Different Ways to Minimise Welding Distortions in Metal Fabrication

Blog | December 13th, 2019

Over the years, steel fabricated parts have managed to meet impossibly high engineering tolerances. Even heat treatment processes have evolved to the point that they no longer introduce workpiece deformations. With these challenges now surmounted, we turn our attention to welding distortions. Simply put, metal parts warp when they’re exposed to great quantities of heat. That’s a problem, especially since welds rely on heat to fuse metal parts.

Professional Welders Hone Their Skills

To prevent a metal surface from distorting while under a welder’s charge, a proficiency-based workflow is established. An inept employee might blindly apply a weld bead and filler wire. He’d work with wild abandon to meet some deadline or productivity goal, but there’d be a cost to exact. Applying the electrode with a reckless hand, the finished welds are “overcooked” by a considerable margin. If the job had been done by a seasoned welder, the high-output thermal energies would’ve been applied intermittently. Instead of three passes, one would’ve been enough. At most, two weld passes would’ve seen the job done right.

Shrewdly Assessing the Various Alloy Grades

Some alloys soak up heat, then they immediately distribute the energy. Other metals, they’re equipped with higher thermal resistivity coefficients. A welder should know about such matters and be able to adjust his electrode settings to compensate for this material quality. It’s the same with thermal expansion and contraction cycling, which occurs when thermal energies saturate an alloy’s microcrystalline structure. Those energies warp metal parts, but a quick switch to an intermittent welding technique immediately brings this effect under control. Another option, besides the reduction of flame or spark intensity, is to slightly shift the focus of the heat zone. If the energy focal point moves over to a weld zone’s neutral axis, then the distortion forces introduced by the heat can’t gain leverage, can’t push or tug at some intricate geometrical feature.

As welders gain more experience, they overcome bad habits. Over-welding predilections are struck down, intermittent welding techniques take their place, and metal parts are no longer saturated in material-torturing thermal energies. Neutral zone welding is another key skill to have on tap here. Basically, with heat zones in geometrically balanced sites, intricate metal parts won’t warp at a corner or bend. Essentially, just as gasket fitters use special tightening patterns to balance compressive flange energies, so too do welders utilise specially balanced material fusing techniques. Backstep welding is a fine example of this approach, with balanced bead segments distributed over a seam instead of having one long, progressively applied pass that goes top-to-bottom or left-to-right.

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