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Power source characteristics

Job Knowledge 121

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Fig. 1. Static arc characteristic

The prime objective of an arc welding power source is to deliver controllable welding current at a

voltage demanded by the welding process. The arc welding processes have different requirements

with respect to the controls necessary to give the required welding conditions and these in their turn
influence the design of the power source. In order to understand how the requirements of the

processes affect the design of the power source it is necessary to understand the interaction of the
power source and the arc characteristics.

If the voltage of a welding arc at varying arc lengths is plotted against the welding current the curves

illustrated in Fig. 1 are obtained. The highest voltage is the open circuit voltage of the power source.

Once the arc is struck the voltage rapidly falls as the gases in the arc gap become ionized and

electrically conductive, the electrode heats up and the size of the arc column increases. The welding

current increases as the voltage falls until a point is reached at which time the voltage/current
relationship becomes linear and begins to follow Ohms Law. What is important to note from Fig. 1 is
that as the arc length changes both the voltage and welding current also change – a longer arc giving

higher voltage but with a corresponding drop in welding current and vice versa. This characteristic of

the welding arc affects the design of the power source since large changes in welding current in

manual metallic arc (MMA) and TIG welding is undesirable but is essential for the MIG/MAG and flux
cored arc welding processes.

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Fig 2 Constant current power source characteristic

MMA, TIG and submerged arc power sources are therefore designed with what is known as a drooping

output or constant current static characteristic, MIG/MAG and FCAW power sources with a flat or

constant voltage static characteristic. On most power sources the slope of the characteristic can be
changed either to flatten or make steeper the curves shown in Fig 2 and Fig. 3

Fig 2 shows drooping or constant current power source static characteristics, such as would be used

for the MMA or TIG process, superimposed on the arc characteristic curves. When manual welding is

taking place the arc length is continually changing as the welder cannot maintain a constant arc

length. With a constant current power source as the arc length changes due to the welder’s
manipulation of the welding torch there is only a small change in the welding current – the steeper the
curve the smaller the change in current so there will be no current surges and a stable welding

condition is achieved. Since it is primarily the welding current that determines such features as the

penetration and electrode consumption this means that the arc length is less critical, making the

welder’s task easier in achieving sound defect free welds. Typically, a ±5volt change would result in
around a ±8 amp change at 150amp welding current.

In some situations – for example when welding in the overhead position or when the welder is faced

with variable root gaps - it is an advantage if the welder has rather more control over deposition rates

by enabling him to vary the rate by changing the arc length. In such a situation a flatter power source
characteristic will be of benefit.

Submerged arc welding also uses a drooping characteristic power source where the welding current

and the electrode feed rate are matched to the rate at which the wire is melted and transferred across

the arc and into the weld pool – the “burn-off rate”. This matching of parameters is carried out by a

monitoring system which uses the arc voltage to control the electrode feed speed – if the arc

length/voltage increases the wire feed speed is increased to restore equilibrium. The constant voltage

power source characteristic is illustrated in Fig. 3. This shows that as the arc length and hence the

voltage changes there is a large change in the welding current – as the arc lengthens the welding
current falls, as the arc shortens the current increases.

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Fig. 3 Constant voltage power source characteristic

With MIG/MAG and FCAW power sources the welding current is controlled by the wire feed speed, the

welding current determining the rate at which the welding wire is melted and transferred across the

arc and into the weld pool – the “burn-off” rate. Therefore, as the current decreases the burn-off rate

also falls, less wire is melted and the wire tip approaches the weld pool. In doing so, the voltage

decreases, the welding current and hence the burn-off rate increase. Since the wire feed speed is

constant there is a surplus of burn-off over wire feed such that the desired arc length, voltage and

current are re-established. The converse also occurs – a shortening of the arc causes a reduction in

voltage, the current rises, the burn-off rate increases, causing the arc to lengthen, the voltage to

increase and the welding current to fall until the pre-set welding conditions are re-established. Again,

a typical figure for the change in welding current for a constant voltage power source would be in the

region of ±40amps for a change in arc length of ±5volts. This feature gives us what is known as a

“self-adjusting arc” where changes in arc length, voltage and current are automatically returned to the

required values, producing stable welding conditions. This makes the welder’s task somewhat easier

when compared with MMA or TIG welding. Although in principle it may be possible to use a constant

voltage characteristic power source for MMA welding it is far more difficult for the welder to judge
burn-off rate than arc length so arc instability results and the method is not practicable.

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Fig 4 The level of inductance on short circuit transfer

In addition to this voltage control of the welding arc the speed at which the power source responds to

short circuiting is important - this is known as the power source dynamic characteristic. Short circuits

occur during arc striking and in MIG/MAG welding during dip transfer. As the voltage drops to zero

when a short circuit occurs the current rises. If this increase in the current is fast and uncontrolled

then the electrode tip blows like an electrical fuse resulting in excessive spatter – too slow a rise and

the electrode may stub into the weld pool and extinguish the arc. This is not too significant when using
the MMA process since the maximum current at zero voltage is controlled by the slope of the static

characteristic curve and the welder can easily establish an arc gap. It is, however, important in the
MIG/MAG process where a flat static characteristic power source is used and the current could rise to
an extremely high value, in particular when welding in the dip transfer or short circuiting condition.

An electrical component called an inductor is therefore introduced into the power source electrical

circuit. This device opposes changes in the welding current and hence slows the rate at which the

current increases during a short circuit. The inductance is variable and can be adjusted to give a

stable condition as shown in Fig. 4. Inductance in the welding circuit also results in fewer short circuits

per second and a longer arc-on time - this gives a smoother better shaped weld bead. Too much

inductance, however, may result in such a slow rise in the welding current that there is insufficient

time for the arc to re-establish and melt the wire tip so that the welding wire then stubs into the weld
pool. Inductance during spray transfer is also helpful in providing a better and less violent arc start.

This article was written by Gene Mathers.

What is the relationship between hardness,

microstructure and toughness in steel heat affected
There is no simple relationship between these three items, although they are related as indicated in
BS EN 1011-2 Annex D (Reference 1) by a graphical example:

Fig. 1. An example of how impact energy is affected by the welding thermal cycle

However, it is difficult to relate this then to hardness or microstructure.

The microstructure and hardness produced in any ferritic steel heat affected zone (HAZ) is essentially
dependent upon:

1. the cooling rate through the transformation temperature range of the steel in question.

2. the composition and the hardenability of the steel, and

3. the (prior austenite) grain size before transformation.

The cooling rate is governed by the heat supplied during welding, and the heat sink, which is a

function of the initial temperature of the parts to be joined, their thickness and geometry. In arc
welding, the heat supplied during welding is characterised by the heat input, which is defined as

(see What is the difference between heat input and arc energy?)

Control over cooling rate in a particular fabrication (where steel composition and geometry are fixed)
is therefore achieved by varying heat input and preheat temperature.

The hardness generated in the steel at a given cooling rate is governed principally by its composition,

and a useful way of describing this is to assess the total contribution to it of all the elements that are

present. This is done by empirical formulae which define a carbon equivalent (CE) value and takes
account of the important elements which are known to affect hardenability. One formula used is:

Its calculation and use are described in detail in What is the difference between the various Carbon

Equivalent Formulae used in relation to hydrogen cracking?. The cooling rates which produce different

microstructures of different hardnesses are established by laboratory studies of each steel type, using
the cooling rates which the steel experiences during welding.

For carbon-manganese steels, a relationship between composition (CE value), cooling rate and

microstructural hardness level has been established. This relationship has been used in constructing
welding diagrams for these steels, in order to avoid fabrication hydrogen cracking of the heat affected
zone. These diagrams are given in reference[2] , and also in the Preheat Toolkit.

Low toughness may be experienced in HAZs due to the presence of inherently brittle microstructures,
including unusually coarse microstructures.

A low heat input leads to rapid cooling as the weld deposited is small in relation to the parent material

and the parent material acts as a heat sink. The toughness can be low in microstructures that have

arisen from rapid cooling rates. In general, very low heat inputs are to be avoided as they result in
hard, crack susceptible microstructures with poor toughness.

A high heat input gives slower cooling and the grain size in the HAZ can become very coarse if the

temperature is high enough to promote grain growth prior to transformation. Very large grain sizes
can have poor toughness even when the microstructure is soft.

Many other factors also contribute to HAZ toughness, however, and neither hardness nor

microstructure alone can be used as reliable indicators of toughness. See Local brittle zones in C-Mn
steel multipass welds.

In TMCP steels, a limit is often placed on heat input to avoid undue softening in the weld region,

(see Is there a restriction on the heat input that can be used for the welding of TMCP (Thermo-
Mechanically Controlled Processed) steels - if so, why?)


Measuring Fillet Weld Size …

It’s Easy Right?
 Published on March 1, 2017

Karsten Madsen
FollowKarsten Madsen
Optimizing weld quality & productivity via OptiWELD
Preamble: this article has been published in the Oct 2017 issue of the
Canadian Welding Association's Welding Journal.

Some cynicism is intended in the title of this article as I have often seen
mistakes made or shortcuts taken in assessing the humble, everyday
fillet weld. I also intend to clarify with examples how to accurately
measure fillet welds with respect to their size and shape.

Weld Features to Measure

I do need to emphasize that this article will deal with fillet welds
measured by "Leg Length" which is the standard dimensional feature
specified on engineering drawings, at least in North America. This refers
to distance from the root to toe and should be measured in both
directions. In a future article, I will review how measuring fillet weld
size based on throat dimension instead of leg size can have both
engineering and productivity benefits.

To clarify the features specified in the symbol below that can be

inspected for, on the arrow side of the joint a fillet weld is required with
a 1/4" leg size and for a finite length of 8" (location may be noted on
dwg). On the other side of the joint an unequal leg length fillet weld is
required measuring 1/4 x 3/8".
Assuming the length feature should be a straight forward measurement,
let's look at how to properly measure leg length. The leg size is the
length of the legs of an imaginary triangle that can be inscribed within
the actual weld as shown with feature L1 and L2 in the image below for
both a convex and concave fillet weld. In the case of the convex fillet
weld shown on the left, the measured leg (L) is equivalent to the
size (S). In the case of the concave fillet shown on the right, the
measured leg (L) provides an untrue measure of weld strength which is
why these welds are instead assessed based on throat dimension to
determine effective weld size (S). More discussion on the various throat
dimensions will follow in a future article.
In most cases, a standard fillet weld gauge set is used to verify that the
leg length matches the specified size. These gauges may not measure
exact size but instead verifies that the specified size has been
attained. The standard set is shown below along with some other gauges
that may be used. In cases where larger or non-standard fillet sizes are
specified beyond gauge capabilities, special gauges may be required.

When using the standard fillet weld set, the weld should first be visually
examined and if it appears to be flat or convex, it should be assessed
based on leg length only as shown below. The image below shows a
fillet weld being inspected to verify the specified 3/8" leg size. If the
fillet instead appears to be concave, the weld should instead be assessed
using the side of the gauge with the centre tab which would need to
touch the face of the weld.
In the next scenario, the measured leg length is again 3/8" but the weld
should be rejected as undersize due to its concave profile resulting in an
effective weld size of only 1/4" as shown on the right below. The black
lines you see on the gauge points to the effective toe of the imaginary
triangular fillet.
While the above example illustrates how concave fillet profiles should
be scrutinized, fillets that are convex may also be rejected due to profile
or shape. At first glance, this fillet appears to be acceptable based on a
specified leg length of 1/4". In examining its profile however, noticeable
convexity is evident. Listed below the image is convexity criteria from
one structural welding code which should be used to assess this weld.

Convexity Criteria: Convexity, C, of a weld or individual surface

bead shall not exceed 0.07 times the actual face width of the weld
or individual bead, respectively, plus 1.6 mm (1/16 in).

The criteria above is particularly important for cyclic loading

applications as increased convexity adds to the stress riser or notch
effect at the toe of the fillet that can be a location for crack
initiation. While many inspectors may make a judgement call based on
experience or best guess, the image below shows how a 1/4" convex
fillet should be assessed to evaluate if convexity is excessive. This will
require the proper gauges to measure actual throat and yes, some
mathematical calculations. As shown, the maximum measure throat
dimension would be 0.264" based on this calculation. A proper gauge
measuring the actual throat dimension should be used to assess if this
criteria has been met.

One last thing … that in fact, should have been the first thing the
inspector did prior to welding. If there is a gap between members being
joined, the measurement methods already mentioned may not state the
effective weld size. Listed below is criteria from one structural welding
code that places limitation on gaps between parts being joined via fillet
welds. In some cases the measured gap would be subtracted from the
measured fillet leg while gaps in excess of 3/16 may cause outright

Fillet Weld Assembly Criteria: The parts to be joined by fillet

welds shall be brought into as close a contact as practicable. The
separation between parts shall normally not exceed 5 mm (3/16 in)
except in cases involving shapes and plates 75 mm (3 in) thick or
greater when, after straightening and in assembly, the gap cannot
be closed sufficiently to meet this tolerance. In such cases, there
may be a maximum gap of 8 mm (5/16 in), provided that a sealing
weld or suitable backing material* is used to prevent melt-
through. If the separation is 2 mm (1/16 in) or greater, the leg of
the fillet weld shall be increased by the amount of the separation.

In performing fitup and preparation inspection, inspectors noticing gaps

between parts to be joined should use a proper gauge to measure the
magnitude of gap.

In the case of the fillet weld measured with a 1/4" leg length as shown
on the left below, the weld would be rejected as undersize based on the
criteria listed above. Based on the measured gap of 5/64" a measured leg
of 21/64" would be result in an effective fillet size of 1/4".
In my next article, I will look more closely at how fillet welds can be
assessed based on throat dimension and emphasize important benefits
this can provide. In the meantime, make sure you have fresh batteries in
your flashlight, a proper suite of gauges in your inspection kit and a
diligent mindset as you tackle your inspection chores.

The ASME Code has essential variables directly related to the GMAW-S mode of welding
Defects/imperfections in welds - reheat cracking
Job Knowledge 48

Location of reheat cracks in a nuclear pressure vessel steel

The characteristic features and principal causes of reheat cracking are described. General guidelines

on best practice are given so that welders can minimise the risk of reheat cracking in welded


Visual appearance

Reheat cracking may occur in low alloy steels containing alloying additions of chromium and

molybdenum or chromium, molybdenum and vanadium when the welded component is being

subjected to post weld heat treatment, such as stress relief heat treatment, or has been subjected to
high temperature service (typically in the range 350 to 550°C).

Cracking is almost exclusively found in the coarse grained regions of the heat affected zone (HAZ)

beneath the weld, or cladding, and in the coarse grained regions within the weld metal. The cracks can
often be seen visually, usually associated with areas of stress concentration such as the weld toe.

Cracking may be in the form of coarse macro-cracks or colonies of micro-cracks.

A macro-crack will appear as a 'rough' crack, often with branching, following the coarse grain region,

(Fig. 1a). Cracking is always intergranular along the prior austenite grain boundaries (Fig. 1b). Macro-

cracks in the weld metal can be oriented either longitudinal or transverse to the direction of welding.
Cracks in the HAZ, however, are always parallel to the direction of welding.

Fig.1a. Cracking associated with the coarse grained heat affected zone

Fig.1b. Intergranular morphology of reheat cracks

Micro-cracking can also be found both in the HAZ and within the weld metal. Micro-cracks in multipass

welds will be found associated with the grain coarsened regions which have not been refined by
subsequent passes.

The principal cause is that when heat treating susceptible steels, the grain interior becomes

strengthened by carbide precipitation, forcing the relaxation of residual stresses by creep deformation
at the grain boundaries.

The presence of impurities which segregate to the grain boundaries and promote temper

embrittlement, e.g. antimony, arsenic, tin, sulphur and phosphorus, will increase the susceptibility to
reheat cracking.

The joint design can increase the risk of cracking. For example, joints likely to contain stress
concentration, such as partial penetration welds, are more liable to initiate cracks.

The welding procedure also has an influence. Large weld beads are undesirable, as they produce

coarse columnar grains within the weld metal and a coarse grained HAZ which is less likely to be
refined by the subsequent pass, and therefore will be more susceptible to reheat cracking.

Best practice in prevention

The risk of reheat cracking can be reduced through the choice of steel, specifying the maximum
impurity level and by adopting a more tolerant welding procedure / technique.

Steel choice

If possible, avoid welding steels known to be susceptible to reheat cracking. For example, A 508 Class
2 is known to be particularly susceptible to reheat cracking, whereas cracking associated with welding

and cladding in A508 Class 3 is largely unknown. The two steels have similar mechanical properties,
but A508 Class 3 has a lower Cr content and a higher manganese content.

Similarly, in the higher strength, creep-resistant steels, an approximate ranking of their crack
susceptibility is as follows:

5 Cr 1Mo lower risk

2.25Cr 1 Mo ↓

0.5Mo B ↓

0.5Cr 0.5Mo 0.25V higher risk

Thus, in selecting a creep-resistant, chromium molybdenum steel, 0.5Cr 0.5Mo 0.25V steel is known

to be susceptible to reheat cracking but the 2.25Cr 1Mo which has a similar creep resistance, is
significantly less susceptible.

Unfortunately, although some knowledge has been gained on the susceptibility of certain steels, the
risk of cracking cannot be reliably predicted from the chemical composition. Various indices, including
ΔG1, PSR and Rs, have been used to indicate the susceptibility of steel to reheat cracking. Steels which
have a value of ΔG1 of less than 2, PSRless than zero or Rs less than 0.03, are less susceptible to
reheat cracking

ΔG1 = 10C + Cr + 3.3Mo + 8.1V - 2

PSR = Cr +Cu + 2Mo + 10V +7Nb + 5Ti - 2

Rs = 0.12Cu +0.19S +0.10As + P +1.18Sn + 1.49Sb

Irrespective of the steel type, it is important to purchase steels specified to have low levels of impurity

elements (antimony, arsenic, tin, bismuth, sulphur and phosphorus). To avoid weld metal reheat

cracking, it is necessary to ensure that welding consumables deposit weld metal with appropriately low
levels of these impurities, and preferably to avoid coarse columnar grains. Following several instances

of weld metal reheat cracking in thick-wall 2.25%Cr-1%Mo-0.25%V reactor vessels, impurities in the

flux were identified as being responsible for the cracking, and an equation given for the desired upper
limit of these additional impurities.

K = Pb + Bi + 0.03Sb (ppm)

The compositional factor K must be less than 1.5 to achieve freedom from this form of cracking.
Welding procedure and technique

The welding procedure can be used to minimise the risk of reheat cracking by

 Producing the maximum refinement of the coarse grain HAZ

 Limiting the degree of austenite grain growth

 Eliminating stress concentrations

The procedure should aim to refine the coarse grained HAZ by subsequent passes. In butt welds,

maximum refinement can be achieved by using a steep-sided joint preparation with a low angle of

attack to minimise penetration into the side-wall, ( Fig 2a). In comparison, a larger angle V

preparation produces a wider HAZ, limiting the amount of refinement achieved by subsequent passes,
( Fig 2b). Narrow joint preparations, however, are more difficult to weld, due to the increased risk of
lack of side-wall fusion.

Fig.2a. Welding in the flat position - high degree of HAZ refinement

Fig.2b. Welding in the horizontal/vertical position - low degree of HAZ refinement

Refinement of the HAZ can be promoted by first buttering the surface of the susceptible plate with a

thin weld metal layer using a small diameter (3.2mm) electrode. The joint is then completed using a

larger diameter (4 - 4.8mm) electrode, which is intended to generate sufficient heat to refine any
remaining coarse grained HAZ under the buttered layer.

The degree of austenite grain growth can be restricted by using a low heat input. However,

precautionary measures may be necessary to avoid the risk of hydrogen-assisted cracking and lack-of-

fusion defects. For example, reducing the heat input will almost certainly require a higher preheat
temperature to avoid hydrogen-assisted cracking.

The joint design and welding technique adopted should ensure that the weld is free from localised

stress concentrations which can arise from the presence of notches. Stress concentrations may be
produced in the following situations:

 welding with a backing bar

 a partial penetration weld leaving a root imperfection

 internal weld imperfections such as lack of sidewall fusion

 the weld has a poor surface profile, especially sharp weld toes

The weld toes of the capping pass are particularly vulnerable, as the coarse grained HAZ may not

have been refined by subsequent passes. In susceptible steel, the last pass should never be deposited
on the parent material, but always on the weld metal, so that it will refine the HAZ.

Grinding the weld toes with the preheat maintained has been successfully used to reduce the risk of
cracking in 0.5Cr 0.5Mo 0.25V steels.

This Job Knowledge article was originally published in Connect, July 2000. It has been updated so the
web page no longer reflects exactly the printed version.
Film Viewer Intensity in Accordance with AS2177
March 15, 2011ndtblogLeave a commentGo to comments

AS2177- 2006 requires that the output of a film viewer be such that brightness of an illuminated
radiograph shall not be less then 30 cd/m2 and shall preferably be greater than 100 cd/m2.
Since the density of a film directly effects the transmission of light it is important to understand the
relationship between Film Density and Viewer Brightness. Refer to Table 1.

To calculate density the formula is:

Density = Log10 (Intensity of Incident Light / Intensity of Transmitted Light)

Example 1: What would be the maximum film density viewable, with a viewer with an output of
48000 cd/m2.
Density = Log10 (48000/30)
Maximum Density Viewable = 3.2

Example 2: What would be the recommended maximum film density viewable, with a viewer with
an output of 48000 cd/m2.
Density = Log10 (48000/100)
Recommended Maximum Density Viewable = 2.68

Film Density MinimumOutput cd/m2 RecommendedOutput cd/m2

2.0 3000 10000

2.5 9487 31623

3.0 30000 100000

3.5 94868 316228

4.0 300000 1000000

Table 1 – Density Vs Viewer Output

Advertised Density Capability
As most viewers are manufactured overseas, they are commonly supplied with specification sheets
with nominated density capabilities that refer to other international standards. The requirements vary
from standard to standard, it is therefore important to determine the correct output based on cd/m 2.
For example a viewer rated to D3.6 to EN25580, has a maximum density of D3.1 to AS2177.

Measurement of Output
Confirmation of output is required annually and can be performed in a variety of ways including:

a) Direct reading from calibrated luminous intensity meter.

b) Conversion from illuminance (lux) to luminous intensity (cd/m2)