Welding played a crucial role in the advancements of human civilization. To make metal usable for humans, all of the metal objects in your life had to be cut and welded. If you take a close look around, you will find the answer to the question- can you weld metal?
You can weld almost all types of metals. All you need to know is the correct technique for welding. The ancient form of welding is blacksmithing. However, there has been significant development in welding technology in the last two centuries. Most industrial production needs some welding jobs.
In this article, I have elaborately answered the common question- whether you can weld metals or not. Besides, you will get detailed descriptions of all kinds of welding methods by reading this article. Moreover, there is a guide to make your welding sessions safe in the latter part of the article.
You can join metals when you want to make the metals useful. However, welding metals is not an easy task. You must have the proper training and certification to weld metals. Moreover, failing to abide by all the safety precautions for welding can cause fatal accidents.
Modern welding technologies can weld almost all kinds of metals. There are different methods of welding metals, and all of them have advantages and disadvantages. Oxyacetylene, brazing, arc welding, MIG welding, and TIG welding are some of the modern technologies for welding metals.
Different types of metals need distinct welding methods. However, there are some stages that every welder needs to go through. They are cleaning, fitting, measuring, cutting, and finally welding. The most critical part of the welding process is handling the liquid puddles.
The oldest method of welding is known as “blacksmithing.” People used this welding technology when there were no machines with advanced technologies to weld metals. In many not-so-advanced regions of the world, blacksmithing is the way of welding metals to produce metal products for daily use even today.
Blacksmiths use a heating forge, which they continuously need to pull with their hands to produce enough heat to melt the metals. Blacksmiths melt irons to make sharp objects with them. However, sometimes construction rods are also produced in this way of welding.
After the metal melts at a high temperature, the blacksmith welds, and hammers the metal down to give the final shape.
Another term for this welding method is forge-welding. Across the world, all nations used this method until the mid-19th century, when scientists introduced new welding technologies. However, the basic concept of welding remains the same with recent technologies.
You can check our article: Welding vs. Bending: Which is Stronger?
Oxyacetylene welding is the first attempt of humans to modernize the metal-welding process. People started using this technology on a large scale by the middle of the nineteenth century [source].
You will need highly pressurized gas cylinders to weld metals with this technology. These cylinders have oxygen and acetylene in a balanced proportion. The welders use hoses, regulators, welding tips, and a torch with the gas cylinder to finish the welding. After igniting flames from the gas, the welders need to wait for the correct temperature.
The welder uses the high-temperature flame right on the joining points of two metal pieces. The welder uses a filler metal rod and makes a weld bead when the high temperature begins to melt at the joining area of both the metal pieces. The tip of the welding machine has to match the thickness of the metal pieces. Otherwise, it will damage the formation of the metal parts.
The critical part of the oxyacetylene welding process is controlling the regulator. Welders need to determine the exact pressure of the flame by controlling the amount of gas at the welding point.
You will ruin the metal structure by letting too much gas flow out of the tip. On the other hand, lower gas pressure will delay the welding process.
This welding method is suitable for thick metal pieces. Welders prefer to avoid it when they join metal pieces that are more than a quarter-inch thick. The oxyacetylene welding method is not popular among welders since it takes too much time to weld thick metals. Moreover, in this method, a large area of the surface of the metal gets melted.
In recent days, arc welding is rapidly replacing the oxyacetylene welding method. You can weld more efficiently and faster with an arc welding method than with the oxyacetylene welding method. Moreover, the thickness of the metal piece is not an issue for welding with arc welding.
You can use oxy-acetylene technology to join two different kinds of metals together. In this method, you do not melt the base metal pieces. On the contrary, you will need to melt a brass filler metal rod that keeps the two metal pieces together.
You have to use flux with the brass filler rod in this method. First, you melt the filler rod and let it flow between the two metals you want to join at a comparatively low temperature. You do not need to use force to initiate the flow because there is capillary action. The flux cleans the surfaces of the metals and works as a good adhesion.
While using the brazing method, you need much less temperature, which confirms fuel efficiency at a high level. Besides, the low temperature creates much less metal warpage. That is why welders use brazing technology on automotive sheet metal widely. For example, if you need to melt steel, you’ll need to use around 2,700 °F. But if you use brazing technology, it only takes about 1,000 oF.
The most remarkable feature of the brazing method is that it joins different types of metals together. It is not possible with the oxy-acetylene welding method. For example, you can join copper and brass or copper and steel in this method. Some other metals which can be joined together by the braising method are cast iron, galvanized steel, bronze, and many more.
However, there are two drawbacks to the brazing method. First, the joining it creates is less durable than the oxyacetylene welding method since the welders do not melt the two metal pieces together to join them. So, there is a risk that the joining will break if the final product goes through some rough handling.
Secondly, the flux you need to use in the brazing method has some harmful gases. These gases can cause fatal diseases to the human body if the welders are not careful enough. Besides, the gases in the flux play a role in depleting the ozone layer in the sky.
The arc welding method is also known as the stick method. Welders use an electrode as the filler rod in this welding method. They need to use an electric arc welding machine to melt the metal. There is a coating of flux over the electrodes. This coating protects the weld puddle inside the electrode from the nitrogen and oxygen in the air.
The welding method remains the same as the arc welding method or any other welding method. You need to place the electrode at the joining point of two metal parts and melt the electrode to work as an adhesive between the metals. However, the significant part of this method is the flux coating. Without it, the weld will become weak with high porosity.
Porosity means the attribute of metals to let moisture inside them. When nitrogen and oxygen from the air mix with the melting electrodes, they create some bubbles in the liquid metal. As a result, your welding becomes weak.
The crucial part of the arc welding method is choosing the right electrode for the exact type of welding. The welding will be unsuccessful if the electrode does not match the metals it joins. For example, while welding two steel metal sheets together, you need to use a steel electrode. There is a different electrode for almost every type of metal.
Stainless steel, aluminum, cast iron, mild steel, and bronze are some of the metals that you can join with this welding method. But you must use the right electrode for each type of metal.
Check our article This Is The Best Welding Rod For Pipe Fence
The first step of this welding method is choosing the right electrode depending on the metal type. Once you have the correct electrode, you need to ground it using a ground clamp.
After grounding the electrode, place the ground right on the welding point and turn on the arc welding machine. You need to set the heat level of the welding machine carefully. Once you start melting the grounded electrodes, you will see a molten metal puddle. Now, you need to place the molten electrode right between the metals you want to join.
This welding method is also known as “Wire Feed Welding.” The abbreviation of the acronym MIG stands for Metal Inert Gas. The welder feeds the welding points with electrodes in the form of a wire. This method got its name from using inert gasses like argon or carbon dioxide. The role of the gas is to protect the welding point from nitrogen and oxygen in the air.
Unlike the arc welding method, MIG welding uses a spool of wire full of electrodes. The welder places the electrode wire inside the MIG machine and continuously feeds the welding point with electrodes by pulling the trigger. As you know, electrodes are helpful to prevent gasses that make the welding weak.
Like with the arc welding method, you also need to ground the electrodes with a clamp before starting the welding. However, you will need much less time to weld with the MIG welding method than with the stick method. The MIG machine continuously feeds electrodes. And you do not need to spend time replacing the used electrodes with new ones.
The MIG welding method is popular in industries because it enhances productivity by reducing welding time. Besides, the learning process of MIG welding is much easier than most other methods and requires fewer skills from the welder.
The TIG Welding Method
The elaboration of TIG is Tungsten Inert Gas welding. People call it “Cadillac welding.” Since you can do aesthetic welding, this method is as gorgeous as the luxurious car brand- Cadillac. Welders can create beautiful welds when they use the TIG method. The accuracy level of the welding process is outstanding. It can even join the thinnest sheets of metal together.
The significant part of the TIG welding method is its accuracy. It can precisely join metals on a small area of their surfaces. Suppose you need to join two metal pieces as thin as blades. In that case, your only option is the TIG welding method. Besides, you can also weld a thin and a thick piece of metal together using this method.
The TIG welding machine has a torch, tungsten electrodes, shielding gas, and filler rod to accomplish the job. The argon gas protects the welding from nitrogen and oxygen in the air to ensure solid welding. The filler rod ensures that the electrodes get into the weld puddle. The filler rod of TIG welding looks similar to oxy-acetylene machines but can do much more than that.
Unlike the oxyacetylene method, you can weld more metals with TIG, like titanium, magnesium, aluminum, etc. The foot pedal of the TIG machine lets the welder control the temperature of the torch. However, using the TIG method requires intense training and practice by the welder.
All kinds of welding can become risky for the welder and the people around him. Besides, there are some negative impacts of welding on the environment too. So, you need to take some precautions before, while, and after the welding sessions.
Every welding method involves high temperatures, sparks, and electric machines. So, there is a risk of fire accidents. To avoid such fatal accidents, you need to make the welding spot a fire-sensitive space. It means clearing out all types of flammable elements from the vicinity.
Remember that the sparks from welding can fly up to 35 feet around the welding spot. Before every welding session, there should be an inspection if the area has any elements of fire accidents.
According to the rules and regulations of federal and state governments, you must keep fire extinguishers and sand buckets within the reach of the people working at the welding site. Besides, all the welders and other staff should have the proper training to tackle fire emergencies.
The electric welding machines use a high voltage of electricity. Like any other electronic device, welding machines can also malfunction. The chances of electrocution are very high during welding since the welder needs to hold the welding machine. So, the welding machines need regular checks by technicians to prevent untoward incidents.
Moreover, the electrical wiring of the whole welding shop or the welding site needs a proper check by electricians. All welding shops must have a permanent electrician. He will ensure that every electric cable or wire is in good condition and does not leak electricity. No welder should be allowed to weld barefoot since it increases electrocution risks.
All types of welding sessions emit harmful gasses. Some of the gasses can cause fatal diseases like cancer. So, the welder and all other people around the welding site must wear protective masks. Apart from the gasses, there can be tiny metal particles flying in the air around the welding site, which is also very harmful to the human body.
On top of that, the welding site should have ample space for ventilation. The welding site should be spacious enough to minimize the risk of harmful gasses and fumes.
Fortunately, there is protective gear a welder can wear to mitigate most health hazards. To protect the eyes and the face from the ultraviolet rays and the sparks from the welding, he can wear metal welding helmets. There are rubber gloves specially made for welders. These gloves do not transmit electricity and reduce the risk of electrocution.
The high-pitch noises of the welding process can damage the auditory power of the welder. So, it is crucial to wear proper earplugs during the welding session. Moreover, the welder must wear a rubber boot covering the bottom part of his trousers. There are also some goggles to protect the eyes of the welders.
Before you start welding some metals, you must know that without proper guidance and a safe environment for welding, you cannot weld. Since there are a lot of risks involved in the process, you must have training and certification before you can start welding. I hope this article has answered your question- can you weld metal? Thanks for stopping by!