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Principles of arc welding

Arc welding is the welding process, in which heat is generated

by an electric arc struck between an electrode and the work piece. Electric arc is luminous electrical discharge between two electrodes through ionized gas.

Any arc welding method is based on an electric circuit consisting

of the following parts: Power supply (AC or DC); Welding electrode; Work piece; Welding leads (electric cables) connecting the electrode and work piece to the power supply.

Electric arc between the electrode and work piece

closes the electric circuit. The arc temperature may reach 10000F (5500C), which is sufficient for fusion the work piece edges and joining them.
When a long join is required the arc is moved along

the joint line. The front edge of the weld pool melts the welded surfaces when the rear edge of the weld pool solidifies forming the joint.

Metal Inert Gas Welding (MIG, GMAW)


Metal Inert Gas Welding (Gas Metal Arc Welding) is the arc

welding process, in which the weld is shielded by an external gas (argon, helium, CO2, argon + oxygen or other gas mixtures). Consumable electrode wire, having chemical composition similar to that of the parent material, is continuously fed from a spool to the arc zone. The arc heats and melts both the work pieces edges and the electrode wire. The fused electrode material is supplied to the surfaces of the work pieces, fills the weld pool and forms joint.

Due to automatic feeding of the filling wire (electrode) the process is referred to as a semi-automatic. The operator controls only the torch positioning and speed.

Advantages of Metal Inert Gas Welding (MIG, GMAW):


Continuous weld may be produced (no interruptions); High level of operators skill is not required; Slag removal is not required (no slag);

Disadvantages of Metal Inert Gas Welding (MIG, GMAW):


Expensive and non-portable equipment is required; Outdoor application are limited because of effect of wind,

dispersing the shielding gas.

Tungsten Inert Gas Arc Welding (TIG, GTAW)


Tungsten Inert Gas Arc Welding (Gas Tungsten Arc

Welding) is the welding process, in which heat is generated by an electric arc struck between a tungsten non-consumable electrode and the work piece.

The weld pool is shielded by an inert gas (Argon, helium, Nitrogen) protecting the molten metal from atmospheric contamination. The heat produced by the arc melts the work pieces edges and joins them. Filler rod may be used, if required.
Tungsten Inert Gas Arc Welding produces a high quality weld of most of metals. Flux is not used in the process.
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Advantages of Tungsten Inert Gas Arc Welding (TIG, GTAW):


Weld composition is close to that of the parent metal; High quality weld structure Slag removal is not required (no slag); Thermal distortions of work pieces are minimal due to concentration of heat in small zone.

Disadvantages of Tungsten Inert Gas Arc Welding (TIG, GTAW):


Low welding rate; Relatively expensive; Requires high level of operators skill.

Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)


Shielded metal arc welding (Stick welding, Manual metal arc

welding) uses a metallic consumable electrode of a proper composition for generating arc between itself and the parent work piece. The molten electrode metal fills the weld gap and joins the work pieces.

This is the most popular welding process capable to produce a great variety of welds.
The electrodes are coated with a shielding flux of a suitable composition. The flux melts together with the electrode metallic core, forming a gas and a slag, shielding the arc and the weld pool. The flux cleans the metal surface, supplies some alloying elements to the weld, protects the molten metal from oxidation and stabilizes the arc. The slag is removed after Solidification.

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Advantages of Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW):


Simple, portable and inexpensive equipment; Wide variety of metals, welding positions and electrodes are

applicable; Suitable for outdoor applications.

Disadvantages of Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW):


The process is discontinuous due to limited length of the

electrodes; Weld may contain slag inclusions; Fumes make difficult the process control.
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Submerged Arc Welding (SAW)


Submerged Arc Welding utilizes a bare consumable metallic

electrode producing an arc between itself and the work piece within a granular shielding flux applied around the weld.

The arc heats and melts both the work pieces edges and the electrode wire. The molten electrode material is supplied to the surfaces of the welded pieces, fills the weld pool and joins the work pieces. Since the electrode is submerged into the flux, the arc is invisible. The flux is partially melts and forms a slag protecting the weld pool from oxidation and other atmospheric contaminations.

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Advantages of Submerged Arc Welding (SAW):


Very high welding rate; The process is suitable for automation;

High quality weld structure.

Disadvantages of Submerged Arc Welding (SAW):


Weld may contain slag inclusions;

Limited applications of the process - mostly for

welding horizontally located plates.

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Electro slag Welding (ESW)


Electro slag Welding is the welding process in which the heat is generated by an electric current passing between the consumable electrode (filler metal) and the work piece through a molten slag, which covers the weld surface.

Prior to welding the gap between the two work pieces is filled with a welding flux. Electro slag Welding is initiated by an arc between the electrode and the work piece (or starting plate). Heat, generated by the arc, melts the fluxing powder and forms molten slag. The slag, having low electric conductivity, is maintained in liquid state due to heat produced by the electric current. The slag reaches a temperature of about 3500F (1930C). This temperature is sufficient for melting the consumable electrode and work piece edges. Metal droplets fall to the weld pool and join the work pieces. Electro slag Welding is used mainly for steels.

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Advantages of Electro slag Welding:


High deposition rate - up to 45 lbs/h (20 kg/h); Low slag consumption (about 5% of the deposited

metal weight); Low distortion; Unlimited thickness of work piece.

Disadvantages of Electro slag welding:


Coarse grain structure of the weld; Low toughness of the weld; Only vertical position is possible.
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Resistance Welding (RW)


Resistance Welding is a welding process, in which work pieces are welded due to a combination of a pressure applied to them and a localized heat generated by a high electric current flowing through the contact area of the weld.

Heat produced by the current is sufficient for local melting of the work piece at the contact point and formation of small weld pool (nugget). The molten metal is then solidifies under a pressure and joins the pieces. Time of the process and values of the pressure and flowing current, required for formation of reliable joint, are determined by dimensions of the electrodes and the work piece metal type. AC electric current (up to 100 000 A) is supplied through copper electrodes connected to the secondary coil of a welding transformer. The following metals may be welded by Resistance Welding: Low carbon steels - the widest application of Resistance Welding Aluminum alloys Medium carbon steels, high carbon steels and Alloy steels (may be welded, but the weld is brittle)

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Advantages of Resistance Welding:


High welding rates; Low fumes; Cost effectiveness; Easy automation; No filler materials are required; Low distortions.

Disadvantages of Resistance Welding:


High equipment cost; Low strength of discontinuous welds; Thickness of welded sheets is limited - up to 1/4 (6 mm);

Resistance Welding (RW) is used for joining vehicle body parts, fuel tanks, domestic radiators, pipes of gas oil and water pipelines, wire ends, turbine blades, railway tracks.

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The most popular methods of Resistance Welding are:


Spot Welding (RSW); Flash Welding (FW);

Resistance Butt Welding (UW) ;


Seam Welding (RSEW).

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Spot Welding (RSW)


Spot Welding is a Resistance Welding (RW) process, in

which two or more overlapped metal sheets are joined by spot welds. The method uses pointed copper electrodes providing passage of electric current. The electrodes also transmit pressure required for formation of strong weld. Diameter of the weld spot is in the range 1/8 - 1/2 (3 - 12 mm).

Spot welding is widely used in automotive industry for joining vehicle body parts.

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Flash Welding (FW)


Flash Welding is a Resistance Welding (RW) process, in which ends of rods (tubes, sheets) are heated and fused by an arc struck between them and then forged (brought into a contact under a pressure) producing a weld.

The welded parts are held in electrode clamps, one of which is stationary and the second is movable. Flash Welding method permits fast (about 1 min.) joining of large and complex parts. Welded part are often annealed for improvement of Toughness of the weld. Steels, Aluminum alloys, Copper alloys, Magnesium alloys, Copper alloys and Nickel alloys may be welded by Flash Welding. Thick pipes, ends of band saws, frames, aircraft landing gears are produced by Flash Welding.

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Resistance Butt Welding (UW)


Resistance Butt Welding is a Resistance Welding (RW)

process, in which ends of wires or rods are held under a pressure and heated by an electric current passing through the contact area and producing a weld. Welding pressure and electric current are applied simultaneously in contrast to Flash Welding where electric current is followed by forging pressure application.

The process is similar to Flash Welding, however in Butt

Butt welding is used for welding small parts. The process is highly productive and clean. In contrast to Flash Welding, Butt Welding provides joining with no loss of the welded materials.
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Seam Welding (RSEW)


Seam Welding is a Resistance Welding (RW) process

of continuous joining of overlapping sheets by passing them between two rotating electrode wheels. Heat generated by the electric current flowing through the contact area and pressure provided by the wheels are sufficient to produce a leak-tight weld.
Seam Welding is high speed and clean process, which

is used when continuous tight weld is required (fuel tanks, drums, domestic radiators).
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Thermit Welding (TW)


Thermit Welding is a welding process, utilizing heat generated by exothermic chemical reaction between the components of the thermit (a mixture of a metal oxide and aluminum powder). The molten metal, produced by the reaction, acts as a filler material joining the work pieces after Solidification.

Thermit Welding is mainly used for joining steel parts, therefore common thermit is composed from iron oxide (78%) and aluminum powder (22%). The proportion 78-22 is determined by the chemical reaction of combustion of aluminum: 8Al + Fe3O4 = 9Fe + 4Al2O3 The combustion reaction products (iron and aluminum oxide) heat up to 4500F (2500C). Liquid iron fills the sand (or ceramic) mold built around the welded parts, the slag (aluminum oxide), floating up , is then removed from the weld surface. Thermit Welding is used for repair of steel casings and forgings, for joining railroad rails, steel wires and steel pipes, for joining large cast and forged parts.

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Advantages of Thermit Welding:


No external power source is required (heat of chemical reaction

is utilized); Very large heavy section parts may be joined.

Disadvantages of Resistance Welding:


Only ferrous (steel, chromium, nickel) parts may be welded; Slow welding rate; High temperature process may cause distortions and changes in

Grain structure in the weld region. Weld may contain gas (Hydrogen) and slag contaminations.
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Electron Beam Welding (EBW)


Electron Beam Welding is a welding process utilizing a heat generated by a beam of high energy electrons. The electrons strike the work piece and their kinetic energy converts into thermal energy heating the metal so that the edges of work piece are fused and joined together forming a weld after Solidification.

The process is carried out in a vacuum chamber at a pressure of about 2*10-7 to 2*10-6 psi (0.00013 to 0.0013 Pa). Such high vacuum is required in order to prevent loss of the electrons energy in collisions with air molecules. The electrons are emitted by a cathode (electron gun). Due to a high voltage (about 150 kV) applied between the cathode and the anode the electrons are accelerated up to 30% - 60% of the speed of light. Kinetic energy of the electrons becomes sufficient for melting the targeted weld. Some of the electrons energy transforms into X-ray irradiation. Electrons accelerated by electric field are then focused into a thin beam in the focusing coil. Deflection coil moves the electron beam along the weld.

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Electron Beam is capable to weld work pieces with

thickness from 0.0004 (0.01 mm) up to 6 (150 mm) of steel and up to 20 (500 mm) of aluminum. Electron Beam Welding may be used for joining any metals including metals, which are hardly wieldable by other welding methods: refractory metals (tungsten, molybdenum, niobium) and chemically active metals (titanium, zirconium, beryllium). Electron Beam Welding is also able to join dissimilar metals.

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Advantages of Electron Beam Welding (EBW):


Tight continuous weld; Low distortion;

Narrow weld and narrow heat affected zone;


Filler metal is not required.

Disadvantages of Electron Beam Welding (EBW):


Expensive equipment;
High production expenses; X-ray irradiation.
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Laser Welding (LW)


Laser Welding (LW) is the welding process, in which heat is generated by a high energy laser beam targeted on the work piece. The laser beam heats and melts the work pieces edges, forming a joint.

Energy of narrow laser beam is highly concentrated: 108-1011 W/in2 (108-1010 W/cm2), therefore diminutive weld pool forms very fast (for about 10-6 sec.). Solidification of the weld pool surrounded by the cold metal is as fast as melting. Since the time when the molten metal is in contact with the atmosphere is short, no contamination occurs and therefore no shields (neutral gas, flux) are required. The joint in Laser Welding (Laser Beam Welding) is formed either as a sequence of overlapped spot welds or as a continuous weld. Laser Welding is used in electronics, communication and aerospace industry, for manufacture of medical and scientific instruments, for joining miniature components.

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Advantages of Laser Welding:


Easily automated process; Controllable process parameters; Very narrow weld may be obtained; High quality of the weld structure; Very small heat affected zone; Dissimilar materials may be welded; Very small delicate work pieces may be welded; Vacuum is not required; Low distortion of work piece.

Disadvantages of Laser Welding:


Low welding speed; High cost equipment; Weld depth is limited.

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Plasma Arc Welding (PAW)


Plasma Arc Welding is a welding process utilizing heat generated by a constricted arc struck between a tungsten non-consumable electrode and either the work piece (transferred arc process) or water cooled constricting nozzle (non-transferred arc process).

Plasma is a gaseous mixture of positive ions, electrons and neutral gas molecules. Transferred arc process produces plasma jet of high energy density and may be used for high speed welding and cutting of Ceramics, steels, Aluminum alloys, Copper alloys, Titanium alloys, Nickel alloys. Non-transferred arc process produces plasma of relatively low energy density. It is used for welding of various metals and for plasma spraying (coating). Since the work piece in non-transferred plasma arc welding is not a part of electric circuit, the plasma arc torch may move from one work piece to other without extinguishing the arc.

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Advantages of Plasma Arc Welding (PAW): Requires less operator skill due to good tolerance of arc to misalignments; High welding rate; High penetrating capability (keyhole effect); Disadvantages of Plasma Arc Welding (PAW): Expensive equipment; High distortions and wide welds as a result of high heat input.

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Solid State Welding (SSW)


Solid State Welding is a welding process, in which

two work pieces are joined under a pressure providing an intimate contact between them and at a temperature essentially below the melting point of the parent material. Bonding of the materials is a result of diffusion of their interface atoms.

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Advantages of Solid State Welding:


Weld (bonding) is free from microstructure defects (pores, non-

metallic inclusions, segregation of alloying elements); Mechanical properties of the weld are similar to those of the parent metals; No consumable materials (filler material, fluxes, shielding gases) are required; Dissimilar metals may be joined (steel - aluminum alloy, steel - copper alloy).

Disadvantages of Solid State Welding:


Thorough surface preparation is required (degreasing, oxides removal,

brushing/sanding); Expensive equipment.

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The following processes are related to Solid State


welding: Forge Welding (FOW) Cold Welding (CW) Friction Welding (FRW) Explosive Welding (EXW) Diffusion Welding (DFW) Ultrasonic Welding (USW)

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Forge Welding (FOW)


Forge Welding is a Solid State Welding process, in

which low carbon steel parts are heated to about 1800F (1000C) and then forged (hammered). Prior to Forge Welding, the parts are scarfed in order to prevent entrapment of oxides in the joint. Forge Welding is used in general blacksmith shops and for manufacturing metal art pieces and welded tubes.

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Advantages of Forge Welding:


Good quality weld may be obtained; Parts of intricate shape may be welded; No filler material is required.

Disadvantages of Forge Welding:


Only low carbon steel may be welded; High level of the operators skill is required; Slow welding process; Weld may be contaminated by the coke used in heating furnace.
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Cold Welding (CW)


Cold Welding is a Solid State Welding process, in

which two work pieces are joined together at room temperature and under a pressure, causing a substantial deformation of the welded parts and providing an intimate contact between the welded surfaces. As a result of the deformation, the oxide film covering the welded parts breaks up, and clean metal surfaces reveal. Intimate contact between these pure surfaces provide a strong and defect less bonding.
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Aluminum alloys, Copper alloys, low carbon steels, Nickel alloys, and other ductile metals may be welded by Cold Welding. Cold Welding is widely used for manufacturing bi-metal steel - aluminum alloy strips, for cladding of aluminum alloy strips by other aluminum alloys or pure aluminum (Corrosion protection). Bi-metal strips are produced by Rolling technology. Presses are also used for Cold Welding. Cold Welding may be easily automated.
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Friction Welding (FRW)


Friction Welding is a Solid State Welding process, in

which two cylindrical parts are brought in contact by a friction pressure when one of them rotates. Friction between the parts results in heating their ends. Forge pressure is then applied to the pieces providing formation of the joint. Carbon steels, Alloy steels, Tool and die steels, Stainless steels, Aluminum alloys, Copper alloys, Magnesium alloys, Nickel alloys, Titanium alloys may be joined by Friction Welding.
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Explosive Welding (EXW)


Explosive Welding is a Solid State Welding process, in which welded parts (plates) are metallurgically bonded as a result of oblique impact pressure exerted on them by a controlled detonation of an explosive charge.

One of the welded parts (base plate) is rested on an anvil, the second part (flyer plate) is located above the base plate with an angled or constant interface clearance. Explosive charge is placed on the flyer plate. Detonation starts at an edge of the plate and propagates at high velocity along the plate. The maximum detonation velocity is about 120% of the material sonic velocity. The slags (oxides, nitrides and other contaminants) are expelled by the jet created just ahead of the bonding front. Most of the commercial metals and alloys may be bonded (welded) by Explosive Welding.

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Dissimilar metals may be joined by Explosive Welding: Copper to steel; Nickel to steel; Aluminum to steel; Tungsten to steel; Titanium to steel; Copper to aluminum.
Explosive Welding is used for manufacturing clad tubes and pipes, pressure vessels, aerospace structures, heat exchangers, bimetal sliding bearings, ship structures, weld transitions, corrosion resistant chemical process tanks.

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Advantages of Explosive Welding


Large surfaces may be welded; High quality bonding: high strength, no distortions, no porosity, no

change of the metal microstructure; Low cost and simple process; Surface preparation is not required.

Disadvantages of Explosive Welding:


Brittle materials (low ductility and low impact toughness) cannot be

processed; Only simple shape parts may be bonded: plates, cylinders; Thickness of flyer plate is limited - less than 2.5 (63 mm); Safety and security aspects of storage and using explosives.

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Ultrasonic Welding (USW)


Ultrasonic Welding is a Solid State Welding process, in which two

work pieces are bonded as a result of a pressure exerted to the welded parts combined with application of high frequency acoustic vibration (ultrasonic). Ultrasonic vibration causes friction between the parts, which results in a closer contact between the two surfaces with simultaneous local heating of the contact area. Interatomic bonds, formed under these conditions, provide strong joint. Ultrasonic cycle takes about 1 sec. The frequency of acoustic vibrations is in the range 20 to 70 KHz. Thickness of the welded parts is limited by the power of the ultrasonic generator. Ultrasonic Welding is used mainly for bonding small work pieces in electronics, for manufacturing communication devices, medical tools, watches, in automotive industry.
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Advantages of Ultrasonic Welding:


Dissimilar metals may be joined; Very low deformation of the work pieces surfaces; High quality weld is obtained; The process may be integrated into automated production lines; Moderate operator skill level is enough.

Disadvantages of Ultrasonic Welding:


Only small and thin parts may be welded; Work pieces and equipment components may fatigue at the

reciprocating loads provided by ultrasonic vibration; Work pieces may bond to the anvil.

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Diffusion Welding (DFW)


Diffusion Welding is a Solid State Welding process, in which

pressure applied to two work pieces with carefully cleaned surfaces and at an elevated temperature below the melting point of the metals. Bonding of the materials is a result of mutual diffusion of their interface atoms. In order to keep the bonded surfaces clean from oxides and other air contaminations, the process is often conducted in vacuum. No appreciable deformation of the work pieces occurs in Diffusion Welding.

Diffusion Welding is often referred more commonly as Solid State Welding (SSW).

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Diffusion Welding is able to bond dissimilar metals, which


are difficult to weld by other welding processes: Steel to tungsten; Steel to niobium; Stainless steel to titanium; Gold to copper alloys. Diffusion Welding is used in aerospace and rocketry industries, electronics, nuclear applications, manufacturing composite materials.

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Advantages of Diffusion Welding:


Dissimilar materials may be welded (Metals, Ceramics, Graphite,

glass); Welds of high quality are obtained (no pores, inclusions, chemical segregation, distortions). No limitation in the work pieces thickness.

Disadvantages of Diffusion Welding:


Time consuming process with low productivity; Very thorough surface preparation is required prior to welding

process; The mating surfaces must be precisely fitted to each other; Relatively high initial investments in equipment.

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Carbon Arc Welding


Carbon Arc Welding (CAW) is the welding process, in

which heat is generated by an electric arc struck between an carbon electrode and the work piece. The arc heats and melts the work pieces edges, forming a joint.

Carbon arc welding is the oldest welding process.


If required, filler rod may be used in Carbon Arc Welding. End of the rod is held in the arc zone. The molten rod material is supplied to the weld pool. Shields (neutral gas, flux) may be used for weld pool protection depending on type of welded metal.

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Advantages of Carbon Arc Welding:


Low cost of equipment and welding operation; High level of operator skill is not required;

The process is easily automated;


Low distortion of work piece.

Disadvantages of Carbon Arc Welding:


Unstable quality of the weld (porosity);
Carbon of electrode contaminates weld material with

carbides.
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Carbon Arc Welding has been replaced by Tungsten Inert

Gas Arc Welding (TIG, GTAW) in many applications. Modification of Carbone Arc Welding is Twin Carbon Electrode Arc Welding, utilizing arc struck between two carbon electrodes. Work piece is not a part of welding electric circuit in Twin Carbon Electrode Arc Welding, therefore the welding torch may be moved from one work piece to other without extinguishing the arc.

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