Welding is one of the careers that will take you a short learning time and give you very high returns. Though some people prefer to be self-taught, a certification in the same will have you earning the top dollar, and unlike most jobs that have been replaced by digital technology, welding continues to thrive.
In big companies, however, some of the welding jobs are done by digital machines but there are other many applications that need the use of a manual welder.
For example, in the construction industry welders are necessary and in the household, repairs involving welders are many such as fixing the kitchen appliances, repairing and making gates and fences. Welding workshops have also cropped up and offered many people welding jobs, it is, therefore, safe to say that this is one of the industries that has not been majorly affected by the pervasive nature of internet technology.
And like any other career, there are a myriad of challenges in the welding industry and the first one is the risk associated with the job. And the reason why individuals in the industry need to adhere to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines. During the welding process harmful smoke, dust, and fumes are produced.
Inhaling the above can be very detrimental and that is why there is an insistence that the welding environment be as ventilated as possible, to allow the toxic fumes, dust, and gasses to dissipate. Many people have had to quit their welding careers because of eye injuries; therefore, the use of welding helmets or masks is not optional but rather a priority. Remember that during welding the heat produced is very intense and in combination with the sparks then you are at the risk of developing flash burns.
The latter is usually a painful inflammation of the cornea, the condition also goes by the name arc eye or welders flash. Both your eyes could get affected however, the cornea is capable of repairing itself in not more than two days and after healing no scar will be left behind. A word of caution though is that the flash burn has to be treated; failure to which infection will crop up and you could lose your sight.
Therefore, in case after carrying out a welding project you discover that you have a blurred vision, or feel some intense or mild pain or have bloodshot eyes then you have contracted the flash burn. A medical professional should be consulted for the commencement of the necessary treatment. Another form of danger that is always lurking in a welding workshop is the risk of being electrocuted and the reason why anything that has to do with water should not be entertained in the workshop.
The risk of a fire outbreak is not uncommon in the welder’s shop, flammable or combustibles could be left lying around the workshop and a small spark of fire from the welding process can easily raise the entire workshop to the ground. There are also the gas cylinders, remember that these cylinders contain compressed gas that can easily turn into a weapon of mass destruction if the valve is tampered with.
Given the above, safety agencies have taken it upon themselves to ensure that safety standards are adhered to and the safety measures implemented, which is done by training the managers on the relevant actionable measure that reduce the chances of injuries or illnesses resulting from welding. One such organization is the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s that provided the hierarchy of hazards control.
Welding Safety tips proposed by OSHA
OSHA provided over 20 guidelines that need to be adhered to in a welding workshop or industries that mainly utilize the machine. And the first one is whether the workers have the necessary training to accomplish their jobs safely, and we all know that many accidents arise from a lack of knowledge on how to operate a particular machine.
For example, someone who doesn’t know how to drive a car will get inside the car and switch on the ignition ready to drive without pressing in the brake pad first. It is, therefore, necessary that individuals that deal with welding machines receive the necessary training before working on welding projects. The second important point according to OSHA is whether the workers know of the impending danger.
As we have discussed above there are so many risks involved with the handling of welding equipment and ones that every worker, even those that are not directly handling the equipment should be aware of. For example, exposing oneself to the welding fumes, or standing close to the material being weld will put your eyes at risk from the direct sparks and the intense welding light.
The next one is a concern with the correct welding gear such as the leather aprons and leggings and whether the workers are conversant with the manufacturer’s instructions on the use of the welding equipment. What about the fire extinguishers, how accessible are they; there are also the ventilation requirements and the storage of the hazardous equipment in a fireproof, dry and well-ventilated room.
Types of welding processes
As it is right now there are up to eight welding processes, and the uniqueness of each of the above processes is in the type of metals that they can handle, the type of consumables that they use and the type of welding machines utilized in the welding processes. However, the most utilized processes are the TIG, MIG, Stick welding and the Flux-cored arc welding.
Other not so common processes are such as the Energy Bean Welding (EBW), The Plasma Arc Welding, Atomic Hydrogen Welding, and Gas tungsten or arc welding. TIG in full is Tungsten Inert Gas Welding or the Gas Tungsten Arch welding process.
TIG-Gas Tungsten Arc Welding
TIG uses a tungsten electrode that is not consumable but provides current to the welding arch and the weld puddle, the tungsten is later on cooled and protected with an inert gas. In this process, gas is supplied from a different source and the most commonly used is a mixture of argon and helium or just argon.
So why should you choose to use TIG, well the process is deemed to be effective on thin materials and it also produces high-quality welds. Also, this is one of the processes that you will most likely end up with minimal spatter or none and you can also use it on a variety of alloys. The reason why many people shy away from utilizing TIG is because of the high cost of equipment combined with the low deposition rates.
TIG, unlike MIG, requires users to be skilled and invest in the shielding gas to use on the welding projects. The TIG process can also be applied to other types of metals such as copper, aluminum, nickel, stainless steel, and magnesium. And when it comes to the practical application, TIG can be effective in piping, in the repair of motorcycles and bikes, and in aerospace welding.
Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW) Processes
Flux-cored welding is a process that uses a consumable tubular electrode that is made of flux, and constant voltage. The technique doesn’t have much difference from MIG only that here you will use solid wire. The major advantage of using the flux-cored welding process is that it offers good penetration thus suitable for thicker joints.
What’s more is that the welder can move and stand in different directions when holding the torch, and to achieve good quality welds users will have to use either the gas or the self-shielded wires. The latter requires an external shielding gas and is the one that best applies to thick metals and will also suffice on different position applications.
On the other hand, the Self-shielded wires do not require an external shielding gas, the flux-cored welding process comes convenient in numerous processes such as shipbuilding and when conducting general repairs. And unlike TIG, Flux cored welding does leave behind slag that you must chip away to remain with the perfect weld. There is also a preparation process before welding, where you will need clean metal, stable ground and the relevant machine settings.
Flux-cored arc welding does not feature a steep learning curve and is very easy to use when compared to TIG, the only limitation with this process is that you will not achieve a perfect weld.
MIG- Metal Inert Gas welding (Gas Metal Arc Welding)
In this process, a metal arc usually forms between a consumable MIG wire electrode and the metal that you are working with, which then heats the piece of metal causing it to melt and then join. The type of gas used is Argon and Helium can be added to help with penetration and fluidity of the weld pool.
Some of the pros of using MIG are reduced waste production, weld clean up is also minimal, and you won’t need much heat during the process; the amount of welding fumes produced is also minimal. Though MIG is best suited for thin metals the process has been widely utilized in pipelines manufacturing processes, the sheet metal industry, and the building industry.
And despite the above, the process also has some downsides such as the limited position welding, the need for an external source of gas, and the fact that you can only use the process on thin sheets of metals.
Gas Tungsten Arc welding
Also goes by Tungsten Inert Gas Welding, is a process that greatly utilizes non-consumable tungsten electrodes. The electric arc welding procedure is characteristic of an arc that is formed between the work to be welded and the non-consumable electrode. The resultant weld is then shielded by a shielding gas from the atmosphere which forms a blanket around the welded area.
The process is best when applied to non-ferrous and stainless steel materials like magnesium and aluminum; however, you should avoid zinc materials and its alloys. The welding process does have some good values attached to it such as low heat input rate, the process also turns out to be clean because of the use of argon or helium or their mixture.
The GTAW process works best when used in joining the reactive type of metals such as Zirconium and Titanium or when joining magnesium and aluminum.
Atomic Hydrogen Welding
The atomic hydrogen welding process utilizes an arc between two tungsten electrodes that have been shielded by hydrogen. This type of welding process is rarely used since the discovery and spread of the gas metal arc welding processes. However, the welding process is a lot faster and users will not have to invest in separate shielding gas.
The created hydrogen blanket helps in preventing oxidation of the tungsten electrode and the metal, what’s more, is that it reduces the chances of nitrogen pickup. So, if you decide to use this process then you will only be able to use the non-ferrous and ferrous metals, the thin and thick sheets of metal and even use the small diameter wires.
Plasma Arc Welding
If you are conversant with the Gas Tungsten Arc welding process then it is no different to the Plasma Arc welding process where an electric arc forms between the electrode and the work piece. The method achieves stronger welds, especially when heating metal because of the extreme heat produced. The most significant advantage of using plasma welding is that it produces cleaner and smoother welds.
Also, the design of the torch enables the user to have full control of the arc while achieving higher tolerance in the torch standoff distance. The process can, therefore, be used to weld metals that can use the GTAW process and the commercial metals and alloys.
Plasma arc welding is conveniently used to weld stainless steel or titanium pipes, and many electronic industries have adopted the welding process. The turbine blade is also weldable via the PAW process, and the marine and aerospace industries are also fond of using the Plasma Arc Welding process.
Welding wire quality
Welders always seek to improve the quality of their welds and their output levels. To achieve the above one of the things that they have to consider is the quality of the electrodes and welding wires. There are, therefore, up to three types of welding wires (gas-shielded), which are the gas shielded flux cored arc welding wire.
The latter is characteristic of fluxing and deoxidizing agents in the core that helps protect the weld from oxidizing. Then we have the Solid Gas Metal Arc wire that will give you a clean job thus no slag neither will you have to clean up after welding. Now, during use, the welding wire merges with a solid wire electrode, and with the shielding gas in a bid to secure the weld.
The above combination has a great influence on the strength of the weld. Lastly, we have the composite metal-cored wire, this design of welding wire is not very different from the previously discussed because it leaves behind minimal or no slag for cleanup and they also do have metallic components at the core.
In the different welding applications, there are also specific types of wires that will give you exceptional results when used with certain types of processes. Therefore, if you want to weld out of position, you will have to find a wire with a smaller diameter that will allow high deposition rates and produce the type of slag that will support the puddle.
And if the welding process that you want to use requires that the welder utilizes a high travel speed, then flux cored and metal wires will suffice. And unless you want to end up with an inconsistent bead shape due to slow deposition speed, then use the solid wires.
There are also wires that when used they will give you a cleaner weld at the end such as the metal-cored wires and the solid wires. Now let us zero in on the application of the Gas Shielded FCAW wire, to start the wires are characteristic of fluxing agents and deoxidizers at the core, which offers extra protection to the weld from the atmosphere.
For the purpose of welding dirty steel, the FCAW wire turns out to be the most tolerant because of the presence of flux and because it utilizes shielding gas. And in case you require large depositions then just use the large diameter FCAW wires.
The FCAW wires are also very convenient for the out of position welding and you can thus use the small sized ones, others such as the E71T2 also offer high deposition rates. The realized slag at the end of the welding process is necessary as it acts to support the puddle in the vertical welding position.
FCAW wires don’t perform very well when it comes to the post-weld operations, as they leave a lot of slag. So if you were to work on the multipass applications then there is the intensive after cleaning job of removing the slag in between the passes and before doing any painting processes.