Despite being highly reactive, you`ll be happy to learn that you can weld titanium in your workshop or even garage. Provided you observe adequate safety measures such as gas shielding and dressing up in proper safety-enhancing gear, you should be easy to weld titanium and get the job done.
Curious to learn more about welding titanium? In this article, we will discuss everything you should know about welding titanium risk-free in your workshop.
Before we get to how to prepare titanium for pre-welding, let`s take a quick look at the main properties of titanium
- Titanium is not highly elastic as compared to other metals
- Has a lower density as compared to other metals
- Titanium`s melting point is higher than that of other welding metals
- Titanium gets easily contaminated and is readily reactive
- Not ductile
As mentioned earlier, welding titanium is not an impossible task provided you follow the right procedures. Below are the key steps to observe as you prepare to weld your shiny and highly reflective titanium.
Clean the Surface Thoroughly
The golden rule of proper welding is to adequately prepare your welding surfaces before commencing your projects. Due to titanium`s highly sensitive nature, you`ll have to be extra careful to rid the surface of rust, grime, dust, oil, paint, and even cutting fluid to avoid welding brittle joints.
We recommend observing the three C`s of cleaning before welding
- Clean the Surface
- Clean the Workspace
- Clean the filler rod
Failure to properly clean any of the above surfaces can lead to contamination of your work piece. However, to adequately clean up the surface, we recommend using titanium specific chemical cleaners. On the work surface, you can use diluted sodium hydroxide as well as a steam cleaner to get rid of all the contaminants.
Finally, proceed to remove the moisture by using a hot air blower. Point to note, though; you should never use your hot air blower next or close to a chemical solvent that is flammable. It is better to use non-flammable chemical cleaners to tidy up the surface and prep for welding.
Next is to clean the equipment you want to use and ensure that you dry them up. Another point to note, titanium and chlorine do not do well together. Therefore, be sure to check on the contents of the chemical cleaners to ensure that chlorine is not an ingredient.
You`ll be shocked to learn that chlorine is also present in rubber gloves; consequently, we advise using cotton or plastic gloves.
Select a Shielding Gas
If you want to have a strong weld as your end product, you will need to use the correct shield gas. This is because titanium is highly reactive with dirt, oil, moisture, other metals, and even air. Most expert welders use pure Argon as a shielding gas. But there is a caveat; the Argon needs to be 99.99% pure if not 100% pure. Pure Helium can also act as an appropriate shielding gas.
Always buy your shield gas from a trusted supplier. There is little room for error since even slightly impure Argon can lead to discoloration, thus ruining your weld. Incomplete coverage and impure gas can also result in mottling and blue tinting.
Due to its high sensitivity, it is vital to protect both the from and the back parts of your titanium from the atmosphere when welding. Any areas prone to heat will definitely have an unwanted reaction in the event of coming in contact with environmental air, specifically oxygen.
When welding smaller parts, enclosed compartments such as glove boxes can come in handy, especially if you fill them with the right amount of shielding gas.
Below are three steps you should follow to ensure that you have the required level of shielding gas coverage. For more information on welding gases Argon tank application use [Read our Review A.] [Read our Review B.]
This provides protection to the weld puddle. It comes inbuilt in a torch. A conventional, water-cooled welding torch that comes with gas lenses and a ceramic cup can come in handy in primary shielding. The wider the ceramic cup, the better the coverage.
Trailing shields play the all-important role of protecting the heat-affected areas and ensuring they aren’t contaminated. On most occasions trailing shields are usually located at the rear of welding torches.
Back up shielding perform the same role as trailing shields. They are either taped or held into position depending on preferences as they rarely come pre-fitted to a welding torch.
Choosing the Right Filler Metal
Choosing the filler material that can perfectly weld titanium, as well as its alloys, is crucial to the success of your weld. You must strive to select a filler wire that has similar properties to your base material.
Selecting a wire whose strength level is a grade below your preferred base metal is also ideal. As a golden rule, choose your filler wire based on the combination and properties of the joint you are working on. For you to improve overall ductility of the joint:
Always use filler metals that are lower in overall yield strength of your base when welding strong unalloyed titanium
When welding Ti-6AI-4V and Ti-5Al-2.5Sn titanium, you can settle for filler material that is unalloyed
You can also select filler metal that contains low oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen compared to the base metal.
What are some of the Methods I can Use to Weld Titanium?
- (EBW) Electron-Beam Welding
- Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG)Welding or (GTAW) Gas-Tungsten arc welding
- Laser-beam welding (LBW)
- Resistance welding (RW)
- Friction welding (FRW)
- Plasma arc welding (PAW)
- Metal Inert Gas (MIG) Gas-metal arc welding (GMAW)
EBW is often used to fuse two pieces of metal through a high-velocity beam comprised of electrons. The beam`s contact with the metal leads to intense heat generation, thus allowing the two plates to melt and consequently form a steady, solid joint.
Due to the durability of joints fused by EBW, it is a preferred welding technique in the aircraft and aerospace industries. EBW is ideal for plates that range from roughly 6mm to 76mm and even more. This welding method is known for its high-quality welds that have impressively low contamination levels since it occurs in high-vacuum environments or atmosphere.
Tungsten Inert Gas/ Gas Tungsten Arc Welding
TIG or GTA welding processes function through the use of a non-consumable electrode made from tungsten that feeds the welding arc with the high-electric current. The weld puddle is protected from contamination by shielding gas, since, when TIG or GTAW welding, you don’t want your puddle contaminated. Be read with a wire or filler metal to weld your joint.
TIG welding is highly popular for titanium welding, as well as its alloys. If working on slim joints that are under 2.5mm thick, you won`t need a filler material for your TIG weld. However, for slightly thicker sheets, you will need to use filler metals to ensure the resulting joints are durable.
Resistance Welding (RW)
Did you know that RW is defined as a thermo-electric process that, through a controlled current, fuses two metals? As a result, you should expect to use a high level of pressure when resistance welding since this process works by restricting heat to the welding target area.
Resistance welding comes in handy when welding in a bid to fuse titanium with its several alloys either for continuous welds or for a spot. You can rely on RW to weld stainless steel plates or carbon steel with titanium.
Laser-Beam Welding (LBW)
LBW uses a laser to fuse two metal sheets together. By heating, melting, and merging the intersection separating two plates, LBW helps you to form a joint. The molten puddle cools and solidifies to form a strong, highly durable weld.
LBW is widely preferred for titanium projects as it eliminates the need to use a vacuum chamber. You will still need to use a shielding gas to reduce the risk of contaminating the puddle as it cools.
Plasma Arc Welding (PAW)
PAW functions in a similar way to the TIG as it relies on an arc placed between the workpiece and tungsten electrode. You can use PAW on virtually all classifications of titanium, and it also works well with thick metal sheets.
Gas-Metal Arc Welding (GMAW)/ Metal Inert Gas
MIG relies on feeding a continuously heated metal wire through the use of a welding gun. For this process, you will need a shielding gas to keep your weld puddle free from contamination. GMAW is a preferred method for most professional welders due to its impressive productivity rates and metal deposition.
GMAW can also be used on titanium welds, especially plates that are under 3mm thick.
Friction Welding (FRW)
Through friction, this technique fuses two metals together, thus resulting in fairly strong joints. FRW is popular in several industries and is ideal for joining rods, tubes, and even pipes. It is ideal when you don’t have all the required protective measures in place, as it isn’t too demanding in regards to joint cleanliness.
As we have established in our discussion so far, welding titanium is similar to working on other metals. The challenge, however, is to minimize its overall reactivity by observing relevant safety and shielding measures. Always ensure that all materials are adequately cleaned before you weld. By doing so, you will be well placed to make some pretty amazing joints. The main trick is to have adequate measures in place to protect against contamination.
Frequently Asked Questions on Welding Titanium
Is it possible to Weld on Titanium?
Yes, you can. Welding on titanium is possible. The golden rule (as repeated severally in this read) is to factor in titanium`s unique properties and consequently work on extra clean surfaces. Clean with chlorine-free chemical cleaners that are inflammable. You should also take time to clean the workpiece and eliminate the oxide layer as well as other impurities before commencing your project. Always look to provide the right level of coverage to your base metal to ensure you make a durable weld.
Is it Possible to MIG weld Titanium?
Although most welders prefer TIG welding, you can also MIG weld as a method to weld titanium. However, be sure to weld on plates 3mm thick and above to avoid burning through and ruining the plate.
Is it possible to weld Titanium and Stainless Steel?
Yes, you can; the caveat, however, is that you need to use the purest form of Argon possible. Afterward, you can proceed with your welding project.
Is it possible to Weld Titanium and Aluminum?
Yes, you can. However, you will need incredibly high heat levels. Your filler wire, in the case of welding the two metals together, will have to be aluminum. However, you will need to keep titanium below 2000 degrees to ensure that it melts at the intersection and consequently produces a highly durable joint. Maintain the titanium at 1670 degrees (its melting point) is recommended as it completely removes the unwanted risk of burning through. All you have to do is factor in the unique properties associated with titanium, and you will be well placed to make a fantastic weld.
Safety Tips when Welding Titanium
Welding titanium, similar to other welding projects, requires you to prioritize and observe safety rules. As such, you should always have a properly fitted face shield on to keep your eyes safe and face free from any sparks or resulting debris.
Additionally, always weld when wearing a non-flammable shirt or attire, preferably long-sleeved to cover all exposed skin. You also need to put on close-toed warehouse shoes to keep all your exposed surfaces protected.
Never weld without putting your welding gloves on as this is a recipe for disaster.
Earplugs and muffs can come in handy in welding noise reduction and also in preventing stray sparks from making way inside the ear canal.
As we have revealed in this read, welding titanium is not too hard a task. Provided you take adequate precautions in cleaning all surfaces, you will be well placed to make lasting titanium welds.
The most preferred welding method for titanium is TIG welding, but you can also use MIG welding for fairly thicker plates.
Remember to always use 99.999% pure argon as this is the best way to avoiding contamination and ensure that your titanium welds turn out as desired.