There are various ways you can join metals together, ranging from bolds and nuts to adhesive bonds and mechanical fasteners. However, if you want to achieve the most durable joints, welding and brazing are the two best methods. These methods provide permanent joints that are as strong as the base metals or even stronger.
Nonetheless, your joints will only be as good as welding if you use the right tools and follow the proper process. Here is a brief review of the five steps for the welding process and safety measures for brazing flux.
1. Gather your tools and gear
Before you start welding, you should make sure you have all the tools you need to finish the task. This includes the welding equipment, protective hood, gloves, hammers, cooling water, brazing flux, safety goggles, grinder, and material of choice, among others. These are only some of the necessary tools you may need to accomplish a welding task. The full list of welding tools will depend on the nature of your welding job.
2. Clean the base metals
Metals can accumulate grease, dust, grime, rust, and substrate residue, among other things. It is recommendable to prep the metal before you start welding. You can use a clean piece of cloth to wipe off dust and warm water to remove grease and oily dirt. Use paraffin or any other rust remover to clean all the rust before you begin welding. Like tools, the cleaning agent, and the method you use will depend on the type of welding you are doing. Cleaning prevents any dirt from mixing with the welded materials and compromising the joint.
3. Fit the joints
It is an obvious step in welding and also one of the most important ones. Before you start welding, you should have a clear idea of how the finished joint will look. If you are alone, make sure you fit and tack everything together, then step back to determine if that is how the final fitting should look. Since it is impossible to join once welding starts, the best advice is to fit everything beforehand and then proceed to weld.
4. Begin welding
Welding is a process that involves melting the base metals and combining them to make a joint. It is unlike brazing, where you melt an extra material to bind the base metals together. The welding technique you choose will depend on the base metals, tools, and outcome you want to achieve. You should choose the best environment for your welding, especially since elements like wind and moisture can affect the quality of the weld. According to studies, welding can produce fumes and other hazardous compounds, so it is vital to wear your protective gear. Also make sure the welding temperature, gas flow, and wire feed are set up correctly when welding.
5. Clean the welded joint
Although cleaning is accessible when using brazing flux, it is still an essential step in welding. Brushing removes the extra flux, oxides, hot solder wires, and other unwanted materials from the joint. You may also want to cool the joint in hot water to prevent oxidation. Not all welding ends with cleaning, so you should determine if this is necessary.
Safety tips for brazing flux
Brazing is another perfect process you can use to create permanent joints. There are a few differences between welding and brazing. However, the important one is in the way the joint forms. Unlike welding where you have to melt both base metals, brazing only requires you to melt the brazing material that binds the base metals together.
Brazing will also require the use of flux, which can be a paste or viscous liquid. The flux is applied to the base metals to prevent metal oxidation, especially in atmospheric brazing. Oxides can prevent the brazing filler metal from melting your base metals and forming a joint. Flux is a chemical compound that prevents oxygen from entering the joint during brazing. To braze safely, consider the following:
- Apply flux immediately before brazing to prevent it from drying or flaking out.
- Clean and prepare the metal surfaces before applying flux.
- Do not just use any flux. Choose one that suits your metals, temperatures, brazing application, and condition.
- Use a brush to apply the flux or a dispensing gun for internal joints.
- Determine your brazing temperatures beforehand.
- Always clean the extra flux material away after you finish brazing.
- Choose high-quality flux.
Also Read: What is MIG Welding?
Welding and brazing are both technical activities that require experience and precision. If you are starting, you will need practice before you can master the techniques. It is imperative to exercise precaution during welding, especially since the process involves hot objects and high voltage currents. Make sure you wear the necessary protective gear and use high-quality equipment and materials. More importantly, you should understand how the final joint or outcome should look before you begin the welding process. Read through the instructions and guides that come with your products, including welding equipment, power tools, and flux.