Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

Introducing engineering
Introducing engineering

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

4.6.2 Fusion welding

In fusion welding, the parts to be joined are brought together, melted and fused to each other. In some processes the interface is filled with a molten substance, supplied by a filler rod, similar in composition to the materials being joined.

During fusion welding the areas that are being joined comprise an intimate mixture of parent material, and filler rod (if one is used), within the welded zone. In all methods of fusion welding, heat must be supplied to the joint in order to melt the material. Inevitably, temperature profiles are created and the resulting differential expansions and contractions can cause distortion, and in extreme cases, the formation of cracks, in the assembly. As welds are, in fact, small castings, welds contain both the microstructure and porosity endemic in cast material (Figure 66).

Described image
Figure 66 Cross-section of a fusion weld showing a typical cast microstructure in the weld metal and cracks that have formed in the parent metal

(Soldering can minimise some of these problems because the parent material is not melted and so temperature profiles are not as great. But because in soldering there is a discrete join between the materials as opposed to an intimate mixture of material, welding is by far the stronger of the two processes.)

Activity 35 (video)

The most basic welding process using electricity as the energy source is 'manual metal arc' welding (MMA). Watch Video 2 of two workers welding an attachment to a pressure vessel and think about the level of operator skill required to make consistently high integrity joints by this method.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 2 Manual metal arc welding (1 minute)
Video 2 Manual metal arc welding (1 minute)
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Submerged arc welding (SAW) is a way of automating arc welding but can only be used when the geometry of the workpiece is suitable. Watch Video 3 of SAW and notice how much more controlled the production of the joint can be when there is no need for an operator to manipulate a welding torch.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 3 Submerged arc welding (1 minute)
Video 3 Submerged arc welding (1 minute)
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

All welding is a form of casting, where the mould is formed by the solid material on either side of the joint. In electroslag welding (ESW), this is taken to an extreme. Watch Video 4 of ESW and try to work out what is happening. Write some notes in the box below.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 4 Electroslag welding (2 minutes)
Video 4 Electroslag welding (2 minutes)
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Discussion

Hopefully you could make out from the video that there is a pool of molten steel formed between the two surfaces to be joined. The melt pool is held in place by the workpieces on either side, the solidified weld metal underneath and two plates clamped to either side of the weld, forming a rectangular space. There is an electrical discharge between the steel electrodes, which melts the electrodes to create the weld pool. Flux added to the space melts and floats on top of the steel. The steel at the bottom of the pool solidifies as the source of heat from the electrodes move upwards and further away.