We all know that welding is not a simple process as compared to other metal working procedures like cutting or grinding. There are a lot of parameters that play an important role in the whole welding procedure and each has an impact on the end result. Apart from that, there are many factors that can cause a variety of welding defects. Even before you finish the weld, there are some problems that you might face, which might complicate the process.
Welding spatter is one such problem and even the most experienced welders face this problem every now and then. Welding spatter not only makes the process more hazardous for the welder but also increases the clean-up time and effort after the welding is finished.
Today, we are going to understand the welding spatter problem in detail and discuss some common reasons behind the problem. We will also tell you some handy techniques to clean up welding spatter or to avoid them in the first place, so make sure you read the guide until the end.
- Understanding Weld Spatter
- Reasons Behind Weld Spatter
- How To Clean Weld Spatter?
Understanding Weld Spatter
If you haven’t noticed the weld spatter problem yet, you probably are just getting started with the process, or you have been very lucky up until now. Weld spatter is basically a collection of high-temperature fragments of metal or droplets of molten metal that are released at the time of welding. Due to the high temperature and molten state, these fragments manage to fuse with almost any surface they land on, including the weld surface or even the welder’s skin if they are not careful enough.
Generally, weld spatter is observed on the workpiece and the welding equipment, both of which are very close to the welding surface. This weld spatter is definitely pretty hard to clean, but also important to do so since they cause the welding surface to be clean for further applications. It is even more important in workshops where the equipment will be needed for the next job. If there is enough weld spatter collected on the welding equipment, it can hamper its performance and efficiency, causing problems with the next job.
So if you want to avoid such problems in the future, you have come to the right place. But before we tell you how you can clean weld spatter, let’s try to find the reasons why these spatters appear in the first place. If you manage to avoid welding spatter, to begin with, there would be no need to clean them afterward at all, saving you a lot of time and effort. It can also substantially increase the quality of your weld, which is definitely what every welder wants.
Reasons Behind Weld Spatter
The main reason behind the weld spatter is problems with the welding area. But, it is a vague understanding of the concept and there are many smaller factors that can cause impurity of the weld pool and result in the creation of a weld spatter. Therefore, you should carefully understand the factors mentioned below and see which of these factors may cause weld spatter in your case.
1. Composition of Metal or Filler Material
The most common reason behind the appearance of weld spatter is the type and quality of the metal you are working with. It can be caused by problems with the base metal, or the filler material you are using for the job. In most cases, premium metals that have a rather pure composition are free from such problems. On the other hand, cheaper metals have a number of additives in the composition to achieve desired properties and still keep the production costs lower.
While it may reduce the metal cost, it can severely hamper the welding process for the same. So when you are working with such material, welding spatter is almost unavoidable. The same goes for the composition of the filler rod you are using for the welding. To achieve good results, the filler material has to have the same composition as the base metal. But, it can also make the welding rods overly expensive. So if you are using a cheaper alternative for a welding rod, you may face weld spatter.
2. Contamination of Weld Surface
Impurity and contamination on the welding surface cause a variety of welding defects, and weld spatter is one of them. The type of welding defect that you will face depends upon the type of contamination of the welding surface. Nonetheless, most impurities end up causing weld spatters. Impurities present on the surface can react with the molten metal and cause weld spatter. The most common examples of that are oil or other layers of protective coating on the metal surface.
While it is possible to weld through these layers, it can be beneficial to clean the surface beforehand rather than cleaning up the weld spatter from the hot welded area. Impurities present on the filler material are also not an exception for the same. In most cases, welding rods are purchased in bulk and then stored in a corner. It causes problems like corrosion of the surface, or simply dust and dirt fusing with the surface over time. And as a result, the weld spatter problem is imminent with an umpire welding rod.
For best results, make sure you clean the oils and dirt around ¾ inch of the surface apart from the welding area. This can significantly reduce the chances of weld spatter. The same goes for the filler rod as well. It will take a little bit of time to clean the rod before welding, but it can save a lot of time needed to clean the weld spatter. Also, make sure that you are storing the welding rod in a clean and moisture-free area.
3. Welding Machine Parameters
The welding machine can also cause weld spatter, not because the machine might be faulty, but because of incorrect parameters that are not suitable for the job. In a lot of workshops, the welders are set to the default parameters based on the majority of welding jobs that are needed to be performed by the machine.
So, weld spatter would occur if you try the same parameters for a different type of welding job. Also, you need to find out the optimal settings based on the type of welder you are using and by following the guidelines offered by the manufacturer.
The main reason that can cause weld spatter in this aspect is incorrect heat management. If the heat is too much, or if the penetration is not deep enough on the workpiece, a weld spatter might occur. For welders such as a MIG welding machine, you need to take care of some additional factors, such as wire feed speed.
If the feed speed is too high, you might end up pushing the wire into the welding pool before it reaches optimal temperature. And if the speed is too slow, the welding cable might melt before coming into contact with the weld bead. The gas flow rate is also a factor that can introduce weld spatter. Improper shielding gas coverage can allow interaction with surrounding gasses, and with that, weld spatter also occurs.
4. Welder’s Skill
Even if you take care of all the factors mentioned above, you may still notice weld spatter on the job. Even with a perfectly clean filler rod, workpiece, and optimal welder settings, some welders face weld spatter because of incorrect welding techniques. An improper technique can surely introduce welding defects due to improper contact or the welding speed.
If you are performing MIG welding, you need to keep the torch angle south of 15°. If you accidentally went over the 15° angle mark, the weld pool will be disrupted and start releasing molten metal into the air. It can happen even with arc welding or while you are welding with a welding rod. In this case, you need to take care of the factors such as keeping the arc length in proportion or keeping the welding speed in control.
With that being said, there is no definite welding technique that can be ideal for all types of welding jobs. These parameters have to be optimized based on the welding method as well as the type of material you are working with along with the type of weld you are creating. It will not take one anything short of years of practice and experience to avoid weld spatter by using the perfect technique.
5. Problem With The Welding Kit
Apart from the welder parameters, you also need to ensure that the machine itself is in perfect shape to avoid welding defects. Just like any other workshop equipment, your welder also needs timely maintenance and care to offer the best results, even more so since these machines deal with high voltage and high current applications.
Internal problems with the welding machine such as the MIG welder can cause improper wire feed speed or gas flow rate even if you select the right values. Also, it can be caused by the improper ground connection which can result in short circuits and even harm the welder. As for the welding gun itself, you need to check the quality of the welding tip and see if that needs a replacement if you are facing too much weld spatter.
How To Clean Weld Spatter?
If you have already gone through a significant amount of weld splatter while performing the welding job, the next part of the job is to clean the splatter. If it is a 2-part welding job, it is necessary to clean the weld spatter after the first session so that it does not cause a weld spatter in the next session. Cleaning the weld spatter will not only make your weld appear good, but also reduce the chances of defects that can occur in future applications.
Here are some common methods that are used to clean weld spatters.
1. By Grinding The Surface
The best and most efficient method to clean a weld spatter is to use a surface grinder to clean the surface of the weld as well as the area around it. You can use the same grinder to clear out the weld spatter that you must have used previously to clean the weld surface. And since you probably needed the grinder to finish up the welding surface anyway, you can finish 2 jobs at once by using the same grinder to clean the weld spatters.
2. Using a Chisel and Hammer
If you don’t see a lot of weld spatter spread across the surface except a few dots here and there, it would be better to clean the weld spatter using a standard chisel and a hammer. It can prevent damage to other parts of the surface, which is crucial in some jobs, especially when the workpiece is brittle, like white metal. You can easily use a chisel instead of a grinder to level the surface and then polish the remaining thickness of the splatter using sandpaper for safe results.
3. Additional Methods To Clean Weld Spatter
There are many different types of weld spatter remedies available on the market that you can use for clearing up weld spatter, or prevent it from happening to begin with. The most promising method is using an anti-weld spatter gel on the tip of the welding gun. This gel slows down the disruption of the weld pool and can considerably reduce the weld spatter problem.
You can also use a tap to mask the unwelded part of the workpiece and then remove the tape once the welding is finished. This way, the weld spatter would be collected on the surface of the tape, keeping the base metal safe and sound. However, normal tape certainly won’t stand against hot weld spatter. So, it is better to use Aluminum tape, which does not melt easily.
We hope that you have understood the weld spatter problem completely after going through our guide and also found out the reason for its appearance in your case. It is always better to find out the causes of the weld spatter and prevent it from happening rather than cleaning it afterward. We have also offered you some handy solutions in case you do have to clean the weld spatter so that you can save a lot of time and effort. By following this guide, you can surely avoid weld spatter with future welding jobs, which will not only keep your welding job and equipment safe but also save your skin from a terrible weld spatter burn.