Main uses for gas mixtures in welding industry is as ‘shielding gases’ . The most common industrial welding process, used extensively in the automotive industry, is gas metal arc welding, or GMAW, sometimes referred to as metal inert gas (MIG) welding.
A variation on GMAW is gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), sometimes called tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding. A key aspect to both of these important welding methods is that the area where the welding is occurring – the weld zone – must be protected from the atmospheric air. Excessive amounts of oxygen, nitrogen or water vapour can all reduce the quality of the weld. To keep air away from the weld zone, shielding gases are used. Depending on the materials that are being welded, the choice of shielding gas mixture can be crucial. If an inappropriate mixture is used, the weld can become weak or porous or cause an excess of ‘spatter’, which is time consuming to remove.
The correct selection of the shielding gas will improve both the speed and quality of the weld, as well as allow a greater deposition rate.
The main component of a shielding mixture is an inert gas, typically argon. This is mixed with other gases, depending on the process. For example a mixture of 85% argon and 15% carbon dioxide is often used for carbon steels and low allow steels. A mixture of 95% argon with 5% oxygen is common for general carbon steel welding. If more than 5% oxygen is present, however, the gas mixture can oxidise the electrode which may make the weld unacceptably porous.
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