Tips and tricks to achieve high quality welding
Whether you require intricate parts for high-end bicycles or robust items for heavy machinery, the quality of the welding is crucial to the component’s performance and structural integrity.
But how do you go about achieving consistently high quality welding? Our resident welding expert, Tony Newland explains the welding process and shares his tips and tricks for producing welding that’s durable and aesthetically pleasing.
Choose TIG welding for a stunning component with the wow factor
Tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding demands the greatest skill of all the welding processes. It is used mainly for thinner materials, requires greater heat control than other processes and produces an incredibly aesthetically pleasing weld.
Welding engineers must be highly coordinated: you need to hold a torch in one hand and feed wire in with the other, while controlling the tungsten tip that carries the heat with a foot pedal. It’s a juggling act!
High-end bicycles, particularly aluminium models, tend to be TIG welded as the quality is on display for discerning purchasers. I enjoy the challenge – inspired by my love of cycling – of making the weld look as neat as possible.
If you need a thicker component then MIG is the best option
Metal inert gas (MIG) welding is a quicker and easier process. This method is used for less refined items, such as heavy plant equipment or when the weld is not on display.
It’s a more cost-effective process, where wire (usually between 1 and 1.2mm in thickness) is fed through a series of rollers. The MIG torch has a trigger to draw the wire through, and as it touches the metal it melts to form the weld.
Depending on your requirements, you might be able to lower the cost of your component by selecting the MIG process. While the results tend to be less aesthetically pleasing than those produced by TIG welding, you’ll have a durable component with high structural integrity.
The skill and experience of the operator are crucial…
Whatever your requirements, the most important factor to achieving high quality welding is the skill of the operator. To excel at welding, you need to have incredibly strong hand-eye coordination and meticulous attention to detail. You also need commitment; it takes years to build the experience you need to produce truly stand-out welding.
Everybody’s different, and all welders have a different approach to achieving the wow factor. I try to make myself as comfortable as possible. This allows me to fully focus on the weld.
…as are the right heat and speed
Travelling speed – the time it takes to travel along the weld – is vital to maintaining structural integrity. You need to keep your speed consistent for the weld to work well.
Welders also need to have an appreciation of the way metals react when they’re heated. For example, aluminium has a significantly lower melting point than steel, and will melt or distort very quickly in the hands of an inexperienced welder.
Too little heat would result in poor flow of the molten metal, causing a weak joint; too much leads to distortion and, almost certainly, the scrapping of the item.
Maintaining consistent speed and heat allows you to achieve solid weld penetration: an even bead of weld along the entire internal length of the joint, giving structural integrity.
Recognise the importance of welding as a process
Over time, the demand for welders has waned, due in part to the decline of industries such as shipbuilding. Colmet’s welders have generally spent time as engineers before deciding to select welding as their specialism.
Welding is often the area that defines the quality of the component, but it is frequently neglected. Consequently, inexperienced low calibre welders without the requisite skills carry out the work, leading to poor output.
Our welding stands out due to the importance we place on the process. That’s one of the reasons I love working at Colmet. I take pride in producing high quality welding that excites and inspires our customer, even when time is tight.