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Tips for Handling and Maintaining GMAW Consumables

In the process of welding there are many factors that can affect the quality of the welds being created.  These factors include the power source being used, filler metals, and consumables. To reduce the impact that these different variables have on the welds you are creating, it is important that special attention be paid when choosing which types of filler metals and consumables are used.  In order to be certain that the welds you are creating last for a long period of time and reduce the amount of repairs needed on those welds, making the right choices now will go a long way later.  This is especially true when choosing GMAW consumables. Taking the time now to learn how to choose the right consumable and keep them clean will go a long way in creating strong welds.

MIG-Consumables

Matching the Consumable to the Welding Process

The welding process of GMAW produces high levels of heat which tend to make it difficult to keep the consumables used clean.  Welding processes such as pulsed GMAW and other high amperage welding techniques tend to expose consumables to high levels of heat.  When the consumables heat up during the welding process, the material becomes soft which makes the weld area more prone to the accumulation of spatter.  To keep this from happening, the welder must decide which consumable will work best for each type of welding process.  In welding processes that require high levels of amperage, a heavy-duty welding consumable should be used because they are more capable of dissipating heat.  If the welding process you are performing requires that the contact tip be changed frequently, a standard-duty consumable will be sufficient.

Antispatter Solution

Many welders have discovered that using antispatter solution (e.g., nozzle dip) when welding can help maintain the cleanliness of GMAW consumables.  When used in a semi-automatic setting, the welder should dip only the front 1.5 inch of the nozzle into the antispatter solution.  If more of the nozzle is exposed to the solution it may result in the gas holes on the diffuser becoming plugged up.  This may cause the nozzle to fail or result in unbalanced gas coverage which can lead to weld porosity.  If the welding process is being performed in a robotic setting, it is suggested that the minimum amount of antispatter solution be used.  If too much is used in robotic welding processes it may cause the nozzle to be clogged with debris and result in inconsistent conductivity.

Storage of Consumables

Welders should also always store their GMAW consumables in their original packaging until they are needed.  If they are removed from their original packaging and placed in a container they may become scratched or dented which allows for spatter to adhere and will result in a shorter life.  It is also important to remember that when contact tips or diffusers are removed from their package and stored in a container that is dirty, it can allow for oil and dirt to settle in the threads which can stop them from seating properly together.  Welders should always keep storage containers for new consumables separate from the containers used to store discarded consumables.  This will also reduce the chance of a welder grabbing a consumable that has been used.  Whenever you are handling new consumables, you should wear clean gloves in order to prevent dirt and other contaminants from becoming attached to the consumables.

Installation of Consumables

It is also important that when welders install GMAW consumables that they are installed correctly and the welder should also inspect them from time to time to ensure that good connections are established.  When installing new GMAW consumables, welders should follow the manufacturer’s installations instructions.  Welders should use a pair of channel lock pliers or other approved installation tool to install tips and diffusers.  Wire cutters or side cutters should not be used as they may apply too much pressure and damage the inside diameter of the contact tip.  Using these tools may also cause scratches on the surface of the consumables and leave areas that can attract spatter.

The most common way to install a GMAW consumable is to hand tighten the contact tip until it is fully seated into the diffuser.  Then the welder should grip the contact tip using an appropriate tool as close to the base as possible tightening it one quarter to one half turn past finger tight.  Doing this will help ensure that a good connection was established and minimize electrical resistance, overheating and any damage to the consumable.  Some contact tips may be sufficiently installed and held in place simply by hand tightening the nozzle. Welders should always check the manufacturer’s recommendation for proper installation instructions.

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