What Causes Welding Spatter?

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Last Updated on August 15, 2021 by weldinghubs

Welding spatter is created when the electrode, wire, or rod melts and disintegrates into small droplets of molten metal. This can happen when a welder moves too quickly through the weld pool while welding. What causes welding spatter? And how can you avoid it? If you’re looking for the answer to these questions, then keep reading.

So, what causes welding spatter? Spatter is the unwanted byproduct of welding. It can be caused by a variety of factors, but more often than not it’s due to the wire being too cold and sputtering on contact with molten metal in an uncoordinated fashion; this usually occurs when there are low currents or high current ranges.

In this blog post, I will explore why welding spatters occurs and what you can do to prevent it from happening in the first place.

You can read our new post: What temperature does steel weaken?

What is welding spatter?

In the gas metal arc welding process, there is a very common occurrence where tiny droplets of molten material are generated at or near the weld. This phenomenon is known as “spatter” and can occur in two different forms: wet spatter (which looks like liquid) or dry spatter (which looks more like dust). Spatters are generally considered to be an annoyance and critical when developing applications for GMAW.

When spatter occurs, the molten droplets can interfere with weld quality and cause defects. Dry welding spatter is an especially common problem for GMAW applications because it floats around in the air during welding, affecting equipment such as gas-shielded torches or flux covers that are not properly grounded. Wet welding spatter is more of a problem for GMAW applications that use a continuous wire electrode.

Is weld spatter bad?

The MIG welding process is one of the most versatile methods for metal fabrication, but too much spatter ensures a loss in production capacity through unnecessary downtime or wasted materials that could have been avoided. And, if it’s left on the workpiece long enough, it can cause problems.

Ideally, the welding wire should be set in such a way that it isn’t hitting any of the workpiece surfaces during contact. If the weld spatter does happen to hit your project, use a wet cloth or scraper to remove it from the metal as quickly as possible.

What are the common causes of weld spatter how you can avoid?

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to this topic. The article will go into more detail about the various causes for spattering in an arc and what we need to do if any problem arises from our weld beads as a result- so keep reading.

The reason most welding spatter occurs are:

  1. Metal composition
  2. Metal coating
  3. Dirty metal
  4. Low-grade filler
  5. Contaminated filler
  6. Welder settings
  7. Welding technique
  8. Welding gas

01. Metal composition

When welding, the metal composition you are using will have a significant impact on how much spatter it produces. But not all metals are safe for welding because some contain too many different components that make them difficult to weld together without overlapping and excessive spattering.

Note that some metals marketed as “weldable” actually contain cheap additives which can create excessive amounts of unnecessary spattering when being used in production areas or around home surfaces where these materials will come into contact with skin areas unknowingly.

The following metals are typically safe to weld together: Aluminum, brass, bronze, copper, and steel. Other common metal combinations you might find in the welding process include nickel-copper (NiCu), chrome-molybdenum (CrMo), and stainless steel with low carbon content. These last three types of metals will generally create more spatter than most other options when being used for production or as part of a project around your home.

Solution:

Find the right composition of metal to connect firmly and seamlessly.

Metal is a key part of welding, and the type that you use will depend on what materials are available. If all else fails, try to find something similar so get some good welds done.

02. Metal coating

Metal coating is an important step in reducing welding spatter. Metal coatings are generally applied to the surface of materials before they undergo welding, though some pre-primed metals may not need a coating at all.

Galvanized, zinc-coated, chromed, or rubber-coated surfaces can be used for welds. These coatings will create fewer spatters even if they are not in the immediate area of the weld due to their protection from welding heat.

When a metal is pure (not plated), the molten droplets that become weld spatter will be minimal. But if it has a coating, like a coat of paint or rubber that doesn’t stick to it because we’re welding while preventing spattering from occurring by covering up the surface area with something else before you weld, this can help reduce spattering accordingly.

Moreover, metals like galvanized coatings also emit small sparks when they’re heated. These can catch onto surfaces near them and start fires while causing an extremely hot distortion at the same time. The general idea is less contact means better results.

Solutions:

There is an easy solution to this problem, however. One of the leading factors that cause welding spatter is if the metal is not clean before welding it. This can be solved by grinding off any excess coat on your workpiece and removing dirt or oil that might still adhere to its surface—not just where you will be welding, but for at least ¾ inch in all directions as well.

Grinding away a layer from your piece before welding it may produce fewer sparks and slag than if done afterward – Be sure not to grind too close though because this could create even more problems with over-heating.- The best time to do so would be right after using a wire brush or grinder.

03. Dirty metal

Dirty metal is a major contributor to weld spatters. It’s important to clean the metal before welding. If this is not done, welders are more likely to produce spatter that will be difficult or impossible to remove without damaging surrounding surfaces.

Moreover, the surface chemistry has to do with the underlying material, but it may also be because there is dirt or grease on the metal that gets mixed into the cooling gases and becomes part of what ends up coating your work area or clogging your gas nozzle.

If you’re using an inert shielding gas like argon in conjunction with TIG welding, this likely won’t happen as much since those types of gas don’t react with oxygen very readily at all – although they still need to be clean enough so that they are not contaminated by dirty air from outside sources such as cigarette smoke.

Solutions:

The main solution to this problem is to clean the weld area before you start. It doesn’t take much.

Before welding, make sure to clean your surface. A wipe with a rag will prevent spatter and ensure a smoother weld.

04. Low-grade filler

Typically, low-grade filler metals have a lower melting point due to the presence of impurities and other substances that are not related to welding.

For this reason, it’s necessary for you to heat them up more than high-grade fillers before they will melt properly. This extra time spent waiting on your filler metal can increase the chances of spattering because there is an additional delay in producing welds during this added heating period.

This means that by choosing a quality product over one with less desirable features, you could avoid dealing with messy issues like spatter within your workpiece or problems such as random defects which also may occur if using subpar materials.

Solutions:

Inspect the quality of filler you intend to buy before making a decision. If you want to avoid weld spatter at all costs, don’t just buy the cheapest or most expensive type of welding rod. Investigate different brands and closely examine the quality before you buy them.

Purchase top-of-line filers when doing welding jobs. Low-cost options may work well on some materials but might not do too well with others; likewise, excessive price doesn’t guarantee good quality.

Do your research and compare prices before buying equipment. Investigate various types of filler welders use and be sure what you purchase is high-quality so it produces minimal spatter.

Ask around to see if anyone has any recommendations on a particular type before making your choice.

05. Contaminated filler

Welder’s will commonly leave wire alone after use without any kind of protection because when they get dirty or dry out from inactivity, these pieces have the potential to cause spatter when touching them and tainting an otherwise good weld.

If they are left unused for long periods of time without being covered up, the metals will rust from inactivity making them contaminate any surface that comes near them when used again. Dirt and rust entering into the weld directly cause excessive spatter since it cannot be removed by brushing or grinding off typically like other types of contamination would easily come out if brushed away before welding.

Solutions:

Covering your consumables when they aren’t in use will help keep them clean and protect against the elements.

Steel dust on the wire (typically occur at the start of welding) can cause stainless steel rods to rust. To prevent this, make sure you cover all stainless steel or keep it away from your grinders. Though most MIG spools come with a disk guard, do not discard the wire cap if continuous use is desired. Furthermore, you should never store welding wire outside where there is high humidity without covering it!

Maintaining proper care of our tools extends their life span and reduces frustration with having to replace things too often.

It may not seem like much but taking care of what we have goes a long way and can help make the work environment a little more enjoyable.

06. Welder settings

Welder settings can cause weld spatter. A welding spatter is the result of an electric arc between a welding gun and the metal workpiece. The settings- such as amperage, wire speed, or voltage can affect how your welder will produce welds.

If you see a weld spatter or have other welding problems, check the amperage and voltage settings. If either is too low, try adjusting it. You can lower amperage by decreasing wire speed or increase the voltage by increasing wire speed; unlike the opposite conditions where you should decrease amperage to increase the voltage if that’s the problem.

Solutions:

The most common solution to reduce or prevent weld spatter on a project surface is shielding gas. Shielding gas prevents atmospheric oxygen from coming into contact with molten metal, which can cause oxidative reactions that lead to an accumulation of slag and damaged surfaces in localized areas.

Keep in mind that shielding gas-only helps if you are welding outside because it requires ventilation equipment; it does not help when indoors without ventilation equipment.

MIG welder settings for better welds: MIG welder power setting determines how much heat will be applied to the top layer of material and affects its penetration level-the higher the setting, the deeper your weld joint depth as well as more heat input to the surface.

MIG wire feed speed determines how much material will be melted and fed through the contact tip, which in turn affects the arc length-the higher your setting, the longer your welding arc stays on one spot before moving.

SMAW settings for better welds:  SMAW electrode negative polarity is an option that allows you to switch between positive and negative electrodes during a continuous weld by flipping it over so electrical current flows in opposite direction; this helps prevent spatter from accumulating at the same location as well as keeps melting rates consistent along a project’s length because reversing its polarity periodically ensures heat is distributed across both sides evenly without uneven or excessive heating of any localized area due to “hot spots”.

07. Welding technique

The technique you use to weld can affect how much spatter there is. For example, if you use the push-pull technique and work with steep angles, you’re more likely to get more spatter than when using a flat angle in the drag method. Additionally, arc welding techniques that produce a lot of spatter are those where wire feed speed fluctuates or isn’t consistent.

In conclusion, the angle and speed at which you work can make a difference in spatter. This is due to how steep angles cause more spatter than flat ones when using the push-pull technique or if the wire feeder cannot produce steady speeds for arc welding.

Regardless of your welding style, it’s important to find ways you’ll be able to reduce weld splatter–whether that means changing techniques or buying equipment with better shielding gas efficiency.

Solutions:

The best angle for welding is about 15 degrees, which you should always remember to keep your weld at. Sometimes there’s no choice in the matter and then you just have to put up with some spatter! Be sure that your travel speed is correct; don’t go too fast or too slow and make sure not many feed issues come up while traveling (if they do, it may be because of a faulty nozzle).

Be sure to keep your angle at 15 degrees. Spatter is common, so if you don’t have a choice in which case just deals with it! Keep your travel speed correct -both too fast or slow can result in feeding issues and spatter- is aware of what’s going on around you for safety reasons as well.

08. Welding gas

Welding gas is used to protect the weld pool, control arc stability, and provide a shield against atmospheric contamination. Argon is one of the most popular gases used in welding. It provides good penetration and shielding, but it causes more spatter than other types of gas.

Carbon dioxide is cheap and better for deep penetration into steel because it helps with deposition rates when you’re welder a lot of material at once. But carbon dioxide also creates more weld spatter, which can be harmful if not cleaned up properly.

In addition to argon or CO2 as being two different types of welding gas that are usually available, there’s hydrogen too; however, its use isn’t recommended unless you know what you’re doing since it leaves more slag on your work-piece surface than anything else and could produce an explosion if mixed with oxygen.

Solutions:

Pure Co2 is less expensive and it shields well, but what you may not know about this gas that makes deep penetration possible are the negative effects on spatter.

Pure argon gas is best used for aluminum and TIG welds with stainless steel while pure Co-gas should be used on thicker material (or as a solution) in 95% Argon, five percent CO so that the metal itself does not become too hot from all the heat generated during process time.

If you want less messy welds but don’t minds if they’re “stickier” then use more pure CO or find a mixture of it to use instead since this will help keep your metals at an ideal temperature without risking them becoming overheated due to how thick they are.

When welding thinner materials, using 100% Argon would be fine because there won’t be any excess heat being generated that would need to be dispersed.

For thinner materials, Argon itself can work without any mixture and there will not be as much sputtering due to the lack of heat. If you want good welds with less mess or don’t mind them being “stickier” then use pure CO instead since it has a long track record for success when we’re talking about welding thicker material that needs more temperature control in order to prevent excess spatter from occurring because of how hot the metal is during process time.

What Else Can Cause Spatter?

As you can see, there are many different types of spatter that can happen during welding. Other patterns that will produce spatter include:

  • Arc repulsion forces that happen when the arc is close to a weld pool can cause droplets of molten metal before joining with the base material.
  • When an arc weld short circuits by a sudden increase in current, heat from this event will cause fusion and it happens when amperage becomes too excessive for a given welding wire; also what most people would refer to as “arc explosion” or popping which causes spatter.
  • Spattering occurs when an arc force breaks off and scatters a weld bead into smaller pieces. This is often caused by magnetic repulsion forces of the short circuit in the weld pool causing some pretty dangerous effects on our welding beads.
  • Splashing occurs when a welder accidentally falls a droplet into the weld pool. This is most often caused in globular transfer mode were splashing across a surface of metal we are welding together to create one piece takes place.
  • When there’s too much heat generated, it can cause flux migration which will change the composition of our material and be very dangerous for future production stages.
  • The magnetic repulsion force on a welding bead from a short circuit creates a spatter when amperage becomes excessive as well since this phenomenon has similar effects as arc explosion or popping that causes spatter.

How to Clean Spatter?

One of the most frustrating parts about welding is when you have a spatter on your welds.

The bad news is that this often happens, and it can be tough to clean up without getting dirtying other surfaces nearby.

Luckily there are a few different options for cleaning spatter off your finished work.

There are several ways to remove weld spatter including scraping, grinding, blasting, sanding, chipping, and flap disc.

Chipping:

This method is perfect for scraping off spatters that are easy to remove. All you’ll need will be a chisel and hammer.

When a table is cluttered with spatter it may take time to clean every area, but the job will be worth the effort. To remove spatters put a chisel at a 35-degree angle close to the edge of your work surface (to reduce damage).

Next, use your hammer gently tap on the end of the chisel as you try to remove the welds from your surface. Increase number and strength taps depending on how entrenched or deep-rooted these spatters are in your working area.”

Flap disc:

A flap disc is used when there are large areas with small to medium welding spatters.

This technique is ideal for people who want an easy, quality project completed quickly without using a power tool.

The process of using this tool is simple: ensure you have the appropriate safety gear on (gloves and goggles), connect it to your angle grinder, turn it on, clean off your working space by moving back and forth until all spatter has been removed.”

Grinding:

This method can be used when there are medium-large weld spatters present in one’s workspace. It may take some time if they’re deeply entrenched however once finished will leave behind smoother surfaces without imperfections. To remove these pesky spatters, you’ll first need to put on your safety gear (gloves and goggles). Then connect the grinder to your angle grinder and start removing spatters by applying light pressure. Afterward, sweep up any spatter that is not removed with regular sweeping.”

Sanding:

This method can be used when there are medium-large weld spatters present in one’s workspace. It may take some time if they’re deeply entrenched however once finished will leave behind smoother surfaces without imperfections. To remove these pesky spatters, you’ll first need to put on your safety gear (gloves and goggles). Then connect the sandpaper belt sander onto a 110 grit paper; make sure it is at running speed before proceeding, then slowly start moving it across the taped-off surface.”

Blasting:

This method can be used when there are medium-large weld spatters present in one’s workspace. It may take some time if they’re deeply entrenched however once finished will leave behind smoother surfaces without imperfections. To remove these pesky spatters, you’ll first need to put on your safety gear (gloves and goggles). Afterward, connect a blasting nozzle onto an air hose that has been connected to your compressor or any other suitable power tool; start by spraying water from the end of this device until all spatters are gone before switching over to blast media for tougher stains.

Conclusion

Welding spatter is a common occurrence when metal pieces are welded together. The result of this welding process could be an unsightly mess, but it’s not always bad for the product. We’ve provided some tips and tricks to help you avoid creating excessive amounts of weld spatter at your next project. It’s important that you clean up any excess metal leftover from the welding process so it doesn’t get into other parts of the machine or spread outside where it can create a hazard. To combat future instances of spatter, try using less power on the welder or use shielding gas to protect nearby surfaces in your workspace.

FAQ

How to stop welding spatter from sticking?

The arc length of your welding rod can be adjusted to control the spatter that forms on a surface. Don't let it get any longer than 1/8 inch, and keep in mind you should shorten this distance when stick welding with small electrode cores like those used for aluminum or copper workpieces.

What are the other types of welding defects?

Defects in welding can be caused by a variety of different things, but the majority is due to improper procedures. Once you know where your problem is coming from it's easy enough to fix and get back on track. Common defects encountered during welding include incomplete penetration, undercutting, porosity (a lack of weld bead), and longitudinal cracking (long cracks that form within the metal).

How do I prevent spatter?

If the voltage on your welding machine is too low, it can cause a “spatter” of sparks. If you have the amperage set higher than it should be, then you will experience the same problem – but to correct this issue, try going slower with your wire. Alternatively, increase your voltage (or find a balance between the two).

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