Oxyfuel gas welding (OFW) is a group of welding processes which join metals by heating with a fuel gas flame with or without the application of pressure and with or without the use of filler metal. OFW includes any welding operation that makes use of a fuel gas combined with oxygen as a heating medium. The process involves the melting of the base metal and a filler metal, if used, by means of the flame produced at the tip of a welding torch. Fuel gas and oxygen are mixed in the proper proportions in a mixing chamber which may be part of the welding tip assembly. Molten metal from the plate edges and filler metal, if used, intermix in a common molten pool. Upon cooling, they coalesce to form a continuous piece.
There are three major processes within this group: oxyacetylene welding, oxyhydrogen welding, and pressure gas welding. There is one process of minor industrial significance, known as air acetylene welding, in which heat is obtained from the combustion of acetylene with air. Welding with methylacetone-propadiene gas (MAPP gas) is also an oxyfuel procedure.
One advantage of the Oxyfuel gas welding process is the control a welder can exercise over the rate of heat input, the temperature of the weld zone, and the oxidizing or reducing potential of the welding atmosphere.
Weld bead size and shape and weld puddle viscosity are also controlled in the welding process because the filler metal is added independently of the welding heat source.
Oxyfuel welding is ideally suited to the welding of thin sheet, tubes, and small diameter pipe. It is also used for repair welding. Thick section welds, except for repair work, are not economical.
The equipment used in Oxyfuel gas welding is low in cost, usually portable, and versatile enough to be used for a variety of related operations, such as bending and straightening, preheating, post heating, surface, braze welding, and torch brazing. With relatively simple changes in equipment, manual and mechanized oxygen cutting operations can be performed. Metals normally welded with the oxyfuel process include steels, especially low alloy steels, and most nonferrous metals. The process is generally not used for welding refractory or reactive metals.
Commercial fuel gases have one common property: they all require oxygen to support combustion. To be suitable for welding operations, a fuel gas, when burned with oxygen, must have the following:
- High flame temperature.
- High rate of flame propagation.
- Adequate heat content.
- Minimum chemical reaction of the flame with base and filler metals.
Among the commercially available fuel gases, acetylene most closely meets all these requirements. Other gases, fuel such as MAPP gas, propylene, propane, natural gas, and proprietary gases based on these, have sufficiently high flame temperatures but exhibit low flame propagation rates. These gas flames are excessively oxidizing at oxygen-to-fuel gas ratios high enough to produce usable heat transfer rates. Flame holding devices, such as counterbores on the tips, are necessary for stable operation and good heat transfer, even at the higher ratios. These gases, however, are used for oxygen cutting. They are also used for torch brazing, soldering, and many other operations where the demands upon the flame characteristics and heat transfer rates are not the same as those for welding.
Base Metal Preparation.
- Dirt, oil, and oxides can cause incomplete fusion, slag inclusions, and porosity in the weld. Contaminants must be removed along the joint and sides of the base metal.
- The root opening for a given thickness of metal should permit the gap to be bridged without difficulty, yet it should be large enough to permit full penetration. Specifications for root openings should be followed exactly.
- The thickness of the base metal at the joint determines the type of edge preparation for welding. Thin sheet metal is easily melted completely by the flame. Thus, edges with square faces can be butted-together and welded. This type of joint is limited to material under 3/16 in. (4.8 mm) in thickness. For thicknesses of 3/16 to 1/4 in. (4.8 to 6.4 mm), a slight root opening or groove is necessary for complete penetration, but filler metal must be added to compensate for the opening.
- Joint edges 1/4 in. (6.4 mm) and thicker should be beveled. Beveled edges at the joint provide a groove for better penetration and fusion at the sides. The angle of bevel for oxyacetylene welding varies from 35 to 45 degrees, which is equivalent to a variation in the included angle of the joint from 70 to 90 degrees, depending upon the application. A root face 1/16 in. (1.6 mm) wide is normal, but feather edges are sometimes used. Plate thicknesses 3/4 in. (19 mm) and above are double beveled when welding can be done from both sides. The root face can vary from 0 to 1/8 in. (0 to 3.2 mm). Beveling both sides reduces the amount of filler metal required by approximately one-half. Gas consumption per unit length of weld is also reduced.
- A square groove edge preparation is the easiest to obtain. This edge can be machined, chipped, ground, or oxygen cut. The thin oxide coating on oxygen-cut surface does not have to be removed, because it is not detrimental to the welding operation or to the quality of the joint. A bevel angle can be oxygen cut.
Multiple Layer Welding.
Multiple layer welding is used when maximum ductility of a steel weld in the as-welded or stress-relieved condition is desired, or when several layers are required in welding thick metal. Multiple layer welding is done by depositing filler metal in successive passes along the joint until it is filled. Since the area covered with each pass is small, the weld puddle is reduced in size. This procedure enables the welder to obtain complete joint penetration without excessive penetration and overheating while the first few passes are being deposited. The smaller puddle is more easily controlled. The welder can avoid oxides, slag inclusions, and incomplete fusion with the base metal.
Grain refinement in the underlying passes as they are reheated increases ductility in the deposited steel. The final layer will not have this refinement unless an extra pass is added and removed or the torch is passed over the joint to bring the last deposit up to normalizing temperature.
The appearance of a weld does not necessarily indicate its quality. Visual examination of the underside of a weld will determine whether there is complete penetration or whether there are excessive globules of metal. Inadequate joint penetration may be due to insufficient beveling of the edges, too wide a root face, too great a welding speed, or poor torch and welding rod manipulation.
Oversized and undersized welds can be observed readily. Weld gauges are available to determine whether a weld has excessive or insufficient reinforcement. Undercut or overlap at the sides of the welds can usually be detected by visual inspection.
Although other discontinuities, such as incomplete fusion, porosity, and cracking may or may not be apparent, excessive grain growth or the presence of hard spots cannot be determined visually. Incomplete fusion may be caused by insufficient heating of the base metal, too rapid travel, or gas or dirt inclusions. Porosity is a result of entrapped gases, usually carbon monoxide, which may be avoided by more careful flame manipulation and adequate fluxing where needed. Hard spots and cracking are a result of metallurgical characteristics of the weldment.
Welding With Other Fuel Gases.
Hydrocarbon gases, such as propane, butane, city gas, and natural gas, are not suitable for welding ferrous materials due to their oxidizing characteristics. In some instances, many nonferrous and ferrous metals can be braze welded with care taken in the adjustment of flare and the use of flux. It is important to use tips designed for the fuel gas being employed. These gases are extensively used for brazing and soldering operations, utilizing both mechanized and manual methods.
These fuel gases have relatively low flame propagation rates, with the exception of some manufactured city gases containing considerable amounts of hydrogen. When standard welding tips are used, the maximum flame velocity is so 1ow that it interferes seriously with heat transfer from the flame to the work. The highest flame temperatures of the gases are obtained at high oxygen-to-fuel gas ratios. These ratios produce highly oxidizing flames, which prevent the satisfactory welding of most metals.
Tips should be used having flame-holding devices, such as skirts, counterbores, and holder flames, to permit higher gas velocities before they leave the tip. This makes it possible to use these fuel gases for many heating applications with excellent heat transfer efficiency.
Air contains approximately 80 percent nitrogen by volume. This does not support combustion. Fuel gases burned with air, therefore, produce lower flame temperatures than those burned with oxygen. The total heat content is also lower. The air-fuel gas flame is suitable only for welding light sections of lead and for light brazing and soldering operations.
Standard oxyacetylene equipment, with the exception of torch tips and regulators, can be used to distribute and bum these gases. Special regulators may be obtained, and heating and cutting tips are available. City gas and natural gas are supplied by pipelines; propane and butane are stored in cylinders or delivered in liquid form to storage tanks on the user’s property.
The torches for use with air-fuel gas generally are designed to aspirate the proper quantity of air from the atmosphere to provide combustion. The fuel gas flows through the torch at a supply pressure of 2 to 40 psig and serves to aspirate the air. For light work, fuel gas usually is supplied from a small cylinder that is easily transportable.
The plumbing, refrigeration, and electrical trades use propane in small cylinders for many heating and soldering applications. The propane flows through the torch at a supply pressure from 3 to 60 psig and serves to aspirate the air. The torches are used for soldering electrical connections, the joints in copper pipelines, and light brazing jobs.
Air-fuel gas is used for welding lead up to approximately 1/4 in. (6.4 mm) in thickness. The greatest field of application in the plumbing and electrical industry. The process is used extensively for soldering copper tubing.
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