How does welding work?

Man welding universal beam

Most of us rarely think about the science at work behind processes we take for granted. For instance, welding. If the interaction of the specific materials didn’t work in that particular way then I can guarantee mankind would not be as advanced as it is. So, lets shed a little light on the subject!

Arc Welding

Arc welding uses an electrical arc to melt the work materials as well as filler material (sometimes called the welding rod) for welding joints. Before starting with this technique 2 wires must be attached: a grounding wire and an electrode lead. The grounding wire is attached to the welding material or another metal surface. The purpose of connecting the equipment enclosure to ground is to ensure that the metal enclosure of the welding machine and ground is at the same potential. When they are at the same potential, a person will not experience an electrical shock when touching the two points. Grounding the enclosure also limits the voltage on the enclosure in the event that insulation should fail within the equipment.

A Neil's Steels employee arc welding

The second cable, known as an electrode lead, is placed on the material to be welded. Once that lead is pulled away from the material, an electric arc is generated. It’s a little like the sparks you see when pulling jumper cables off a car battery. The arc then melts the work pieces along with the filler material that helps to join the pieces.

Feeding the filler into the joint takes steady hands and an eye for details. As the rod melts, the welder must continuously feed the filler into the joint using small, steady, back-and-forth motions. Going too fast or slow, or holding the arc too far away or close from the material can create poor welds.

Metal inert gas (MIG), tungsten inert gas (TIG) and shielded metal arc welding (SMAW or stick welding) all exemplify arc welding.

Torch Welding

Torch represents another popular method. This process typically uses an oxyacetylene torch to melt the working material and rod. The welder controls the torch and rod simultaneously, giving him or her a lot of control over the weld. While this technique has become less common industrially, it’s still frequently used for maintenance and repair work, as well as in sculpture and other artistic metalwork.

Neil’s Steels can perform all of the techniques listed above, as well as many more services. For any of your structural steel needs, Neil’s Steels is the solution. If you’re looking for other metalworking needs, consider giving J. Colburn a call.

Until next time!

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