Air carbon arc cutting is an arc cutting process in which metals to be cut are melted by the heat of a carbon arc and the molten metal is removed by a blast of air. The process is widely used for back gouging, preparing joints, and removing defective metal.

A high velocity air jet traveling parallel to the carbon electrode strikes the molten metal puddle just behind the arc and blows the molten metal out of the immediate area. Figure 2-6 shows the operation of the process.

Air Carbon Arc Cutting

The Air Carbon Arc Cutting Process

The air carbon arc cutting process is used to cut metal and to gouge out defective metal, to remove old or inferior welds, for root gouging of full penetration welds, and to prepare grooves for welding. Air carbon arc cutting is used when slightly ragged edges are not objectionable. The area of the cut is small, and since the metal is melted and removed quickly, the surrounding area does not reach high temperatures. This reduces the tendency towards distortion and cracking. The air carbon arc can be used for cutting or gouging most of the common metals.

The process is not recommended for weld preparation for stainless steel, titanium, zirconium, and other similar metals without subsequent cleaning. This cleaning, usually by grinding, must remove all of the surface carbonized material adjacent to the cut. The process can be used to cut these materials for scrap for remelting.

The circuit diagram for air carbon arc cutting or gouging is shown by figure 2-7. Normally, conventional welding machines with constant current are used. Constant voltage can be used with this process.

When using a constant voltage (CV) power source precautions must be taken to operate it within its rated output of current and duty cycle.

Alternating current power sources having conventional drooping characteristics can also be used for special applications. AC type carbon electrodes must be used.

Special heavy duty high current machines have been made specifically for the air carbon arc process. This is because of extremely high currents used for the large size carbon electrodes.

The air pressure must range from 80 to 100 psi (550 to 690 kPa). The volume of compressed air required ranges from as low as 5.0 cu ft/min. (2.5 liter/rein.) up to 50 cu ft/min. (24 liter/min.) for the largest-size carbon electrodes.

The air blast of air carbon arc welding will cause the molten metal to travel a very long distance. Metal deflection plates should be placed in front of the gouging operation, and all combustible materials should be moved away from the work area. At high-current levels, the mass of molten metal removed is quite large and will become a fire hazard if not properly contained.

A high noise level is associated with air carbon arc welding. At high currents with high air pressure a very loud noise occurs. Ear protection, ear muffs or ear plugs must be worn by the arc cutter.