What is Weld Spatter?
These are tiny molten metal pieces and weld contaminants that jump from the weld pool as small hot globules which then impact and stick on the cold surfaces. They can also stick on your welding table and the metal piece you are welding. Weld spatter is common in gas metal arc welding and MIG welding.
It causes problems in the manufacturing process, like loss of material from your weld and arc. The mess forces you to do excessive clean-up of the spatter, and it can sometimes burn your clothing and skin.
Spatter balls stick to the tooling and workpieces, which is why most manufacturers strive to eliminate any generated spatter. To resolve the problem, you have to first understand why it’s happening or what causes weld spatter.
What causes MIG Weld Spatter?
MIG welding is occasioned by spattering and sparks flying all over space. Welding spatter increases cleanup time and you can suffer burns if you don’t wear the right PPE. Also, it’s virtually impossible to eliminate MIG welding spatter, but you can reduce it if you understand what causes it in the first place.
Most welders don’t have the luxury of buying the latest welding equipment with the technology to eliminate spatter. Therefore, you have to weld with the equipment you have. So why do my welds spatter?
Incorrect Welder Setting
Voltage, electrical stick, and amperage setting are crucial. Your amperage is determined by the wire feed speed and if you run it too high, you get spatter. Reduce the wire feed speed to decrease the amperage and reduce spatter. Alternatively, you can increase the voltage. Too low voltage increases spatter. To remedy it, increase the voltage until weld spatter reduces.
Check if the electric stick is far from the contact tip to your workpiece. Excessive stick out increases spatter and also create porosity problem because of the lack of penetration.
Your Work Angle is Too Deep
Whether to push or drag while the MIG welding is debatable. However, ensure your push or drag angle is within 15 degrees because steep angles generate more spatter.
Presence of Surface Contaminants
Contaminants like oil, rust, and grease will create spatter. So clean the surface before welding.
Mode of Metal Transfer
Globular and short arc transfers produce more spatter. You can reduce spatter by achieving spray transfer by using at least 83% argon in the shielding mix. Also, be above the transition currents for the wire diameter you are currently running. Smaller machines are not capable of doing this.
Poor MIG Welding Settings
Spatter happens when the wire feeder can’t feed the wire at a constant speed, causing amperage fluctuation leading to spatter. To remedy this, double-check to ensure there are no feeding problems.
Extreme heat will melt the solid wire and liquefy the filler wire, creating a pool. You minimize spatter when you use the right welder setting that generates sufficient heat to melt your wire before it hits the pool at the right place.
Some applications can handle spatter and others can’t. in applications like robotics where wire consistency is vital, don’t use cheap low-quality wires. Manufacturers have their own tolerances and range, which is why they produce better products.
Use a single pool for consistency as much as there may be variations in copper coatings and wire diameter.
Using Bad Shielding Gas
Although not uncommon, low-quality shielding gas increases weld spatter levels. You get a smoother arc if you use a higher argon content and 100% carbon dioxide to give you a good penetration profile. However, it comes at a cost as you get more spatter.
How to Reduce Spatter when MIG Welding?
There are powerful ways to reduce MIG welding spatter.
Invest in Welding Equipment with Special Features
The welding industry has seen advanced welding machines that have special features to eliminate spatter. With the help of ultra-high-speed electronics, you can now develop welding power sources focusing on spatter reduction.
Get Rid of Contaminants
Properly clean your workpiece and replace rusty welding wires. Ensure the surface is not greasy, dirty, or oily as these will create spatter.
Use Proper MIG Gun Angle
The angle of your MIG gun should not be over 15 degrees from the vertical. Also, keep the electric stick out at 3/8 inches for MIG.
Inspect Welder Settings
Check to ensure you are using the right welder setting and the polarity is correct. Minimize the wire feed speed and regulate the voltage.
Check your Welding Equipment Problems
Correct poor work clamp connection and erratic wire feed. Also, ensure you have sufficient shielding gas and the contact tip is not worn out or oversized.
Use Welding Tape
Welding tape is made of aluminum. Apply it on the work surface to keep away spatter. However, don’t apply the tape to the place you are welding. The tape prevents spatter from melting onto the parts you want to weld.
Anti-spatter prevents the molten metal pieces from sticking on your welding surface. This product is an oil-based spray that you spray on the area you intend to weld and doesn’t affect the quality of your weld piece. When you are done, chip or brush it off.
Use an angle grinder to grind away the residues on the weld. The grinder comes with a flapper wheel and specially made to handle spatter jobs.
Use Spatter Chisel
If still there are ugly spots on the weld piece, use the spatter chisel to chip away the molten metal pieces to leave you with a smooth good looking surface.
Why should you get rid of MIG Weld Spatter?
This is a perfectly reasonable question. It’s worth knowing what causes spatter and knowing why you should get rid of it. Spatter ticks to the weld piece, making it look unpleasant and also sticks to your MIG gun. It can stick to your body, neck, or back of your head, hair, and arms burning you in the process.
The molten metal pieces can burn off your skin, hair, and clothing if the material is not fire-resistant. Welders are encouraged to wear welding clothing with no outside pockets for safety.
Above all, get rid of spatter as it ruins your weld piece finish by scratching or pitting up the surface. It forces you to spend more time grinding or chiseling off the molten metal pieces which can set back your project timeline.
If spatter fills your MIG gun nuzzle, you will have gas flow problems affecting shielding. This means you can’t protect your weld piece properly. Also, it causes wire feed problems leading to failed and porous welds. If spatter sticks to the contact tip, the tip will wear out faster.
Spatter is a sign of wastage of welding wire, which should go to the weld instead of being a nuisance making you spend more on welding wires. You could use the money to improve your workspace instead of dealing with the tiresome cleanup process.
What is the Difference between Spatter and Splatter?
A spatter is a pattern of small drops from spattering. In this case, spatter are the molten metal droplets on the weld piece. Splatter is a large scatter of particles or drops resulting from splattering.
Spatter and splatter look the same, but they explain totally different patterns interestingly. Both scenarios happen on welding materials, but spatter is difficult to get rid of while splatter is easy to eliminate using specific tools.
Splatter occurs when you have too much welding wire or have a long arc length. Spatter only occurs when you have low voltage or use low-quality equipment and when you have too much stick out. Welding splatters are the stroke of liquid drops that occur during welding or hit different surfaces.
However, spatter is restricted to the tiny drops of molten metal pieces landing on the weld piece. The two problems can be eliminated using the different techniques mentioned above.
You can fix the splatter and spatter problem to make your welding assignment more enjoyable. Keep practicing the different solutions to sharpen your skills and gain more experience that will help you handle more difficult projects.
As much as you may not completely get rid of weld spatter, you can reduce it significantly by using the different methods mentioned above. First, understand the causes of spatter to prevent them or use the right solutions that will leave your weld piece looking good.
Anti-splatter can eliminate both splatter and spatter, making it a remarkable solution to the problem. This leaves your weld piece in good condition and saves your cleanup time and welding wire wastage. Enthusiasts and professionals respect welding and find the work rewarding as long as you use the right welding equipment.
The main challenge during the welding process is spatter and splatter. Unfortunately, most welders think the two terms mean the same thing while they represent totally different things.
Understanding the difference helps you know how to deal with the nuisance to safeguard your welding piece.