Welding Filler Metal Packaging and Marking
When we go to the grocery store to purchase food, certain items we expect to have packaging around them to maintain their freshness or preserve their condition. The same is true of the filler metals that we use in all different types of welding processes. Just like the packaging and seal that is on food items that protects them from tampering or spoiling our welding filler metal should have safeguards to keep them clean and secure as well. There are many things that can happen to filler metal from the time it's manufactured to the time you use it. Damage can occur if the filler metal is not packaged or protected.
Sometimes a lot can be said about the filler metal quality based on the quality of the packaging that we see around it. Cheap and inexpensive filler metals will have little to no packaging or moisture barrier. Quality filler metals, on the other hand, will have good packaging and protection both in the area of damage protection and moisture protection. If filler metals are improperly handled, it's not uncommon to see damaged wire, damaged filler metal or flux when we open a new container. Care must be taken when handling filler metals just like we would a carton of eggs from the grocery store.
Shielded metal arc welding electrodes with the flux on the outside are particularly susceptible to damage if they're rough handled or tossed around. The damage on the outside of the flux can render a whole electrode useless Sometimes there's cardboard packaging around the perimeter that will help pad or resist any type of damage to the flux. Still others come in a metal can that resist denting or other damage to the rods or electrodes. A spool of wire that has been dropped it is no longer round or has separate layers of wire mixed with each other will cause problems in the feeder and will cause an erratic welding arc and other problems.
Moisture is another big enemy of certain types of filler metal. Steel filler wires can form rust and other deposits on the surface of the filler metal if they come in contact with water or moisture. Rusty spools of MIG welding and flux core arc welding wire can be big problems to wire feeders, gun liners and contact tips. If the rust deposits itself inside of the gun liner erratic welding and feeding will result. Moisture can also cause the flux on shielded metal arc welding electrodes to crumble and fall off. Moisture can also cause many problems in and around the weld.
Hydrogen under bead cracking and porosity are examples of some of the serious problems that can occur from moisture. Low hydrogen electrode such a 7018 are intended to be placed in the dry Rod oven to prevent these problems with shielded metal arc welding electrode. Quality electrodes and filler metals should be hermetically sealed and have a good barrier from moisture pick up.
The markings on the packaging should clearly Identify the type of metal, AWS specification & classification number and any other trade identification. If it is stick electrode, each rod should clearly be labeled with electrode number. If it is cut lengths of filler metal, each rod should be stamped, flagged, marked or laser engraved.
We should not remove rods from a container except for immediate welding use. if we remove them. Then return them later, they will eventually end up being returned to the wrong container. If it is a spool of wire, each spool should be clearly labeled.
Your weld is only as good as the filler wire you use. Get good wire and you can eliminate many problems. Store it correctly after you buy it to get the best long term use.
Check out the Longevity website (www.longevity-inc.com) or YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/longevitywelding) for more details and information about equipment for different welding and cutting processes. Longevity has the right machine for your exact application, so take a look and choose what is the best fit for your materials, product and needs.