As a fairly new welder, it can take time to develop real confidence in your ability. In the meantime, it's important that you understand how to evaluate the quality of your welds before you put that product out there. Not only is quality important to consider in the finished product, but also throughout the process. Here are a few tips to help you assess your welds as you go.
The visual inspection process should start before you even start welding. Look over all of the components first to be sure that everything is in good condition, clean and of similar thickness and size. Make sure all of the metal is free of flaws that could interfere with the weld's adhesion. Then, clean all of the surfaces to get rid of any residue like grease or skin oil.
As you weld, watch the bead trail to ensure that it's straight, smooth, consistent and free of discolorations. Avoid pooling, and don't push the welding wire. Instead, let it gradually move along the weld path, forming a solid seal between the two metal pieces.
You can use a magnetic charge to evaluate the condition of the weld, which is an efficient, affordable approach. It helps you identify any subsurface flaws or cracks. Using an MPI machine, also known as a Magnetic Particle Inspection tool, you can attach two probes to the welded item to pass a magnetic charge through the metal. Then, you dust the top of the weld with magnetic powder. Any areas where there are weaknesses in the weld will be evident by a gathering of the powder.
As a new welder, it's worthwhile to invest in a tool like this. You never know when you'll want to validate the structure of a weld before releasing a project to the client, so having a way to check it may prove beneficial.
Radiographic testing is designed to give you a clear evaluation of the weld itself without damaging it. This kind of testing provides you with photographic evidence of how sound the weld is and shows you any potential flaws in it.
You'll want to work with a radiographic technician for this kind of testing because they are trained to do it safely. For that reason, it's usually left for significant projects that you're particularly concerned about. Limiting your use of this kind of testing may be ideal for you because of the cost of the technician's services.
These are a couple of tips to help you ensure that the welds you produce are strong, consistent and durable. The more experience you develop, the more confident you're likely to become, but tests like this are great for ensuring quality in the meantime.
For more information, contact Vern Lewis Welding Supply Inc or a similar company.