3 Tips to Improve Your Welding Skills

Steel fabrication is the creation of steel structures through a series of techniques including cutting, bending and welding, to name a few. Welding is very important as it helps connect various pieces of steel to form a finished steel structure or product. Experienced metal fabricators who are adept at applying excellent welds often attract tremendous admiration particularly from novice welders. For novice welders, they can also become skilled in the welding process if they observe the following 3 factors which can notably improve the overall welding results during steel fabrication.

Current setting

The welding variable with the greatest impact on the extent of weld penetration is current, which is measured in amps or amperage. The appropriate welding current principally relies on the type as well as the diameter of the electrode you pick. Electrodes of diverse classifications have unique penetration characteristics with some having shallower welding penetrations while others have deeper penetrations. In terms of electrode diameter, normally more penetration is obtained with a smaller diameter electrode compared to a larger diameter electrode. This is because the smaller diameter boasts of a reduced cross sectional area in contrast to the larger diameter. The working current of different electrodes are often indicated on the package box which makes it easier for novice welders to determine the appropriate amperage setting.

Length of arc

The suitable arc length when applying welds to the joint normally varies depending on the electrode as well as welding application. The thumb rule is that your selected arch length should not surpass the thickness of electrode's metal segment. A 1/8 inch electrode, for example, should be positioned around 1/8 inches away from the base material. Typically, a short arc length raises the likelihood of the electrode fusing to the base material whereas a long arc length spews spatter and leaves porosity. At first, novice welders would deem it naturally appropriate to apply long arc lengths when attempting to stick welds, perhaps to have a better view of the arc not to mention the puddle. If your view of the arc is hindered, try to find a suitable body position that will give you a better view of the puddle without necessarily extending the arc. With constant welding practice, you will understand that a tight, short arc distance cuts down spatter and fashions a narrower and striking bead look.

Travel speed

To attain a suitable travel speed, begin by setting up a weld puddle of the sought-after diameter, and then move at a tempo that maintains your arc in the foregoing 1/3 of the weld wet patch. A slower speed will result in the heat being channeled into the puddle rather than the weld, resulting in a poor fusion. Equally, a faster speed also hinders heat penetration, producing a thinning bead, and a possible undercut, characterized by the piece outside the weld adopting a concave or recessed shape rather than a conspicuous 'U' shaped flow effect.

By adopting the aforesaid tips, coupled with constant practice, novice welders can fast become skilled in steel fabrication.