Arc Welding Processes.

The core of the covered electrode consists of either a solid metal rod of drawn or cast material, or one fabricated by encasing metal powders in a metallic sheath. The core rod conducts the electric current to the arc and provides filler metal for the joint. The electrode covering shields the molten metal from the atmosphere as it is transferred across the arc and improves the smoothness or stability of the arc.

Arc shielding is obtained from gases which form as a result of the decomposition of certain ingredients in the covering. The shielding ingredients vary according to the type of electrode. The shielding and other ingredients in the covering and core wire control the mechanical properties, chemical composition, and metallurgical structure of the weld metal, as well as arc characteristics of the electrode.

Shielded metal arc welding employs the heat of the arc to melt the base metal and the tip of a consumable covered electrode. The electrode and the work are part of an electric circuit known as the welding circuit, as shown in figure 10-22. This circuit begins with the electric power source and includes the welding cables, an electrode holder, a ground clamp, the work, and an arc welding electrode. One of the two cables from the power source is attached to the work. The other is attached to the electrode holder.

Welding begins when an electric arc is struck between the tip of the electrode and the work. The intense heat of the arc melts the tip of the electrode and the surface of the work beneath the arc. Tiny globules of molten metal rapidly form on the tip of the electrode, then transfer through the arc stream into the molten weld pool. In this manner, filler metal is deposited as the electrode is progressively consumed. The arc is moved over the work at an appropriate arc length and travel speed, melting and fusing a portion of the base metal and adding filler metal as the arc progresses. Since the arc is one of the hottest of the commercial sources of heat (temperatures above 9000°F (5000°C) have been measured at its center), melting takes place almost instantaneously as the arc contacts the metal. If welds are made in either the flat or the horizontal position, metal transfer is induced by the force of gravity, gas expansion, electric and electromagnetic forces, and surface tension. For welds in other positions, gravity works against the other forces.

Gravity is the principal force which accounts for the transfer of filler metal in flat position welding. In other positions, the surface tension is unable to retain much molten metal and slag in the crater. Therefore, smaller electrodes must be used to avoid excessive loss of weld metal and slag. See figure 10-23.

Gas expansion. Gases are produced by the burning and volatilization of the electrode coating, and are expanded by the heat of the boiling electrode tip. The coating extending beyond the metal tip of the electrode controls the direction of the rapid gas expansion and directs the molten metal globule into the weld metal pool formed in the base metal.

Electromagnetic forces. The electrode tip is an electrical conductor, as is the molten metal globule at the tip. Therefore, the globule is affected by magnetic forces acting at 90 degrees to the direction of the current flow. These forces produce a pinching effect on the metal globules and speed up the separation of the molten metal from the end of the electrode. This is particularly helpful in transferring metal in horizontal, vertical, and overhead position welding.

Electrical forces. The force produced by the voltage across the arc pulls the small, pinched-off globule of metal, regardless of the position of welding. This force is especially helpful when using direct-current, straight-polarity, mineral-coated electrodes, which do not produce large volumes of gas.

Surface tension. The force which keeps the filler metal and slag globules in contact with molten base or weld metal in the crater is known as surface tension. It helps to retain the molten metal in horizontal, vertical, and overhead welding, and to determine the shape of weld contours.