What Is Electroslag Welding? What is Electrogas Welding?

Electroslag welding (ESW) produces fusion with a molten slag that melts filler metal and the surfaces of the base metal. The weld pool is shielded by this molten slag, which moves along the entire cross section of the joint as welding progresses.

The electrically conductive slag is maintained in a molten condition by its resistance to an electric current that flows between the electrode and the base metal. The process is started much like the submerged-arc process by striking an electric arc beneath a layer of granular flux.

When a sufficiently thick layer of hot molten slag is formed, arc action stops. The current then passes from the electrode to the base metal through the conductive slag. At this point, the process ceases to be an arc welding process and becomes the electroslag process.

Heat generated by resistance to flow of current through the molten slag and weld puddle is sufficient to melt the edges at the joint and the tip of the welding electrode. The temperature of the molten metal is in the range of 3500 deg F.

The liquid metal coming from the filler wire and the molten base metal collect in a pool beneath the slag and slowly solidify to form the weld. During welding, since no arc exists, no spattering or intense arc flash occurs.

Because of the large volume of molten slag and weld metal produced in electroslag welding, the process is generally used for welding in the vertical position. The parts to be welded are assembled with a gap 1 to 1 1⁄4 in wide. Edges of the joint need only be cut squarely, by either machine or flame.

Water-cooled copper shoes are attached on each side of the joint to retain the molten metal and slag pool and to act as a mold to cool and shape the weld surfaces. The copper shoes automatically slide upward on the base-metal surfaces as welding progresses.

Preheating of the base metal is usually not necessary in the ordinary sense. Since the major portion of the heat of welding is transferred into the joint base metal, preheating is accomplished without additional effort.

Electrogas welding (EGW) is similar to electroslag welding in that both are automatic processes suitable only for welding in the vertical position. Both utilize vertically traveling, water-cooled shoes to contain and shape the weld surface. The electrogas process differs in that once an arc is established between the electrode and the base metal, it is continuously maintained.

The shielding function is performed by helium, argon, carbon dioxide, or mixtures of these gases continuously fed into the weld area. The flux core of the electrode provides deoxidizing and slagging materials for cleansing the weld metal.

The surfaces to be joined, preheated by the shielding gas, are brought to the proper temperature for complete fusion by contact with the molten slag. The molten slag flows toward the copper shoes and forms a protective coating between the shoes and the faces of the weld. As weld metal is deposited, the copper shoes, forming a weld pocket of uniform depth, are carried continuously upward.

The electrogas process can be used for joining material from 1⁄2 to more than 2 in thick. The process cannot be used on heat-treated material without subsequent heat treatment. AWS and other specifications prohibit the use of EGW for welding quenched-and-tempered steel or for welding dynamically loaded structural members subject to tensile stresses or to reversal of stress.

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