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What to Look for in Welding Helmets: Comfort, Safety & More

08 May, 24 10:36 am · Leave a comment · Red-D-Arc
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Welding helmets are a crucial aspect of personal protective equipment for any welding operator. They protect from the intense glare and eyesight-damaging light from a welding arc, fumes from the welding operation itself, stray sparks that can burn, and so much more. They’re an essential part of any welder’s kit, and they’re a purchase that can last for decades if well-maintained, so it’s important to put some thought into which helmet you’re buying.

So, what should you look for? What factors should you evaluate when you’re exploring welding helmets? Here’s our guide. While there’s a lot to consider, one thing is certain: you need a helmet whenever you’re welding. The only possible exception is if you’re using CNC welding machines, and they’re enclosed in their own darkening shades. Even then, it can be beneficial to keep a helmet on hand.

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Guide: What is Weathering Steel and How Do You Weld It?

03 May, 24 1:10 pm · Leave a comment · Peter Germanese
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Welding is a career full of challenges. Some of those challenges involve building up a stable client base and consistent work; others involve learning the technical skills of the trade. When you encounter a new metal or a metal you aren’t necessarily familiar with, you need to learn how to weld it properly – if it can even be welded in the first place – if you want to handle it effectively. One such material you may or may not have ever encountered is weathering steel.

What is weathering steel, how does it differ from regular steel, when might you encounter it, and how can you weld it? Let’s dig into the details.

What is Weathering Steel?

Steel is a fantastic material for construction. It’s very strong and has a good amount of resilience to all kinds of stress, and while it’s very heavy, it’s also very cheap, so it’s frequently used in everything from building frames to bridges to automotive construction.

One of the biggest problems with steel, however, is that it’s largely based on iron (usually with some carbon thrown in) and, as we all know, iron is susceptible to oxidation. When exposed to the elements, like the oxygen in the air and in water and moisture, steel rusts. That rusting and corrosion will eventually degrade the material until it’s no longer structurally sound, and that is what we in the industry call “a problem.”

There are many different ways to protect steel from corrosion. A common method is to paint or grease it, coating it with a material that forms a barrier between the steel and atmospheric moisture and oxygen. Steel can also be galvanized or anodized, forming a similar coating but with more of a chemical reaction instead of just a surface layer. 

The biggest drawback of these methods is that if there’s a gap or damage to the coating, it will rust through. They need to be well-maintained and continually inspected, lest they suffer enough damage to catastrophically fail.

Weathering Steel in Construction

To solve this issue, materials engineers turned to another metal commonly used around the world: copper.

Copper is also susceptible to oxygen. Whenever you see a copper construction with a green tint, that’s copper oxide forming a patina over the surface of the copper. Unlike steel, though, this patina doesn’t continue to corrode. Instead, it forms a naturally protective shell around the copper. This shell inhibits most of the further corrosion, and if the patina is damaged, it “self-heals” by forming more patina in the gap.

Engineers asked: what if we could make steel do the same thing? Through development nearly a century ago, a material was created out of steel and various alloyed metals, including copper, chromium, silicon, and phosphorus. The result is a form of steel that has essentially all of the material properties of low-carbon steel, except instead of rusting like normal steel, it forms a brown patina that serves as a protective coating.

This material was originally developed and patented in 1933 under the name Cor-Ten, which stands for Corrosion Resistance and Tensile Strength. Cor-Ten, also commonly referred to as Corten steel, was eventually standardized by the American Society for Testing and Materials, making it broadly available for widespread use, which is why, today, you may encounter it and the need to weld it.

When is Weathering Steel Used?

Because of its natural resistance to corrosion and its mildly self-healing properties, weathering steel is most often used in places where it will be exposed to the elements but where regular inspection and maintenance are often sidelined. You frequently see it in engineering and architecture, particularly as exposed and decorative elements, in sculpture, for roofs and walls, and various utility designs like planters, bicycle corrals or hoops, and tree grilles. It’s also frequently used in marine transportation, and you see it frequently as the structural material for short, often pedestrian bridges over rivers and streams.

Overall, it’s valuable for any case where you need a steel structure that is robust and strong, while also benefitting from both a longer maintenance and upkeep schedule and potentially the handsome uniform orange/brown appearance. It’s frequently seen in nature parks where the brown blends nicely with surrounding trees.

Using Weathering Steel

Three potential drawbacks limit the places where weathering steel can be used.

  • It needs to get wet and then dry out for the patina to form, so in areas where it rarely gets wet, like deserts, it remains less protected from the elements.
  • It needs to get wet and then dry out for the patina to form, so in areas where it never dries out (like coastlines or underwater), it never dries enough to form the patina.
  • It’s very susceptible to salt, so it should not be used on seashores where saltwater air can accelerate corrosion, or near roads where winter snowmelt can corrode it further.

The corrosion can also drip off of the material, which can stain surrounding concrete and other surfaces, which isn’t a structural concern but can be an aesthetic concern.

ASTM has several specifications for variations of weathering steel, including A588, A242, A606-4, A847, A871-65, and A709-50W. These include forms like steel panels and sheets, thick plates, tubes, pipes, coils, and more. It’s divided into grades A and B, where B is generally more suitable for load-bearing uses.

How Can You Identify Weathering Steel?

The only true way to identify Corten or weathering steel is by metallurgic testing. However, you can generally tell at a glance if a piece of steel is likely to be weathering steel based on its distinct color and uniform appearance.

How to Identify Weathering Steel

If you have a welding specifications document for your project, it should identify the material as well. 

Can You Weld Weathering Steel?

Yes. In fact, welding weathering steel is the primary way it is attached to itself for various constructions. Done properly, weathering steel can be welded in an almost seamless and smooth fashion that provides a strong and enduring joint.

Welding Steel

One primary consideration is preparation. Since the primary benefit of weathering steel is the formation of a patina, that patina is likely to have formed on the materials you’re working with before you begin working. However, as any experienced welder knows, one of the worst things you can do when welding is try to weld a rusty piece of steel. That rust, if not cleaned off, can form inclusions that damage and compromise the finished product. Therefore, you need to clean the area of the weld thoroughly before you weld it, usually with grinding.

What Process is Best for Welding Weathering Steel?

Since weathering steel is essentially just a low-carbon steel alloy, it can be welded using virtually any process. However, as you likely have guessed, some processes work better and provide longer-lasting welds than others.

Welding Steel

That said, 90% of the time, you’re going to want to use MIG for welding weathering steel. It needs to be handled properly, but that’s true of any welding. TIG welds on weathering steel tend to fail prematurely, and stick doesn’t provide benefits over MIG that make it worth using unless you’re somehow very uncomfortable with MIG welding.

What Filler Should You Use on Weathering Steel?

The choice of filler depends heavily on the purpose of the joint. First, start by considering the following factors.

  • Are there any specifications from a WPS or building code that need to be followed?
  • What are the strength and toughness requirements of the finished product?
  • Where will the weld be located (indoor versus outdoor, exposed or not, etc.)
  • Will the joint be painted or otherwise coated?
  • What is the geometry of the joint, and how big will it be?
  • Do you have aesthetic concerns regarding the color matching of the joint?

The interplay of these factors will determine what kind of filler material you should use for your joint.

The first possibility is carbon steel fillers such as AWS E7018, ER70S, or E70C-6M. These are most useful when you need a weld that is performed in a single pass, with a small or lower-strength grade of weathering steel. The resulting weld will be a little weaker than it could be, but cheaper. Moreover, the low-carbon steel filler mixes very well with the weathering steel and picks up the alloying elements, allowing the joint to maintain a similar level of corrosion resistance as the base materials themselves.

Filler for Weathering Steel

The second possibility is a low alloy filler metal. These come in a variety of forms based on their alloy materials but are, in general, best used when you have higher requirements for strength, corrosion resistance, or other mechanical properties. When you’re performing a weld that uses large or multi-pass welding techniques, the base metal doesn’t dilute into the filler metal as much. This means that if you use carbon steel filler for a large weld, it won’t have the same corrosion resistance and will be more susceptible to damage. It would need to be painted or coated in another way to stay solid alongside the weathering steel base.

  • Nickel-based low alloys are useful for providing atmospheric corrosion resistance on par with that of weathering steel. These can be useful when corrosion is the primary concern.
  • High nickel alloys can be used for certain applications where toughness is more required, but the cost of a higher nickel alloy can make it prohibitive for certain projects.
  • Copper-Nickel-Chromium alloy fillers are very similar to weathering steel and even tend to be indicated with a W designator. They are, however, not prized for structural use or for corrosion resistance but rather for color matching with weathering steel. If you don’t want the joints of your project to be visible over time, this kind of filler is a better option.

Another option, recently developed, is to use proprietary filler metals. For example, Central Steel Service developed and released a product called Cor-Match, which is a series of welding filler materials designed to be as close a match to Corten steel as possible. They are designed to be low-alloy steel fillers meant specifically for weathering steel purposes.

Are There Other Concerns for Welding Weathering Steel?

Potentially. Depending on the filler you’re using and the process, the weld shape, and design, you may have to restrict yourself to a flat and horizontal weld procedure. This means you may need welding positioners to hold your workpieces in position, which may or may not be possible, depending on the construction.

Another consideration is preheating. You generally don’t need to preheat weathering steel when you’re welding it unless it’s particularly thick weathering steel pieces that need to be joined. The thicker the material, the more likely you need to preheat it to prevent the temperature differential from cracking the piece as it cools. This can also vary between different kinds of weathering steel.

You may also need to consider a post-treatment for the weld joint. Weathering steel protects itself from the environment by forming a patina, but a joint needs to be prepared for welding by removing that patina to avoid inclusions and faulty welds. So, when the weld is done, you have an exposed joint. This will naturally form a patina over time, but before it does, it may look displeasing or not meet aesthetic demands. Certain post-treatments can accelerate the formation of the patina.

A Person Welding Weathering Steel

Whatever your considerations, one thing is always true: in order to weld any material, from mild steel to weathering steel to aluminum and more, you need the right kind of welding gear. If you don’t have a good welder and the right tools and PPE, you aren’t going to be able to weld appropriately. 

That’s where we come in. At Red-D-Arc, we provide rental welding equipment for a fraction of the cost of buying new. You can rent a machine for one-off projects or rent a machine for full duty until you determine if it’s the kind of machine you want. If it suits your needs, keep renting it, or buy a used one from our store; if it’s not suitable, return it and try something else. And, of course, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out; our welding experts can guide you and answer any questions you may have.

Video: Red-D-Arc Port-A-Weld System (PWS)

29 April, 24 3:38 pm · Leave a comment · Glorious Hightower
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If you’re looking for an automation solution for welding pipes and other heavy parts of various sizes, take a look at the Red-D-Arc Port-A-Weld System (PWS). With the PWS, you can increase worker productivity and improve weld quality while decreasing operator errors, fatigue and labor costs.

The PWS is a great fit for welding pipes and heavy parts of various sizes, especially in the oil and gas market, because the system allows for 360-degree rotation and has multiple positioning functions that are managed by a single control. Additionally, it’s easy to set up and operate, fully customizable, and can be integrated with other systems to create a turnkey welding solution that meets your specific needs.


Contact the Red-D-Arc team to get in touch with one of our experts to discuss the Port-A-Weld System and to find out about options to rent, lease or purchase a system today.

FABTECH Canada 2024: Shaping the Future of Manufacturing

29 April, 24 3:16 pm · Leave a comment · Glorious Hightower
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FABTECH Canada is returning to Toronto this summer! The semi-annual trade show is Canada’s most comprehensive metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event and will take place from June 11 to 13, 2024.

In addition to product exhibits and hands-on demonstrations, FABTECH Canada offers the opportunity for attendees to engage in conference programs, panels, keynote presentations and networking events all while connecting with industry experts, key manufacturers, suppliers, educators and other professionals.

If you’re looking to explore the latest technology, discover top industry trends and hear about ways to optimize your processes, you don’t want to miss this.

Visit Red-D-Arc at FABTECH Canada

Red-D-Arc is a leader in welding and weld automation equipment solutions. Our products and services are used in a variety of industries, including construction, fabrication, and shipbuilding.

You can find Red-D-Arc in the Air Liquide exhibit at FABTECH Canada—Exhibit #11040—where you can get an up-close look at our automation and heating equipment solutions:

Additionally, our experts will be on hand to discuss all of your welding and automation challenges, and provide insights into the latest industry trends.

FAQ: How Do You Eliminate Corrosion in Steel and Aluminum?

25 April, 24 12:23 am · Leave a comment · Peter Germanese
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Everything in life degrades over time. Even the things we think about sturdy and permanent are subject to the elemental forces of friction, oxidization, and water. As welders, we subject metals to stresses they never otherwise undergo, like fusing multiple pieces into one, cutting them apart, and more. No matter how well-fused a joint is, the enemy of metal is corrosion.

Handling corrosion, both before and after welding, is important. Let’s talk about it in detail.

What is Corrosion?

Corrosion is the degradation of a material. It’s a kind of electrochemical reaction that starts on the surface of a material and spreads like a disease. In metals, corrosion is usually caused by oxygen, which can easily pull electrons from the metal atoms, creating an oxide. One of the most familiar oxides you’ve encountered is iron oxide, which is rust.

Other kinds of corrosion can happen. To give you an example, it’s recommended to never connect an iron pipe to a copper pipe directly in plumbing. This is because the two metals react in electrolytic corrosion, which will degrade and eventually eat through them very.

In some cases, corrosion isn’t endlessly damaging. The Statue of Liberty, famously made of copper and coated in the iconic green patina, is a form of corrosion. But, copper, when it develops a patina, is protected from the features by that coating, and it halts further corrosion. Internally, though, the Statue of Liberty was subject to galvanic corrosion between the copper skin and the iron frame, eating away at the vulnerable interior. This was eventually restored using zinc.

Corrosion is a consistent and endless problem, because it’s the natural reaction between our atmosphere containing oxygen and water, and the metals we use throughout our lives. It’s very frequently a challenge in offshore environments, but is a persistent problem everywhere on earth.

As welders, we have to contend with two primary forms of corrosion. The first is corrosion on steel, and the second is corrosion on aluminum.

Can All Metals Corrode?

Virtually every metal can corrode. Some metals corrode until they’re nothing but a pile of oxides, like iron and steel. Others corrode to develop a film or patina that isolates the rest of it from further corrosion, like copper – some tarnish, as a form of corrosion, like silver.

Only two metals are thought about to be corrosion-resistant. They are majorly inert and very difficult to get to chemically react. That’s not to say they can’t corrode; only that, under normal circumstances, they do not. These two metals are super useful and platinum. Other metals, like tungsten, don’t corrode at normal temperatures but when heated to a high enough temperature can begin to corrode.

Super useful can be corroded, but in order to corrode it, it needs to be exposed to strong acids like hydrochloric acid along with chlorine or bromine. Oxygen doesn’t corrode it, but other chemicals can. Otherwise, super useful alloys can be corroded due to the non-gold metals mixed into the alloy corroding out of it.

All of this is to say that, yes, all metals can corrode, but the speed at which they corrode and the circumstances surrounding them can vary.

What Happens if a Metal is Corroded When You Weld It?

If a metal is corroded – or if it is coated with a chemical, paint, mill scale, or other contaminants – it usually needs to be cleaned before welding.

Why? After all, with the extremely high heat of a welding torch, shouldn’t any contaminant be vaporized and burned away before the welding begins?

While this can be true of certain kinds of welding, like stick welding or oxyfuel welding, it’s not true of more common arc welding types like TIG or MIG. While you can burn away some of the contaminants, some of it will be left behind, and that contamination causes problems.

What kind of problems?

  • Inclusions can lead to porosity, which weakens the physical structure of the joint and compromises the strength of the weld.
  • Important inclusions can cause cracking in the weld, which makes it unusable.
  • Extreme contamination can lead to a complete failure to fuse the parts at all.
  • Contaminants and corroded parts can have different temperature gradients and differentials, meaning your welding won’t penetrate the same way you expect it to, leading to either unexpected burn-through or insufficient penetration.
  • Flash-boiling or burning contaminants can cause excessive spatter and slag in a weld.

Another problem is that many of the coatings, corrosion, and contaminants that can be on the surface of a piece of metal can when vaporized or burned, turn into very hazardous chemicals. While welding fumes are already a danger and need to be controlled appropriately, some, like zinc coatings, are a much more extreme health hazard and can even be deadly.

Even if none of these end up being a important issue, the which ends up weld will have an uneven, pitted appearance and will require much more post-welding cleanup and treatment than having welded clean metal in the first place.

How Do You Remove Corrosion Before Welding?

Removing contaminants and corrosion from metal before welding is important, so how do you do it? There are many tools and techniques you can use, and some or all of them should be available in your shop.

First, you should use a clean rag to wipe down the metals using acetone. Acetone is a very effective solvent and can break down and remove many different kinds of contaminants and particles that can otherwise prove to be a problem when you’re welding down the road.

If the metal you’re going to weld has a coating of paint on it, an excellent tool to use to remove it is sandpaper. Courser grit sandpaper can remove paint faster but will abrade the metal and leave it scuffed and gouged, which may affect the finished product, depending on what you’re going for. You may prefer using a finer grit sandpaper to remove the paint or other coating. 150 grit is about the most you should use. Also, using aluminum oxide sandpaper will last longer than standard sandpaper, but either will do the job.

For certain kinds of coatings, for larger pieces, or for cases where a complete cleaning is needed, you can try abrasive blasting. Colloquially known as sandblasting, sand is not used these days due to silicosis concerns; instead, it’s usually a different kind of abrasive material, like walnut husks or soda. In some cases, ground glass or ceramic also can be used. Abrasive blasting will need a specialized container and protective equipment, But, so it’s not perfect unless you’ll be doing it frequently. You can read more about abrasive blasting here.

The most traditional way to remove a coating, paint, rust, oxidation, or other corrosion is basically using a wire brush. A wire brush is stiff and abrasive enough to remove coatings and corrosion without doing too much damage to the underlying metal.

Warning: if you’re using wire brushes, brush wheels, or similar mechanical abrasives, do not use one on both steel and aluminum. Any brush you use on aluminum should only be used on aluminum. Using a brush previously used on steel on aluminum will leave microparticles of steel on the aluminum, creating further contamination that can’t be removed with the same tool. Since aluminum is a comparatively soft metal, particles of steel can even be driven into the surface and become impossible to remove.

If your metal has large patches of corrosion or other contamination that need removing, you may also try an angle grinder. This is decidedly unnecessary for aluminum but may be helpful to for steel, especially steel with a lot of corrosion. Angle grinders can easily cut through a material, though, so you need to be careful not to remove too much.

Another option, along the same lines as abrasive blasting, is laser cleaning. Lasers can burn off surface contamination and corrosion while leaving the underlying material almost completely clean. This can be effective, but only on certain kinds of contaminants, and you will likely still need a finishing touch with a brush and chemicals. On the plus side, laser cleaning is a relatively new and cool technology and is pretty fun, so it might be worth investing in basically on the novelty.

Finally, there are also types of corrosion and contamination that are most easily removed with chemicals. Various kinds of chemical strippers and acids can remove all manner of corrosion and many contaminants without harming the underlying metals. But, they take more time to work and can be very hazardous to handle, and the residue will need to be cleaned off afterward as well.

What Should You Watch for When Cleaning Corrosion?

When cleaning corrosion off of metal before welding, there are several things to avoid and others to double-check before you’re finished and ready to weld.

First, check for deep gouges, grooves, or cracks in the material. Contamination can be deep inside these, and simple abrasive measures like a wire brush or sandpaper can’t get deep enough to clean them fully. Usually, the solution is to grind out the area and build it back up with filler material before then welding the whole item. Or, the piece may be beyond saving, though this is relatively rare if you have the leeway to work on it.

Certain metals and alloys need additional preparation and care when cleaning and welding. To give you an example, welding magnesium alloys has special factors, like heat treating, that may be needed. Learn more about magnesium alloys here.

When cleaning off a material, especially if it’s a soft material like aluminum or if you’re using a grinder to do it, be careful not to remove too much of the surface. Leaving your workpieces too thin can jeopardize your weld as well. The exception to this is when you’re intentionally grinding down with the intention of filling back up and changing the material to your needs.

Always finish your cleaning with a final wipe-down with acetone and a clean cloth. This will make sure that any further particulates and residues are removed from the surface before you weld. Acetone itself doesn’t need to be removed, as it evaporates quickly.

In all cases, make sure you’re wearing the right kind of personal protective equipment to make sure that everything from sparks to stray particulate to fumes are kept away from your sensitive bits. The last thing you need is to inhale zinc fumes or catch a stray spark to the face.

How Do You Prevent Corrosion After Welding?

Corrosion can happen after welding, and can happen almost immediately. When this happens, it’s usually because there was not enough or not the right kind of flux or shielding gas present during welding, and atmospheric gasses contaminated the weld. Redoing the weld with the right shielding will mitigate the issue.

For longer-term corrosion, the metal needs to be coated and protected in some way. This may mean a coating of zinc to create galvanized steel, or it may mean a different coating to make stainless steel. It could also require paint. There are many other options to pursue, and it largely depends on the use of the parts.

Welding Equipment

If you’re in the market for new welding equipment, you’ve likely seen how everything is going for steep prices these days. It can be a bit scary to invest in new welding equipment, especially if you aren’t sure about the quality or utility of the machines you’re looking at. Fortunately, we can help. At Red-D-Arc, our welding equipment is all available for rent. You can try out any machine or accessory you want and determine if it does what you want it to do for a fraction of the cost of buying a new machine. To get started, browse our catalog.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out as well. Our welding experts are standing by to help with any needs you may have, from small-scale shop questions to complete fabrication facility matters of scale.

The Rise of Prefabrication in Construction

20 April, 24 12:37 pm · Leave a comment · Red-D-Arc
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welding prefabrication in construction

Prefabrication in the construction industry is likely to remain an ongoing trend. The skilled labor shortage, growing demand, and tighter margins increase the need to create the construction elements in a controlled environment.

Why is the controlled environment so important? Well, the key lies in absolute management and leaving very little to chance and environmental factors. 

When elements of buildings, infrastructure, and industrial facilities are produced serially, process control and project cost efficiency increase significantly. 

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How to Set Up a Space to Weld Safely in Your Workshop

18 April, 24 10:15 am · Leave a comment · Glorious Hightower
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Welding is an essential task for many shops, from workshops that need occasional welding, to facilities that weld as part of operations every day, to fabrication facilities doing nothing but welding.

Regardless of how much welding you need to do, it’s critical – absolutely essential – that your shop has a space set up properly for welding safely. Welding presents many risks, including:

  • High currents of electricity that present an electrocution hazard.
  • High heat that can be a burn hazard.
  • Sparks that can be both a burn and fire hazard.
  • Bright lights that can be a hazard to vision.
  • Loud noises that can be a hazard to hearing.
  • Fumes that can be a respiratory hazard.

While all of these hazards can be mitigated, it’s important to make sure to actually do so. Lax safety is the leading cause of workplace accidents, and when you’re dealing with the kinds of risks a welder presents, that can have serious long-term consequences.

So, how do you set up a space to weld safely? Let’s talk about it.

Consider a Separate Space

Sometimes, your welding needs are sporadic and don’t warrant setting up a dedicated space for it. In these cases, you’ll want to take as many steps and precautions as possible to ensure the safety of your welding operator and anyone else in the space, as well as the space itself.

It’s usually better, though, to have a dedicated space for welding. Many of the best ways to handle the hazards involved with welding require that you outfit a space with safety equipment, and that’s easiest to do if you don’t need to move it out of the way of other operations.

So, carefully consider how much welding you’ll be doing, and if possible, consider a dedicated space for welding. We’ll be writing the rest of this post as if you’re setting up such a space, but many of our tips can work equally in both situations, so make sure to read through.

Either way, make sure that you have enough space for your welding operators to work comfortably. A cramped environment increases stress, fatigue, and danger, so you need space for the people, projects, equipment, and storage necessary for the smooth operation of your welding.

Check the Floor

Sparks, spatter, and debris can fly as far as 40 feet away from a welder in operation. That means for proper safety, you need to consider everything that will be within that area. What better place to start than the foundation itself?

Ideally, your welding area should have a solid cement floor. That way, nothing is at risk of burning from a stray spark or glob of molten metal. It’s also non-conductive, which eliminates the risk of metal flooring. A packed dirt floor can also work, though you’ll have more issues with dirt and dust in your shop in that case.

You also want to check the floor for tripping hazards. Hoses and cables are necessary for welding – you need electricity and gas, after all – but you want as little as possible trailing across the floor, both during operation and when the equipment is put away. There are many solutions to this, including ceiling drops, but it’s a consideration that must be made.

Strong Lighting

You need to see what you’re doing when you’re welding. This is difficult because welding generates an extremely bright arc of electricity, so you need eye protection that darkens to protect your eyes from that glare.

So, you need lighting for your workspace that is bright enough to illuminate your working area even when you have a welding mask on. Ideally, this shouldn’t be your sole source of light in the area, either; more gentle light for when your mask isn’t on is also necessary.

Good Work Surface

Where are you doing your welding? Not just in what area of your shop, but where specifically? Sometimes, you don’t have much of a choice – an auto repair shop might need to work in tight spaces to fix the frame of a vehicle – but if welding on mobile workpieces is the way you work, having a dedicated workspace is a great idea.

One great option is a welding table or positioner. There are a variety of mechanisms that serve this function. Some are essentially workbenches with built-in fume extraction. Others have rotary and rotational settings to move and position your workpieces at any angle you need them. Otherwise, simply having a fire-resistant workbench may be all you need.

Separation from the Rest of the Shop

Many of the hazards of welding can travel. Specifically, the sound, the glare, and the fumes, as well as spatter and sparks, can all travel quite some ways from the actual welding operator and their workpieces.

Ideally, you will have your welding area separated from the rest of your shop with walls, a door, or some other barrier. This protects others who walk by from catching the glare – which can damage eyesight very quickly – and from breathing in welding fumes.

If you can’t dedicate a segmented space to welding, at least have barriers you can put up around the working area. Welding curtains, for example, can be drawn to segment an area both physically and visually while still being able to be moved through and pushed out of the way when more open space is needed.

Ventilation and Fume Extraction

Welding fumes can be extremely hazardous to the health of your welding operators and anyone else who shares the space with active welding. Proper ventilation and/or fume extraction systems are required for safe welding.

Your two options are stationary fume extraction systems and portable fume extractors. Portable units are smaller and can be positioned close to an active job and recirculate air in their space after passing it through a filter. Stationary systems are typically capable of circulating all of the air in a space and venting it outside, though some may have directed hoses for more guided suction directly above a project.

You can read our full breakdown of portable and stationary fume extractors here. We also offer a range of fume extraction systems of both types in our rental equipment catalog.

Proper Storage

Another element of a good welding area is proper storage for the items and materials you need in your operations. Make sure any storage containers you use are fire-resistant or fireproof and that they can safely hold the kinds of items you need.

Consider space for:

  • Welding machines themselves. These take up a decent amount of space and need to be put somewhere while they aren’t in use. Since your workshop may need more than one kind of welding machine, you need to either consider a multi-function machine (which will be larger and more expensive) or several individual machines with dedicated functions.
  • Consumables. All of your spare nozzles, electrodes, welding filler rods and wires, and all the rest need to be stored somewhere convenient. If you need to send someone clear across the building for a filler rod in the middle of a project, you’re losing a lot of productive time.
  • Gas cylinders. Welding generally requires a shielding gas, and those gas cylinders are a hazard themselves. They need to be stored properly, upright, labeled, and away from other hazardous gasses so there can be no risk of mix-ups.
  • PPE. Welding helmets and masks, protective jackets, eye protection, gloves, hearing protection, and anything else necessary to keep your welding operators safe needs to have a place nearby that they can be stored so there’s not even the flimsiest excuse to “do without just this once.”

Remember that all of these storage containers, racks, and other furniture will require space in your welding area.

Safety Equipment

One of the most important things to have on hand is, as mentioned above, PPE. Personal protective equipment is required for safe and effective welding.

If you don’t have the right PPE on hand, you shouldn’t be welding at all.

  • A welding helmet. Welding helmets are critical for both spark/fire/spatter protection and eye protection against the blinding light of an electric arc. Your operators need helmets that fit and properly protect their eyes from the glare.
  • Protective clothing. There are several pieces here, including welding jackets, aprons, gloves, and more. The exact combination can vary and may be part of your operator’s wardrobe rather than in-facility equipment, but you should always have something on hand as a backup, just in case.
  • Respirators. A good respirator serves as a backup to ensure that even small amounts of toxic or noxious fumes escape your fume extraction system.

In addition to PPE, your welding area needs the right kind of gear and equipment on hand to handle any emergencies that can arise in operations.

A fire blanket is a good emergency item to keep on hand in the case of a fire. Similarly, fire extinguishers rated to extinguish any sort of fire that can arise in the area are also important to have on hand and accessible. Since some metals can be ignited and difficult to put out, this may need special consideration.

Part of PPE is protecting your operators from the risk of burns, but it’s also a good idea to have first aid on hand that can handle burns if they happen.

Accessories and Secondary Tools

There’s an immense number of possible items that may be useful or necessary for proper welding, depending on the kind of welding you’re doing.

For example:

  • Metal saws, like band saws and chop saws, are used to cut pieces to size.
  • Pliers, vice grips, clamps, and pry bars are all useful tools to have on hand.
  • Grinders can be important for fixing mistakes and removing minor excesses in a material.
  • Wire brushes and other mechanical cleaning devices are important for cleaning materials before welding them.

This just scratches the surface of the array of tools and other items you might need to keep on hand or available when welding. The specifics will depend on what you plan on doing in your shop when welding is involved, what else your shop is already doing, and what capabilities you need on hand. Don’t worry about getting this one perfect out of the gate; establishing the right array of tools is more of an ongoing process than it is a destination.

The CNC Option

Many – though not all – of the considerations above can be handled in just one package: a self-enclosed CNC machine. CNC machines enclose the workpiece in a shielded and fume-extracted workspace, use precise computerized movements to guarantee appropriate welds, and keep the operator out of harm’s way.

There are a few problems with CNC machines. The most obvious is the expense; a large-scale CNC machine can be very costly. They also tend to be bulky and heavy, so it can be difficult to find the right space for them. They also dramatically change the workflow, requiring more CAD and computer skills out of your operators than welding experience. They are also best used for repeatable projects, rather than one-off welding needs, so that may or may not fit with your use case.

A CNC can be an excellent option if it suits your needs, but it might also be an expensive device that doesn’t cut it. It’s an evaluation you’ll need to make for yourself.

The Ideal Equipment

The key to any good welding facility is the welders themselves. Whether you need a MIG, TIG, or another process or multi-process machine, something powered by gas or hard-wired, something with advanced computerized capabilities, or just the simplest equipment, there’s something out there for you. The trouble is finding it.

That’s where we come in. At Red-D-Arc, our rental welding equipment covers all the bases. Once you have a basic idea of what capabilities you need, you can find machines that suit your needs and rent them to try them out. If you like them, great!

Keep the rental going, or buy one for yourself, either used from our store or new from the vendor. Or, if the machine doesn’t quite work the way you need it to, return it and try another with no significant loss. If you don’t know what you need, you can also contact us, and our experts will be happy to help you decide.

Guide: How a Material’s Melting Point Can Affect Your Welds

16 April, 24 9:00 am · Leave a comment · Peter Germanese
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Controlling heat is one of the most important elements of welding. Whether you’re using a direct heat application technique like oxyfuel welding or the more common and popular arc welding, you need to know how much heat you’re putting into a material and what that heat is doing. 

When heat is applied to a metal, that heat does many things. First, it adds energy to the molecules in the metal, which gets them moving and can break them free of crystalline lattices or other metallic structures at an atomic level. With even more heat, it changes their state from solid to liquid. Heat beyond that can burn or vaporize the material. 

All the while, you have to be aware of the thermal conductivity of the material, and how much the heat spreads, as well as any molecular or chemical changes that can happen when heat is applied. Heat can do many things, including cause warping and distortion, make the material more susceptible to chemical changes, and more. 

So, how does the melting point of a material affect your welding? Let’s dig deeper into the subject and discuss what you need to know to be a talented welding operator.

What is the Melting Point?

In physics, the melting point is the temperature at which a material transforms from a solid into a liquid. This is known as a phase transition, and similar transitions exist for turning from a liquid into a gas and even beyond that point and into plasma for materials capable of becoming plasma. Some materials also don’t have melting points; a common example is carbon dioxide. When solid, CO2 is “dry ice,” but dry ice does not melt into a liquid. Instead, it sublimates directly from solid to gas. Liquid CO2 does exist but can only exist at high pressures, so solid CO2 never melts into a liquid unless it’s already in a very high-pressure environment.

What is the Melting Point

The melting point of a material is an attribute of that material determined by the chemical and molecular structure of the atoms that make it up. It’s also directly related to the material’s ability to conduct thermal energy, and the rate at which it expands when exposed to heat. All of these factors combined determine the appropriate uses of the material.

We’re used to thinking of the melting point of a metal as a very high temperature. Indeed, for many metals, it is. However, other metals are liquid at much lower temperatures. The most obvious example is mercury, which is liquid at room temperature because its melting point is -38 degrees F. 

Mercury also demonstrates the correlation between melting point and thermal expansion. A metal expands when it is heated, but the amount it expands relates to its melting point. Mercury is very sensitive to temperatures because of its low melting point. That’s why, contained in a narrow tube, it can even be used to measure temperature, which is how mercury thermometers work.

What Does the Melting Point Affect?

The melting point in a metal impacts pretty much everything about that metal.

For example, the melting point is a critical component of the alloying process. An alloy is a combination of more than one metal, combined, while the metal or metals are liquid. The addition of a secondary element changes the properties of the base material. For example, tungsten is strong, but the addition of carbon to create tungsten carbine makes it extremely strong and useful in cutting tools. Similarly, carbon added to iron is an extremely common method used to produce varieties of steel, which we’re all familiar with in welding.

The melting point of a material can also substantially impact how it is used and how products made out of it are manufactured. If you need a metal part, do you cast the metal, do you cut and grind it into shape, do you weld pieces together to form it? The properties of the metal – and the desired final structure – define which methods are usable.

What Does the Melting Point Affect

Many industries also require materials that can resist extreme heat. If a material has a melting point too low, that heat will melt the material, making it useless to manage or contain that heat. In some cases, however, this can even be an intentional safety feature; a material with a lower melting point can be used as, effectively, an intentional breakpoint to tactically shut down operations in a way that saves much worse failure. Electrical fuses, which conduct electricity at a fixed amperage or below but melt and break when a higher amperage goes through them, are a primary example.

One thing to bear in mind, however, is that the melting point is not also the failure point of a material. Simply applying enough heat to soften a metal can cause catastrophic failure, even if it’s not enough to fully melt the metal. The online meme of “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams” comes from this: in the events of 9/11, burning jet fuel applied heat to the steel structure of the World Trade Center. This heat was not enough to melt the steel – or rather, it can give off enough heat but not in a concentrated enough area – but it was enough to soften the metal to the point of collapse and the ensuing tragedy.

What are Common Melting Points?

Above, we mentioned the metal with the lowest melting point, mercury, but you’re not exactly welding mercury.

What are Common Melting Points?

What are the melting points of metals you may commonly be welding?

  • Aluminum is 660 degrees C
  • Bronze is 913 degrees C
  • Copper is 1084 degrees C
  • Steel ranges from 1371 degrees C up to 1540 degrees C
  • Wrought iron melts around 1482 degrees C
  • Stainless steel starts at 1400 degrees C and higher
  • Titanium melts around 1670 degrees C
  • Tungsten melts around 3400 degrees C

When you consider that the arc in arc welding can turn these metals to liquid in a literal flash, you can see how incredible the forces are behind electricity.

This is also one reason why you can’t weld together disparate materials. If you have two kinds of steel you can generally fuse them together, but the melting point difference between steel and aluminum is so great that by the time your steel is melting, your aluminum is completely burned through.

HAZ and Distortion

Melting point, as mentioned above, is related directly to the thermal conductivity and thermal expansion of a material.

When you apply heat to an area of metal, that heat spreads throughout the metal according to its thermal conductivity. The greater the conductivity, the larger the area around where you’re applying heat will end up heating up. Since the area of application of arc welding is very small – just where the arc is touching the metal – the heat affected zone is often rather small as well.

What this means is that you end up with a higher temperature gradient between where you’re welding and the rest of the material. It’s hot enough to melt right where the torch is working, but inches away, it can be significantly cooler.

HAZ and Distortion

One of the biggest challenges in welding, particularly when you’re welding thin materials, is the distortion caused by the heat affected zone and the thermal gradient.

Imagine for a moment that you have a piece of paper flat on a surface. One end of the paper is weighed down. On the other, you slide towards the fixed end. What happens? The paper bows up or even crumples, depending on the force applied. In this metaphor, the force holding one end is fixed by the molecular structure of the metal and the colder temperatures. The force moving the other end is the heat, expanding the metal towards the colder side. The way the paper flexes is distorted.

This is why, when you weld thinner materials with too much heat, the material can twist and warp. This distortion can damage or ruin the project you’re working on, and it’s all a physical consequence of how heat interacts with metal.

How do you handle these situations?

  • Apply heat more slowly. Controlling the heat you put in with techniques like pulsed arc welding and spot welding, using lower amperages, or even using a lower-heat technique like oxyfuel welding allows you to control the heat-affected zone and reduce warping.
  • Preheat the material. The problem isn’t necessarily the heat itself; it’s the difference in temperature between where you’re applying heat and the rest of the material. If you preheat the entire workpiece to bring it closer to the melting point, applying a bit of heat to bring your joint the rest of the way won’t create as much of a gradient and won’t cause the same distortion.
  • Use a backer. When welding materials that are subject to easy distortion, attaching a heat sink backer can help absorb excess heat and prevent the workpiece from distorting.

Learning when and how to use various techniques like these can dramatically reduce the frequency of lost or damaged products when welding.

Heat and Chemical Reactions

One other issue with welding – and a reason why some kind of shielding gas is commonly used in welding – is chemical reactions. We’re used to thinking of metals as largely inert and subject mostly to issues like oxidation causing rust, which can be protected against with coatings and treatments.

Heat and Chemical Reactions

However, these kinds of chemical reactions are easier to perform in higher-temperature environments. 

  • Nitrogen can react with metals when the metals are molten to create nitrides. Nitrides are extremely hard but brittle; they’re often used in tools but when used in something like steel, can cause catastrophic failure under load. Nitrogen won’t do anything to steel under standard atmospheric temperature and pressure, but under the high heat of welding, it’s more likely to cause a reaction.
  • Oxygen causes rust in iron. Iron oxides can form very quickly when oxygen contacts susceptible iron, and form inclusions that reduce the strength of a weld joint. Oxidation is also what causes color changes in metals around the heat affected zone, though this can be largely cosmetic when handled properly.
  • Hydrogen is also abundant and, when a metal is hot, can be diffused into the molten metal. The hydrogen doesn’t react with the metal, but it does form pockets and weaken the joint, leading to cracking and brittle welds.

Contrast this with inert gasses like helium and argon, and you can see why those gasses are used to shield a molten weld pool from the atmosphere around it. 

Avoiding Temperature-Related Problems in Welding

There’s no easy rule of thumb you can use to avoid all temperature-related problems in welding. Most of it is simply experience. Over time, you build an awareness of how metals react in what ways and at what temperatures.

One of the best things you can do is make use of modern welding equipment. For example, many modern welders have computerized settings that pulse the electricity they use between a higher and a lower amperage. This applies high energy to the peaks of the pulses and low energy to the troughs of the pulses at a frequency of many times per second. The result is that you still apply enough current to melt and weld properly, but you have more leeway and less risk of going overboard and applying too much heat.

Avoiding Problems

If you’re interested in seeing how these advanced modern welding systems work, we can help you out. Here at Red-D-Arc, we’re always on the cutting edge of welding equipment. Our array of rental welding equipment has many of these modern features! You can rent a welder and give it a try, get a feel for these features, and see if they suit your needs. If they don’t, you can return the welder and try something different. If they do, you can continue to rent it for as long as you need, or you can swing by our used equipment sales and purchase one for yourself.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our trained and experienced staff are more than happy to answer any questions you may have and help guide you to the perfect equipment.

Multipass Welding: Techniques, Number of Passes & Benefits

11 April, 24 9:12 am · Leave a comment · Glorious Hightower
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Typically, when you’re joining two materials together using an arc welding process, you’re primarily concerned with excess heat. Too much heat, too slow a travel speed, and too high a current can lead to a variety of problems, including warping, burn-through, and distortion.

Sometimes, though, there’s another concern: that your penetration isn’t deep enough. Whether you’re using an underpowered welding machine or, more likely, you’re working on a very thick workpiece, you’re going to need to use a technique you normally wouldn’t: multipass welding.

What is multipass welding, when is it used, and what do you need to know about it? Let’s discuss.

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Join Us: Dry Ice Blasting and Orbital Welding Equipment Demonstrations

09 April, 24 10:15 am · Leave a comment · Glorious Hightower
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Interested in learning more about dry ice blasting and orbital applications? Join us at one of our upcoming events to see dry ice blasting and orbital welding equipment in action and find out how they can help you improve efficiency and sanitation requirements.

RSVP for an event with your Account Manager and stop by one of our live demos

Dry Ice Blasting Demo
May 7, 2024 I 9:00am – 2:00pm
Red-D-Arc
2537 West 2100 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84119
Orbital Welding Demo
May 7, 2024 I 9:00am – 2:00pm
Airgas
3415 South 700 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84119
Dry Ice Blasting and Orbital Welding Demos
May 8, 2024 I 9:00am – 2:00pm
Airgas
2537 1760 West
Ogden, UT 84400

May 9, 2024 I 9:00am – 2:00pm
Airgas
35 East 3760 North
Hyde Park, UT 84318

Can’t make it to the event, but want to talk with us about our dry ice blasting and orbital welding equipment offer? Contact us now.

Induction Heating Equipment Available for Rent, Lease and Purchase

08 April, 24 4:25 pm · Leave a comment · Glorious Hightower
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Red-D-Arc offers a comprehensive portfolio of heat treating equipment for all of your pre-heat, bakeout and post-weld heat treating needs. Induction heating equipment has been a key part of the Red-D-Arc heating offer turnkey equipment packages and applications expertise since the inception of the Miller® ProHeat™ 35 more than twenty years ago. As the heat treating industry continues to expand and new solutions are introduced, Red-D-Arc is here to guide you with any induction heating equipment needs.

Red-D-Arc customized Preheat application in Louisiana by WPS Joe Rios

Service and Expertise to Help You Select Induction Heating Equipment

The Red-D-Arc team ensures you have the induction heating equipment you need—when and where you need it. We don’t just rent equipment though. Our team of heat treating experts work with you to understand the details of your project and then recommend the equipment that is best suited to meet the requirements of your job. We always strive to provide the best possible service to support you so you can focus on the work you need to do.

Red-D-Arc Induction Heating Equipment Portfolio

Miller ArcReach Induction HeaterMiller ProHeat 35 Induction HeaterInduction Heating Accessories

A small ultra-portable 8kW preheating unit designed for field use up to 600℉, powered by a Miller ArcReach enabled welding power source like the EX360 Field Pro.
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An all-in-one 35 kW system induction heater that can handle applications needing greater heating capability and available with air-cooled (up to 400℉) and liquid-cooled (up to 1450℉) cables.
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Speed up your process and improve safety with customized accessories such as portable induction furnaces, clam shells, induction internal plugs and induction blankets.
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For more information about options to rent, lease or purchase induction heating equipment and assistance creating a turnkey package customized to your specific needs, contact us today.

Red-D-Arc Offered a Look at its Portfolio of Welding Equipment, Expertise at SEAA 2024 Convention & Trade Show

08 April, 24 9:14 am · Leave a comment · Glorious Hightower
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The Steel Erectors Association of America held its 2024 Convention and Trade Show from April 2-5 in Glendale, Arizona. The annual gathering provides an opportunity for key players in the steel erection industry, including steel erectors, ironworkers, fabricators, industry-leading equipment manufacturers and vendors, to connect while participating in panel discussions, equipment demos, networking activities and more.

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National Welding Month Spotlight with Brian Imhulse

05 April, 24 9:07 am · Leave a comment · Katelyn O'Neill
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For National Welding Month, we talked to Red-D-Arc Welding Product Manager, Brian Imhulse, about his experience in the welding industry, specifically as an underwater welder. 

Brian has been in the industry for nearly two decades and is incredibly skilled at his craft. He attended commercial diving school in 2006 where he quickly discovered his passion for underwater welding, taking his career to exciting new depths. Since then, he has earned several certifications, including his NDT certification (2007), CWI certification (2008), CWE and NCCER Welding Instructor certification (2009), and CWS certification (2014).

In addition to this impressive list of accomplishments, Brian completed his Bachelor of Business from the University of Miami in 2018, and most recently earned his MBA with a specialization in Finance from Louisiana State University in 2023. He also achieved Airgas Technical Community Leader Expert Level 2 status in 2019, and the following year, he served on the American Welding Society Subcommittee on Underwater Welding. Brian believes in the importance of continuous learning as a way to challenge himself and expand on his broad range of skills and knowledge.

Brian has been with Red-D-Arc since 2011 and has played an integral role in the company’s success over the last 13 years. Read on to learn more about Brian’s dynamic experience as a welder and his insights on the future of the welding industry as a whole.

How did you get into welding?

Brian Imhulse (BI): Growing up on a farm, I was surrounded by welding and had the opportunity to refine my skills through vocational agriculture classes and FFA. However, it wasn’t until I attended dive school in 2006 that my abilities caught the attention of others. My first paid welding job took me underwater, where I truly found my calling in underwater welding. After working as a diver for a period, I transitioned into inspection and obtained my CWI certification. Eventually, I found myself back in the dive community, this time running the underwater welding program at a dive school. Now, I’ve found a home at Red-D-Arc, where I’m able to apply my diverse experience and expertise in the welding industry.

What do you love about welding?

BI: There’s just something about working with metal that I find truly captivating. The process of transforming raw metal materials into intricate structures through science and craftsmanship is simply mesmerizing to me. It’s a blend of artistry and engineering, turning basic elements into complex creations that serve vital functions in our daily lives.

What’s your most memorable welding moment?

BI: Welding has truly been an extraordinary journey for me. It’s been my passport to a myriad of experiences, from working on the space crawler at NASA to exploring the inner workings of naval destroyers and nuclear power plants. I’ve even had the opportunity to wield my welding skills underwater as a commercial diver/underwater welder. What’s more, this career has taken me to multiple countries, providing me with invaluable insights and behind-the-scenes tours of various industries around the world. It’s been an adventure unlike any other, offering both professional growth and unforgettable experiences. 

Can you share a fun welding fact?

BI: Welding underwater often attracts sea life. The bright sparks and electromagnetic fields generated during underwater welding can pique the curiosity of marine creatures. Divers/underwater welders may find themselves sharing their workspace with a variety of fascinating sea life, making each dive a unique and memorable experience.

What advice do you have for the next generation of welders? And why would you encourage young people to choose welding as a career path?

BI: You don’t necessarily have to be a welder or remain a welder for your entire career to have a great career in the industry. With shortages in trades, there’s a growing demand for qualified inspectors, educators, engineers, and sales professionals. This shortage underscores the significance of companies like Red-Arc, known for their expertise in equipment. Exploring these diverse roles could offer rewarding career opportunities within the industry.

What changes are you excited about in the industry?

BI: The welding industry, while traditionally resistant to change, is now witnessing a shift with the increasing adoption of weld data recording and technology. I’m particularly intrigued by how the introduction of welding automation, technology and the implementation of welding data monitoring could propel the industry into a new era.  

To learn more about the world of underwatering welding, click here.

Equipment Spotlight: Used Generators & Distribution Equipment for Sale

04 April, 24 12:18 pm · Leave a comment · Glorious Hightower
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Red-D-Arc offers a wide range of quality used equipment available for purchase. In addition to welding equipment such as inverters, wire feeders, engine-driven welders and automation equipment, we also have a variety of used diesel generators and distribution equipment that are in inventory right now and ready to be sold.

Currently, used industrial generators ranging from 65kVA to 300kVA are available. The exact specifications and age of each generator varies. For more information or to inquire about specific availability, contact us now.

Used generators are sold as is and not eligible for coverage under the standard Red-D-Arc used equipment warranty.

Red-D-Arc Expert Highlight: Meet Tim McCurry, CWS

03 April, 24 2:44 pm · Leave a comment · Glorious Hightower
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Every day, Red-D-Arc works hand in hand with customers to ensure that they are not just choosing equipment based on unknown or unconsidered factors that may later have negative impacts on their overall project. Our goal is to work closely with our customers to gain a deep understanding of what they need to achieve and then collaborate with them to select processes and equipment that will help meet their needs. As part of that process, our knowledgeable team of experts are often involved at the very beginning of these discussions. So we’d like to highlight our experts and share some of the work that they do.

As our inaugural expert highlight, we are pleased to introduce Red-D-Arc Welding and Automation Specialist, Tim McCurry. Tim has a background in welding and metallurgy, and has been working in the welding and gases industry since 1996. As part of our team of specialists, he uses his experience to provide applications expertise in all areas of welding, including heat treating, orbital welding and automation, that help guide customers in their equipment selection process.

This past November, Tim earned his Certified Welding Supervisor (CWS) certification from the American Welding Society. The CWS certification focuses on the economics of welding, including the ability to oversee the quality, productivity, cost, and safety of welding projects. In order to meet the requirements of gaining certification and to prepare for the exam, Tim committed to a year-long program consisting of several months of classroom and welding lab training. He was also trained in the principles of the Unlocking the Hidden Cost of Welding™ program and participated in hands-on training with various welding and automation equipment manufacturers.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to analyze a customer’s current process, bring opportunities for improvement to light and then deliver recommendations that will ultimately help them realize efficiencies in their business,” said Tim.

We are proud to have built a team of welding experts who make it possible to offer guidance and support to our customers. To get in touch with us and connect with one of our experts about your project needs, contact us today.

Don’t Miss Our Spring Used Welding Equipment Sales

03 April, 24 8:54 am · Leave a comment · Glorious Hightower
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Looking for savings on used welding equipment? Good news…Red-D-Arc is hosting multiple in-store sales this spring. Stop in to shop our large selection of used welding equipment and take advantage of special event pricing.

Save on quality used welding equipment, including:

  • Inverters
  • Wire feeders
  • Engine-driven welders
  • Automation equipment

Come to one of our spring events!

Los Angeles, CA
May 1-2
7:00am – 4:00pm
Red-D-Arc
1945 E 223rd Street
Carson, CA 90810
Denver, CO
June 4-5
8:30am – 4:00pm
Red-D-Arc
4675 Joliet Street
Denver, CO 80239
Baltimore, MD
May 14-15
8:30am – 4:00pm
Red-D-Arc
1205 67th Street
Baltimore, MD 21237
Casper, WY
June 11-12
8:30am – 4:00pm
Airgas
989 Legacy Drive
Casper, WY 82601
Baton Rouge, LA
May 14-15
8:30am – 4:00pm
Red-D-Arc
18180 Swamp Road
Prairieville, LA 70769
St. Paul, MN
June 18-19
8:30am – 4:00pm
Airgas
21229 Hamburg Ave
Lakeville, MN 55044
Appleton, WI
May 14-15
8:30am – 4:00pm
Red-D-Arc
1901 Badger Road
Kaukauna, WI 54130

Can’t make it to the event, but want to get in touch with us about purchasing used welding equipment? Contact us now.

Video Tutorials: AXXAIR Orbital Welding Equipment

02 April, 24 6:17 pm · Leave a comment · Glorious Hightower
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Need a quick demonstration? Red-D-Arc has you covered. Check out these how-to videos and learn to operate some of the most popular pieces of AXXAIR orbital welding equipment Red-D-Arc carries.

Follow along with how to operate the AXXAIR Orbital Tube Saw for pre-welding tube preparation, and get precise cuts with no deformation and a smooth surface finish. Get enhanced flexibility and productivity by converting the system for orbital beveling and welding. Learn how to create quality cuts while preventing tube distortion—an ideal solution for thin-walled stainless steel tubes.

The AXXAIR DC115-BM is your bench top solution for orbital tube facing. The rugged and versatile machine is built for both on-site and workshop use. Get precise tube end conformity and burr-free facing on for thin tubes prior to welding. See how easy it is to set up and use.

Easily perform tube end prep for high-quality welds with the AXXAIR Orbital Beveler. Watch as the video displays the set-up steps for beveling, including adjustments for v-groove and j-prep milling heads to meet your small diameter pipe prep needs. Find out how you can get the bevel you desire in just a single rotation.

See the AXXAIR SAXX-200 Power Source in action. Designed for ease of use with an intuitive touch screen interface and automatic parameter calculation mode, its step through program selection system streamlines welding configuration and the new closed welding heads offer new features and benefits. Check out some of the features and accessories that make this system a comprehensive orbital welding solution.

Red-D-Arc offers a comprehensive line of AXXAIR orbital welding equipment available for rent, lease or purchase. With turnkey equipment packages and a team of specialists, Red-D-Arc is the premier choice for your orbital welding needs. To learn more about the AXXAIR product line or to discuss your project with an orbital welding specialist, contact us today.

LB Construction Boosts Productivity with the Red-D-Arc Logistics Lease Program

01 April, 24 1:20 pm · Leave a comment · Glorious Hightower
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Busy construction companies running projects across multiple sites require a lot of welding equipment, and their equipment needs are subject to change on short notice. Additionally, they can’t afford extended periods of downtime causing delays that could compromise project deadlines. Those are some of the reasons that LB Construction, a multi-trade commercial and industrial construction subcontractor specializing in rough carpentry, metal studs and drywall, concrete and structural steel construction located in Roseville, CA, choose to work with Red-D-Arc.

Vance Lancaster, Co-Founder of LB Construction, talked about his experience working with Red-D-Arc and the value that the Red-D-Arc Logistics Lease Program has added to his business. From helping to manage their equipment needs to offering expertise and providing equipment recommendations designed to improve efficiency and productivity, the Red-D-Arc team has remained committed to supporting LB Construction’s needs as they continue to expand. Speaking about his over a decade long relationship with Red-D-Arc, Vance remarked, “When you know that you’ve got a team of people that are going to step right in and make sure that you’ve got what you need almost immediately…that’s huge. It makes you sleep better at night.”

Take a look at the video to hear the full story of why LB Construction chooses the Red-D-Arc Logistics Lease Program.

Red-D-Arc is proud to serve the construction industry. In addition to welders, Red-D-Arc offers weld automation equipment, heat treating equipment, generators for on-site power needs and other welding-related equipment for rent, lease and purchase. Contact us for more information.

The Difference Between Forehand vs Backhand MIG Welding

29 March, 24 9:30 am · Leave a comment · Peter Germanese
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There are a ton of little details in welding that make a surprising amount of difference. Some are obvious – the gas composition, the voltage, and the frequency of the electrical arc – while others may be less obvious. One of those less obvious details is the differences between forehand and backhand welding.

What are they, what are their differences, and when should you use one over the other? Let’s talk about it.

What is Handedness in Welding?

First, a simple definition. What is handedness in welding? We’re not talking about welding with the left hand or the right hand here. Instead, it’s about the angle of the torch relative to the workpiece and the direction of movement relative to the angle of the torch. Beyond this, it’s also important to know where the filler rod is in relation to the other factors.

While we did say that it doesn’t have anything to do with which hand you hold the torch in, that can actually be an important factor. Forehand welding with the left hand versus forehand welding with the right hand can be different in direction and angle, as long as the motion of travel is still consistent relative to the angle and position of the torch. Generally, you should always use your dominant hand for obvious reasons.

Forehand Welding

Forehand welding is a technique in welding where the filler rod is placed in front of the torch. With this technique, the operator holds the torch at about a 30-degree angle, leaning “back” away from the filler rod. The direction of travel is “pushing” towards the filler rod, melting it, and passing over it and the joint. The torch itself is positioned over the completed weld bead and your progression of the weld pushes out. For this reason, forehand welding is also known as push welding.

Backhand Welding

With backhand welding, the opposite is true. It’s also known as pull welding. The torch is dragged along the weld seam, dragging and melting the baseplates before the filler rod is melted over the top. The angle is the same or shallower, sometimes closer to a 30-45-degree angle, while the direction of travel is different from forehand welding.

Vertical Welding

The third kind of welding is vertical welding. This is welding where the torch is held directly perpendicular to the workpieces and direction of travel, at a perfect or near-perfect 90 degrees. This is, as you might expect, the middle ground between the other two kinds of welding. It has neither the pros nor the cons of either of the two extremes and is a good standard position for welders to use when they don’t need one of the benefits or to avoid one of the drawbacks of either forehand or backhand welding.

Similarities Between Forehand and Backhand Welding

Both the forehand process and the backhand process are arc welding techniques, and can be done with MIG and other forms of welding. They were primarily developed for gas welding, but can be used in just about every form of arc welding. Almost every weld can be done in either forehand or backhand movement, but there are some differences between them that can make one more useful than the other. We’ll go through those in the next section.

Neither of these techniques is inherently better than the other. They can both produce solid, clean results, or they can produce poor quality results, depending on the skill of the operator. All else being equal, the minor differences between the two aren’t hugely meaningful across the board, but can be important in specific circumstances.

Differences Between Forehand and Backhand Welding

Now let’s go through the differences between each of these welding techniques, and why they might matter to any given project you’re working on.

The angle of the torch. In forehand welding, the angle of the electrode is pointed towards the direction of the weld progression. A weld moving left will hold the torch at an angle so the tip is further to the left than the main torch, and the filler rod is ahead of its direction of travel, to the left of the tip of the torch. Conversely, in backhand welding, the same angle and configuration would be in place, except the direction of travel would be to the right. A good illustration of the difference is in this representation from minaprem.com.

Technically speaking, the forehand welding technique’s torch is held at an angle between 135 and 150 degrees – an obtuse angle – while in backhand welding, the torch is held at an acute angle of 30-45 degrees, relative to the feed vector. Again, this is easier to see in image or video than as described in text.

Position of the torch. Relative to the weld bead, the forehand welding technique places the torch above the completed weld bead. This can present a challenge in keeping the torch at an appropriate distance from the workpiece, as it can be harder to judge that distance when a still-hot weld beads beneath the torch. Conversely, the backhand weld technique travels over the unfilled root gap. This makes it slightly easier to see the positioning of the torch, though if you have a beveled or u-grooved root gap, that can present challenges of its own.

Where filler is deposited, with forehand welding, the filler metal is applied ahead of the torch. The torch essentially melts the filler metal into the workpiece, melting all of it at once and leaving a molten pool behind to mix and solidify on its own. With backhand welding, the filler metal is applied behind the torch, using not just the heat of the arc but the heat of the molten base metals to help melt and distribute the filler metal.

Effective pre-heating and post-heating. With the push mode of welding, the angle of the torch technically has a small amount of preheating for the material directly in front of the torch. With backhand pull welding, there’s no such preheating. However, this is a very minimal difference in arc welding and is much more applicable to similar forms of welding using oxyfuel torches or other direct heat application methods.

As you might imagine, the opposite is true of post-heating. The push method of welding does not reheat the materials. Conversely, in backhanded welding, the residual heat does a sort of post-heating and annealing effect. Again, this is more applicable to flame-based welding rather than arc welding.

The balance between deposition and penetration. Perhaps the biggest difference between forehand welding and backhand welding is the balance between two factors: the deposition rate of filler material and the penetration of heat to the workpieces.

Forehand welding, the push-mode form of welding, tends to allow for a faster feeding rate of filler material, which allows for a faster deposition rate for that filler material. This can allow for a fast weld across the length of a workpiece seam.

The trade-off to this faster deposition rate is that you don’t spend as much time in any one spot in the weld, which means you don’t have as much of a chance for deeper penetration. If you go too slow, though, you deposit too much material and end up with an oversized and ineffective weld bead that will likely require a lot more cleanup.

When you invert these factors for backhand welding, you can see how they vary. Backhand welding has the option for slower travel speed without ramping up the deposition of the filler material. This allows for deeper and better penetration of heat into the weld. However, because of the position of the filler rod, you don’t deposit as much material as quickly, so you can end up with shallow or too little filler added to the weld if you’re not careful.

Spatter and slag. Another significant difference between forehand and backhand welding is the spatter, slag, and general cleanliness of the weld you create. Unfortunately, forehand welding tends to have more spatter and dirtier welds, all else being equal. Conversely, backhand welding doesn’t produce as much slag and spatter.

Visibility. One of the factors we mentioned above is worth repeating: because of the position of the torch and the weld pool, forehand welding tends to offer better visibility of the area in front of the torch. It can be more difficult to see what’s under the torch in the weld pool itself, and since some issues can be diagnosed based on the color and behavior of the weld pool or its inclusions, this can be an issue. On the flip side, with backhand welding, visibility is a bit worse for the actual point of welding, but the results of the weld are clearer.

Thickness viability. Given the comparatively light penetration of forehand welding, it’s generally better used for joining up thinner plates or material that has been prepared to be thinner. It’s also possible to use this technique for multi-pass welding more easily. Conversely, the deeper penetration of backhand welding means it’s better for joining slightly thicker materials. Of course, for very thick or very thin materials, changing the position and direction of travel is generally not enough, and you will need to adjust other parameters, like the current you’re using.

Which Kind of Welding is Best for Your Purpose?

Deciding whether to use push welding or pull welding, forehand or backhand welding, depends a lot on your needs.

Generally, if you’re welding something where you need light deposition or deep penetration, such as thicker materials, you will be more likely to use backhand welding. Flipping it around, if you’re welding something that is quite thin or needs more deposition of filler material, you should use forehand welding.

Forehand welding provides a greater degree of control over a comparatively small weld puddle and is often used for pipe welding. It often results in smoother welds, as long as the spatter isn’t an issue or is cleaned up. On the other hand, backhand welding is more useful when you have deeper or heavier plates that need to be joined together. While edge preparation can help minimize the need to change your technique, sometimes the technique is more effective to moderate.

The actual determination can often depend on the operator’s skills, visibility, and even the tools they’re using. One of the biggest drawbacks to push welding is that it can create more spatter because of an inconsistent arc, but there are some welding machines that can automatically detect and compensate for issues in the arc, minimizing this problem. Similarly, some torches are designed with better visibility than others, and some can have difficult angles to hold or view around the torch tip itself.

In many cases, when you’re unsure of which kind of welding to choose, the best option is to choose neither and go with vertical welding.

Overall, MIG welding is one of the easier processes and tends to be more forgiving of mistakes, including choosing the wrong kind of travel angle or handedness to your welds. If you were to try TIG welding using the same techniques, you might find a starker difference between them.

Using the Best Equipment

While your choice of handedness when MIG welding can be impactful, even the best technique and the best style of welding will falter if you’re using a low-quality, outdated, poorly maintained, or low-quality machine.

Your welding machine is the backbone of your welding operations, so it pays – sometimes literally – to have a good machine at hand.

  • Is your current equipment old and due for an upgrade?
  • Do some of the functions of your current welder not seem to work or do not work well?
  • Are you burning through consumables at a faster rate than you should?
  • Is it getting harder to find replacement parts for the machine you have?
  • Could you benefit from advanced features like pulsed MIG or dynamic current adjustments?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, there’s a good chance that it’s time to upgrade your machine. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered here. Our rental welding equipment gives you a bunch of different options for different welding machines, suitable for every possible need you may have. You can rent a machine, try it out, and if you like it, buy it for yourself. The choice is yours! We’re also always standing by to answer any questions you may have.

The Differences Between Welding, Brazing and Soldering

27 March, 24 8:51 am · Leave a comment · Peter Germanese
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When you find yourself in a situation where you have two pieces of material, and you really would prefer them to be a single piece, you have to join them together. There are many different ways to do this, from adhesives to friction joining to welding.

Three common options you see discussed primarily around pipefitting and metal joinery are welding, brazing, and soldering. What you may not know is what, specifically, each of these are and how they differ from one another.

So, let’s dig into them and discuss them.

What is Welding?

Welding is actually a broader term than many realize, but in typical usage, what you’re actually referring to is arc welding.

Arc welding uses a controlled arc of electricity to generate an immense amount of heat in a flash, melting metal in an area around the arc. It then uses a filler material to mix with the two pieces of base material, mixing the three into a single material. This hardens as it cools into a seam that holds the two pieces together by effectively turning them into one single piece.

Since molten metal is susceptible to chemical changes much more easily than solid metal, arc welding generally uses some form of shielding gas to protect the weld pool from oxygen and other inclusions. This may be generated through the use of flux that produces the gasses when it melts, or can be pumped in from a gas supply.

Temperature control is important in welding. Too hot, and the metals can change properties, melt through and burn away, or end up significantly weaker than the surrounding material. Too low, and the metals won’t melt enough to mix and join.

What is Brazing?

Brazing is similar to welding in two ways: it uses higher temperatures (though not as high as welding), and it joins two pieces of metal together with a filler material, filling the gap and providing a strong joint.

The biggest difference is how it works. With brazing, the base materials are not melted at all. Instead, the two materials fit together with a minuscule gap between them. This gap is enough space so that capillary action can draw a liquid into that spacing. In this case, the liquid is a molten filler metal.

Brazing requires the use of a flux for three reasons. First, the flux aids in the capillary action required to pull the filler into the joint spacing. Second, it promotes the even spread of the filler metal throughout and over the base material in a process known as wetting. Third, the flux helps remove any oxides and other impurities that would come from the brazing process and weaken the joint.

Note: capillary action is a quirk of physics where the interaction of adhesive and cohesive forces draw a liquid along a narrow gap, usually a tube. It’s a somewhat complex concept to explain in terms of pure physics, but fortunately, you don’t need to know the physics to know it works and use it in brazing. You can read more about capillary action here if you’re curious.

Brazing is most often found in pipe fitting, particularly in plumbing; most metal pipes in a typical household are fit together using a brazing process.

What is Soldering?

Soldering is another process used to join materials. In contrast to the other two, it’s a comparatively low-temperature process. A bonding material – the solder itself – is melted and used to adhere two pieces of material together. Soldering is extremely common in electronics, as it creates an electrical joint as well as a physical connection. It does not melt the base materials and, in a way, acts more like an adhesive than a fusion process.

Soldering, like brazing, can be used in some situations where capillary action pulls the filler material into a gap in a joint. It also uses flux to ensure the purity and strength of the resulting connection.

The joint that results from soldering is not as strong as the joint you get out of brazing or welding. The comparative softness of the solder, the fact that the base materials are not melted or fused, and the general lower melting point of the solder means it is not suitable for permanent or high-strength purposes. Most soldering is done in electronics, though it can also be used for non-structural joints in things like automotive radiators.

Comparing Welding, Brazing, and Soldering Directly

Now that you know what the basics of each of these three methods of joining materials are, let’s talk about how they differ in direct comparison.

Overall Purpose

One of the biggest differences between the three methods of joining materials is the overall purpose for using each action.

Welding is generally used for fabrication and structural applications. Joining two materials with a seamless and strong bond is important for a wide range of purposes, including architecture, automotive construction, and many more.

Brazing is primarily, but not entirely, used in plumbing and similar applications. Any time two materials need to fit together without being melted themselves as they would in a welding situation, brazing is a good option. Brazing is also used for dissimilar metals, which can be difficult or impossible to connect with welding. However, care must be taken to ensure that those metals are not reactive to one another.

Mechanism of Action

Each of the three methods of connecting materials has a different mechanism of action.

Welding works by melting the base materials along with a filler and fusing them together into one singular material, ideally with the same or stronger mechanical properties as the original materials. Thus, fusion takes place at a molecular level and results in a very strong and cohesive connection, assuming it’s done properly.

Brazing does not melt the base materials but does heat them enough to cause slight physical changes. The actual mechanism of fusion, however, is the brazing filler material wicked in between the two base materials. This acts like a kind of metallic adhesive to join the two together, fill the gap, and solidify into a nonreactive barrier. In pipefitting, this prevents leaks.

Soldering is similar to brazing in that while some heat is applied to the base materials, the base materials are not themselves melted. The heat is primarily applied to the solder, which melts and acts as a solid conductive mass, often primarily for electricity.

Method of Heat Application

The source of the heat used for joining materials and melting filler metal differs between each of the three kinds of fusion.

Welding uses an electrical arc to produce an immense amount of heat in a small area. This heat can be controlled using variance in voltage, amperage, and frequency to produce a tuned amount of heat for the materials being melted.

Brazing uses a torch, often of an oxyfuel variety, to directly apply heat via a jet of ignited compressed gas. This torch is very hot but still can’t compare to the heat of an electrical arc.

Soldering can either use a torch or, more commonly, an iron to apply direct physical heat on contact with solder. Since solder has such a low melting point, it doesn’t need much more than a bare moment of heat to melt into a liquid to be used for its purpose.

General Temperature

The overall temperature of the materials will vary depending on the kind of fusion as well.

Arc welding, harnessing the power of lightning, produces very high temperatures. Depending on the metals being fused, this temperature can range anywhere from 2,000 to 3,500 Celsius and, in some cases, even higher.

Brazing is a lower temperature application and, as it doesn’t melt the base materials, keeps heat just high enough to melt the filler and flux being used. This is generally in the range of 600 degrees C.

Soldering needs even less heat. The melting point of solder is generally in the range of 90 to 450 C, and many soldering irons are generally set to the 300–350-degree range.

Strength of Resulting Joint

The strength of a joint can be imperative or a non-factor, depending on the purpose of the welding process.

Arc welding joints are generally extremely strong unless they are not performed properly. The resulting strength of the material is often at least as strong as the base materials and, in many cases, actually stronger.

Brazing joints are not structural in general, but they can bear some load. In plumbing, for example, water hammering can be an issue in some systems, so the joints need to be able to stand up to that kind of force. They are not structural, however, so there is a maximum load they can bear.

Soldering joints are almost never structural in any way, and the forces they handle are more electrical than tensile, linear, or shear. As such, they are not very strong, but they don’t need to be. There should, ideally, be next to no force put on them.

Use of Flux

The use of flux is a way to prevent chemical changes in the materials and to prevent inclusions, ensuring a stronger and more thorough fusion between materials.

In welding, not all processes use flux. Some use flux in addition to a filler rod; others use a flux-cored filler. Many don’t use flux at all, but use a shielding gas to serve the same purpose. It depends largely on the process you’re using, and on the materials you’re fusing.

Brazing makes heavy use of flux to ensure the chemical properties of the filler material allow it to be wicked into the joint via capillary action. Flux is a key part of brazing and the process generally can’t be done – or can’t easily be done – without it.

Soldering sometimes uses flux, but it’s not always necessary. Flux will allow the solder to spread out and more comprehensively wet a surface, which can be important for larger and more effective electrical connections. However, in smaller uses and in purposes where a balled or dewetting solder isn’t a problem, flux isn’t necessary. In fact, a big part of learning how to solder is learning when flux is necessary and when it isn’t.

Change in Mechanical Properties of Base Materials

Arc welding changes the base materials when they are melted, mixed with filler, and solidified once more. This can change the physical structure of the metal molecules, as well as the chemical composition, depending on the filler used. Controlling this change is an important part of knowing which welding process to choose, as well as

Brazing and soldering should not change the composition or mechanical properties of the base materials, as they are more along the lines of an adhesive filler; they adhere to surfaces and join them, rather than melting and mixing with those materials.

Heat Treatment and Heat Changes to Base Materials

The use of heat and management of that heat varies between processes.

Arc welding has to pay close attention to heat. Too much heat is bad and can burn through or destroy a workpiece. Too little heat makes for an ineffective weld. Heat treatment can strengthen a joint after the welding, and welding heat-treated materials can remove that heat treatment. Moreover, the heat gradient through the workpiece can contribute to warping and damage, so preheating and slower cooling can be necessary to prevent distortion.

Brazing benefits from preheating to help ensure that the filler material is properly wicked up into the materials and wets across surfaces for a robust connection. While it’s not strictly necessary, it’s good practice to preheat the work area before melting filler into it. No heat treatment after the brazing is necessary or even desirable.

Soldering can benefit from some preheating, but it depends heavily on the purpose and physical needs of the joint. It’s often not necessary. Further, no post-process heat treatment is necessary.

Hopefully, our resource has helped you understand the differences between these three joining processes. There are, of course, many further differences and details, as all three have a vast body of engineering work behind them, but the basics are the bulk of what you need to know unless you’re pursuing one as a trade.

If you’re interested in welding, we can help. At Red-D-Arc, we are a leader in welding equipment rentals. From introductory welding machines to full turn-key systems for manufacturing facilities, we have anything you could possibly need. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

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