You are on page 1of 13

Arc welding

A Comparison Between Shielded Metal, Gas Metal, and Gas Tungsten Arc Welding

The similarities of the Three Processes


Each process uses direct current electricity to create an arc between an electrode and the work piece. Each process uses some form of shielding to protect the weld from contaminates. Each process uses a filler material, which has similar chemical composition to the work piece.

Shielded Metal Arc Welding


This form of arc welding was developed in the early 20th century. Its primary use is in the welding of steel. (Ref 3) Shielded metal arc welding is performed by striking an arc between a coated-metal electrode and the work piece. Once the arc is established the work piece becomes molten at the location of the arc. The Electrode wire serves two functions. First is as a medium for the electrical current. Second, the filler material used to form the joint. The coating, which surrounds the electrode, forms a gas that helps to shield the weld. Figure 7 illustrates how the shielded arc welding works. (Ref 1)

Shielded Metal Arc Welding

From the figure a slag can be seen. This slag combines with the electrode coating and forms a protective barrier for the weld. This barrier protects the weld from the outside air and keeps out contaminates, which will make the weld weak.

Gas Metal Arc Welding


Gas metal arc welding (GMAW), also call metal inert gas (MIG) or metal active gas (MAG) welding, shields the weld with an external gas such as argon, helium, carbon dioxide, or other gas mixtures. (Ref 6) GMAW is used to weld all the commercially important metals, including steel, aluminum, cooper, and stainless steel. The filler metal selection has chemical composition that is closely matched to the base material being welded. The process can be used in any position, including flat, horizontal, vertical, and overhead. (Ref 5) The following figure illustrates a detailed diagram of how GMAW torch works.

Gas Metal Arc Welding

It is usually recommended for use with direct current electrode positive polarity. The electrode is continuous feeding wire, which protrudes through the torch. The arc is automatically controlled with only semiautomatic operation needed. The torch positioning, guidance, and travel speed are the only parameters, which the operator controls. GMAW uses a relatively low heat and therefore can be used on metals with thicknesses less than one quarter inch. Since the operations are mostly automatic this welding process is usually easier to learn as compared to other welding processes. (Ref 5)

Gas Tungsten Arc Welding


In gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), a tungsten electrode is used in place of the metal electron used in shielded metal arc welding. A chemically inert gas, such as argon, helium, or hydrogen, is used to shield the metal from oxidation. The heat fro the arc formed between the electrode and the metal melts the edges of the metal. Metal for the weld may be added by placing a bare wire in the arc or the point of the weld. This process can be used with nearly all metals and produces a high quality weld. However, the rate of welding is quite slow. (Ref 3) The following figure illustrates the process of gas tungsten arc welding.

Gas Tungsten Arc Welding

The tungsten electrode has a high melting point that makes it virtually non-consumable. This gives the gas tungsten arc welding specific advantages: Welding can be done in any position. The weld is usually equal to the base metal in composition. Flux is not used; therefore, finished welds do not require cleaning of corrosive residue. Smoke or fumes are not present to obscure vision. Distortion of the base metal is minimal because the heat is concentrated in a small area. No splatter is produced because metal is not transferred across the arc.

Another form of gas tungsten arc welding is called plasma arc welding (PAW). PAW is the next step in GTAW. It uses a restricted arc that is squeezed through a copper nozzle. The results being a restricted arc which is longer, thinner, and more focused. The constricting process greatly increases the arc voltage and the amount of ionization that takes place. The raising arc temperature increases the hottest area of the plasma, extending it to the outside of the nozzle down toward the work piece. This results in a more concentrated heat source at a higher temperature that greatly increases the heat transfer efficiency, allowing for faster travel speeds. (Ref 4)

1. www.sweethaven.com/academic/lesions/021100/00/less onmain.asp?lesNum=3&modNum=1 2. www.sweethaven.com/academic/lesions/021100/00/less onmain.asp?lesNum=7&modNum=1 3. www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Lab/3495/welding.h tml 4. www.sweethaven.com/academic/lesions/021100/00/less onmain.asp?lesNum=8&modNum=1 5. www.Praxair.com 6. www.genstartech.com/html/technical.html 7. www.meg.co.uk/meg/app02.htm