Stud welding is a highly versatile welding process for fasteners and bolts. It can weld studs to all electrically conductive metals, including carbon steel, stainless steel, and aluminum.
Industries of every stripe use stud welding in one way or another. So, let’s examine how different parts of the most prominent industries use it to improve part fabrication efficiency and how you can benefit from our stud welder rentals.
Introduction to Stud Welding
Stud welding was developed before WWII but quickly became a go-to welding choice for quick and efficient fastener fusing to the base metal. Today, the stud welding process is the best method to weld studs, and you can choose from several different stud welding types to best match your application.
What is Stud Welding?
“No filler metal is involved with stud welding.”
Stud welding is a welding process that joins a metal stud with a base metal, and it can be performed with arc, resistance, friction, and percussion welding methods. But, arc stud welding is the most commonly used stud welding process.
No filler metal is involved with stud welding. This process is used with or without a shielding gas or protective flux, depending on the used stud welding method. Stud welding also relies on pressure to fuse the metal fastener with the base metal once both are heated to the point of melting.
Benefits of Stud Welding
The number one benefit of stud welding is the extreme efficiency and speed of stud attachment. Stud welding is measured in milliseconds. So, other arc welding processes like TIG and MIG can’t compare, even if automated welding is employed.
- Extreme welding speed
- Easy to automate
- The operator doesn’t need to be a welder to use stud welding equipment
- Significantly easier manual welding compared to other arc welding processes
- It can be used for various stud types (i.e., threaded, plain pins, headed pins, rectangular shapes, slotted pins, internally threaded fasteners, etc.)
- Low heat input into the welded metal minimizes HAZ and warping
- Stud welding heat-treatable aluminum alloys minimizes over aging and softening of adjacent base metal
- It doesn’t affect the back side of the weld
- Stud welding doesn’t require access to the back side of the welded plate
- Studs can be welded to extra thin sheets of metal with capacitor discharge stud welders
- It’s possible to weld studs to dissimilar metals
- Stud welding provides robust welds
Construction Applications for Stud Welding
Stud welding is crucial to the construction industry. Building large steel structures, bridges, underground systems, dams, and other structures requires fusing various fasteners and steel bolts, and stud welding provides the most efficient stud joining system.
Steel Structures and Building Construction
Steel frame construction benefits from stud welding by connecting shear studs to the steel beams and through steel decking sheets. In particular, “thru deck welding” achieves a composite action between the concrete slab and the steel construction.
Studs are essential to strengthen and connect shear connectors to the concrete base of bridge elements. In addition, steel plating and similar steel parts of a bridge rely on stud welding to form the full bridge structure. Without studs, bridges wouldn’t be able to have a cohesion of steel and concrete elements, making them indispensable in the bridge industry.
It’s possible to reinforce concrete and provide ductile connections using special rebar studs. Since concrete is brittle, rebar studs are often necessary for earthquake-resistant concrete structure connections, seismic shear walls, and securing steel plates to concrete structures. Various shapes of rebar studs are available to match the connection type and provide the necessary ductility.
Roofing And Insulation Systems
The roofing and insulation industry relies on stud welding to attach fasteners to the metal substrate before the insulation is attached to the fasteners. Insulation weld pins are inexpensive, and the capacitor discharge stud welders can attach them to the metal substrate quickly and efficiently.
Automotive Applications for Stud Welding
The automotive industry wouldn’t be the same without stud welding. Multiple vehicle production stages use stud welding, including airbags installation, power steering modules, exhaust systems, and heat shields.
Automotive Body Repair and Restoration
Auto body shops use stud welding systems to avoid invasive procedures when repairing car body dents. Stud welding one or more pins to the dents makes it easy to pull them out and correct the car body after minor collisions. Then, technicians cut off the welded pins and grind off the excess metal.
Vehicle Frame and Chassis Construction
Vehicle manufacturing requires a huge number of automated welding operations, which include stud welding. A high-energy arc allows quick fastener fusing with the vehicle frame, allowing seamless attachment of various vehicle components.
Engine Mounting and Exhaust Systems
Mounting the engine and exhaust systems in vehicles requires various studs to be installed during car fabrication.
Manufacturing and Industrial Applications for Stud Welding
“Stud welding is the go-to choice for fast stud fusing in complex arrays”
The industrial sector uses manual and automated stud welding to manufacture sheet metal and machinery parts. While other arc welding processes are paramount for manufacturing, stud welding is the go-to choice for fast stud fusing in complex arrays.
Sheet Metal Fabrication
Stud welding is the best way to join fasteners and other types of studs to sheet metal in large-scale production. Since stud welders produce very short bursts of energy, sheet metal is unlikely to warp or burn through.
Machinery and Equipment Assembly
Fabricating machinery and equipment often requires numerous fasteners and pins to be applied to thin sheet metal or thick metal plates. Stud welding can be automated for precise and efficient stud joining for almost any configuration. So, attaching machinery guards, hatches, handles, fluid lines, cover plates, and other parts can easily be completed with the stud welding process.
Electrical and Electronic Component Mounting
Fastening processes for electrical components often require stud welding during production. Many electronic systems, communication systems, electric motors, and other electrical equipment need stud welding fascia panels, earthing studs, printed circuit boards (PCBs), switches, buttons, and other small electrical elements. So, stud welding doesn’t always involve thick, large steel studs. It’s also used for far more sophisticated manufacturing.
Advancements and Innovations in Stud Welding
Stud welding is a growing field. While the process stems from before WWII, numerous innovations have transformed it to better suit modern needs of high efficiency and automation.
Automated Stud Welding Systems
Automated stud welding employs pre-programmed commands to facilitate large-scale, repeatable production. These systems can operate on multiple axes to provide maximum accuracy and accommodate different part shapes. Automated stud welding systems can use CNC to maximize accuracy and efficiency.
Since stud welding is fundamentally a simple process, automation doesn’t require a lot of programming. In addition, automating stud welding improves welding efficiency and workplace safety by removing human error and direct presence in the welding area.
Specialized Stud Welding Techniques
Specialized stud welding applications like HVAC require a slightly modified process. Since the HVAC metal base is wrapped in the insulation, it requires stud welding the metal pins to keep the insulation in place. These pins are similar to thumbtacks in shape but are far larger. But, sometimes, the stud welding process welds the caps onto the previously welded pins, fixing the insulation between the two.
Some processes, like friction stud welding, are completely different from traditional stud welding. Friction welding relies on friction generated between the welded element and the base metal to heat them to the point of melting as the welded stud spins at high RPM. The stud is pressed against the base metal and spun, which causes them to fuse. So, unlike traditional stud welding, friction welding doesn’t require an electric arc to fuse the materials.
Considerations for Stud Welding Applications
It’s vital to consider whether the stud material and base metal are compatible before welding. You should also conduct surface preparation when necessary and select the stud type and size according to design needs and stud welding machine capabilities.
Material Compatibility and Selection
Stud and base materials should be compatible for stud welding to achieve a strong bond. Carbon and stainless steels work great for drawn arc and capacitor discharge stud welding. But, high carbon steels (above 0.25%) require preheating to prevent weld cracking.
Steel alloys are more challenging to stud weld depending on the alloy type. But you’ll generally get better welds on steel alloys using the drawn arc welding process.
Copper base metal supports welding studs from mild and stainless steel, but you’ll achieve the best results with copper studs. Use capacitor discharge stud guns because copper conducts heat exceptionally well. The high amount of concentrated current from the capacitor will melt and fuse copper, while other stud welding methods might struggle.
Stud welding aluminum usually works like a charm. An aluminum base with aluminum studs is the best way to go. You can weld pure aluminum to aluminum alloys and vice versa.
It’s also important to use polarity compatible with the welded material. Use DCEN for steels and DCEP for aluminum and magnesium.
Stud Type and Size
Stud welders are rated according to the maximum diameter of the stud they can weld. For example, the Proweld ARC-3000 can weld studs from 1/4″ to 1-1/4″ diameter with preciseness and repeatability. It’s important to choose a stud welder that can use the stud size and type you need to join to the parent metal. You can always contact us, and our experts will help you find a stud welder for your needs.
Surface Preparation and Weld Quality
It’s vital to thoroughly clean the surface area where you intend to weld a stud. Remove paint, grease, oils, rust, or any other element that can contaminate the weld pool.
To achieve the maximum weld quality, you should also:
- Ensure a proper workpiece connection
- Use adequate amperage output for the stud’s thickness/diameter
- Use appropriate ferrules (ceramic arc shields for the stud weld)
- Apply the correct gun angle (usually perpendicular to the surface)
- Use welding cables of sufficient size for the applied current
Stud welding may seem like a highly specialized process at first glance, but it’s applied in almost every industry. Fasteners, pins, rods, rebar, and other kinds of studs are vital for manufacturing complex machinery and constructing cohesive concrete and steel structures in the construction industry.
Our stud welder rentals include small stud welding equipment and industrial stud welding products. Contact us today, and our experts in the sales team will help you find the right stud welder for your application, whether you run a small fabrication shop or conduct manufacturing on a large scale.
By guest blogger and former shipyard welder David H.
How important is it to remove welding smoke from the work area? Ask a welder, or ask someone who has to work in the vicinity of welders working in enclosed or semi-enclosed areas.
I recall some years ago working on a Navy general cargo ship. The ship was was undergoing extensive renovations and the hold of the had four or five levels. My employer, a small repair yard in San Francisco, unfortunately did not take air quality in the work area seriously. There were more than 20 of us working in the hold, and some number of us were welders. From a distance you could see where the work was being done — smoke and fumes drifting up out of the hold! In those days, safety requirements weren’t always top of mind. OSHA and other regulations aside, taking care of your workers by providing a safe work environment is simply the right thing to do. Without them your business can never be profitable. By failing to provide a safe workplace, you may lose workers due to health issues and employee turnover or face consequences for not complying with standards.
“respirators are hot and uncomfortable, and many welders simply refuse to use them”
Fume Removal Options
There are a number of ways to deal with welding fume issues. One approach is the use of respirators. I often wore one, but they are hot and uncomfortable, and many welders simply refuse to use them. They can be remarkably expensive, over the long haul, given that filters must be replaced daily. If the mask is a disposable type, the entire mask must be replaced daily.
Portable Smoke Extractors
Portable smoke extractors – sometimes referred to as smoke eaters – are a far better solution. They remove a higher percentage of the fumes than respirator masks and protect everyone in the work area, not just the welders. They can be moved around the job site and from one job site to another, but can also be set up at permanent work stations. These machines can help make sure that your work space is a place where people can get their work done safely. Your employees will thank you.
To view the smoke extractors Red-D-Arc offers for rent head over to our welding fume extractor rental page.
We also have used smoke extractors for sale on our used equipment page.