Generally, the validity of a welder’s qualification is six months, as per ASME Section IX. The welder’s qualification is said to have expired if he has not welded with that process for a period of six months. However, provision has been given in Section IX for renewal of expired welder qualification too. Renewing the validity extends the welder’s qualification for an additional 6 months. This provision has been given in QW 322 of Section IX.
In this article, we shall see some of the aspects about the renewal of an expired welding performance qualification.
How To Renew An Expired Welder Qualification
The rules set by Section IX to restore the validity of an expired qualification are quite liberal. If one of your welder qualifications has expired, you can reactivate it by welding with that process on a coupon of any material, any diameter and thickness, in any position. This is stated in QW 322.2.
Assume that you have a GTAW qualification in 6G position, made on a 15 mm thick and 100 mm OD pipe, made on a stainless steel with a F6 filler, qualified with RT. Due to unavailability of jobs that require GTAW process in your shop, or due to any other reason, your welder was unable to weld with GTAW process in the six month period after the qualification.
The validity of his qualification is then said to have expired.
Now, also assume that the welder had five different kinds of Welder Performance Qualifications, all in GTAW process. Say, one of the five was as described above, another with F43, another for small diameter pipes in 5G position, another for welds without backing, and yet another one without filler for small thickness sheets.
If the welder does not weld with GTAW process for a six month period, as per QW 322.1, the validity of all these qualifications gets expired.
Now, as per Section IX, as per QW 322.2 (a), you can renew ALL these expired qualifications by welding a 5 mm deep groove, on a carbon steel plate, in 1G position, with GTAW process, and examining it with RT.
Sounds too liberal? Well those are what the rules are.
The Interpretations IX-86-19, IX-86-82 (Qs 1), IX-78-22, IX-83-113, IX-81-47 (qs 3), IX-83-154 (qs 2), etc. attest to this understanding.
Interpretation IX-83-154 (qs 1) also establishes that the term ‘renewal’ means reestablishment of the qualification. In other words, the expired qualification gets reinstated as it was before.
It also needs to be noted that making a coupon with a process for the purpose of renewal of qualification renews the welder’s qualification(s) only in that process. Meaning that, if he made a coupon with GTAW for the purpose of renewing his qualification(s), his qualification(s) involving only GTAW process get reactivated.
If he has other qualifications (that have expired) involving SMAW process, he needs to make another coupon with SMAW process, to renew the validity of his SMAW qualifications. Interpretation IX-89-63 addresses this matter.
Re-qualification Of An Expired Welder Qualification
A Welder’s Performance Qualification Has Expired. His Organization Wants To Re-qualify Him Afresh Instead Of Renewing His Expired Qualification. Does Section IX Permit This?
An organization at its own discretion may choose to re-qualify a welder in accordance with QW 304, instead of renewing his expired qualification by preparing a test coupon in accordance with QW 322.2 (a). Would the organization be Code compliant in doing so?
The answer is yes. Doing this would not make the organization fall foul of Section IX, because there is no stipulation in Section IX that prohibits this.
What the organization is doing while doing so is more than the bare minimum required by Code. This is a sign of being quality conscious. There is no way Code would frown at this.
In fact, this requalification can also be done by directly deploying the welder on a production weld, and examining it with volumetric NDE per QW-191. This understanding also appears through Interpretation IX-83-128.
Going a step further, the easy exercise of renewal coupon can also be accomplished by directly deploying the welder on a production weld. This is permitted under QW-322.3(a).
How Much Later Can the Renewal Be Done After Expiry Of Welder’s Qualification?
A Welder’s Performance Qualification Has Expired. Does Section IX Permit Renewal Of A Performance Qualification Ten Years After Its Expiry?
Say, a welder has been qualified as per Section IX. A few months after the qualification, the welder decided to take a sabbatical, or decided to change careers, or just joined another company. The welder rejoins the original company many years later.
Can the original qualification held by the welder be renewed by welding and testing a test coupon in accordance with QW 322.2 (a) and QW 304 respectively?
The answer is that Section IX does not address this. It is left to the wisdom of the manufacturing organization or the authorised inspector to make a decision on this. In my opinion, the welder should be qualified afresh, by preparing a fresh coupon in accordance with QW 304.
A similar guidance appears in the Interpretation IX-83-117.
The interpretation IX-81-47 (qs 1, 2) and QW-83-124 tells us that the welder need not even be in the continuous employ of the manufacturer, for him to be eligible for renewing his qualifications through a renewal coupon?
Can Renewal Be Done On Production Welds
Section IX permits the fresh qualification to be done on production weld, so there is no reason why renewal cannot be done on a production weld, and subjecting it to NDE.
This finds confirmation in last line of QW-322.3 (a) [2021 edition], and also in interpretation IX-92-47.
All the Interpretations referred in this article can be seen on ASME’s Interpretation database.
So this was all about renewal of expired welder qualification in accordance with Section IX. Please do let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.