plate. Usually, keyhole welding cannot
such materials and the converse applies for be done at welding speeds below about 15
materials of low thermal diffusivity. Maximum in./min.
penetration for present pulsed solid-state laser Within appropriate welding conditions,
systems is approximately 1/16 inch. penetration in the keyhole mode is directly re-
Individual spot weld diameter is determined lated to power when speed and other process
by the energy absorbed, the rate at which it is variables are constant. This behavior is illustrated
delivered, and the material thermal diffusivity. in Fig. 6. 8 for rimmed steel. Below the threshold
Seam welding speed is given by the product of level of about I kW, penetration will decrease
the weld spot diameter, the fraction of overlap sharply at the speeds indicated.
required, and the pulse repetition frequency. The A penetration of 3/4 inch is attainable in
process factors are illustrated in Fig. 6. 7 for alloy steel at the 15 kW maximum power level
stainless steel, titanium, and aluminum repre- of current industrially suited systems. Heavier
senting low, medium, and high thermal diffusi- sections may be welded in two passes, one from
vity, respectively. The interdependence of aver- each side, although special precautions must be
age power, seam welding speed, pulse energy, taken to avoid defects at the root of the second
penetration, and repetition frequency is shown. weld.
At a given power level, weld penetration
decreases with increasing travel speed when the
CONTINUOUS POWER other variables remain unchanged. This relation-
Continuously operating, low power lasers ship for rimmed steel is illustrated in Fig. 6. 9.
can be used to produce conventional conduction- In high power welding, ionization of metal
limited welds at low speeds in sheet gages. With vapor atoms may lead to the formation of a
high power lasers, narrow welds can be formed plasma above the workpiece. Such a plasma

0.26 .------------------:~ V-groove may be utilized to provide for the

0.24 desired filler addition. Conventional wire feed
Welding speed, in./min
devices may be used .
0.22 • 85 As with other fusion welding processes,
0 172 abrupt termination of power can leave a crater
0 262 in the weld metal. Conversely, instantaneous ex-
0.18 posure of the workpiece to full beam power may
-~ 0.16
cause local internal porosity. Programmed up-
slope and downslope of welding power or the
s· o.14
·;::; addition of end tabs can be used to overcome
~ 0.12 such problems.
-~ 0.10
Many different metals can be satisfactorily
0.06 welded with a laser beam. With pulsed systems,
0.04 these include copper, nickel, iron, zirconium,
tantalum, aluminum, titanium, columbium, and
their alloys. Continuous systems are applicable
%~--~~--~--~~--~~ to most of these metals except that capabilities
Power, kW
are limited in copper and aluminum alloys.
Although the laser provides precise energy con-
Fig. 6.8-Dependence of weld bead trol and certain unique process features, it is a
penetration in rimmed steel on C0 2 laser fusion welding process. As such, it is constrained
power at three travel speeds by the same principles of good welding practice

effectively absorbs the laser beam and drastically

reduces beam energy input to the workpiece.
This can be prevented by sweeping the ions
from the interaction region with a flow of gas,
preferably helium. This flow is usually integrated
with weld zone shielding requirements. If ade-
quate suppression is not attained, the plasma c:
expands to the atmosphere above the workpiece ·-.0.10
and a luminous plume is formed as shown in ·;::;
Fig. 6.10.
Joint designs and fit-up requirements are ~ co 2 laser power, kW
generally similar to those for electron beam • 4.3 to 4.7
welding, as discussed in Chapter 5. A joint gap 0 4.0
in excess of 3 percent of the material thickness
A 3.0
will normally cause joint underfill. Similar con-
0 2.0
ditions will prevail if too much energy is used
for welding, resulting in drop-through. Underfill 0 · 01 o~----~10~0------2~0~0------:3~00
can be eliminated by the addition of filler metal
Welding speed, in./min
during either the primary weld pass or a "cos-
metic" second pass. Filler metal may also be Fig. 6.9-Dependence of weld bead
added to modify weld metal chemistry. In this penetration in rimmed steel on travel
case, a square-groove with a narrow gap or a speed at several C0 2 laser power levels
Laser Welding /227

Fig. 6.10- Undesirable plasma formation above the workpiece during

laser welding

and the requirements for metallurgical compat- the heat-affected zone and any thermal damage
ibility common to more conventional processes. to material adjacent to the weld are minimized.
Since laser welding equipment is more The rapid cooling of the weld pool may have
costly than conventional systems of equivalent metallurgical advantages for some applications.
power, selection of applications must be based (2) The high power density of the laser
on unique laser capabilities. Some of these cap- beam can be used to make difficult welds. These
abilities that may be used as a guideline for se- may involve welds between metallurgically com-
lection of laser applications are as follows: patible dissimilar metals with widely different
(1) The specific energy input to the work- physical properties, between metals of high
piece is very small. This means that the extent of electrical resistivity, or between parts varying

greatly in mass and size.

(3) Electrical contact with the workpiece
is not necessary since the heat source is a light
beam. Joints in restricted locations can be
welded provided a line of sight to the weld point
is available. Further, absence of contact require-
ments makes the laser ideal for use in high speed
automated welding systems . Spot welding can
take place "on the fly" with parts moving at 60
to 120 in./min. Seam welding in thin sheet can
be accomplished at speeds up to 250 ft./min. Fig. 6.11-Cross section through a weld
Additionally, the part may be held stationary between parallel 0.02-in. diameter
and the laser beam moved along the weld seam, nickel wires
or a combination of beam and part motion can
be used. This flexibility often simplifies parts The optimum configuration for joining
fixturing . electrical wires is a butt joint, but lap joints and
(4) Precision welding can be done with a cross wire configurations may prove easier to
well-defined focused spot. Spot weld sizes on fixture and weld in small diameters. For lap
the order of a few thousandths of an inch in joints, the two wires should be parallel and in
diameter can be achieved with accurate posi- contact along the overlap. The laser beam is di-
tioning. rected at the joint to melt and fuse the two wires
(5) Fusion zone purification occurs under together as shown in Fig. 6.11. When a cross
certain conditions during the welding of steels. wire configuration is used, the laser beam
Preferential absorption ofthe beam by nonmetal- should be directed at the point of contact be-
lic inclusions in the metals leads to their vapor- tween the wires .
ization and removal from the weld zone. Spot welds between overlapping sheets can
(6) Laser welding is ideally suited to auto- be produced with a pulsed laser as illustrated in
mation. Fig . 6.12 . Seam welds between sheets may be a
series of overlapping spots produced with pulsed
Pulsed Power
power or a continuous weld bead made with
Several joint configurations can be used continuous power. A protective gas shield may
for welding wires together with pulsed power. be necessary with seam welding to minimize
These include butt (end-to-end), lapped, tee, oxidation of the weld area. Other examples of
and cross wire joints. welded assemblies produced with pulsed laser

Fig. 6.12- Cross section of laser spot welds between 0.005-in.

nickel ribbons
Laser Welding /229

ages is an example.
Laser welding is being used to salvage
parts. The low heat input and the resulting low
distortion are ideal for making small repairs on
machined parts. Accessibility into confined

Fig. 6.13- HeTmetic seal weld on an

electTonic module made with a pulsed

equipment are shown in Figs. 6.13, 6.14, and

One prominent application area for pulsed
laser welding is in the electronics industry.
Miniaturization dictates stringent joining re-
quirements that very often cannot be met by
conventional welding techniques. The limited
accessibility to the joint and the need for precise
application of energy to avoid thermal damage Fig. 6.14-Titanium tube with 0.01-in. wall
to components can be met with laser welding. welded to a 0.025-in. thick titanium disc
Laser encapsulation of microelectronic pack- with a pulsed lase' beam

Fig. 6.15-A titanium capsule heTmetically sealed by lase' welding


Fig. 6.16-Cross sections of butt joints in 0.52 in. X-80 steel plate welded from one
and both sides with 12 kW of C0 2 laser power

space, good viewing and welding optics, and Other examples of the characteristics of
precise control of small amounts of energy are high power laser welds are the three welds in
also attributes in many repair applications. Ti-6Al-4V alloy shown in Fig. 6.17. These full
penetration welds in 0.23-inch thick plate were
Continuous Power
made at 40, 60, and 80 in./min, respectively, at
Continuous power laser systems, princi- 5.5 kW of power. The corresponding specific
pally of the C0 2 type, are gradually moving energy inputs were 8250, 5500, and 4125 J/in.,
from the laboratory into industrial applications. which resulted in decreasing fusion zone width
Numerous potential production applications are as the energy decreased.
being evaluated. Typical power requirements for a nominal
High power C0 2 lasers can generate single- welding speed of about 50 in./min in many
pass, full penetration welds in some metals up to metals are 3.0, 6.0, and 12 kW for 1/8, 1/4, and
0. 75-in. thickness. Representative laser welds 1/2-in. joint thicknesses, respectively. This
in 0.52-inch thick X-80 steel, produced with 12 approximate guideline for laser welding is appli-
kW of power, are shown in Fig. 6.16. The dual- cable to steels, titanium alloys, and nickel-base
pass weld exhibited smaller grain size than the alloys. Somewhat higher power is required for
single-pass weld due to the lower specific en- copper-nickel alloys, zirconium, and the refrac-
ergy input and the resultant higher weld zone tory metals (Cb, Mo, Ta, and W).
cooling rate. A high power beam can produce Only limited performance has been demon-
deep spot welds in a stationary workpiece that strated in laser welding of aluminum alloys.
have characteristics similar to continuous welds Traditional difficulties in aluminum welding are
(see Fig. 6.16). compounded for the laser by the high initial re-
Laser Welding/231

40 1n./min 60 in ./min

801 n./min
Fig. 6.17- C0 2 laser welds in 0.23-in. Ti-6AI-4V alloy plate produced with 5.5 kW
power at three travel speeds

flectivity of the material. High power density is requires further process development. The latter
required to overcome this problem, and the level will reflect even a 15 kW continuous beam; but
required often leads to overheating of the weld 1/4-inch penetration has been demonstrated
metal, sporadic vaporization, and intermittent with a 4 kW cw beam "pulsed" at 24 kHz.
plasma formation. These conditions will produce In addition to welding, the laser beam may
weld discontinuities. Beam spot oscillation may be rapidly scanned over a metal surface to pro-
alleviate these conditions somewhat. Fillet and duce a thin melted layer that solidifies rapidly.
tee joints, which tend to trap the incoming This procedure may be incorporated with filler
beam, are easier to weld. In general, however, wire or powder additions for surfacing applica-
laser welding of aluminum alloys and copper tions.

Generally speaking, established procedures glass and clear plastic throwaway devices are
for weld joint preparation apply to laser welding. frequently employed to hold workpieces in posi-
Flat (downhand) position welding is preferred, tion for pulsed laser welding. They are then dis-
but out-of-position (horizontal, overhead, ver- carded if the metal plasma destroys their optical
tical-up, vertical-down) welds can be made properties.
under conditions well within the keyhole welding Inert gas coverage of the molten pool is
mode. usually provided for continuous power welding.
The gas may fulfill several functions, including
TOOLING AND ACCESSOR! ES atmosphere protection for reactive metals such
Tooling for laser welding includes position- as titanium and tantalum; better wetting,· flow,
ing devices similar to those used for electron and weld bead appearance; and plasma suppres-
beam welding discussed in Chapter 5. The pur- sion above the weld. Inert gas coverage may
pose of tooling is to provide positioning of the be provided by trailing and backup shielding
weldment relative to the laser beam. Gas cover- techniques. For extremely reactive materials, a
age, operator protection, and joint fit-up and flowing gas dry box may be utilized with the
alignment can also be provided by the tooling. beam entering through one of the exhaust gas
Welding motion is established by movement of ports.
the workpiece or the beam, or by a combination Closed-circuit TV systems may be used to
of the two. position the beam on the workpiece and to view
One difference between laser and electron the welding process. This is useful for continuous
beam tooling is that transparent and magnetic welding if the workpiece location is manually
materials can be used with a laser beam. Both controlled by the operator.


A laser beam can be used as a heat source permits cutting or drilling in locations of limited
for straight or contour cutting of sheet or plate accessibility.
as is done with a plasma arc or oxyfuel gas torch. (2) The process does not require that the
It can also be used to drill holes. Continuous workpiece be a part of an electric circuit as with
power is preferred for the former, while pulsed plasma arc cutting.
power is used almost exclusively for the latter. (3) A laser beam provides very high power
Metals, ceramics, and a wide variety of other density in a small spot so that high-speed cutting
materials can be cut or drilled with a laser beam. is attained with a very narrow kerf and heat-
The mechanics by which a pulsed laser affected zone. These factors, together with the
beam removes metal during drilling involves a ease with which laser systems can be automated,
combination of melting and vaporization. Suffi- indicate application to computer numerical con-
cient vaporization is established to eject liquid trol cutting of contoured parts.
metal from the hole. With a cw beam, the ex- (4) Hole characteristics can be controlled
tremely high power density required for such a by appropriate selection of optics. The beam can
process cannot be attained; hence, a high-velocity be shaped with optics of long focal length to
gas jet is used to augment the laser beam. drill deep, small diameter holes.
Some of the advantages of laser beam cut- Some limitations on application of the pro-
ting (LBC) compared to oxyfuel gas (OFC) or cess are:
plasma arc cutting (PAC) are: (I) The laser beam generator is costly com-
(1) The laser beam generator need not be in pared to oxyfuel gas and plasma arc cutting
close proximity to the workpiece surface. This equipment, and the application must justify the
Laser Beam Cutting and Drilling /233

cost differential. coupling occurs with the workpiece despite the

(2) Although steel up to 2 inches in thick- high reflectivity of metals at room temperature
ness has been cut with a laser system, the pro- to light at laser wavelengths. For example, 0. 062-
cess is currently best suited for metal thick- in. thick aluminum alloy sheet can be cut at 300
nesses of0.5 in. and under. in./min with a 3kW C0 2 laser using compressed
air assist. Only a slight increase in cutting speed
GAS-ASSIST CUTTING is attained if the surface is initially anodized to
provide an absorptive surface. Kerf width with
Since the power density attainable with cw these conditions is about 0.02 in., and the heat-
laser systems is insufficient to promote cutting affected zone extends only about 0.001 in. into
by the vaporization-liquid metal expulsion pro- the base material.
cess, an assist gas jet is normally used to blow
In most metals, cutting speed at constant
the molten metal from the kerf. With low power
power is inversely proportional to thickness, as
cw systems, oxygen is generally used as an assist
indicated in Fig. 6.18 for Type 302 stainless
gas to take advantage of the exothermic reaction
steel. Within certain limits, cutting speed is di-
with those metals which can be oxygen cut. Sim-
rectly proportional to laser power, as shown in
ilar behavior occurs in high power cutting; how- Fig. 6.19. Representative laser beam cutting per-
ever, a wide variety of other assist gases such as formance with several metals is given in Table
compressed air, helium, argon, carbon dioxide, 6.1. Although cutting performance improves
and nitrogen may also be effectively used. Cuts with laser power, the improvement is generally
obtained with inert gas exhibit clean, nonoxi- not directly proportional to power.
dized edges but sometimes develop a tenacious
lower edge burr. With oxygen-assisted cutting,
the burr is usually quite brittle and therefore
easily removed. On interaction of a pulsed laser beam with
As in deep penetration welding, excellent a metal, some energy is reflected, particularly

Typical laser beam cutting performance
Thickness, Power, Cutting speed,
Metal in. kW in./min
Steel 0.051 0.5 142
0.063 0.5 98
0.090 0.6 70
0.125 4.0 160
0.660 4.0 45
2.125 6.0 13
Stainless steel 0.012 0.35 173
0.039 0.5 65
0.090 0.6 70
0.125 3.0 100
Nickel alloys 0.059 0.85 90
0.125 4.0 120
Titanium 0.040 0.23 193
0.200 0.6 130
1.25 3.0 50
2.00 3.0 20
Aluminum 0.125 4.3 100
0.250 3.8 40
0.500 5.7 30

at the onset of the pulse. Of the absorbed energy,

most is used in melting, a small fraction is used
for vaporization, and only a small amount is con-
ducted into the base material. The momentum of
the vaporized material is sufficient to blow the c 600
molten material out of the hole. If the pulsed
power density exceeds 65 MW/in.2 and the pulse --c
duration is longer than 0.5 ms, the volume of
metal removed is directly proportional to the .

total pulse energy. The proportionality constant c

depends upon the material; values of 160 kJ/in.' ...
and 50 kJ/in.' pertain to steel and aluminum, 200
In drilling, as in cutting, the low power
density outer fringes of a focused beam do not
contribute favorably to the process. Rather, they
may inhibit metal expulsion and increase overall Laser power, W
energy input leading to a relatively wide heat-
Fig. 6.19-Dependence of cutting speed
affected zone. For precision processing, it is
on C02 laser beam power with oxygen
therefore desirable to remove the outer low-
assist for Type 302 stainless steel
intensity fringes of the laser beam. This can be
accomplished by suitable aperturing within the
beam-shaping optics.
Pulsed ruby, YAG, and C0 2 lasers are appli-
cable to drilling. Figure 6. 20 shows a gas turbine
blade with cooling holes drilled with a ruby laser
beam. Deep, narrow holes can be drilled in
metals, including high temperature nickel-base
alloys. Holes are drilled in production as deep as
800 1/4 inch. A typical machine designed for drilling
will fixture the part, move it in three linear and

two rotational axes of motion, and automatically
adjust laser and optical variables so that many

holes may be drilled in one setup. Figure 6.21
~ shows a 0.060-in. thick nickel alloy part that
was cut and drilled with a 400 W pulsed YAG

laser beam and a gas-assist nozzle.
Typical drilling conditions for a pulsed
ruby laser are given in Table 6.2. The range of
r'\. practical hole sizes for production drilling with a

"1'--. ...._
pulsed laser is shown in Fig. 6.22. Larger holes
... can be generated by cutting out circles (trepan-
~ ning) with a rotating continuous or pulsed beam.
Laser drilling is a thermal process subject to un-
4 8 12 16 20 24 X 10-2
controllable variations. Consequently, the wall
Thickness, in.
of a drilled hole may show random recast zones,
Fig. 6.18-Dependence of cutting speed and exact dimensional control is not possible. On
on thickness for Type 302 stainless steel the other hand, drilling performance is fast,
using an oxygen assisted 1.25 kW C0 2 easily automated, and essentially independent
laser beam of metal hardness.
Laser Beam Cutting and Drilling /235

Fig. 6.20-A gas turbine blade containing cooling holes drilled with a pulsed
laser beam

Typical conditions for drilling with a pulsed ruby laser 8
Material Laser Variables Holediam-
Thick- Pulse Energy eter, in.
ness, length, output,
1Ype in. ms J trance Exit
Magnesium 0.062 1.8 2.1 0.014 0.008
Magnesium 0.062 2.0 3.3 0.016 0.012
Molybdenum 0.020 2.0 3.3 0.010 0.008
Molybdenum 0.020 2.25 4.9 0.010 0.008
Molybdenum 0.020 2.35 5.9 0.010 0.010
Copper 0.032 2.25 4 .9 0 .008 b

1Ype 304 stainless steel 0.036 2.35 5.9 0 .020 0.010

Thntalum 0.062 2.35 5.9° 0.012 0.006
Thnalum 0.062 2.42d 8.0d 0.01 2 0.004
Ti-6%Al-4%V 0.096 2.35 5 .9 0.016 0.006
Ti-6%Al-4%V 0.096 2.4 7.0 0.018 0.006
Ti-6%Al-4%V 0.096 2.4 7.0° 0.020 0.020
Thngsten 0.020 2.0 3.3 0 .008 0.006
Thngsten 0.020 2.1 4.0 0.008 0.008
Thngsten 0.020 2.35 5.9 0.010 0.012
a A 94.8 mm objective lens was used in each case with the beam sharply focused at the surface. One laser pulse was used for each hole
except where noted. c Two luer pulses.
b Not measured. d Extrapolated value.

.-.. . . . .
. .........
.. .. . . ..
. .
.. .. ...... .. .. ..
. . .· .. .
.. .. .. . .
. ....
. ..
.. ..
... .... ...
........ ........
. .... ..... .
........ ... ...........

Fig. 6.21-A 0.060-in. thick nickel alloy part cut and drilled with a pulsed
YAG laser beam and gas assist nozzl~

1.011:"'""--------- ----.
The basic hazards associated with laser
operation are:
(I) Eye damage including burns of the
cornea or retina, or both .~
(2) Skin burns -5.. 0.1
(3) Respiratory system damage due to evo-
lution of hazardous materials during the beam-
workpiece interaction
(4) Electrical shock
(5) Chemical hazards
(6) Cryogenic coolants Diameter, in.
Of the above, eye damage is commonly Fig. 6.22-Relationship between diameter
associated with lasers. For laser beams operat- and depth for pulsed laser drilled holes
ing at visible or near infrared wavelengths, even in ferrous alloys

a 5 milliwatt beam can cause retinal damage. have appropriate interlocks on all access doors
Fortunately, safety glasses are available which and provisions for discharging capacitor banks
are substantially transparent to visible light but before entry. The equipment should be appro-
are opaque to specific laser output. Selective priately grounded.
filters for ruby, Nd-YAG, and other systems are The least obvious hazard is that of the po-
available. Care must be taken to ensure that tential products of the beam-workpiece interac-
glasses appropriate to the specific laser system tion. For example, plastic materials used for
are used. At longer infrared wavelengths (such "burn patterns" to identify beam shape and dis-
as 10.6 wavelengths of the C0 2 laser), or- tribution in high power C0 2 systems can gen-
dinarily transparent materials such as glass are erate highly toxic vapors if irradiated in an oxy-
opaque. Clear, safety glasses with side shields gen-lean atmosphere. In deep penetration weld-
may be used with these systems, so that the only ing, fine metal fumes can be formed. With some
light reaching the eye will be from incandes- metals, these may be carcinogenic. Also, severe
cence of the workpiece. At high power, extreme plasma generation can produce ozone. Conse-
brilliance will ensue on generation of a plasma, quently, adequate ventilation and exhaust pro-
and shaded glasses will then be desirable. visions for laser work areas is paramount.
Laser burns can be deep and very slow to Laser manufacturers are required to qualify
heal. Exposure is to be avoided by appropriate their equipment with the U.S. Bureau of Radio-
enclosure of the beam. This is particularly im- logical Health (BRH). Electrical components
portant for nonvisible beams that provide no ex- should be in compliance with NEMA standards.
ternal evidence of their existence unless inter- User action is governed by OSHA requirements.
cepted by a solid. In all cases, American National Standard ZI36.1,
Since high voltages as well as large capaci- Safe Use of Lasers (latest edition), should be
tive storage devices are associated with lasers, followed. Although hazards exist, they are well-
the possibility for lethal electrical shock is ever defined and readily avoided with appropriate
present. Electrical system enclosures should care.

Metric Conversion Factors

1 W/in~ = 1.55 x 103 W/m 2
1 in. = 25.4 mm
1 in~= 1.64 x 104 mm•
1 in./min. = 0.423 mm/s
1ft/min= 5.1 x 10·3 m/s
1 = 3.94 x 10~ in. or 104 angstroms
tF = 1.8tK -460


Anderson, J. D., Gas Dynamic Lasers, New 1974 Feb.
York: Academic Press, 1976.
Gerry, E. T., Application of gas dynamic lasers.
Baardsen, E. L., et al., High speed welding of Welding Journal, 51 (5); 329-42: 1972
sheet steel with a C0 2 laser. Welding Jour- May.
nal, 52 (4); 227-9: 1973 Apr.
Harry, J. E., Industrial Lasers and Their Appli-
Banas, C. M., High power laser welding-1978. cations, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1974.
Optical Engineering, 11 (3), 210-16, 1978
Locke, E., et al., Deep penetration welding with
high power C0 2 lasers. Welding Journal,
Bolin, S. R., Bright spot for pulsed lasers. Weld- 51 (5); 245s-49s: 1972 May.
ing Des. & Fab., 49 (8); 74-7: 1976 Aug.
Moorehead, A. J., Laser welding and drilling
Charschan, S. S., ed., Lasers in Industry, New applications. Welding Journal, 50 (2); 97-
York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1972. 106: 1971 Feb
Crafer, R. C., Improved welding performance Morgan-Warren, E. J ., The application of laser
from a 2kW axial flow C0 2 laser welding welding to overcome joint asymmetry.
machine, Advances in Welding Processes, Welding Joural, 58 (3); 76s-82s: 1979
4th Int. Conf., Harrogate, England, 9-1 I Mar.
May 1978, Cambridge, England: The Weld-
Schwartz, M. M., Laser Welding and Cutting,
ing Institute, 1978.
New York: Welding Research Council
Duley, W. W., C0 2 Lasers, New York: Academic Bulletin, No. 167; 1971, Nov.
Press, 1976.
Seretsky, J. and Ryba, E. R., Laser welding
Engel, S. L., How to make better laser welds. dissimilar metals: titanium to nickel. Weld-
Welding Des. & Fab., 51 (1): 1978 ing Journal, 55 (7); 208s-lls: 1976 July.
Estes, C. L. and Thrner, P. W., Laser welding Sherwell, J. R., Design for laser beam welding.
of a simulated nuclear reactor fuel ass