The most outstanding professional welders have three key characteristics that make them exceptional. Welding proficiency shows in the results of a welder’s work, which is based on drawing from a solid skill set, properly applying expertise, and having a particular flair for the work. A successful welder understands the craft, continues to learn, and finds a specific niche.
As someone who has worn glasses since the 4th grade one of my greatest fears has always been that I would go blind. So this last week of National Safety Month I wanted to write about Eye Protection.
Fortunately, welding helmets are a lot more comfortable than what’s shown in this Library of Congress photo from 1944!
Protect your Eyes While Welding
It sounds obvious, but eye injuries are one of the most common types of injuries on the welding job. And in the case of arc flash–which you can get even if you turn your head away instead of wearing UV protection–the damage can accumulate over time. And even seemingly innocuous tasks can result in foreign material in your eye, so always use eye protection: goggles, safety glasses, or welding helmets.
At Arc-Zone we developed this Guide to Eye Care for Welders (.pdf), print it out and keep it in your shop. There’s a section on what to do in an emergency that I hope you never use, but keep it in an easily accessible spot if you ever find yourself in an emergency….
Another great TIG Torch tip from Weldcraft®
Prevent high frequency interference by keeping torch and work cables as short as possible and closely bundled.
TIG Torch Cables
And while we’re talking cables, if you’re in the market for a top quality TIG torch, consider upgrading to the Weldcraft Premium TIG Torch packages that include flexible rubber cable / hose leads. Note that Arc-Zone also sells the CK Worldwide torch packages with the SuperFlex cable set. Here’s what Arc-Zone’s Joe Welder (aka CEO and founder Jim Watson) has to say:
We generally recommend the rubber hose leads as opposed to vinyl. They are more flexible and easier to handle. Vinyl plastic hoses are more economical, but they get stiff over time and the water hose / power cable are susceptible to damage from heat generated by the power cable, along with the water pressure from the water-cooling system — you have a recipe for hose failure. Not to mention that the hoses melt quickly when they come in contact with a hot TIG rod, or welded part!
You can read the full article, “Rubber Verses Vinyl Plastic Hoses Which is Better?” over on the JoeWelder.com blog–>
And finally, did you know you can get cables custom-made-to-order for your TIG Torch at Arc-Zone? Whatever length you need, give the Arc-Zone Customer Care team a call and our technicians will put a quote together for you. Keep in mind there is a 5-7 day lead time involved– but you’ll end up with top quality cables that work for you welding application.
An Overview of High Purity Welding
For October, we’re celebrating high purity welding here on CarmenElectrode.com, starting with this overview. High purity welding procedures are utilized in a variety of industries where the metal being welded requires a super clean environment in order to achieve optimal weld results.
In other words, any industry where it is important to have the best weld you can possibly achieve.
In the aerospace industry, as you may well imagine, obtaining a super strong weld joint is imperative to the safety success of an aircraft. A while back, The Fabricator magazine featured an article on Orbital welding for the space program, where every weld must pass the “highest of purity and integrity tests.” These welds must hold up deep in space!
Nuclear piping is another industry where you don’t want any weld to fail. Titanium, a notably reactive metal, is a good choice for the nuclear power industry due its resistance to seawater corrosion—not to mention the strength of titanium, when welded correctly of course. Arc-Zone’s own Jim Watson (aka Joe Welder) prepared a good overview of titanium welding a while back.
Another industry that comes to mind for high purity welding is food processing (including dairy and breweries) where stainless steel pipe systems carry food product from one place in a factory to another. In food processing, the welds must all be smooth and free of any occlusions, or any little nooks and crannies where bacteria could grow. To achieve that kind of weld, the inside of the pipe—the backside of the weld—must be protected from oxygen as much as the front side. And you can’t stop with just a good weld—finishing is important too. Check out these tips, also from The Fabricator magazine, “Finishing stainless steel for food-grade applications.”
In piping systems where good clean water needs to be delivered, such as the pharmaceutical industry, the pipes must also be free of contamination, and not prone to rust. The semiconductor industry also requires high purity welding to ensure smooth welds (inside and out) and prevent contamination of the system. This video demonstrates the inspection of the inside of the weld…
Reactive metals, like stainless steel, titanium, and inconel also require attention not only to the weld process and specialized accessories, but to the weld environment as well. Some applications may require a Clean Shop with a dedicated area for storage of materials and a dedicated work area where air drafts and contamination can be minimized, or a purge chamber. For a run-down on accessories for creating high purity welds, check out the article on JoeWelder.com, “Overview of accessories for high purity welding.”
Many of our New Rosies stress the importance of knowing your craft well, of doing your job to the best of your abilities, and getting as much education as you can in order to succeed at your welding job. Many also mention that TIG/GTAW welding is a good route for women welders because it is “clean” and requires dexterity and patience—two things women are particularly good at. I would add that welding titanium (or other specialty metals) would be good skill to add to your resume. Titanium welding is popular in the aerospace and defense industries, power generation, marine industries, processing plants, and even bicycle manufacturing. And, if you can weld titanium, you can make some good coin.
A lot of welders think titanium is difficult to weld, but really, like anything else, it takes knowledge and practice. Titanium is referred to as a reactive metal because it does not take kindly to contamination, and in fact, a contaminated Titanium weld can actually become brittle (something you definitely don’t want heading down a rough trail in a mountain bike).
Titanium is desirable because it is strong and lightweight, and resists corrosion, but the welder must take care to weld it correctly.
The first step to welding titanium is to make sure your fab shop is clean. You don’t necessarily need a hi-tech white clean room, and you won’t need to wear little paper booties, but the area where you will be welding should be as free of moisture, dust, grease and any other contaminants as you can attain. You’ll also want to be free of air drafts– turbulent air can draw in oxygen, which ruin your weld. Some people use purge chambers which enclose your weld area.
You’ll also want to make sure your joint surfaces are smooth and clean. You can use a stainless steel brush, but make sure it’s one reserved only for your titanium welding, otherwise you’ll get cross contamination, and don’t use a steel file, sandpaper, or steel wool, which can leave particles in your base metal. Also you can clean your base metal with denatured alcohol and a lint-free rag.
I mentioned air drafts because oxygen contamination is one of the most common reasons for sub-standard titanium welds, so you’ll need to protect the front and often the back side of your weld until the temperature of your weld zone drops below 800° F (427° C). Generally, you’ll use argon for your shield gas and you’ll want to make sure your gas is from a trusted source and that all the leads and fittings have been tested. Same with your TIG/GTAW torch: make sure all your fittings fit and that your torch insulators and o-rings offer a proper seal. And finally, you’ll want a super large nozzle with a gas lens or gas flow straightener, or a Large Gas Saver nozzle and you’ll want to adjust your flow rate for good coverage and no turbulence.
Some folks make their own shield cups**, and while that may be fine if you’re noodling around in your own shop, in a more professional application you may want to use trailing and auxiliary shields that are highly engineered for consistent performance. This is especially important in an automated application, or any welding process that requires consistency and repeatability.
If you’re welding tube and pipe you’ll need to make sure you provide shield gas on the back side. There are several products to help you with your back purging: inflatable bladders, water soluble purge dams, purge film, specialty tapes, purge gaskets… Arc-Zone carries a wide range of products to help you out, including oxygen sensors so you’ll know if your purge is successful.
As with any specialized welding process, practice will be your friend… share your tips for successful titanium welding, and let us know if you have questions– here at Arc-Zone we’d love to help you out!
OTHER RESOURCES ONLINE:
From our friends at Miller: “Titanium 101: Best TIG (GTA) Welding Practices“
From the folks at Weldcraft: “TIG Weld Titanium Tubing with Confidence”
Over on YouTube:
**Rody Walter of Groovy Cycleworks’ Video on How to Fabricate a Custom Titanium Welding Cup
**Mr. TIG on how to weld titanium (note the hand-made taped gas shield)