Resistance welding is a group of welding processes in which coalescence is produced by the heat obtained from resistance of the work to electric current in a circuit of which the work is a part and by the application of pressure. There are at least seven important resistance-welding processes. These are flash welding, high frequency resistance welding, percussion welding, projection welding, resistance seam welding, resistance spot welding, and upset welding.

Principles of the Resistance Welding

The resistance welding processes differ from all those previously mentioned. Filler metal is rarely used and fluxes are not employed. Three factors involved in making a resistance weld are the amount of current that passes through the work, the pressure that the electrodes transfer to the work, and the time the current flows through the work. Heat is generated by the passage of electrical current through a resistance circuit. The force applied before, during, and after the current flow forces the heated parts together so that coalescence will occur. Pressure is required throughout the entire welding cycle to assure a continuous electrical circuit through the work.

This concept of resistance welding is most easily understood by relating it to resistance spot welding. Resistance spot welding, the most popular, is shown by figure 10-77. High current at a low voltage flows through the circuit and is in accordance with Ohm’s law,



Resistance spot welding

 I is the current in amperes, E is the voltage in volts, and R is the resistance of the material in ohms. The total energy is expressed by the formula: Energy equals I x E x T in which T is the time in seconds during which current flows in the circuit. Combining these two equations gives H (heat energy) = 12 x R x T. For practical reasons a factor which relates to heat losses should be included; therefore, the actual resistance welding formula is H (heat energy) =I2 x R x T x K (c) In this formula, I = current squared in amperes, R is the resistance of the work in ohms, T is the time of current flow in seconds, and K represents the heat losses through radiation and conduction. 

Welding heat is proportional to the square of the welding current. If the current is doubled, the heat generated is quadrupled. Welding heat is proportional to the total time of current flow, thus, if current is doubled, the time can be reduced considerably. The welding heat generated is directly proportional to the resistance and is related to the material being welded and the pressure applied. The heat losses should be held to a minimum. It is an advantage to shorten welding tire. Mechanical pressure which forces the parts together helps refine the grain structure of the weld.

Heat is also generated at the contact between the welding electrodes and the work. This amount of heat generated is lower since the resistance between high conductivity electrode material and the normally employed mild steel is less than that between two pieces of mild steel. In most applications, the electrodes are water cooled to minimize the heat generated between the electrode and the work.

Resistance welds are made very quickly; however, each process has its own time cycle.

Resistance welding operations are automatic. The pressure is applied by mechanical, hydraulic, or pneumatic systems. Motion, when it is involved, is ap-plied mechanically. Current control is completely automatic once the welding operator initiates the weld. Resistance welding equipment utilizes programmers for controlling current, time cycles, pressure, and movement. Welding programs for resistance welding can become quite complex. In view of this, quality welds do not depend on welding operator skill but more on the proper set up and adjustment of the equipment and adherence to weld schedules.

Resistance welding is used primarily in the mass production industries where long production runs and consistent conditions can be maintained. Welding is performed with operators who normally load and unload the welding machine and operate the switch for initiating the weld operation. The automotive industry is the major user of the resistance welding processes, followed by the appliance industry. Resistance welding is used by many industries manufacturing a variety of products made of thinner gauge metals. Resistance welding is also used in the steel industry for manufacturing pipe, tubing and smaller structural sections. Resistance welding has the advantage of producing a high volume of work at high speeds and does not require filler materials. Resistance welds are reproducible and high-quality welds are normal.

The position of making resistance welds is not a factor, particularly in the welding of thinner material.

Weldable Metals.

 Metals that are weldable, the thicknesses that can be welded, and joint design are related to specific resistance welding processes. Most of the common metals can be welded by many of the resistance welding processes (see table 10-27). Difficulties may be encountered when welding certain metals in thicker sections. Some metals require heat treatment after welding for satisfactory mechanical properties.

Base metals weldable by the resistance welding process.

Weldability is controlled by three factors: resistivity, thermal conductivity, and melting temperature. Metals with a high resistance to current flow and with a low thermal conductivity and a relatively low melting temperature would be easily weldable. Ferrous metals all fall into this category. Metals that have a lower resistivity but a higher thermal conductivity will be slightly more difficult to weld. This includes the light metals, aluminum and magnesium. The precious metals comprise the third group. These are difficult to weld because of very high thermal conductivity. The fourth group is the refractory metals, which have extremely high melting points and are more difficult to weld.

These three properties can be combined into a formula which will provide an indication of the ease of welding a metal. This formula is:

In this formula, W equals weldability, R is resistivity, and F is the melting temperature of the metal in degrees C, and Kt is the relative thermal conductivity with copper equal to 1.00. If weldability (W) is below 0.25, it is a poor rating. If W is between 0.25 and 0.75, weldability becomes fair. Between 0.75 and 2.0, weldability is good. Above 2.0 weldability is excellent. In this formula, mild steel would have a weldability rating of over 10. Aluminum has a weldability factor of from 1 to 2 depending on the alloy and these are considered having a good weldability rating. Copper and certain brasses have a low weldability factor and are known to be very difficult to weld.