Ten Things to be Taught to Novice Welders
While training new welders, it can be a challenge for companies to instill the correct approach and principles right from the beginning of their training process. This will not only help them to be well prepared when it comes to creating good welds but will also help them to contribute in a positive manner when it comes the welding operation in general.
To learn welding is not easy as it requires a solid foundation, patience and practice. This is why it is important and a challenge for companies training new welders to inculcate good habits very early in the course of the training schedule so as to ensure that they will pass out as confident and professional welders by the end of their training.
The following 10 points are invaluable which every novice welder should be taught which will not only help them to become confident welders but will also help to keep them safe and protected in the course of their work.
- 1. Safety Always the First Priority: For any, welder safety comes first – they should remember to keep themselves protected from both the electricity and heat that is generated during the process of welding. The arc being dangerous to the skin and the eyes, it is critical that welders wear the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) always. It includes the safety glasses, gloves that are flame-resistant, welding jacket with long sleeves and the welding helmet. Other items that are recommended are shoes that are steel-toed and flame-resistant clothing. Guidelines for personal protection equipment for particular environments can be obtained by OSHA and the AWS (American Welding Society).
Welders should also remember to use local exhaust at the arc, have enough ventilation or to have the gases and the fumes well under the Threshold Limit Value (TLV)/Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL)/Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) in both their zone of breathing and in the immediate area. Novice welders should be trained to never have their heads near the fumes. It is also important to instill in them, the habit of going through thoroughly and understanding all the instructions given by the manufacturer for the concerned equipment, the safety practices that your company follows and following other safety instructions and the different material safety data sheet meant for filler metals that are being used. To put it in a nutshell, novice welders should be trained to keep in mind that they should take every precaution of their own protection and of others while they do the welding.
It would be a good idea to do a routine check and ensure for right ground connections, ensure that they stand indoors on dry rubber mats or on dry boards if working outdoors so that it will help to further protect them since it minimizes any risk of electrical shocks.
- 2. Properly Installed Consumables: In order to get a good weld quality, it is very important to ensure that there is good conductivity (to make it possible for electricity to flow through the welding circuit). For this, new welders must make sure that they always locate their consumables – nozzles, diffusers, collect bodies, collect tips, etc. – as instructed by the manufacturer, ensuring that each of the components are tightened securely. For example, when it comes to gas metal arc welding (GMAW) operation, the connections between neck of the GMAW gun and the diffuser should be secure so as to ward off shielding gas leaks. Such connections also gives enough surface area to take the electric current all around the GMAW gun (or the gas tungsten arc welding – GTAW torch) for creating an arc that is stable. Ensuring good and secure connections helps to minimize weld defects, reduces the risk of untimely consumable failure arising out of overheating and also supports consistent productivity.
- Cleanliness of Utmost Importance: It is critical to clean the bottom material before starting to weld and also whenever required in between the weld passes. Since dirt, grease, oil or other debris that can easily get into the weld pool and can cause contamination, it will not only lead to an inferior weld quality but also a lot of expensive rework. Another culprit which leads to the compromise of a good weld is excessive moisture and oxidation. So it is very important to educate novice welders in detail, about the correct cleaning procedures when it comes to the specific base material that they happen to be welding. While wiping the bottom part with a dry, clean cloth may be enough in some cases, there are other cases, like in aluminum, where more precautions need to be taken. Here, a wired stainless steel brush - which is meant for cleaning aluminum - helps to remove the dirt and other oxides that are usually found on the aluminum surface. All the joints are thoroughly cleaned before welding. Irrespective of what the material may be, it is very important to furnish new welders with all instructions about proper cleaning before starting to weld.
- 4. Judiciously Follow All Welding Procedures: All welding procedures can be called as the “blueprint” to create perfect and consistent welds. Both novice and well experienced welders are expected to understand and follow these procedures without fail, always. They have been for applications after being carefully studied, and approved by authorities in the field, to make sure that the advised parameters are competent of producing the expected results. Procedures for welding include particulars like the necessary shielding gas mixture, amperage and voltage ranges and the recommended rate of gas flow. They also furnish information about the diameter and type of the filler metal that is to be used, along with the right wire- feed speed for a flux-cored arc welding (FCAW) or a GMAW application.
- 5. Understanding the Significance of the Filler Metals: In spite of filler metals being a critical element of the whole welding system, they can be quite confusing at times. Fresh welders can be benefitted largely if they take the pains to familiarize themselves with as many features and attributes of the diverse types of wires which include the metal cored and flux-cored wires along with the techniques used to weld with a particular type. To site an example, the welder should know whether their specific filler metal needs a “push” or a “pull” technique. To go by old maxim like, “If there’s slag, then you drag,” may be helpful as it points out that influx wires that produce a slag must be dealt by making use of the pull technique. It would be ideal if novice welders get into the habit of referring to the specification sheet of the manufacturer so as to avail any extra operating recommendations.
Another important area that new welders should learn and pay attention is how to store and handle filler metals rightly. When handling filler metals, they should remember to always wear very clean gloves and if in charge of storing them, then they should keep in mind that it is critical to store it in a dry and clean environment.
- Stay and Be Comfortable: It is important to stay cool and be comfortable during welding which will help welders to minimize the possibility of injuries that are connected with repetitive movements and help to reduce the overall fatigue. Whenever possible, welders must acquire the skill to minimize accumulative strength moves, constant motion or material handling. Using a GTAW torch or a GMAW gun with a snug handle and cable style is also recommended since these are two factors that play an important role where the equipment’s maneuverability and weight are concerned. Novice welders need to be motivated to take an active part about enhancing the ergonomics in terms of the welding working space. In fact, the more satisfied will they be when they are actively involved in providing practical inputs about a job. Moreover, being actively involved will help to ensure more safety standards and minimize workers’ compensation expenses for any injuries sustained.
- Knowing about Material Properties: Each and every material is composed of different chemical and mechanical properties. One of the key components of training new welders is to help them identify and understand the many differences between materials – especially when it comes to their reaction to cooling and heating. For example, how austenitic stainless steel is able to conduct heat at about just half the rate of any mild steel, but it has a far greater rate of thermal expansion upon welding. Its heat affected zone (HAZ) is more localized which can take end up to buckling on the cooling of the weld. Being in the know of such attributes will help welders to take all possible precautions like clamping so as to avoid distortion. Likewise, there are numerous materials that need pre-and-post weld heating treatments in order to be in charge of the rate of cooling and prevent it from cracking. Once welders become knowledgeable about such material attributes, they will be better prepared and make the required adjustments and modifications during the process of welding.
- Visually Inspecting the Welds: The very first step to quality control is to have the knowledge to conduct a visual and accurate inspection of the completed weld. It also happens to be the cheapest and quickest procedure of inspection. It is important that new welders train themselves when it comes to identifying defects in welds that have porosity – say, for example, the existence of this particular weld defect on its surface often points out that there will be such problems in the entire weld. Being able to identify such defects earlier on will help to save both cost and time that are connected with other methods of testing, which includes NDT ( non-destructive testing) or x-ray. Some of the other defects which welders need to learn about and be able to identify are excessive penetration (sunken welds) lack of penetration (high, ropey welds) and undercutting (which is distinguished by the nick in the base material). Another important thing that welders have to look out for are weld cracks, as it is one of the most commonly seen weld defects that takes place during the welding process.
- 9. Troubleshooting: One of the key skills that any novice welder should equip him/her with is to be capable of identifying and immediately rectify any problem related to welding. Having such troubleshooting skills help to not only reduce the downtime, but also ensures of weld productivity and quality. These skills also help to keep down the costs that may be associated work rework. For example, it would be very beneficial if fresh welders learnt about adjusting the rates of the gas flow correctly or/and to identify leakage of gas so as to quickly address issues of porosity. Gaining experience of making the necessary adjustments to voltage and amperage settings when coming across issues of excessive penetration, undercutting or lack of penetration is also desirable. Another important area is to be able to identify welding complications that are related with worn-out consumables as there are chances of poor conductivity giving rise to an arc that is unstable leading to various defects in the weld.
- Maintenance Does Make a Difference: For a smooth, efficient and effective welding operation, it is crucial that each and each part of the entire welding system is in a topnotch condition – right from the source of power, to the GTAW torch or the GMAW gun and other consumables. So it is vital that novice welders should familiarize themselves with all the correct procedures when it comes to maintenance – more preferably, those related to preventive ones – to be able to have an effective role in the upkeep and maintenance of the whole welding system. Regular inspection of all the connections through and through the entire length of the torch or gun is tight is vital, as is the visual inspection of all the main consumables for any indications of wear. If a GMAW gun is used, a welder must make sure to replace the nozzles or the contact-tips that may have developed a splatter accumulation on them so as to avoid issues like an inconsistent arc or a poor coverage of gas which can result in weld defects. It is also important to regularly inspect the source for power, the primary power line; the gas cylinders and the gas distribution system so as to make sure that are working fine. Replacing faulty gas cables, regulators and any of the hoses that show any signs of cracks, wear or damage is also vital.
When it comes to reaching and training a new welder, it entails a lot more than just getting them to hold the torch or gun at the right angle or showing them how to set the power source. The most effective way to go about when training new welders is to include and good habits which will help them to feel confident and safe and at the same time, give them the knowledge and confidence to address any issue from maintenance to materials. There is no doubt that the time that is required for the transition of a fresh and novice welder into a skilled and professional one is time consuming – but in the long run, on looking back, the long term advantages will be invaluable and worth the effort!