We will be looking at practically everything you need to know about spatter in welding today.
Firstly, what is spatter?
While welding, you might have noticed molten metal balls ejected into the air that burned your skin or froze on your welding tools. Welding jargon refers to these small metal blobs as spatters.
In welding, spatter is a defect or a side-effect. A clean welding process yields little or no spatter. This article will discuss some tips and tricks to handle spattering for your safety and perfect welding.
List of Contents
- Problems Associated with Welding Spatter
- Causes of Spattering
- How to Reduce Welding Spatter
- Welder Settings
- How to Clean Spatter
- Final Words
Problems Associated with Welding Spatter
Generally, welders do not welcome spattering because of the following reasons:
- The metal droplets are hot enough to make bristles on your skin and leave permanent skin burn marks.
- Drops make a sticky mess of nearly everything they land on. Plus, they are hard to remove.
- Welding spatter tends to obscure vision and may indicate defective welding, which may lead to incorrect joints.
Causes of Spattering
The next question that automatically pops up in mind is the cause of these molten metal globules? Here are some reasons for spattering in welding.
The nature of metal greatly influences spatter production. Inferior quality metals contain filler metals that are not weldable, hence leading to spatter. Sometimes, metal in the workpiece has a natural composition such that it cannot be welded. So, as a professional, you need to know the metal characteristics which you will be welding.
It is pretty impossible to find a pure metal. But it would be best if you tried to choose a metal with as small an impurities ratio as possible, which will lead to more minor spatter.
Some metals are corrosive or get oxidized easily by reacting with open air. Thus, many metals are coated with other inert metals by electroplating processes. This metal coating also causes spatter during welding.
It has been noticed that there are oil coatings or greases that add to the contamination in the workpiece. Because of these dirt sources, welders face numerous welding spatter issues. Apart from oil, dust, or even marker pen lines do not merge with weld, causing spatter.
Low Grade or Contaminated Filler
Have you ever noticed that metal rod fillers with material come at different prices? For sure, your answer is positive. Various types of rod fillers are available in different percentages of pure metal. The pricier the product, the purer it is. Low-quality metal filler is lighter on your pocket, but it will cost you in terms of spatter during welding. Moreover, the contaminations on metal rods are another reason for spatter in welding processes. Such surface impurities include dust layers, oil, and grease coatings on rods.
Lack of Shielding Gas
The primary purpose of shielding gas is to decrease spattering. The wrong choice of shielding gas can result in immense welding spatter. Sometimes, welders who incorporate suitable welding gases complain about spatter. They encounter spattering issues because they do not check the gas valve or forget to set the required flow rate. You can ignore these little things but may end up wasting time and money due to spatter-related issues.
Wire Feed Problems
There are two problems associated with wire feed.
During burnback, the wire speed is too low, and hence wire melts at its contact tip, forming a small ball. Therefore, avoid keeping contact tip distance more than 1 ¼ inches. Whereas in birdnesting, the wire becomes tangled and hinders while feeding. To combat birdnesting, use U-groove or V drive rolls in the wire feeder.
Effect of Welding Techniques on Spatter
In observing my welding techniques, I was surprised to find that they significantly affected the amount of spatter produced in working. First and foremost, your welding angle must lie between 5-15 degrees. This angle allows the shielding gas to cover the weld area’s maximum, leading to less spatter. If you are an amateur welder, it will be hard to maintain the angle in this range.
But don’t worry, practice makes a man perfect. You may exceed that angle if you keep the weld puddle in view, but larger gas angles will cause the shielding gas to shift aside. Hence, this shifting will give rise to spatter and weld porosity.
It is also possible that the long electrode stick-out will interact with the welding pool to release molten metal droplets into the air. Now, you will think of having a short arc to reduce spatter. But keep in mind that too short an arc can cause sputtering and, at last, will produce spatter.
All problems have a solution, so do these spatter sources. Let’s look at a few suggestions by experienced welders to reduce or stop spatter during welding.
How to Reduce Welding Spatter
Here is simple advice that you must keep in mind to make immaculate welds:
- Consider the metal composition before you start welding. Metals that are naturally unsuitable for welding should be processed differently instead of welding.
- It is better to rub off the metal surface up to 3/4th inches in the case of galvanized or electroplated metal workpieces. You can apply grinding or milling techniques as pre-processing of the metal pieces. Although this would take a bit of time or money but would result in less spatter and professional welds.
- A pro tip for you: clean your workpiece with a rag before you start welding. The oil or grease will be removed through this small prep step, preventing any extra spattering.
- Please keep it in the range discussed earlier to ensure satisfactory welds as far as work angle is concerned.
- Be careful while using shielding gas. Occasionally, spatter can accumulate inside the gas nozzles and obstruct the flow of gas. A lack of welding gas can produce spatter as a result. Keep cleaning the gas valves and nozzles to ensure smooth gas flow.
- Pure inert gases like Argon are the best for shielding weld areas. You’ll need to maximize your budget with Argon tanks. Therefore, welders buy carbon dioxide tanks as they are cost-efficient. As a result, they have to deal with immense spattering. So, we have a middle option for you. Use Argon tanks with a proportion of CO2; it will be manageable and lessen spattering in welding.
We have discussed the causes of spattering and what we can do to prevent them from occurring. In the next section, we’ll see how to set welder machine settings for minimal spatter.
MIG Welding Spatter
MIG welding spatter results from the high speed or irregular wire feed. When the wire feed enters the weld pool, the molten metal drops jump in the air. The wire melts quickly at high temperatures to form a weld pool. The wire should be at the appropriate temperature before it interacts with the workpiece to melt into a puddle, creating less spatter. On the other hand, metal blobs will spread in the air with high velocity if the cold wire hits the weld pool. All you need to do is cautiously set the machine before welding!
MIG Welder Settings
First of all, set the polarity of the machine to solid wire from flux-cored wire.
Set the suitable voltage and current to get the required penetration and proper heat. These initial settings directly affect wire speed. Next, you need to select wire speed as well. Slow wire-speed means that the wire will melt in air and liquefy before it reaches the bead.
Hence, the droplets will stick to anything they touch. Well, it may be your skin or other welding tools. If the speed is kept too fast, it will cause the solid wire to enter the weld pool, and it will create splashes, poking, and spatter at last.
Most of the welders keep 3/8 inches stick-out following the thumb rule. This length may vary depending upon the weld geometry.
Note: To reduce spatter, lower your wire speed. Sometimes, varying wire speed is not enough. The amount of spatter may be due to arc blow, which may affect the arc’s quality because of the base metal’s magnetism. Either try welding towards the ground clamp or switch your machine to alternating current.
Stick Welding Spatter
In the case of stick welding or SMAW processes, you need to take extra care of the temperature. If the process is too low, it will not form smooth welds with consistency. You will have to deal with much spatter and uneven shapeless weld.
Does welding at high temperatures lead to consistent process and pleasing welds? The answer to this question is yes. But wait, there are a few problems as well. You have to keep travel speed faster when your welding is hot to avoid burning and undercutting. High speed increases the risk of spatter. Therefore, the heat must be according to the plate and rod thickness to make the cleanest welds.
Stick Welder Settings
Set the voltage and current to get an appropriate speed. Always remember that high speed will cause spatter in welding.
Increased spatter may also be because of too long arc length. Welders recommend a general rule for choosing arc length in stick welding. Keep the arc length more petite than the metal electrode’s diameter. If the electrode diameter is 1/9 inch, keep your arc in the range of 1/7 to 1/9 inch long.
Before working on your base metal, it is a good idea to test your machine settings on a small metal piece. This experimentation will give you an idea of whether your settings are up to the mark for welding or not.
TIG Welding and Spatter Issues
We have good news for you if you want to eliminate the probability of spatter in welding. It is simple, shift to TIG welding. There are no sparks, flames, or molten metal droplets flying in the work area because there is no metal transfer in TIG welding. This process will take a longer time to lay beds, but this will avoid time wasted in cleaning spatter.
Spatter in Flux-Core Welding
Flux-core welding yields spatter when the feed wire speed is greater than the required value. You can resolve this issue by working at low amperage or increased voltage. Continuously test the welds to find the correct settings.
How to Clean Spatter
After taking all precautions and reviewing your machine settings keenly before you start welding, the probability of spatter remains there. You can use any of the following methods after welding to remove metal drops at your workplace and welded metal.
- Using a Spatter Hammer
- Applying anti-spatter sprays or gels
This abrasive machining method rubs off the surface of the material. Usually, a grinding wheel acts as a cutting tool. You can invest some extra effort in this process for the perfect finishing of your weld.
Using a Spatter Hammer or Chisel
For a small amount of spatter, a chipping hammer is helpful to remove unwanted beads of metal. It has a trapezoidal cut such that when hit at an angle removes spatter.
Sprays and Gels
Sprays and gels work wonders by stopping spatter from adhering to the workpiece. Some welders recommend masking certain areas. We suggest using aluminum tape because it bears the spatter heat and doesn’t melt like plastic tapes.
Protection from Welding Spatter
Spatter is deadly for skin cells, and it leaves you with permanent burn marks if you do not protect yourself. You can use the following safety equipment:
- Welding helmets
- Welding gloves
- Safety Goggles
- Clear Face Shields
- Protective Clothing
- Welding Sleeves
What is the effect of spatter in welding?
Spatter makes welding a messy process. Other problems that spatter causes are injuries to workers, clean-up, porosity, and material loss. Moreover, the molten metal droplets spread in the workspace and stick to the tools. Spatter stuck in the welding gun blocks the gas flow.
How do welders reduce spatter?
Check the polarity before welding. Moreover, spatter can be effectively reduced if you find a balance between low amperage and high voltage to get the right wire speed.
Is weld spatter a defect?
Yes, weld spatter is a defect if it exceeds the limit specified by the project specification’s standard values.
Spattering is a welding defect or side-process that needs to be minimized to obtain clean and refined welds. Spatter in welding is primarily due to the inconsistency of the metal temperature or wire speed. Before welding, make sure your metal, tools, and machine are clean. Setting your machine at balanced amperage and voltage can decrease spatter in welding.