Filler metals are used to fill the space between two close-fitting materials in welding, soldering, or brazing. The operation involves fusing pieces of metal together with heat and force. Standard filler metals include silver, tin, nickel, copper, aluminum, and gold. There are filler metals available in solid form or paste. Using a filler metal that provides the right mechanical and chemical properties for your project is critical. It must also withstand the conditions the weld encounters to minimize the risk of cracking, corrosion, or welding defects that could lead to time-consuming and costly repairs. Prior to your purchase, there are important factors to consider such as the process, the metal and gas to be utilized, and the additional PPE (personal protective equipment) necessary.
There are three common processes used for joining materials: MIG, Stick, and TIG welding. The method used is dependent on the desired outcome and the individual project.
MIG (metal inert gas) welding, also known as GMAW (gas metal arc welding), is the most economically friendly method. The base materials are joined together through a welding current. Filler metal is constantly fed through the welding gun. As the electric arc melts the electrode wire, it is then fused along with the base metals in the weld pool. MIG welding requires less precision and is the quickest process. With shorter lead times, the production costs are lower. MIG is commonly used for large and thick materials in such industries as automotive, construction, high-production manufacturing, aerospace, and railroad. Steel and aluminum are the metals typically used; however, it is a versatile form of welding and can be performed with other materials. It’s only performed indoors, as rainy, or windy weather will affect the outcome.
Stick welding, also known as SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding), is commonly used in all arc welding procedures. Stick welding is the oldest form of welding. It utilizes an electric current and an anode at the weld pool. The results may not be as precise as with other methods, but it’s portable, affordable, and commonly used for welding steel and iron. Stick is popular in the repair and maintenance industries, as well as in the construction of heavy steel structures. It’s also commonly used by farmers and professionals that need to complete jobs outdoors and “on the go”. Stick welding produces a large arc that isn’t influenced by either temperature or wind.
TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding, or GTAW (gas tungsten arc welding) is the most time-consuming and expensive, but is considered the strongest weld and provides optimal results. It’s the most precise and provides the best aesthetic finish. It can be a difficult method to master, as it requires the use of both hands. One hand holds the torch and the other holds the filler rod. The TIG process can be used to join a wide range of metals. It can weld aluminum, magnesium, copper, nickel, titanium, and their alloys. It’s typically used in the nuclear industry, and for power plants, aircraft, bikes, and lawnmowers.
It’s important to ensure the shielding gas and filler metal used for the project are compatible. Different shielding gases have different effects on filler metal. The choice of gas depends on the welding process, base material type, and material thickness. The TIG process only relies on inert gas such as argon and helium, but MIG shielding gas can contain different combinations of inert and active gasses. The most common shielding gas choice is 100% argon.
Other popular combinations include:
It can be difficult to determine the correct gas for your project, so having a professional you trust is invaluable. If you are new to filler metals or using an unfamiliar process, it’s best to obtain recommendations from an expert.
Safety should be a priority as there is a risk of electric shock, injuries related to inhalation of toxic fumes, eye injury, and skin burns. Protective clothing such as helmets and shields should be worn. Safety goggles are very important as there is exposure to visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light. Goggles also protect from heat and metal fragments. Gloves, boots, and long sleeve garments should be worn to protect the skin and work should be performed in well-ventilated areas.
Rocky Mountain Air has a knowledgeable team ready to assist you. We consider ourselves a one-stop shop for all your needs. Our team of experts has experience in a variety of industries and can recommend the right metal, process, and gas, as well as provide all the equipment (electrodes, rods, gloves, helmets, jackets, etc.) for your project. All wires and rods have lot and heat numbers, making them traceable and compliant. Contact us today to discuss your project. We look forward to serving you with flawless dependability!