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TIG AND PLASMA PROCESSES

File: TIG welding and PLASMA welding

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1 TIG process 6.6 Productivity improvement through arc-striking reliability 4 Application example 4.1.2 PLASMA process 7 Conclusions 4 5 5 6 8 8 8 9 10 11 11 12 12 12 13 13 14 15 15 15 16 16 16 16 .1 PLASMA welding in pipe prefabrication 4.2 PLASMA and PLASMA + TIG sheet-metal welding 5 Equipment 6 Filler products and gases 6.4 PLASMA + TIG welding 3.2.2 PLASMA process Principle and implementation of the process 3 Performance levels 3.3 Productivity improvement through tolerance on preparations in manual welding 3.3 Multi-electrode welding in automatic mode 3.1 Filler products 6.5 Productivity improvement through hot wire TIG and hot wire PLASMA deposition rate 3.4 Productivity improvement trough reduction or elimination of finishing (finishing quality) 3.1.1 TIG welding with arc deviation in automatic mode 3.2 Double flux TIG welding 3.1.2 Gases 6.1 TIG process Principle and implementation of the process 2.1 Productivity improvement through welding speed or penetration 3.2.Table of Contents 1 Introduction 2 Electric arc gas-shielding welding with non-consumable electrode 2. compactness and penetration 3.1.2 Productivity improvement through joint quality.

since in a plasma torch. Additionally. stainless steel. zirconium and tantalum alloys and. do not require subsequent resealing runs. the Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) process consists of creating a source of heat from an electric arc which flashes in an inert gaseous atmosphere between a non-consumable tungsten electrode and a workpiece acting as an anode. aluminum and copper-base alloys. for TIG welding. PLASMA welding represents a genuine progression of the TIG process towards high energy densities. Energy density: comparative table HIGH ENERGY BEAMS TIG DOUBLE FLUX TIG 150W/mm2 KEY HOLE PLASMA 103W/mm2 ELECTRON BEAM 105W/mm2 LASER 105W/mm2 Energy density Constriction (focalization) 50W/mm2 Pneumatic (nozzle) Electromagnetic (focalization coil) Optical (focalization lens) Focalization coil 1st focal point Magnetic field Magnetic field 2 nd focal point Focal point MELTING METHOD Collapse Collapse Key hole collapse Key hole Key hole 4 . TIG and PLASMA welding produces assemblies with a flawless appearance which. titanium.1 Introduction A well-controlled principle Introduced by SAF in France at the beginning of the 1950’s. another very important aspect is that these processes apply to materials as widely varied as carbon steel. in many cases. Excellent quality on all materials: source of productivity gains The foremost substantial advantage in an industrial context which requires an increasingly higher degree of quality. nickel. the arc undergoes a pinching effect when it flows through a highly-cooled nozzle.

and also enables one to limit the electronic bombardment of the electrode. nickel-based. trons of the alloy’s surface layer are pulled away and projected towards the electrode (anode). G. stainless steels. Thus. • alternating current and variable polarity: devoted mainly to welding light alloys.A.W. • pulsed current: with the same polarity as above. it can “crack the alumina layer” as the elec. generally with an argon or helium base.. titanium. isolates the molten metal and the surrounding hot areas from the air. Its main particularity is that in reverse polarity. one causes an electric arc to flash in a stream of inert gas (argon or a gas mixture). = Gas Tungsten Arc Welding Process n° 141: according to ISO 857 By means of an appropriate electric current whose type varies with that of the parent metal (for example: direct current for stainless steels). This inert gas. Electric power supply • direct current: direct polarity ( . and thus avoids any oxidation of the tungsten electrode. enabling one to reduce the volume of weld metal. 5 . and thus its heating up and gradual destruction.)... thus forming the welded joint after cooling. The heat given off by this arc causes the workpiece to melt locally.T.2 Electric arc gas-shielding welding with nonconsumable electrode 2-1 TIG process Principle and implementation of the process TIG = Tungsten Inert Gas Electric arc welding with non-consumable electrode With inert gas (example: argon) For information: also. along with the filler metal (eventual). pulsed current facilitates position welding and the welding of thin sheet metal.at electrode) for welding all metal materials (carbon steels. between a tungsten electrode (infusible) and the workpiece. the welding energy is controlled in high and low current value period. The progression of the alternating current towards the variable polarity enables better control of alternating “welding” and “pickling” operations through an independent adjustment of the amplitudes and times of each phase. including aluminum alloys (with helium protection).

depending on the applications.000 Free arc (TIG) 150 A . The voltage in the arc column increases in relation to that of a free arc with the same current value. Nozzle with mechanical pinching 6 G138 . depending on its position in the nozzle’s opening. by acting on the flowrate/speed ratio of this gas. • preheat (from 200 to 400 °C) the large-dimension parts made of light alloys and especially the cuprous parts.W. which varies according to the abovementioned parameters. PNEUMATIC CONSTRICTION OF THE ARC In this case. The confinement of the arc.000 10. modulates. • eliminate any oxides and traces of grease. etc.000-10. additional protection with a gas of the same kind is absolutely essential behind the weld bead. Figure 1 The following rules must be complied with: • extreme cleanliness of the edges to be assembled and of the filler metal. automatic. ‘pneumatic constriction’.Temperature: °K 4. or position welding. the Venturi effect to which the plasmagene gas is subjected. and the energy increases proportionally.2 PLASMA process Principle and implementation of the process For information: P . preparation.000-16. the type of joint.A. type of parts. which may identical or of a type different from the first one. = Plasma Arc Welding Process n° 12: according to ISO 857 The contribution of energy necessary for welding is ensured by an electric arc flashing in an atmosphere of plasmagene neutral gas between an infusible electrode and the parts to be assembled. • for materials which are highly oxidizable when hot (titanium. the cylindrical opening is replaced by a convergent-divergent nozzle in which the tapered tip of the electrode. zirconium). and confines the plasma thermodynamically. the type of parts. • vary the current value according to whether the welding is manual. hence the term. flows between the nozzle and the welding tip. This arc is mechanically and kinetically confined by means of a nozzle through which it is forced to pass. 2. 2). MECHANICAL CONSTRICTION OF THE ARC The arc flux is forced through a narrow cylindrical opening (nozzle) which constricts it mechanically. tantalum.14 V • It has a tapered shape and dissipates a substantial part of its energy around the edge. • prepare the parts according to the thicknesses. is therefore obtained by the plasmagene gas itself. Pneumatic pinching nozzle A second gas. The eventual addition of wire is carried out on the outside of the torch. This gas is also intended to protect the weld bead (Fig. as well as according to the thickness. This protection is effected by means of a carriage.

The welding jet goes completely through the plasmagene jet. At present. Pulsed current enables one to expand the operating domains of welding thin items. and the high flowrate of the central gas allows it to be blown out. welding energy is controlled in high and low current value period. stainless steels.000 °K temperature zone is transferred to the part in a concentrated beam. or blown arc. Its application principles are: . ELECTRIC POWER SUPPLY • Smooth direct current: . The molten metal is rejected towards the rear where. is established between the electrode connected to the . transmits more heat to the joint. and this is why the plasma jet is not piercing (conduction welding).000 PLASMA ARC 150 A .000-24.000-16. at the same time. • The transferred arc is established between the electrode and the parts to be assembled. in which the plasma jet goes through the entire thickness of the parts to be assembled. when cooling. Thicknesses less than 3 mm: the penetration bead is obtained through progression of the molten pool through the thickness to be welded.Figure 2 Annular gas Central gas G139 Temperature: °K 4. this is the only way to weld with PLASMA in “keyhole” mode with argon protection.pole of the power source and the nozzle connected to the + pole of the power source. 7 . it forms the weld bead. and position welding with penetration control.direct polarity at the electrode for welding metal materials (carbon steels.000-10. the most interesting technique is the key-hole technique.000 ≥ 24. IMPLEMENTATION This depends mainly on the thickness to be welded. In this case. Thicknesses greater than 3 mm: in this field. TYPE OF ARC First of all. . The variable polarity enables one to optimize the welding and pickling phases essential for welding light alloys. depending on the cases. The pinching of this arc leads to a constricting effect and a concentration of energy. The key-hole technique is used in automatic welding on an industrial scale. eliminates any support on the reverse side.000 10.000 – 16. • Alternating current in variable polarity: devoted to welding aluminum and its alloys.000 16. Its main advantage is that it ensures that one obtains good penetration and. • Pulsed direct current: with the same polarity as above.28 V • It diverges very little outside of the nozzle which is energetically cooled • The 10. it is necessary to differentiate two types of arcs: • The non-transferred. the anodic task is “locked on” the workpiece and because of this.striking the main arc. or do not conduct. nickel-based and titanium). the arc may “lock on” at different points of the nozzle. The welding current values which are used are low.welding parts which conduct. electricity.

the reduction in consumption of filler metal. Ø 3.use of a single type of thoriated tungsten electrode (Ø 1.work in a single pass up to 6 mm for light alloys. With this system. .1.the elimination of preparation of joints up to 6 mm.6 for carbon steels and stainless steels.3 1. there are fewer preparations in relation to TIG.2 Double flux TIG welding CARBON STEEL AND STAINLESS STEEL Standard TIG Type of preparation 60° Root face 1.1 Productivity improvement through welding speed or penetration 3. one needs less energy in double flux TIG.5 to 2 mm Root face 2 in 2 or 3 runs 1st run: 90 2nd run: 100 . thus focusing the energy on a restricted width.70 60° 1. • implementation and use which are easy. which enables one to obtain constant. ..5 to 2 mm in 2 runs The double flux TIG process enables: • constriction of the arc by the gas stream.110 6 in 2 runs 1st run: 130 2nd run: 100 *average current value in flat welding ALUMINIUM ALLOYS Standard TIG Type of preparation Intensity in A* Double flux TIG Thickness Type (mm) of preparation Intensity in A* 140 4 90 90° Root face 2 2 mm in 2 runs 1st run : 100 2nd run : 150 6 135 8 . Double flux TIG Thickness Type (mm) of preparation Intensity in A* Intensity in A* 1st run: 80 2nd run 100 4 65 . • increased economy: .1 TIG welding with arc deviation in automatic mode Automatic welding equipment can be fitted with a special torch designed to create axial electrical deflection of the TIG arc by means of a magnetic field generated by an induction coil. even penetration. or else the welding speed can be increased by 20 % in relation to simple TIG. cable sheathes. • the reduction of constraints and deformations. To sum up: with the same penetration. by substantially reducing the section of weld metal. the heat zone is considerably lengthened along the weld axis. This particularity is especially important for continuous welding of thin tubes shaped from a band. and can therefore generate a speed increase on the order of 30 % on thicknesses less than 2 mm. beyond. greater than in standard TIG.use of a single axial and annular gas.1. 3.3 Performance levels 3. electrical resistance shielding. .2 for light alloys).. due to: .

E 16 TRI-CATHODE E 25 TRI-CATHODE TIG+PLASMA+TIG TORCH ASSEMBLY Welding table Torch position Displacement of tube Positioning in Y axis Tube in rollers (end view) Spacing and tightening 9 .3 Multi-electrode welding in automatic mode This process. Comparison of TIG and Tri-cathode welding performances minimum welding speed m/min 10 5 TRICATHODE Possible Recommended TIG Possible Recommended 0 1 E 16 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Tube thickness mm E 25 E 25 / TIG + PLASMA + TIG These welding performances are linked to the quality of the forming line. used above all on tube manufacturing lines.1.3. penetration and smoothing) to conceive of welding speeds up to 3 times faster than those obtained in single-torch welding. enables one (by associating several electrodes whose functions are differentiated: preheating.

with the TIG process ensuring smoothing and quality with a flawless appearance. PLASMA 10 1 5 8 thickness in mm For the PLASMA + TIG process.) 50 35 . or with parts with diameters greater than 2 200 mm. enabling one to reduce grinding and polishing times. while the TIG torch. produces a simultaneous finishing pass. completed with magnetic oscillation and a cold wire contribution. • high-speed welding.40 25 . PLASMA and PLASMA + TIG performances compared welding speed cm/min Comparison of welding speeds THICKNESS 100 mm. 10 . • high-quality X-ray.20 65 50 . This configuration enables one to increase the speed by 30 % in relation to single-torch PLASMA.60 40 25 TIG 5 8 50 The PLASMA + TIG process (bi-cathode) has significant advantages: TIG + PLASMA • single-pass operation. Thickness 8 mm TIG. • low deformation. while preserving the quality characteristics specific to PLASMA (compactness and penetration). very nice appearance of the weld bead. This process is mainly used in sheet-metal work for long-length welds. a TIG torch as well as a cold wire contribution device are positioned at around 160 mm behind the plasma torch. • reduced thickness. The plasma + TIG process is generally applicable to welds with a length > 3 000 mm.3. • reduction in the quantity of filler metal used. 3 4 PLASMA PLASMA + TIG Welding speed (cm/min.1.30 15 . a gain in speed of 30 to 40 %.4 PLASMA + TIG welding The association of PLASMA and TIG processes in automatic welding and in tandem position enables one to imagine. • narrowness of the heat-affected area. The plasma arc ensures the melting of the entire thickness of the joint.

This arc stability in inert atmosphere also leads to excellent compactness. up to a thickness of 8 mm in carbon steel or stainless steel when flat. the productivity gain is also obtained through simplification of the preparation. when applicable. due to the dissociation of the contribution of energy and the metal deposit. enabling perfect control of the pool and the metal deposit.2 Productivity improvement through joint quality Compactness Due to arc stability. one has the assurance of complete and even penetration due to the keyhole technique on a joint which is presented edge-to-edge. TIG and PLASMA processes are characterized by the possibility of working with direct vision. In this precise case. 11 . it also enables accidental defects to be reworked completely. accepts greater tolerance on preparations.3 Productivity improvement through tolerance on preparations Manual TIG.3. Penetration In automatic PLASMA. PLASMA JET (keyhole) PLASMA JET DÉBOUCHANT 3.

Cost-effective for operators on sheet metal as of 10 mm in thickness. 3. the hot wire contribution enables one to deposit from 2. therefore. they can often be carried out repetitively and evenly. when the welding sequence requires numerous striking operations. 3. the TIG process is sometimes used as a complementary finishing process (fatigue behavior improvement).5 to 3 kg of metal per hour. but by an additional current. as was the case for the nuclear industry. and thus to combine TIG welding quality with the high productivity of chamfer filling in multi-pass or weld-on. 12 . the hot wire contribution is a very interesting solution. which brings its end to a state close to melting. Transferred arc and welding. finishing operations which are necessary with other processes are not required.5 Productivity improvement through deposition rate Hot wire TIG and PLASMA In order to fill chamfers with a depth of 40 mm. Moreover. The system is ready to weld. In this special technique.6 Productivity improvement through arc-striking reliability Through means of the PLASMA pilot arc. Arc transfer control Permanent pilot arc. melting the wire is no longer ensured only by the TIG arc. and one which is perfectly adapted to applications requiring the superior characteristics of welded joints.4 Productivity improvement through reduction or elimination of finishing The total absence of spatter and the perfect control of the metal deposit lead to a controlled weld bead appearance (front and back side of the weld).3. without risk of polluting the electrode.

8 carbon 4 minutes (2 linked runs) 24 minutes 406 9.1 PLASMA welding in pipe prefabrication Assemblies are prepared upstream of the PLASMA equipment by one or more fitters who pre-position the elements via manual TIG tacking. and who position the plugs or partitions which delimit the shielding gas inside the tubes.52 carbon 14 minutes (2 linked runs) 24 minutes 114 8 AISI 304 4 minutes 10 seconds (2 linked runs) 38 minutes 170 3. WELDING TIME Tube outer Ø (mm) Wall thickness (mm) 2.2 AISI 304 2 minutes (1 run) 55 minutes Examples of work carried out by means of PLASMA welding 13 . gas supplies are managed by the PLASMA equipment).9 Grade of steel Preparation of joint Duration of automatic PLASMA welding operation (outside setting up the assemblies) Approximate duration of the same operation in manual welding 60 carbon 2 minutes (2 linked runs) 15 minutes 133 3.4 Applications 4. (During welding.

.reduction in quantity of filler metal used. Circular welding with turning table and positioners STAINLESS STEEL TANKS The welding equipment is fitted with a joint following device which can be backed up by display devices which free the operator and ensure precise following. with total penetration. PLASMA and PLASMA + TIG processes are used throughout the world to carry out the main longitudinal and circular sheet-metal welds. enabling welding to be carried out from a single side.reduced thickness. Comparison of welding speeds (austenitic stainless steel) THICKNESS PLASMA PLASMA + TIG Welding speed (mm/min) 500 350 . very nice appearance of the weld bead.high-quality X-ray. The PLASMA / PLASMA + TIG process (bi-cathode) has the following significant advantages: . . In fact. . especially if one takes account of the fact that this is a single-pass operation. .300 150 .2 PLASMA and PLASMA + TIG sheet-metal welding At present. From the point of view of welding time.low deformation.600 400 250 mm 3 4 6 8 14 .400 250 . For penetration passes.200 650 500 . they enable one to considerably increase welding speed in relation to TIG. enabling one to reduce grinding and polishing times. substantial gains can be achieved.narrowness of heat-affected area.4. .single-pass operation. the PLASMA and PLASMA + TIG processes have a significant advantage over other processes. The “keyhole” PLASMA process is a single-pass welding process.

voltage.a control panel enabling to manage the welding parameters: current value. . a back-of-the-weld shielding gas For TIG: minimum of 1 gas . wire speed.1 inert gas and eventually. deviation and regulation of arc voltage. • NERTALIC. 6.1 plasmagene gas .1 Filler products When it is necessary to use filler metal. 15 . for stainless steels See special documentation in the product guide or in the SAF general catalogue. its grade will generally be identical to that of the parent metal: • NERTAL 60 for unalloyed steels. Standard installation Welding torch Wire Connector cable for torch or power source Automatic regulation of arc height Positioning or movement start-up system Control manager Gas supply for torch Current source System for feeding the part Workpieces 6 Filler products and gases 6. a TIG or PLASMA welding set is generally composed of: .one or more torches and additional systems: wire contribution.1 annular gas (shielding) and eventually. series 50. a back-of-the-weld shielding gas.a welding current source. cycle and gas flowrate and movement management.5 Equipment In automatic mode. .2 Gases Implementation of TIG and PLASMA processes requires: For PLASMA: minimum of 2 gases .

5 .10% H2 Argon Argon + 2.1 .(ARCAL 31) Argon + He (18-80%) (ARCAL 32 . or even elimination.the welding speed (torch/piece relative displacement) .com Web site: www.Good thermal conductivity .Good enthalpy (kinetic energy of moving particles) .Substantial atomic weight (kinetic energy of moving particles) PLASMA ANNULAR GAS .5 % H2 (NOXAL 2) Argon + 2.5 % H2 (NOXAL 2) Argon (ARCAL1) Argon + 2. zirconium) ALUMINUM & ALLOYS Argon (ARCAL1) Argon + 5% -7% H2 (NOXAL 3 & 4P) Argon (ARCAL1) Argon (ARCAL1) Argon + 5% H2 (NOXAL 3 & 4P) Argon (ARCAL1) Argon + helium .5 .37) Argon (ARCAL1) Argon + He (18-80%) (ARCAL 32 .(ARCAL32) Argon (ARCAL1) Argon (ARCAL1) Argon + helium (ARCAL32) Argon (ARCAL1) 7 Conclusions • simplification of preparations in PLASMA butt-joint welding • very substantial reduction.5 % H2 (NOXAL 2 or 3) TIG PLASMA BACK-OF-THE-WELD SHIELDING GAS TIG GAS Argon (ARCAL1) Argon + He (ARCAL 31) Argon + He + H2 (ARCAL 11) Argon (ARCAL1) Argon + He + H2 (ARCAL 11) Argon + 2.5% H2 (NOXAL 2) Argon (ARCAL1) Argon (ARCAL1) NICKEL-BASED PRECIOUS METALS (titanium.Protection of molten pool TIG OR PLASMA BACK-OF-THE-WELD SHIELDING GAS .Fax : 01 34 21 31 30 e-mail : info. The excellent quality level obtained in TIG and PLASMA welding enables very sizeable productivity gains.5 .SUY 542 .The interaction of these gases determines: .(NOXAL3) Argon + 2. • speed increase in multi-process. of finishing • reduction in sealing-run rate. 3.5 % .Protection of plasma .France Tél.ATAL 5) Argon + 5 to 10% H2 (NOXAL 3 or 4) Argon + 5 % H2 Argon (ARCAL1) Argon + 2.Low ionization potential (striking and stability of arc) .Protects the weld bead from oxidation Table for choice of gases: PLASMA PLASMAGENE GAS CARBON AND LOW ALLOYED STEELS Argon (ARCAL1) Argon + 2.35 .Protection of molten pool TIG INERT GAS .5 % H2 (NOXAL 2) ANNULAR GAS Argon + 5% H2 .35 .5 % .Saint-Ouen l’Aumône 95315 Cergy-Pontoise Cedex .5 % H2 (NOXAL 2 or 3) Argon + 5 to 20 % CO2 (ARCAL 21 .saf-airliquide. SAF .com © SAF 1515-9231 2001-04 1 Ed.7% H2 (NOXAL 3 & 4P) Argon (ARCAL1) Argon + He . : 01 34 21 33 33 .37) Helium AUSTENITIC STAINLESS STEELS Azote Azote + 5 .13.the structure and shape of the weld bead The role of these gases is very important: PLASMA PLASMAGENE GAS . rue d’Épluches . tantalum.10% H2 Argon (ARCAL1) Argon + 2. 4) Argon (ARCAL1) Argon + 2.10% H2 (NOXAL 2.saf@airliquide.